Follow

Re: that last boost, subtoot-ishing because IDK how on topic this is.

I've watched a lot of Richard Wolff lately and I love learning about workplace democracy. Coop-ifying and unionising the economy is unequivocally good.

But the one problem here is that a lot of these solutions are mostly labour based, and seems to take it granted that in a just world there's good work for everyone.

Is it so? Should it be so? Or should our livelihoods be detached from income and labour? Is this sustainable?

· · Web · 4 · 1 · 1

I can understand how just labour is cheaper because you only need a margin in order to receive income, not margin+surplus so that the equal-er pigs are well fed.

We could have save 20hr work weeks, divide the work up, and have just housing and markets that drive down the costs of survival and living.

But would we have enough work for everyone after all that?

@cadadr i think the labour solution is more like a necessary step of liberation inside the capitalist system? in a local level, there's always collective labour to maintain the community, if you think about it. the problem is when labour is associated with means of survival.

@olivia Admitting that (and I find that pretty agreeable), what would be the ideal next / concurrent step(s)? UBI? Automation? "Decommercialisation of survival" (which is a smart sounding term I just made up for sth. like democratic communism where the bottom half of Maslow's hierarchy is fully decommodified)?

I'm uninformed about the maths behind all these ideas sadly...

@cadadr A long time back (sometime between 2011 and 2018 probably), and likely on G+, I looked into co-ops and where and how they seem to work.

First, there are a number of different types of co-ops, including some HYUUUUGE producer co-ops. Visa and Mastercard both started as same, though they reverted to a more traditional business organisation in the 1990s AFAIR. Former CEO Dee Hock has written two books on his "chaordic" principles, "Birth of the Chaordic Age" and "One from Many". en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dee_Hock

Worker co-ops are a different story, and (from memory, not notes), I recall these being mostly fairly loosely-organised activities, with Wolff's favourite, the Mondragon Co-operative, being the notable exception.

Food service, especially restaurants, cafes, and groceries.
Some farms.
Acting groups. The San Francisco Mime Troup, maybe, or another group Peter Coyote was active with in the 1960s/70s.
Several publishing houses.
Smaller technical activities, such as bike shops and the like.

What you don't see a lot of is massive technical or industrial concerns, at least not that have come across. No Co-Op Ford, GM, Siemans, IBM, or Boeing (though the Free Software movement might be an alternative organisational model). There's a lot of creative work (where individuals are highly independent), or loosely-coordinated work (restaurants/cafes). Little that's got strict regulation or trust concerns.

There are also worker-owned companies and co-op housing (a form of asset ownership), among others.

#CoOps #CoOperatives #WorkerCoOps #WorkerCooperatives

@dredmorbius @cadadr I think the most notable — and usually not as often mentioned in these fedi discussions — co-op sector is food production, all the way from agriculture to production to grocery stores. It's also the most stabilized, which is probably why it is so often forgotten. In many countries the majority of food chain is in co-operative hands.

@Stoori @dredmorbius I've first heard about this during my undergrad (I did Italianistics), and it's fascinating. Works so well, in Italian the word coop is almost synonymous to (super)market.

@Stoori True, though keep in mind that much of that ag cooperative structure is producer co-ops. Some of this is a relic of various ag policy decisions (notably in the US), as well as what had until recent decades still been a pretty loosely-structured and decentralised sector.

What's been happening under major producer monopolies (Tyson Chicken, Monsanto and ConAgra for a whole slew of grains and field crops, Armour in pork, IIRC) is that "independent farmers" are effectively serfs or sharecroppers to the monopolies. The documentary "Food, Inc." covered this pretty well about a decade ago.

You've got integration of independent owner-producers, but it's NOT a cooperative model. It's feudal.

@cadadr

@dredmorbius For me it basically looks like you're actually talking about the general problem that when a co-operative gets bigger, its democratic member control gets more complicated, and if not enough structural changes are made, you may end up with an undemocratic managerial ”co-op”.

Or to put it differently, ”how it started” and ”how is it going” are usually very different pictures in big co-ops. @cadadr

@Stoori AFAIU
capitalist coops of the kind @dredmorbius is referring to are completely different from worker and/or consumer coops, and they are basically the haute-bourgoisie ganging up on workers and consumers. While they are semantically in the same category, philosophically / economically they're fairly alien to the kind of coops that we'd wish see be established.

@cadadr @dredmorbius It's good that you clarify that you're only referrening to part of the co-operative movement and not to the whole. (There's also more, like banking & mutual insurance and all kinds of service & infrastucture co-ops.)

But before you bash too much on producer co-ops categorically, take a look at what they can achieve outside the North Atlantic sphere. This example is from Rwanda. youtube.com/watch?v=19pIjyWrg4

@Stoori @dredmorbius Thanks for the link! I'm very fresh to this whole thing and still learning, slowly.

Is Corporiz Ntende not a worker coop? Am I misunderstanding it? Frankly I don't really grok the terminology and don't know the history so chances are I'm totally mixing concepts up.

@cadadr @dredmorbius The video isn't exactly clear on that point, and whatever the situation is, it should be viewed against the Rwandan land reform (eg centreforpublicimpact.org/case), which I by no means know well.

But as I've understood (and I can be wrong), land is owned by individual small farmers, who in this case have joined their forces to acquire supplies, market their products, educate themselves etc. collectively.

That's how producer co-ops have started, whatever some of them may be today.

@cadadr @dredmorbius Anyway, the concept of a co-op can be viewed from different angles, which raises the risk of not talking about the same thing on online discussions.

One angle is legal: a co-op is whatever is legally a co-op. This is problematic, because every country has a different legal definition for a cooperative, and many of those laws don't have strict requirements on the co-operative nature of operations. This is how you can get ”fake” cooperatives or miss some de facto co-ops.
1/2

@cadadr @dredmorbius The other angle is to look at what are the common values and principles that eg. ICA has defined. By this view, a cooperative can be any organization, regardless of its legal form, that adheres to these values and principles. ica.coop/en/cooperatives/coope

There are other angles too, like viewing only one part of cooperatives as ”true” and denouncing the others. But those two are the most prominent.
2/2

@dredmorbius @Stoori (lil P.S. in my original toot with coops I strictly mean, but did not openly refer to, consumer and worker coops; just to clarify, not to detract from this nice strand of discussion)

@dredmorbius @Stoori @cadadr

> Tyson Chicken, Monsanto and ConAgra for a whole slew of grains and field crops, Armour in pork, IIRC) is that "independent farmers" are effectively serfs or sharecroppers to the monopolies.

Wait a minute. Are any of those cooperatives? for example
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tyson_Fo
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conagra_

Contract farmers for them are definitely serfs. But not co-op members...

But many farmer co-ops were started by farmer orgs and then got big and changed character.

@bhaugen No, they are NOT cooperatives.

They are a producer (or marketer)-held combine of multiple independent producers.

But whereas in a producer-coop, those producers would be coequal members, under the combine model, the original producers (farmers / poultry farms / hog farms) are serfs or sharecroppers.

@Stoori @cadadr

@dredmorbius Wrt that last bit Wolff recently talked about a policy proposal of UK Labour party where workers get state subsidised right of first refusal when companies are being sold, which could see the transition of those huge-capital huge-industry corporations to worker owned democratic structures.

Thinking about that I now imagine a competitor in aeronautics being funded on indiegogo 😂

"$5: Supporter in spirit.
You get a model Doeing A696 and a 2030 agenda signed by all the workers!"

@dredmorbius We've seen in Turkey in the last couple of decades the decimation of agriculture by construction industry that needed emigration to cities and imports "industry" that exploited unstable prices esp. since early 2010s.

A fully coop-ified agriculture industry would be so much more resistant to all these pressures but Turkish right has systematically undone Kemalist and post-Atatürk efforts to industrialise and educate the agrarian majority of the country and
1/

@dredmorbius worked tirelessly to keep them in the medieval conditions that have persisted into 20th century under the Ottoman Empire.

Accost any sufficiently old Turkish leftist and they'll begin reminiscing and weeping about Village Institutes, which were indeed a marvel the landowner (in the late-feudal sense) robbed the country of.

Adnan Menderes' govt has been instrumental in all that acting not much differently than todays govt.

Oh wait, I'm again in off-topic land 🤦

@cadadr “Conservatives are not necessarily stupid, but most stupid people are conservatives...
I never meant to say that the Conservatives are generally stupid. I meant to say that stupid people are generally Conservative. I believe that is so obviously and universally admitted a principle that I hardly think any gentleman will deny it. Suppose any party, in addition to whatever share it may possess of the ability of the community, has nearly the whole of its stupidity, that party must, by the law of its constitution, be the stupidest party; and I do not see why honorable gentlemen should see that position as at all offensive to them, for it ensures their being always an extremely powerful party . . . There is so much dense, solid force in sheer stupidity, that any body of able men with that force pressing behind them may ensure victory in many a struggle, and many a victory the Conservative party has gained through that power."
John Stuart Mill ( British philosopher, economist, and liberal member of Parliament for Westminster from 1865 to 68 )”

Conservatives love the ignorant and oppressed. So much easier to control.

@cadadr There's a set of ideas I've been chasing for a few years under the general heading #MoreMoneyThanGod.

The question isn't how to get the money. Tue question is if financial constraints were lifted --- if you had access to an unlimited supply of financial capital, even if just as a thought experiment --- what are the changes, policies, services, institutions, etc., you'd put in place to improve overall conditions.

One variant of that looks at bootstrapping a collective / cooperative / worker-owned / resident-owned combine. Probably focusing on the Maslovian base (food, shelter, security), and building from there.

Whether that could be made to work, and what the hitches might be, I'm not sure of.

Ideally, the system would be self-sustaining, if not necessarily rolling in dough.

@dredmorbius Rather than Maslovian base, I'd go for Maslovian half: split the pyramid in half along the vertical median and one half is squarely dependent on economy and labour.

E.g. for sexuality and intimacy see Ghodsee's interviews on Democracy at Work, it's astonishing how it affects all levels of M's hierarchy.

Another aspect is e.g. higher ed., coopified universities could give power to students and researchers over the abusive ecclesiastic structure we have inherited from Charlemagne.

CW: Literal Communism 

@cadadr

A lot of people forget that Marx’s guideline “To each according to their contribution,” where everyone must work, is meant to be a stepping stone to another, even more idealized world, based around the philosophy:

From each according to their ability, To each according to their need

This is implemented once the world reaches post-scarcity, a state where supply drastically exceeds demand. such a state is avoided at all costs by a Capitalist society, because it would cause a market collapse, or more transparently, the bourgeoisie would no longer have means with which to control the proletariat other than outright violence, because the factors that enforce the false consciousness will have collapsed.

Lots of people believe that once post-scarcity is achieved, the human race will succumb to a mythical event called the Malthusian catastrophe; a point at which food cannot be grown fast enough to sustain the growing human population. But, the Malthusian Catastrophe was based on numerous problematic assumptions; I’ll correct them now:

The average number of children is not, in fact, increasing as Malthus predicted
in a Communist society, the IP-related stigma attached to GMOs would disappear, meaning that crops would be able to produce more nutritional content for the same amount of land
Hydroponics is a thing, meaning that arable land is not a function of area but of volume

Of course, none of this means shit if fossil fuel cartels succeed in destroying the planet before we can erode the deceptively delicate feedback loops that keep Capitalism afloat.

@cadadr

One of the remarkable things about the advance of industrial technology is that the amount of labour required to produce the necessities & even luxuries of life is a tiny fraction of what it was even a few generations ago. This can be seen by the very small number of people engaged in agriculture in, for example, the American Middle West, which produces a large proportion of the world's food. In a very real way, we have broken the curse of Adam.

(cont'd)

@cadadr

Thanks, however, to the failure of our social institutions & models to keep up, many people in the advanced countries are now working purely synthetic jobs, created entirely because everybody must have a job, because it would be outrageous if they were allowed to live otherwise. (Call center jobs are a special example.) Buckminster Fuller pointed out in the 1960s how absurd this was, but his solution (essentially, graduate school with stipends) is less broadly applicable

(cont'd)

@cadadr

…than he thought, I deem.

Ultimately, there is no substitute for the reality of what Marxism only pays lip service to, "the workers' control of the means of production". If you are part of a group of workers who own an enterprise, then as less work is required, you can work less, & still live as well as before. Productivity growth goes to you, instead of to some vampire.

State Communism, I think, is unlikely ever to achieve this. Cooperativism might.

Sign in to participate in the conversation
Mastodon @ SDF

"I appreciate SDF but it's a general-purpose server and the name doesn't make it obvious that it's about art." - Eugen Rochko