Re: [OPE-L] Participatory and democratic production.

From: Paul Cockshott (clyder@GN.APC.ORG)
Date: Sun May 20 2007 - 17:27:33 EDT

Quoting Jerry Levy <Gerald_A_Levy@MSN.COM>:

> > > The process I was referring to is one where consumers as a
> > > group  decide  *ex ante* what should be produced and in
> > > what quantities.
> > How in concrete terms would you see this being done?
> Hi Paul C:
> Proposals could be made by any interested party (consumers, enterprises,
> direct producers,  scientists, etc.) about what to produce and in what
> quantities.  These proposals could then be posted at online sites that are
> accessible to the  public and people could post 'for' or 'against' comments
> at the sites. People could  then vote,  e.g. using a text message sent by a
> cell  phone.  It could be easily  structured in such a way that a person
> could vote  only once on any specific proposal.  After the passage of a
> reasonable period of time the votes are tabulated and authorization is then
> given to enterprises to either go ahead and produce x goods in y quantities
> or  not.  I realize this is sketchy, but  the details could be teased out.

There is a bandwidth mismatch here. I think the cellphone mechanism you
suggest is in principle practical, but is only worthwhile for more major
issues - should more railways or more roads be built, should a particular
major road project go ahead or not, should production of some major class
or good be restricted or expanded - for instance should cell phone networks
be constructed, should free wifi networks be built?

The vast number of different individual industrial products, most of
which are consumed only by a minority of people, means that the process
of having prior votes on all new products or changes in quantities
would be quite infeasible. It would also encourage irresponsible decision
making - produce more of lots of desireable things. Such decisions could
very quickly exceed the available labour resources required to make them.

There has to be some mechanism by which those who make decisions to
expend social resources know that they will have to contribute towards
the work done to meet that expenditure. This means either that there
would have to be an automatic and universal tax levied to pay for
all things voted on, or, to have some sort of market in consumer goods
where people gave up labour tokens in order to obtain goods.
> In solidarity, Jerry

Paul Cockshott

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