Worker co-op competing with a capitalist organisation.

Hi Rick, This article from the NYT touches on many items you discuss frequently. Would a worker co-op be able to compete with a capitalist organisation address the problem addressed in this article? What advantages would a capitalist have over a worker co-op when addressing the increasing automation of production? THANKS.

Official response from submitted

A worker-coop based economy would deal with productivity in altogether different ways (with correspondingly different results). First of all, a worker-coop would likely have workers who all feel much more responsible for as well as likely to benefit from increasing productivity than workers in a capitalist enterprise....for all the usual reasons of how people react to having real skin in the proverbial game.

Second, every increase in worker productivity entails a subsequent choice: will the same workers continue to work and produce more output because productivity rose or will the enterprise keep output constant and thus enable workers to have less work time/ more leisure as a result of their increased productivity. What combination of more output (likely at lower price) and less labor hour should be decided democratically with inputs from both the workers in the enterprise experiencing rising productivity and workers and citizens outside that enterprise. This cannot and does not happen in capitalist enterprises where undemocratic decisions on these issues are made by capitalists; workers are excluded from participating in them. In a worker-coop based economy there is at least a far greater likelihood of a democratic decision-making process on how to use/benefit from productivity increases.

The only reason the above is not clear in people's minds (including the NYTimes journalist) is that they assume capitalism and thus assume the usual capitalist decision to forego their workers increased leisure in favor of firing "redundant" workers, upping profits, etc. Then they worry about how to deal with that.

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  • Richard Wolff
    responded with submitted 2017-07-26 16:38:12 -0400
  • Chris Parkes
    published this page in Ask Prof. Wolff 2017-07-26 16:22:03 -0400