Dear Dr. Wolff, I agree with your criticisms of Capitalism, and I find your suggestion to democratise the workplace very interesting. I own a very small distribution company in a very small part of the world, and may put those ideas into practice there. However, the solution does not do away with the incentive to out-compete competitors - which I see as an equally problematic issue. This same economic incentive to outcompete competitors can be spun to sound like a good thing, but it is the very same incentive that leads countries to war with each other over resources. I feel strongly that the problem is not Capitalism per se, but the Market System construct. The Market System has it’s own “structural incentives”, and often, a gaming strategy is required by the individual/state/company to “get ahead” in the game of Market. This usually means to acquire wealth for yourself, and taking it from the other guy. Are my criticisms naive? Am I missing something? I did not study economics, but I feel that we need to transition into an “Access system based on automated labour” from a “Market system based on human labour” to really detach ourselves from the same self-perpetuating problems of the Market. I have more to say on this topic, but will end it here for now. Best, Andrew
The social organization of production (that has historically taken such forms as master-slave, lord-serf, and now employer-employee) is one thing within an economy and the mode of distributing resources and products among enterprises and people is something else. Today we have an economic system comprising a capitalist organization of production and a market system of distribution. The combination of these two elements produces that competition to which your email refers. I focus my criticisms on the capitalist organization of production chiefly because its negativities are insufficiently understood, appreciated and targeted for change. However, I know that for a long time now, thoughtful analysts have offered very powerful criticisms also of the market as a mechanism of distribution. Indeed, when I teach my courses I ask students to read the powerful critiques of markets offered in ancient Athens by Plato and Aristotle. So let me suggest that we collaborate: you with your focus and emphasis on the problems of markets and me with min on the problem of how we organize production/the workplace. Both elements call for change and transition to far better social arrangements, especially now.