RE: [OPE] workers' management and socialism

Date: Wed Nov 05 2008 - 10:38:21 EST

> “[…] managers of the various economic organs of the community. They must be free to experiment with new products, with alternative methods of production, and with the > substitution of one kind of material, machine, or labour for another. But independence involves responsibility. The manager must be made to realize his responsibility for the > decisions that he makes. Now responsibility means in practice financial responsibility. The manager’s personal remuneration must in some way reflect his success or failure
> as a manager. Unless he bears responsibility for losses as well as for profits he will be tempted to embark on all sorts of risky experiments on the bare chance that one of
> them will turn out successfully. It will be ‘heads I win, tails you lose’ between himself and the community.” (Dickinson, 1971: 213-214)
Hi Alejandro:
Socialism requires WORKERS control and SELF-management.
Dickinson is assuming that managers are only motivated by the prospect of personal remuneration.
In so doing, he assumes that motivation under socialism will be the same as motivation under
capitalism. This reflects a lack of vision in the future. It also implicitly reflects an over-estimation
of the specialized knowledge required for administration/management. I am of the opinion
that it is within the capacity of workers in general to administer/manage their own work sites.
Whatever knowledge they lack individually can be gained by enlarging the body of workers
who are charged with decision-making: e.g. they can implement a "wisdom of crowds" model.
Don't you think that the "crowd" - a group of workers randomly selected and representative of
the workers overall - has the capacity for self-governance?
Of course, there must be accountability for administration/management. The accountability
must be to other workers. That's why it's so important that the system be organized in such
a way that if workers are unsatisfied with the performance of administrators that they
have the *right of recall*.
> Efficiency relates very few to the “inheritance of a more efficient array of plant and equipment at the
> time of the revolution” as Jerry seems to sustain. Once inherited an array of plant and equipment,
> how long can we attribute to it the efficiency of a productive unit? In a dynamic economy not so long.
It depends on what you mean by "not so long". In any dynamic economy, there are an array
of ages and 'vintages' of plant and equipment. It's the case, for instance, that newer factories
tend to be more efficient than older ones. By that I mean not simply the particular technologies
within the factories but the physical structure of the factories themselves (although, obviously,
the two are related). Do you think that it will be "not so long" before all of the older factories are
closed? To think that all factories which don't employ the current best technologies will
either be shut-down or have the technologies updated "not so long" after a revolution
underestimates some practical problems in the transitional period.
> I am against a cult of efficiency since it undermines the bases of a stable and healthy social life.
> But Jerry seems to have a “cult of asceticism” that in the current state of development of social
> productive forces will certainly lead to waste and productive paralysis.
See above. I think you are underestimating the degree to which socialism constitutes a
new mode of production in which different social relations of production are expressed.
As Mike Lebowitz put it recently, "Without workers' management, there can be no socialism".
In solidarity, Jerry

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Received on Wed Nov 5 10:42:29 2008

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