Unanswered Questions about Worker Co-ops

Hello Professor Wolff, I recently discovered your radio show and have been enjoying it. I am somewhat sympathetic to your strong advocacy of worker co-ops and appreciate the sense of Hegelian corporatism that you've built into the concept (or at least that is what I perceive to be an antecedent in the history of political economy.) In any event, from what I have heard over the last two months or so, there are some questions about worker co-ops that could be more fully developed. 1.) Why do worker co-ops have a specific affinity to socialism? It seems to me they are best suited to a localist variety of capitalism which, while not a bad thing, doesn't seem to immediately lead to a socialist society. If worker co-ops can make capitalism more democratic, can that be enough? 2.) How does one mitigate within co-ops against neoliberal influence? For example, could a traditional corporation attempt to "capture" votes within a co-op competitor through a kind of lobbying that curries favor with co-op employees in exchange for their votes (much in the same way politicians and doctors can be influenced by free vacations, dinners, etc.) Is there any literature that anticipates how neoliberal actors might try to undermine a co-op movement? 3. What prevents a co-op from engaging in the same malicious practices we see in some corporations? While a co-op likely wouldn't vote to ship their jobs overseas, it is conceivable that they might outsource some aspects of their production to overseas vendors or try to externalize the environmental impact of their production to a third-party. Stated another way, what insulates the members of a co-op from greed? Thanks for your time and keep up the great work on the show. -Will Cladley

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  • William Cladley
    published this page in Ask Prof. Wolff 2017-02-28 17:36:27 -0500