[OPE-L] management and leadership under capitalism and socialism

From: Jurriaan Bendien (adsl675281@TISCALI.NL)
Date: Tue Nov 07 2006 - 15:51:30 EST

Jerry, a few replies:

Possibly I was a bit harsh on anarchism, and really the debate between
Marxian and anarchist radicalism is one of the most interesting  ones there
are. But I do not find anarchist explanations of power and authority very
convincing. In part, the problem seems to be that anarchism rejects the
exercise of authority often as something intrinsically bad. But this is not
a good basis for understanding where it comes from. As against that, the
Marxian analysis of political power is often also rather bad, as you can see
e.g. in the byzantine disputes over the Russian Revolution and its

I'm aware that self-management does not mean simply appointing (or electing)
a manager, and so forth. I was merely making the point that in enterprises
of any size you do need a clear allocation of responsibilities, and cannot
get away from skilled people exercising managerial tasks. Thus, even in
self-managed Yugoslav plants, you still had directors and managers by
necessity, and these people could not do their job if their authority was
not respected.

The question of productive labour is really about what kinds of labour
create net additions to the total mass of new value produced, in a given
interval. Marx rules out some kinds of labour on the ground that they are
not production, others because they only transfer ownership title or
redistribute products etc. or fall outside capitalist production altogether.

You say leadership arises out of respect rather than competence. But in
reality, that "respect" is based in good part on perceptions of competence.
In fact, you admit as much when you refer to "human relations" skills.

You said that "enlightened leaders view themselves as _part of_ the "masses"
rather than a group apart.  Enlightened leaders don't reproduce hierarchical
and authoritarian relations." I think it is more complex than that. Among
other things, enlightened leaders might have to work with, or inherit,
hierarchical relations.

The question is not really whether hierarchies are bad or not, but what kind
of hierarchies they are, and what they are based on.

Why do hierarchies form anyway? Because e.g. people are unequal in skills,
competencies, experience and so forth, or because of inequalities in wealth
and access to resources etc.

The critique of hierarchy is more that (1) rights, duties and privileges are
not distributed according to clear moral and technical criteria, but just
reflect and reproduce contingent power relations or arbitrary factors
ultimately based on the ownership of assets or the power to command others,
rather than personal worth, (2) hierarchy is applied to contexts which do
not really warrant or necessitate the application of a hierarchical model.

But that does not make ALL hierarchy ipsofacto objectionable. That is
precisely why the ideology of meritocracy remains influential - i.e. apart
from people arrogating positions in dubious ways, there are also those whose
position is reached through personal merit, giving credence to the idea that
you can improve your position through what you do yourself.


This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Thu Nov 30 2006 - 00:00:06 EST