Re: [OPE] workers' management and socialism

From: Alejandro Agafonow <>
Date: Thu Nov 06 2008 - 18:15:54 EST

Polanyi offers a very thin definition of communism. But his point is that rationality in human societies doesn’t respond neither to the simplification of the “communistic psychology of the savage” nor to the “apocryphal propensity to barter”, alone.   I just imagine these administrators in your cooperativistic socialism being recalled because workers think they are demanding too much from them. The consequences for the output will be disastrous.   Firms have to do the best they can in the framework of catallactic competition and subjected to constitutional constraints democratically chosen. It doesn’t matter if the working day is fixed in 4 hours.   Regards,A. Agafonow ________________________________ De: GERALD LEVY <> Para: Outline on Political Economy mailing list <> Enviado: jueves, 6 de noviembre, 2008 22:29:28 Asunto: RE: [OPE] workers' management and socialism > Our position is very well summarized by the following quotation of Polanyi that I shared with you some time ago: > “Neither the crude egotism, nor the apocryphal propensity to barter, truck, and exchange, nor even the tendency to cater to > one’s self was in evidence. But equally discredited was the legend of the communistic psychology of the savage, his supposed > lack of appreciation for his own personal interests (Roughly, it appeared that man was very much the same all through the > ages. Taking his institutions not in isolation, but in their interrelation, he was mostly found to be behaving in a manner broadly > comprehensible to us). What appeared as “communism” was the fact that the productive or economic system was usually > arranged in such a fashion as not to threaten any individual with starvation. His place > at the camp fire, his share in the common resources, was secure to him, whatever part he happened to have played in hunt, > pasture, tillage, or gardening.” (pp. 112) Karl Polanyi, “Our Obsolete Market Mentality: Civilization Must Find a New > Thought Pattern”, Commentary, 3, 1947.     Hi Alejandro A:   This evidently refers to what Marx called "primitive communism" and thus has no bearing on our discussion.       > Besides, your statement: “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*”, is extremely problematic. Unsatisfied in what > sense?     Unsatisfied with the job performance of the administration. The causes for lack of satisfaction could be many: e.g. lack of consultation with workers, the pursuit of self-interest to the detriment of other workers, violations of socialist ethics and morality, et al.       > There are other mechanisms but “recalls” to guarantee that an administrator comply > with human and advanced standards in her/his administrative relation with workers.     Yes, no doubt there are many 'mechanisms' but the one most consistent with workers' self-management is that there is a democratic process whereby management is selected and that whoever has the honor of being selected to be an administrator must answer to other workers and if they are not satisfied with her/his/their performance then they can remove her/him/them  from the administration and then democratically select a replacement(s). The 'right of recall' simply echoes a basic socialist ethical value: those who administer workplaces and society are answerable to other workers and can be recalled  *at will* if they lose the confidence of their fellow citizen- workers.   In solidarity, Jerry

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