March 1, 2020 at 6:14 am #194098
Nor do I quite comprehend his attraction to it.
Perhaps he believes it is a stepping stone towards socialism but for his scenario to succeed requires a leap in consciousness of the worker that if it takes place there no reason for them to stop short of socialism and not just placing the workplace under the cooperative industrial democracy, but making the whole of society a social democracy.
But the other surprising thing with Wolff, his model of co-ops competing with conventional businesses calls for the intervention of a worker-friendly government to prop up co-ops which goes against the Marxist analysis of the role of the State.
Although he is provided with ample coverage on the progressive websites, he cannot indicate too much success other than continue to direct us to the Mondragon project, despite its numerous flaws.March 2, 2020 at 1:01 pm #194181AnonymousInactive
Lenin also believed that state capitalism was a stepping stone toward socialism and he was wrong. Coops have been tested in many countries and it has been proven that it is a total failure, they had to be run like private capitalist enterprises. There were many Coops in the past that were also created by the Catholic ChurchMarch 5, 2020 at 12:21 pm #194448
John Lewis, an employee partnership, is often cited as a progressive success story. But its recent troubles show that co-ops are not immune from the effects of capitalism, like any other enterprise
Profits fell by 23% last year to £123m – the third year in a row that profits have fallen. Staff bonuses have been set at 2%, the lowest since 1953. Three Waitrose stores would close later this yearMarch 5, 2020 at 2:19 pm #194470ALBKeymaster
How are the mighty fallen. Wolff just advocating a variation of the profit-sharing that the Liberal Party here used to promote. Only difference is that under his scheme all the profits go to the workers — if, that is, the worker-owned enterprise makes a profit, which in any event it is obliged to pursue and most of which it has to re-invest to stay in business. Just like any other business model producing for the market.March 5, 2020 at 4:30 pm #194478AnonymousInactive
Coops and commune must be run as capitalist enterprises, they are not socialists model, they must produce profits, otherwise, they will collapse, many coops created in the past were taken over by banks, and several were formed by workers unions. Richard Wolff is propagating a false caricature about socialism, he does not know what he is talking about, he is good for statistics and econometric. In Argentina, several enterprises were taken over by workers and after they were producing profits the government passed laws to take them back and share the profits with their original owners, communes, and Trotskyists were supporting them, communes have been a complete failure in Bolivia, Venezuela, and MexicoMarch 5, 2020 at 5:28 pm #194479robbo203Participant
Coops and communes must be run as capitalist enterprises
Coops and communes are not the same thing, though.
Neither in themselves will deliver macro-change of the kind we are interested in but then who is expecting they might – except perhaps people like Wolff – but, all things being equal, I would prefer to work in coop under capitalism or live in a commune under capitalism than not and it s possible that the experience of doing so might actually assist the development of socialist consciousness in some way. There are hints in Marx that he thought this might be the case.
Whilst its not for us in the Socialist party to promote coops or communes neither should we try to discourage our fellow workers from doing so. Sometimes, unfortunately, that is the impression that seems to be conveyed…March 5, 2020 at 7:56 pm #194480AnonymousInactive
I have known for a long time that they are not the same, even more, in my hometown, there was a big coop formed by a worker union, but both are run as capitalist enterprises. I have seen the communes from Mexico and Bolivia and they are run as capitalists enterprises tooMarch 5, 2020 at 11:50 pm #194504
” I would prefer to work in coop under capitalism”
Indeed, Robin, just as a slave or serf preferred a master that did not whip.
We would all seek employment conditions where we can choose our manager, have a say in the running of the business, a bigger share in the profits. But the issue is, can capitalism offer such employment to more than just a minority and can such organisations survive competition from conventional structured rivals. Can co-ops achieve systemic changes.
Mondragon’s constant concessions over the years appear to suggest that there will always be a limit to Woolf’s workers self directed enterprise model.
A nation-wide co-op system relies on a worker-friendly State to nurture and protect it for its growth and expansion. And of course since the world is divided into nation-states, one country’s co-op is not immune from international competition from another country’s co-op (actually there would also be different conflicting interests within cities, regions and within countries)
I am always surprised that people have not wondered why there are so many retail co-ops rather than producer co-ops on the scale of a steel mill which is in the global market (btw, a solution to the malaise in the US steel industry Woolf tried to offer his WSDE as an a answer.
Who remembers the TSB bank and how it was “stolen” from its account-holders ? No owners meant that the government determined it could be privatised and all its deposits given to future buyers..
‘As it considers that the TSB belongs to no one, the government apparently intends to appropriate the assets by Act of Parliament, fix the price, make the sale and return the payment with the goods. In other words, the existing assets would be a free gift to the purchasers of the shares.’ – Financial Times
It led to all the mutually owned building societies built from the ethos of the Victorian self-improvement era going the same way.
What is the number of co-operatives that became conventional businesses
As an aside, during my time in Royal Mail, Edinburgh’s high level of unofficial strike action resulted in the post office bringing in a industrial relations expert to interview staff. One finding was that we did indeed suffer from bad managers. In fact, the conclusion of the expert’s report was the staff were better at identifying and respecting good managers and those were not necessary the more lenient managers but rather fairer individuals who knew the job and could also be stricter in staff discipline. Needless to say, despite this clear conclusion that workers were better than senior management in recognising good bosses it did not lead to any reform of how managers were recruited or promoted as it would have undermined Royal Mail’s authority and its hierarchy.March 10, 2020 at 2:41 am #194949ZJWParticipant
Explain the difference between co-ops and ‘communes’. ( Is the idea that the communes are food-producing and can be (relatively) autarkic?? )March 10, 2020 at 7:05 am #194951AnonymousInactive
Besides food production, they also have houses and buildings, and some of them look like a small townMarch 10, 2020 at 8:22 am #194952ALBKeymaster
One of my brothers used to live on a commune for a while. They are experiments in communal living. Academics call them “intentional communities”. When there was a fad for them most of them were more intentional poverty and austerity.
As to the best (least worst) survival mechanism under capitalism, if you ask me I’d prefer to work for an employer rather than live in a commune. Working for the government or a parastatal body is generally better than working for a private employer. More secure and a better pension !
Incidentally, look what’s become of the commune my brother lived on. It’s been integrated into capitalism too:June 13, 2020 at 3:22 am #203827
A timely re-publishingJune 13, 2020 at 3:34 am #203828AnonymousInactive
Coop has nothing to do with Karl Marx it was created by the same peoples that Engels called utopian socialistsJune 20, 2020 at 3:12 am #204247
Once again Wolff mixes some pertinent points with nonsense such as calling for the return of FDR’s New Deal.June 20, 2020 at 3:31 am #204250AnonymousInactive
He is another Noam Chomsky or Andrew Killman. He confuses peoples by calling himself a Marxist, he is not a Marxist, and he is not a socialist either
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