Authority = State = an Absolute Evil! (was Re: what to do)

Dace edace at
Tue Mar 28 21:46:23 PST 2000

>Do-it-yourself entrepreneurism (Ted's Plan B) may be fun for some
>(worker-ownership -- even of producer cooperatives -- under capitalism is
>basically self-exploitation in niche markets, though; well, no matter,
>anarchism is a wet dream of the petty producers anyhow); meanwhile, capital
>is happy to take advantage of anarchist abstention and continues to rule
>undemocratically on behalf of the minority.
If producer co-ops had any revolutionary potential, there'd be socialism by now in Spain and Italy, where networks of co-ops have thrived for decades. What I advocate is a commons, not worker-owned co-ops. Ownership of profitable enterprises should be shared among everyone who chooses to be a member of the commons. For one thing, co-ops have no incentive to grow. Whatever added profits an expanded firm derives must be shared among more workers, so what's the point? It's the commons as a whole that benefits from growth, not any individual firm, so ownership must be collective. Beyond that, there's the question of skilled production.

The Dutch sociologist Hans Pruijt has surveyed the results of numerous European experiments in re-skilling the industrial workplace. There's no question that efficiency rises when workers are no longer appendages to machines. Volvo, for instance, put up a factory in Uddevalla, Sweden based around "neo-craft" principles, in which teams of eight-to-ten workers simultaneously built four cars by hand. This method quickly surpassed the efficiency of standard assembly plants (though it failed to outperform "lean production" plants.) All the experiments Pruijt studied were cancelled by capitalists and managers fearful of the loss of workplace control. Clearly, this is not something that need concern an economic commons. Since the few experiments we've seen in Europe have never been carried very far, the gains in efficiency are potentially much greater than anyone realizes, particularly if we were to create production machinery which *enhanced* human skill rather than replacing it. As Braverman notes in *Labor and Monopoly Capital*, throughout this century engineers have intentionally designed machinery that extends labor power not by augmenting skill but by mechanizing production. We have no idea what kind of a workplace could be created with a skill-centered approach to technological development.

But such a program is never going to help fuel a socialist uprising unless it's part of a communal environment based on intelligence in consumption as much as work. Skilled work costs more money per hour of labor, making it problematic for both capitalist-owned and worker-owned firms. This is no longer a problem when the workers belong to a community in which consumption is not stupendously wasteful, and high living standards are maintained on far less money. In that case, there's no need to shift cost from labor-intensive to capital-intensive production. No need for complex machinery with its breakdowns and bottlenecks and semi-annual upgrades. No more undertrained and stressed out workers with their slow-downs, sabotage, injuries, absenteeism and continual turnover. This is a model of productivity that can never be seized by the capitalists and used against us. In short, the perfect weapon.

Btw, Yoshie-- thanks for the comment. Even a negative one is better than nothing.


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