Anarchism / Marxism debates

Brett Knowlton brettk at
Tue Aug 17 12:27:22 PDT 1999


>Self-management could be limited to controlling how
>work is done, or it could entail control over capital
>investment, prices, and output. To my way of thinking,
>the former is a pretty pale approximation of "Workers'
>control." You could stipulate that workers may not
>sell their plant's capital -- only buy it. This also
>would put quite a crimp in workers' control, as well
>as in ANY concept of economic efficiency.

The idea of self-management is not limited to how work gets done, but a principle that should be upheld for every decision to the greatest extent possible. Workers get to decide how work gets done in a given location since they are the ones affected. However, they have made promises to the rest of the community, i.e. we will produce 1M widgets this year, and they are expected to deliver. Likewise they are promised certain inputs (steel, tires, etc.) by other workers groups. But how they produce the widgets given these inputs is up to them.

>If we agree that the Hahnel-Albert set-up, which I do
>not claim to know much about, generates a "plan," then
>I guess we could say that some workers' control is
>compatible with certain types of "planning." So we
>can solve the problem by definition in either direction.

Worker control is compatible with democratic planning, yes.

>Certainly firms in markets do not operate without constraints
>imposed by the market, as well as other institutions. The
>question would seem to be, what conditions on its operations,
>by virtue of the HA democratic process, become binding on the
>firm, and in light of those constraints, can we conclude that
>the workers have control or something less than that.

Production units promise to reach certain output levels. Assuming they get the inputs they asked for, they are expected to deliver. Failure to reach their promised level of output would require either an explanation (i.e. we had equipment damaged in a storm or something) or a reduction in their allowed consumption. If you don't work as hard as you say you will, you have to settle for a lower income.

>But I would say the market, with its likely disadvantages, is an
inevitable >feature of these alternatives, on which can only be offset by a state, if
>not a plan.

This is a very strong statement - and I see no reason why a priori it should be correct. If you want to make such sweeping pronouncements, you should be prepared to back them up. Otherwise they are about as meaningful as my saying, "the sun will explode two weeks from now." The onus is on you to demonstrate that such a position is justified.

>Under real workers' control, you would have rich enterprises
>and poor ones, hence some inequality. But 'socialization of
>the market' is the only practical road I see to socialism.
>I'd expect less inequality, and more scope for welfare state
>alleviations of the effects of inequality.

In AH's proposal, which entails balanced job complexes and equilization of wage rates across society, the inequality you describe would not exist.


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