Let’s get specific.
January 10, 2019 9:18 AM   Subscribe

“We believe in the socialist principles of common ownership and that worker control over workplaces can only be advanced through the creation and support of worker-owned firms, radical trade unions, workers’ and neighborhood councils, popular assemblies, credit unions and alternative banking systems, community land trusts, and other directly democratic non-state institutions. The power of socialist parties and socialist governments should be subordinated to these more decentralized grassroots formations.”” Dual Power: A Strategy To Build Socialism In Our Time
posted by The Whelk (19 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
 
Be quiet! I order you to be quiet!
posted by kleinsteradikaleminderheit at 9:28 AM on January 10 [4 favorites]


The latest episode of the Bruenigs podcast is a Matt solo episode where he devotes a good amount of the time to why he thinks state owned, by way of something like a sovereign wealth fund, companies are better for workers than co-ops and other more decentralized structures. Link.

The points he made that struck me as most important were around how the expected behaviour to maximize one's return from working in a cop-op was to work there for a long time, which doesn't match how people will often switch jobs or move around within the same profession. Also that some firms succeeding while others fail can be less hard on workers if the state takes the loss and not the worker-owners.
posted by Space Coyote at 9:28 AM on January 10 [7 favorites]


they should be linked. look at what the elder Lumumba was doing in Jackson, MS, before he passed away, versus what grassroots has done.
posted by eustatic at 10:12 AM on January 10 [1 favorite]


The latest episode of the Bruenigs podcast is a Matt solo episode where he devotes a good amount of the time to why he thinks state owned, by way of something like a sovereign wealth fund, companies are better for workers than co-ops

Of course he does. That is kind of the Bruenigs' whole schtick.
posted by trunk muffins at 10:21 AM on January 10


> The power of socialist parties and socialist governments should be subordinated to these more decentralized grassroots formations.

Does it strike anyone as a little odd that what is essentially the idea of pluralist democracy has been rebranded as a radical solution?
posted by cirgue at 10:23 AM on January 10 [2 favorites]


which doesn't match how people will often switch jobs or move around within the same profession

It does match worker behavior in the days of more stable corporate structures and worker benefits, though. Most people don't actually want to change jobs every three years. Where people are not commonly fired except for cause and where tenure is rewarded--in the present day, that is, in government jobs with pensions--people tend to stay a long time.
posted by praemunire at 10:27 AM on January 10 [13 favorites]


(Also, once they're at sufficient scale [which is, admittedly, the trick], there's nothing stopping worker coops from entering into joint agreements so that, e.g., pension credit can be transferred amongst coops.)
posted by praemunire at 10:28 AM on January 10 [2 favorites]


Does it strike anyone as a little odd that what is essentially the idea of pluralist democracy has been rebranded as a radical solution?

What socialism adds is the threat of coordinated action from below. This threat is used to secure the ultimate aim of pluralist democracy: the social, spiritual, economic and intellectual emancipation of all citizens.
posted by No Robots at 10:33 AM on January 10


So what’s stoping this from happening already?
posted by Middlemarch at 12:00 PM on January 10


So what’s stoping this from happening already?

You first.
posted by lstanley at 12:30 PM on January 10 [5 favorites]


Millions of people are implementing libertarian socialism in their lives. Scaling down and buying local are just two common measures.
posted by No Robots at 12:36 PM on January 10


Wait, so what you're saying is, my trying to convince people to get chickens is socialist propaganda? I feel so badass!
posted by ragtag at 1:20 PM on January 10 [1 favorite]


In Canada we (still) have what are called Crown corporations - "...peculiar hybrid entities — somewhere between a government body and a private enterprise. They are wholly owned by the state but operate at arm's length from government.".
posted by porpoise at 1:30 PM on January 10 [1 favorite]


my trying to convince people to get chickens is socialist propaganda? I feel so badass!

Righteous, bro! This is socialism we can own for ourselves.

Not to be a drag, but the welfare of other life-forms is not to be forgotten as we build the New Jerusalem. Make sure those chickens are happy.
posted by No Robots at 1:32 PM on January 10 [2 favorites]


Not a drag at all. ♥
posted by ragtag at 1:46 PM on January 10


Wait, so what you're saying is, my trying to convince people to get chickens is socialist propaganda? I feel so badass!

Empowering people to end ceding the means of production to Big Ag whilst replacing it with a decentralised community level method that also minimises transport costs and maximises animal welfare?

Sounds pretty socialist. *coughs*also something something means of production*coughs*
posted by jaduncan at 2:29 PM on January 10 [5 favorites]


So what’s stoping this from happening already?

Not much, compared to, say, waiting around for a populist revolution.

Access to capital is probably one issue. Typically, firms trade fractional ownership in exchange for capital, in order to bootstrap themselves. It's hard to get going and compete with existing businesses without running up debt in the beginning, and most VC-types want an ownership stake. A lending pool that didn't demand this, or better yet that offered preferable terms to employee owned or co-op companies, would probably make a big difference. (Maybe it could itself be a non-profit, and recycle any interest into more capital for lending? This is IIRC how Grameen Bank and some other "community development banks" that do microlending work, although it also has government backing.)

There are a fair number of existing businesses with owners who want to exit (generally, to retire), and it's been noted that this could be a good source for employee-owned companies. The employees basically buy the existing owner out gradually over time until they own it free and clear. So in those instances, what you really need is mindshare—it's planting the idea that this is a viable model for ownership and that it's preferable (say) to just selling out to a competitor and letting them strip the organization for parts or just eliminate it as a rival.
posted by Kadin2048 at 3:14 PM on January 10 [3 favorites]


In Canada we (still) have what are called Crown corporations - "...peculiar hybrid entities — somewhere between a government body and a private enterprise. They are wholly owned by the state but operate at arm's length from government.".

Public Benefit Corporations/Public Authorities operate much the same way and are pretty humdrum normal down here in the USA. I first learned of them via the wild career of Robert Moses, who made himself the power behind the throne in NYC for decades through canny use of the Triborough Bridge Authority.
posted by AdamCSnider at 3:15 PM on January 10 [3 favorites]


So, I gotta assume the audience for this has to be other democratic socialists who are not in the libertarian tendency?

Which highlights what I think of as one of the biggest fundamental problems of socialists in general: claiming to speak for the interests of the working class while thinking that what appeals to them most is a theoretical framework for praxis.

I really do agree with most of their aims — I really do think dual power is a fantastic strategy for improving the lives of working class people. But I get annoyed at the inability to recognize things like that their bolded stated goal isn't improving the lives of working class people, it's "delegitimizing the state." Which, sure, fine, but that will frequently conflict with making the lives of working class people better.
posted by klangklangston at 10:22 PM on January 10 [2 favorites]


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