Wolff, co-ops and socialism

March 2023 Forums General discussion Wolff, co-ops and socialism

Viewing 12 posts - 91 through 102 (of 102 total)
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  • #231446

    In their 2002 book on the former USSR Wolff and Resnick argue that the only “communist” element there were the collective farms:

    Book Review: ‘Class Theory and History – Capitalism and Communism in the USSR’

    This book in fact shows why he (mistakenly) thinks that workers coops are the way out; it follows from his theory of exploitation. But why he has acquired a reputation for expounding Marx’s view is a mystery.


    In the land of the blinds one eye man is a king. It is the same case of Noam Chomsky, James Petra, and Naomi Klein


    When he isn’t writing about co-ops, Wolff can be quite insightful, as in this essay on capitalism and markets

    The Truth About Markets, Pillar of Capitalist Ideology


    This is a criticism of the way the market works under “free enterprise capitalism”.

    But he is not against markets as such as there will still be buying and selling in his economy of workers’ coops producing for sale, ie for the market. He doesn’t say anything about this, though the nature of his criticism does not exclude that the market might be alright if purchasing power was more or less equally distributed amongst consumers (and workplaces owned by coops rather than capitalist individuals or corporations).


    You should always read Richard Wolff very carefully because he looks Marxist on the cover of the book or the title of the article but when you read deeply you will see that he is anti marxist, pro capitalism, and he always insert his coops, or management system to administer capitalism. He is not against capitalist market, the buying and selling law, and he is not against the law of value and wage slavery. He is like David Harvey. They are famous because they are reformists and they are not a threat to capital. They should take courses on Economic with the Socialist Party


    This is a criticism of the way the market works under “free enterprise capitalism”.

    Like the leftist criticizing what they call Neo liberalism, but they love state capitalism, or regulated capitalism. Like the Socialist Party says: The problem is not Neo liberalism, the problem is capitalism



    The blind guiding the blinds. A distorted definition and explanation of communism. The concept of socialism and communism were splitter by the Bolsheviks and some personalities from the Second International. A socialist party is also a communist party


    Something like that did actually happen in Tito’s Yugoslavia and in the Israeli kibbutzim. The cooperative enterprises had to solve the problem of the need for temporary and seasonal labor (the first for a construction project, say, the second at harvest time). They found it advantageous to hire labor as needed rather than admit more members whose work wouldn’t be needed after the construction was completed or the harvest brought in.


    Wolff writes sometimes as a theorist but in much of his output, especially his videos, he is a propagandist. His theoretical output reveals that he really understands much more than you would think judging from his propaganda alone. He evidently believes that the truth is too complex for most workers to grasp, so he just keeps plugging one simple idea and he has chosen self-management for that purpose. And even self-management is not discussed seriously: he says nothing about its problems, he doesn’t even mention Yugoslavia.


    There can’t be any objection to Wolff putting his case in simple, clear terms without going into the deeper theory behind it every time. After all, that is what we do when stating our case.

    It’s the theory behind what he advocates that is mistaken. As pointed out in post #231446 above, in a book he co-authored in 2002 he states that exploitation takes place at enterprise level and concludes that, therefore, the way to end it is through worker ownership at enterprise level.

    His mistake is in assuming that exploitation takes place at enterprise level, that workers are exploited only by their immediate employer. In one sense, of course, it does since that is where surplus value is extracted but, as Marx explains in the first part of volume 3 of Capital, due to the averaging of the rate of profit the whole capitalist class exploits the whole working class. The conclusion to be drawn from this is that exploitation can only be ended at society-wide level by making productive resources the common ownership of society as a whole.

    Wolff’s theoretical mistake leads him to see a economy based on workers cooperatives producing for sale as the way-out. It isn’t and it wouldn’t be socialism either. It is something we need to expose and oppose as a non-solution.

    That reminds me. Whatever happened to the pamphlet on workers coops that Alan drafted a couple of years ago?


    Besides Yugoslavia he should mention argentina where in several occasions workers have tried to run bankrupt corporation as their own company or coop and they have been forced to run them as private enterprises and when they started to produce profits they were taken over by the capitalists and the state. The same situation has taken place in Bolivia and Venezuela and they also have communes The problem with Wolff is not that he knows economic theory ( Lenin and bukharin knew them too ) the problem is that he is popular and he can confuse millions of workers like the bolsheviks


    Marx clearly indicated that exploitation takes place at the point of production and if he read capital he should know that. Lenin made similar opportunist mistakes when he considered that exploitation takes place at the salary level at the colonies and he dared to say that it paid the salary of the workers in the metropolis He read capital too
    Ah ah ah ah I met several factories workers who knew the real concept of exploitation

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