Wolff, co-ops and socialism
June 2023 › Forums › General discussion › Wolff, co-ops and socialism
- This topic has 114 replies, 13 voices, and was last updated 1 month ago by Bijou Drains.
July 28, 2020 at 12:46 pm #205384July 30, 2020 at 1:18 am #205420
Wolff on Inequality and taxes
https://www.alternet.org/2020/07/the-consequences-of-inequality-can-be-fatal/August 2, 2020 at 10:56 am #205498
Just got round to reading these last two articles. The second one is actually not too bad. The first gives a good enough definition of capitalism as being based on the employer/employee relationship (the wages system) but then confuses things by at one point calling the old USSR, China, etc state capitalist and at another socialist.
As to be expected, he advances his solution that worker coops are the way forward, at one point even describing them as “communist”. They do abolish the employer/employee relationship for those involved but they are not communist because they are envisaged as still producing for sale on a market; whereas communism (socialism) implies that the democratically-run productive units would not be producing for the market, precisely because what they produced would belong to the whole community (“communism”) and be there to be distributed in non-market ways, either free distribution, free use or taking for free.August 2, 2020 at 11:01 am #205499AnonymousInactive
He is just spreading more confusions. Coops and communes are not communist measures. He has read Capital but he does not understand the whole body of ideas of Karl Marx, like any other leftwingers. Marx never advocated for Coops, it was Robert OwenAugust 2, 2020 at 11:46 am #205500Hic rodusParticipant
Another attempt to resolve the contradictions, like a dog chasing its tale. The will to break the circle and really transform society is diverted into these projects. They all seem to end in disillusion, and sadly, with another generation thinking that socialism doesn’t work.August 2, 2020 at 11:52 am #205501AnonymousInactive
He does not understand the character of the State. The state is financed with surplus value and workers are not the taxpayers, it is the capitalist classAugust 2, 2020 at 12:06 pm #205503Hic rodusParticipant
He would benefit from looking through past issues of the socialist standard, they are a living document to history. I was reading through all the old articles about the miner’s strikes and the dead end road that reformism and attempts to ameliorate capitalism have all reached.August 2, 2020 at 4:05 pm #205504AnonymousInactive
The point is that socialism/communism is a post-capitalist society, it is not capitalism within capitalism, that is the reason why he has named Cuba, Venezuela, Vietnam, North Korea and the Soviet Union as socialist, he is not adding anything new, he is just repeating what the leftists and Leninists have said for several decadesAugust 2, 2020 at 4:28 pm #205505
In 1910 the Socialist Labor Party of America published a speech by Jules Guesde, head of an opposition faction within the reformist “socialist party” In France, in which he argued that there was nothing socialist as such in cooperatives and that their only use to the socialist movement was to provide funds for it. At least he showed a higher understanding than Wolff.August 2, 2020 at 4:59 pm #205506AnonymousInactive
The International Communist Current which is a Trotsky /Leninist type organization does not support the Coop concept (self-management) because they were very popular in Spain, Latin America and the Caribbean Island. Sadly they have not published the article in the English language. It is similar to the self-management movement initiated by Tito in Yugoslavia. The ICC also showed a higher understanding than WolffAugust 2, 2020 at 6:19 pm #205507AnonymousInactive
We have two articles about the factories that were taken over by workers in Argentina and they were run as cooperatives and forced them to be run as capitalist enterprises when the enterprises ( or coops ) started to produce profits, the government passed laws to take them back, and give them to the prior owners, and they form a joint venture, and the workers lost everything that they had built.
Trotskyists ( which are very popular in Argentina along with the Anarchists ) praised this as socialist movement, and a model of socialism, and then when it failed they changed gear, like Leninist always do when the ideas are not by the social and economic reality, and they must initiate a process of rectification like evangelicalsAugust 2, 2020 at 6:30 pm #205508AnonymousInactive
The SLP of America and several others ( Including Stalinist groups ) have considered that coops and communes are not socialists measures, as well many Leninists organizations in our times have considered that Feminism is just a bourgeoise reformist measureAugust 5, 2020 at 2:45 pm #205561
The U.S. economy expanded at an extraordinary rate for roughly 150 years, a period of “ascendant capitalism” from about the 1820s through the 1970s.
“If you look at the numbers, real wages in the United States, the average amount of goods and services a working man or woman could buy with what they got, went up every decade,” Wolff said. “It’s an amazing story. And it produced in the United States, this euphoria — there is no other way to describe it — this really strange notion that other people don’t have.” It was, specifically, the belief now called “American exceptionalism,” which Wolff described as the conviction “that God likes you and so has put you in this great place where you can start off poor and end up rich. And there was something to it. It wouldn’t have burrowed so deeply in the consciousness of the American if there wasn’t something to it.”
That period, however, is clearly over.
https://www.alternet.org/2020/08/is-the-us-a-failed-state-in-2020-experts-answers-range-from-maybe-to-hell-yes/August 8, 2020 at 2:11 am #205610
Not sure why i re-post his article links but i do think as a theorist he has a receptive audience among American progressives and perhaps we can better understand why
This essay has many good observations about both political and economic democracy
“Capitalism’s political problem arose from its intrinsically undemocratic juxtaposition of an employer minority and an employee majority. The contradictions of that structure clashed with universal suffrage. Endless political maneuvers around hegemonic blocs with alternative sections of the employees allowed capitalism to survive. However, eventually those contradictions would exceed the capacity of hegemonic maneuvers to contain and control them. A pandemic combined with a major economic crash may provoke and enable progressives to make the break, change U.S. politics, and realize the long-overdue social changes.”August 8, 2020 at 11:16 am #205616
In his own words his reformist programme in a nutshell:
“Majorities might, for example, vote to transition enterprises’ internal organizations from capitalist hierarchies to democratic cooperatives. Enterprises’ net revenues would then be distributed not by the minorities atop capitalist hierarchies but instead by democratic decisions of all employees, each with one vote. The multiple levels of inequality typical of capitalism would disappear.”
They might vote that but it will be just as hard (or easy) to get them to vote to make the means of production the common property of society under democratic control with production and distribution directly for use and not for sale and profit. Such unrealistic and unworkable reforms to capitalism are a diversion from what needs to be done.
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