This blog started out as a companion piece to my book, Musings from the Christian Left (excerpts of which can be found in the July 2004 link) and to support a planned radio show. Now, its simply a long term writing project from a Christian Left Libertarian perspective (meaning I often argue for liberty within the (Catholic) Church, rather than liberty because the church takes care of a conservative view of morality.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Controlling the Means

In September, I was the guest speaker at the DC Metro Chapter of Democracy@Work, or D@W, which seeks to do community efforts to bring Richard Wolff’s book into action. Before my talk, I wrote the usual definition of socialism on the white board.

Workers control the means of production.

I then wrote the words Bureaucrats, and Capitalists above the word workers, voters below the word workers and the words consumption and government above the word production. Like this:

Capitalists                                    
Bureaucrats                                 
Workers control the means of production/consumption/government
Voters

Most good comrades could explain this diagram rather well, but I will repeat what I said, with a few additions. I noted that while we want workers to control the means of production, we are stuck in capitalism, where capitalists control both the means of production and the means of consumption, both through monopolistic pricing and by holding down wages, which deprives workers of all they deserve to consume. Capitalists also control the means of government, mostly by controlling voters through campaign ads and funding wedge issues, like abortion and gay rights. This assures that the Capitalists control the Workers.

By Bureaucrats, I meant party officials in state socialisms, who control government, consumption and production, was well as the workers and voters, with no union rights or alternative candidates. When Bureaucrats control the means of consumption, they get the best stuff and when they don’t deliver consumer goods, nothing happens to them. Bureaucratic control was essentially control by gentry, which sounds like feudalism to me.

Neo-liberalism is capitalism with better stuff and more of it, especially if the neo-liberals remember how Keynesianism works. Democratic Socialsim has much better stuff and better government and there may even be quality circles at work or an ESOP to give the illusion of control over the means or production, but there is still something missing, which is sometimes even more annoying than straight capitalism.

Socialism happens when workers first control the means of consumption, which makes make v. buy decisions on production really easy. Workes can make the same choices about government in house health care v. purchased or government healthcare, or education, or infrastructure, or housing or food. More important is the choice between exernal finance with interest or cooperative finance with less profit. Most important is the question of management: meritocracy, election or lowest bidder, from foreman to CEO. Making that last choice apparent will cost me clients. 

Other options to consider are providing housing to younger workers near the workplace, higher pay v. free cafeteria for breakfast, lunch, clothing, cooperative markets, how to deal with multi-national workers and supply chains (absorb them silly comrades). 

As voters we decide whether to support a Mars mission (instead of weapons) which will surely yield habitat technology that comrades can use to grow their own food to work shorter days and fewer years (with less cash). Most importantly, do we want to borrow money to buy out the capitalists or divert Social Security employer contributions to worker ownership and control, or maybe both. There is lots more to consider, but you get the idea. We can grow as big as we want and the bigger we go, the more we control the means of production and consumption, especially if we control the profits (instead of the capitalists doing so). Workers currently chose money over group consumption and more control over production, even if they only do so implicitly and they have no access to the profits unless they borrow them back on credit and take slavery to a whole new level, like in the 2000s. That is also why higher taxes are better than selling bonds to rich people. How is this not obvious, even to the neo-libs?

I am available to give this talk anywhere desired, optimally where duck is served.

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