Profit motive in worker co-ops What is the system of how needs are met in a socialist society?

Good Evening Professor Wolff, I apologize for the bother but I had a question regarding worker co-ops. Judging from your recent videos, you've advocated for worker co-ops, but to what extent do they really work? The profit motive is still there, and now instead of competition between corporations you just have competition between worker co-ops. They aren't producing to meet needs, they're still producing to make money. My second question is in regards to how needs are met in a socialist society? Since you distanced yourself from the state capitalism of the Soviet Union, therefore there won't be planning then what will it be? The principle "From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs" or something else? Thank you very much for taking time to read this.

Official response from submitted

Worker coops by their very nature and design would not be governed by the profit motive as it works in capitalism. In capitalism, the well-being of a small minority (major shareholders and boards of directors) depends on the profits they extract from their employees. In a worker coop, where the workers themselves are their own board of directors, their interests are not limited to maximizing profits but are likewise interests in the quality of the life and work and the life at home for workers. Their goals are multiple and complex versus the "bottom-line" focus on profits of capitalists. Thus their decisions, behaviors, and the social consequences of them will vary a great deal from what happens in capitalism.

On socialist planning: my criticisms of the USSR, PRC etc are not that the planned their economy but rather focus on how that planning was done, by and for whom? The governments in socialist countries planned without the mass base of society - the working people - being able institutionally to control and shape the goals and operations of that planning. Worker coops enable working people to control and shape the government that plans and thus the planning that results. I would anticipate planning as a feature worker coops will choose to coordinate the interdependent decisions of the different worker coops, but it will be a new and different kind of planning.


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  • Richard Wolff
    responded with submitted 2017-03-28 19:51:34 -0400
  • a.k illyria
    published this page in Ask Prof. Wolff 2017-03-28 00:18:11 -0400

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