Anarchism / Marxism debates

Brett Knowlton brettk at
Tue Aug 17 15:48:38 PDT 1999

Apologies to being over the limit, but I haven't posted in a while so I'm hoping the moderator will spare me from his wrath.


I'm not going to be able to describe their entire system via an email or two. You should go to the source to get all of your questions answered. But I'll do my best.

>>> 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. . . .

>Suppose the unit is not happy with its assignment?
>Would rather produce more, less, or something different?

Nobody tells them how much to produce - the workers give themselves the assignment, and decide how much effort they will promise to expend. This is the key difference. There is no authority which gives them a quota. They come up with it themselves. If they want to work less, that's fine, but they will receive a lower income. If they want a larger income, they have to work longer hours. Simple. The workers are in control, but have to operate under the condition that effort yields income, which is imposed by the institutional structure. Each person gets to decide what level of effort is desirable.

>Suppose it would like to control, let's say via internal
>democratic process, who gets paid what in the firm?

Good question. I don't have a problem with it, although it seems sort of odd that some people would willingly take a pay cut so that others would get a raise.

I would imagine that this is something EACH individual would have to agree to - in other words, if everyone in the plant voted to dock your pay and increase everyone else's, this vote could be nullified without your permission. In other words, your right to equal pay is guaranteed and not subject to majority opinion (just like the US Constitution guarantees the right to free speech).

>Suppose it thinks it needs more capital than is assigned
>to it?

Then they can present their case to the community, and ultimately the wishes of the larger community will prevail. A production unit would not be allowed to suck up inputs simply because it wants them.

>Suppose nobody wants to work for the Ministry of Shit-Shoveling?

First of all, there would be no such Ministry. And if nobody wanted to shovel, then there would be no Shit-Shoveling. Of course, people would have to deal with the smell, but if they felt that was a better state of affairs than having to shovel, so be it. What's the problem?

>Are the workers really "in control"?


And finally, I'd like to hear some justification for your assertion that enterprises such as a participatory system would "inevitably lead to the use of markets." You failed to address this challenge.


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