Prof Wolff. How can market based worker coops avoid predatory competition?

I've been thinking about how to build an economic system to replace capitalism and I've turned to the Proudhonian libertarian socialist inspired alternative commonly known as anarchosyndicalism or worker coops. A self-sufficient ecosystem of federated coops (of all kinds), could, if made incompatible and inimical to the capitalist system, replace it. However, even with socialized property, and socialized intellectual property, it is expected that some coops will produce more than others, and without a centralized or coercively regulated system, with a free system, some coops would outproduce others, have better marketing, location, or otherwise achieve competitive advantages that would then create inequalities. The best case scenario, means those inequalities are negligible, but those would likely be compounded by the effect it would have on the commodity prices, making coops that produce more, have cheaper products, which would then be favored by demand, and then this supply and demand dynamic could make a successful coop undermine and vanquish the competiton (which isn't necessarily a bad thing). This could, however, snowball into the concentration of wealth into an area that would then out-compete coops in other areas, creating regional inequalities, etc. Also, when commonly funded services (education, healthcare, security, justice, art, culture, banking, roads, etc) are accounted for, even if they are sustained by contributions proportional to production, some coops could potentially opt to lessen their contributions to counterbalance, achieve or pursue competitive advantages, thereby preventing such services from improving or even causing them to contract. Essentially, my fear is that market dynamics would eventually erode the basis of this anti-capitalist society. Is there a mechanism to avoid such a fate that doesn't fall into the trap of a bureaucratic distribution system?

Official response from submitted

A worker-coop based economic system has a set of systemic advantages over a capitalist enterprise-based system. However, a worker-coop based system is not a general solution to all economic problems, risks, unwanted outcomes. A worker-coop based system would have to solve the problem of distributing both resource inputs (among enterprises) and commodity outputs (among enterprises and individuals): likely using a mixture of markets and centralized or decentralized govt controls. Such mixtures have been the norm for centuries although varying the components of such mixes. Minimum and maximum incomes, periodic redistributions of resources and other forms of wealth, socially determined balances of individual and social wealth are among the many, many mechanisms societies have developed over the centuries to deal with inequalities if and when they emerge systematically from any economic system.

If what you seek is a production system that somehow guarantees to forestall all economical outcomes you find distasteful, I fear your search is foreclosed, non-viable. You will indeed have to accompany your worker-coop based production system with various modes of social interaction, monitoring, and control to achieve the good society you seek.

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  • Carlos Cox
    commented 2017-08-31 11:26:34 -0400
    Excellent reply. Thanks Prof.
  • Carlos Cox
    tagged this with good 2017-08-31 11:26:31 -0400
  • Richard Wolff
    responded with submitted 2017-08-23 16:44:48 -0400
  • Carlos Cox
    published this page in Ask Prof. Wolff 2017-08-23 14:34:52 -0400