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October 24, 2012

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What?!! Workers owning the means of production?!! Blasphemy.

All power to the soviets.

The problem with THAT kind of "broad based ownership of productive enterprises", is that collective enterprises tend to be effectively owned by those who manage them, not the peons who nominally make up the collective. The pigs end up more equal than the other animals. This is inherent in the current industrial mode of manufacturing, regardless of how you assign the shares.

I see more promise in http://www.reprap.org/wiki/RepRap>this sort of broad based ownership of the means of production. It should ultimately culminate in something like the nanofactory envisioned by Drexler, capable of manufacturing anything it is given the design for, and has enough basic starting materials for.

Wide ownership of something like that is the real 'ownership society', where people can live self-sufficiently except for intellectual commerce, without having to labor for others unless they feel like it.

Obviously, god intended this to happen.

Brett, self replicating Amway distributorships does not strike me as the road to broadly base social wealth, and really, "except for intellectual commerce"? Are you serious? How big is this loophole? Let me describe the number of trucks that may drive though this one.

So when can I replicate my Rolls? Wouldn't it be easier to just go to Walmart?

What would it actually look like to have a society organized around broad-based ownership of productive enterprises?.

Terrific.

Thanks, russell.

There is an annual film festival here that was started by a colleague of mine and last year, 2 documentaries about the Mondragon project were shown.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F2S78cLoJb4
and
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ok4EfKlOuN4

Bobbyp, as E.O.Wilson once said of Marxism, "Wonderful theory, wrong species." Collective ownership sounds good to a lot of people, but it has a terrifyingly bad track record when you try to make it scale.

The reason for this is quite clear: The essence of ownership is control, and collectives can't control jack. They have to delegate control, and the people it's delegated end up the practical owners, the "pigs" to use Orwell's term.

You get around this on the small scale, like a family, only because the bonds of love make the self-interest of the "manager" favorable to the "managed". And because direct oversight of the managers is feasible on the small scale.

But it just doesn't scale, and so is no model for society.

There's no greater freedom than being able to tell other people to go to hell, and get away with it. Self-sufficiency would provide that freedom. It should be our goal. Otherwise we're all wage slaves, even if the slave master is nominally of our own choosing.

The pigs end up more equal than the other animals.

Manifestly, the pigs at Mondragon are not more equal than the other animals. That's the point.

Brett, did you actually read any of the articles?

it has a terrifyingly bad track record when you try to make it scale.

Mondragon did $14B last year and comprises something like 85K people.

That's a pretty big company.

as E.O.Wilson once said of Marxism, "Wonderful theory, wrong species."

Mondragon is not a Marxist organization. It exists and functions very successfully in a global market economy, with no directives "from above".

To Wilson's observation, I would counter not wrong species, but wrong culture.

There is absolutely nothing to prevent folks here from doing exactly what Mondragon has done, other than an interest and willingness to do so.

Overall, I guess my point in presenting this is to demonstrate that, in fact, human beings are perfectly capable of forming, operating, and living in co-operative organizations.

What you claim to be universally true of "human nature" is not, as it turns out, so.

There are significant *cultural* reasons that it would be hard to do what Mondragon has done here in the US.

Cultures change.

Mondragon sounds like a perfectly good capitalist company to me. It's just that it has an interesting management style, and it's decided to distribute its stock to its employees instead of selling it to private or public investors.

I always thought that Bush was on to something incredibly important with his ownership society schtick. Productivity improvements from automation could easily leave us with an economy with 75% structural unemployment. (It'll take a few decades, but the trend isn't going away...)

If that's true, you can deal with the problem in 3 ways:

1) Wait for a huge die-back to bring human population into balance with workforce requirements. As somebody said recently, "Not optimal."

2) Support the 75% in a generous welfare state. This might be possible, because the kinds of productivity improvements that give you 75% unemployment also give you goods and services that are so cheap that you can support 75% of the population on 25% or so of GDP.

3) Rather than paying everybody welfare, set up a big honkin' sovereign wealth fund and issue shares of it to everybody. Then they can live off the capital appreciation, or the dividends, or they can sell their shares and reinvest in something with a bigger return.

I find the prospect of most of the population becoming clients of the state incredibly dreary, so I kinda like the idea of everybody owning a piece of the pie. Either way, though, you're still talking about taxing 25% or so of GDP and distributing it to the unemployed.

Come to think of it, isn't this pretty much the Chinese model? Per Tian and Estrin, the Chinese government owns a majority interest in 31% of all publicly listed Chinese companies. It's a mighty fine way to hide a big chunk of the tax bill...

"There's no greater freedom than being able to tell other people to go to hell, and get away with it."

The internet isn't good enough for you?

There's something about those self-replicating machines that reminds me of an old girlfriend:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L7SkrYF8lCU


So once you've replicated your self-replicating machine parts, would you have to manufacture a FEDX truck and plane to deliver the thing to your friend. Or would you have the FEDX guy pick it up at your self-replicated quonset hut and just mutter "Go to Hell" under your breath as he drove away.

Could that thing make self-replicating intelligent drones which would fly away and send other people TO Hell and then self replicate themselves for future larger and self-determined missions?

What if I just wanted to make a milkshake? Would I have to first make a blender and then have to disassemble and clean the machine to remove the tiny metal shavings caught in its works BEFORE I prepare the shake?

Well, I could use my new blender, if I'm still in the mood for a shake.

Say, the quonset hut housing my self-replicating replicators caught fire during the night?

Would I have to crank up my spare self-replicating machine in the storage shed and make a hook and ladder truck, complete with mechanical dalmation (cuts overhead) and dig a well and pump the water out and squirt the fire because the f*ckers down at the public works department, who I told to go to hell just last week had already shown up and removed the fire hydrant down the street with their self-replicated backhoe?

Why, you'd have to go down there with your self-manufactured gun and introduce them to Hell.

Can those machines print $50 dollar bills?

Sign me up.

If bobbyp is right and this kind of Amway pyramid structure is instituted, why do I get the feeling that a bunch of humorless engineers would be calling the shots?

I mean, have you ever been to an AMWAY meeting? The guy just above you on the pyramid, not to mention the rest of the pyramiders atop one another's shoulders like the final stunt in an Olympic cheer-leading contest, don't take "go to hell" for an answer.

They want to be fed, just like Audrey.

I have absolutely no problem whatever with companies that put ownership of the company with the employees, in theory.

I'm perfectly fine with waiting and seeing how it pans out. If it succeeds, fine. If it fails: also fine.

In general I have little problem with russell's general desire to see a greater distribution of wealth; I just don't see a way to make that happen without enacting new policies via legislation and inevitably opening up a whole new set of unanticipated consequences. If this is the way to get where russell would prefer things to be, and it's accomplished by voluntary participation, and it works, I have no problem with it.

I guess I'm even more libertarian in that regard than Brett: try any damned thing that you please, provided it's legal. If it works, and people like it, it just might catch on.

To go one step further: I don't have a problem with communal living. Really, I encourage that kind of thing. Where I dig in my heels, though, is coercion of others who don't want to play that game.

If you don't like the corporate game in this country, it's perfectly possible to invent a new one. It just takes some thinking, and some effort, and some like-minded others.

Again, trying to instantiate that kind of thing using the government is, IMHO, ass-backward. And objectionable to me for a whole lot of reasons besides that it's ass-backward.

TheRadicalModerate wrote:

"Productivity improvements from automation could easily leave us with an economy with 75% structural unemployment. (It'll take a few decades, but the trend isn't going away...)"

This seems about right. Especially after the self-replicating machine replaces the human laborers making the robots today.

There's reason to hope, however, given how capitalism, versus collectivism, brings out the best in us.

Perhaps we could avoid the mass die-off because the self altruists among the winning 25% would give in to enlightened self-interest and make the 75% into paid sex slaves.

We'd basically be blowing the Koch brothers on a rotating basis.

Kinda like now, only with more structure.

Nope, scratch that.

They've got that covered too.

http://www.allvoices.com/contributed-news/7289715-the-worlds-most-lifelike-sex-dolls

By 2050, these deals will be self-replicating themselves too and telling US how they like it.

"To go one step further: I don't have a problem with communal living. Really, I encourage that kind of thing."

Me, too.

Now that I'm just getting over my memory of that experience of those lengthy bi-weekly meetings which began with the terrifying prospect that we all had to, let's say, turn to Debbie (what good is a commune if she's communing with everyone in the joint except for me) and be honest with her and make her cry, and closed (yet another 45 minutes when instead I could have been hoeing the communal rutabagas), with someone, probably Brett, raising their hand and saying "I'd just like to tell the person, whomever he or she is, who has been eating my cheese, to go to hell! My mother sent me that cheese. Eat the communal cheese, for chrissakes!"

Then the insufferable moderator/facilitator would open the floor for discussion, which had me hoping my breath didn't smell of cheese.

TheRadicalModerate: "I always thought that Bush was on to something incredibly important with his ownership society schtick."

Bush, or more probably, Rove, was a master at using language to sound good but be deceptive. Cf: "strong money policy" and "we know Saddam had chemical weapons"

His "Ownership society" meant that the peons are owned by the wealthy.

If you don't like the corporate game in this country, it's perfectly possible to invent a new one. It just takes some thinking, and some effort, and some like-minded others.

Unless I'm missing something, this sounds very much like what Mondragon did, only in another country. No changes though government required AFAICT.

I find the prospect of most of the population becoming clients of the state incredibly dreary, so I kinda like the idea of everybody owning a piece of the pie. Either way, though, you're still talking about taxing 25% or so of GDP and distributing it to the unemployed.

I like the idea of more people being able to make music (live music!); play sports; produce plays; create gardens; care for the elderly, young children and the sick; write books; make really interesting food; sculpt, paint or generally create; do environmental remediation; and teach other people to do any of those things or whatever else people can come up with, perhaps including figuring out ways to do all of those things, and everything else, while using as few resources as possible.

Someone still has to buy the widgets the robots make. The guy who owns the robots might want to see a show or enjoy some art or catch a game of downhill soccer. He can pay people to provide the stuff the robots can't and they can buy his widgets.

Unless I'm missing something, this sounds very much like what Mondragon did, only in another country. No changes though government required AFAICT.

Yes, I am aware of that. And I approve of that, which was more or less my point.

Again, trying to instantiate that kind of thing using the government is, IMHO, ass-backward.

In this country, there already exists a pretty solid amount of legal and social support for something like Mondragon. The existing corporate and tax law recognizes and is fairly favorable toward employee owned corporations.

And there actually are a pretty large number of quite successful employee-owned corporations in the US. I don't know if they generally demonstrate the same level of democratic governance as is found in Mondragon, but at least more of the money goes to folks who do the stuff that the enterprise gets paid for.

There is, in the US, a bias toward capital owners, which may or may not be a good thing. Changing that would almost certainly have unforeseen consequences. As, for that matter, would not changing it.

The beauty (to my eye) of employee ownership is that it fits well with our existing bias toward owners and capital investors. The workers are the owners, and (in the case of Mondragon) the most significant capital investors also.

So, huge changes to the existing legal and other social and institutional infrastructure, perhaps not required.

Somewhat off topic, but I wish I could run an alternate-universe simulation in which the federal minimum wage would be raised to $15/hr and the standard work week would be reduced to 30 hrs.

I'm not confident enough in those things to be willing to try them in the real world (and I can do that sort of thing, in case any of you weren't aware of the true extent of my powers), but I suspect they might correct some of the problematic dynamics of our economy.

Fun stuff to think about, at least for me.

Then the insufferable moderator/facilitator would open the floor for discussion

Ouch! I resemble that remark! (--;)

"Mondragon" sounds like the name of the evil omnipresent corporation that controls every aspect of the words, in a video game. and it's your job to infiltrate the company, peering into its activities and digging deeper and deeper into the heavily fortified headquarters (which are located on a remote island, for world map-limiting purposes). and eventually, you enter the big room at the core of the building and discover that everything is run by ... a dragon, the dragon, Mondragon.

words = world

I think employee ownership is a great idea. In fact there are successful examples in the US, albeit in small to medium size companies.

I don't really see where would be a decided need to alter existing law to make it happen (again, it already has happened here and there). The employees simply fill existing roles as shareholders and board members.

The real shift, as already mentioned, needs to be cultural. Venture capitalists tend to trust a single (ostensibly) responsible individual (think CEO) to assemble an executive team of like minded and like qualified professionals. Ivy League credentials and past executive experience count heavily in establishing the trust required to finalize the investment of fortunes on the promise of continuous high returns. There's a network effect that is firmly entrenched. Furthmore, the investors of capital want to know that the CEO (and executive team/board) is going to do whatever it takes to maximize returns year after year. There is a sense that employee ownership would create a conflict of interest - with employees doing what is best for them versus what is best for the capitalist investor. For this reason, the best way to bring about more employee owned businesses is to have the employees start up the businesses themsleves with their own capital. But therein lies the rub. Where do working Joes come up with that kind of money?

something like the nanofactory envisioned by Drexler, capable of manufacturing anything it is given the design for, and has enough basic starting materials for.

Brett, Drexler is not the only one with a vision for micro-manufacturing. There's a whole collection of people who have gotten way enthused about 3-D printing, and how it will revolutionize things.

And in some regards, they are are correct. I was chatting with a freind yesterday, who had to get a crown replaced. In the past, that would have been a matter of getting a temporary, and a mold made. And then another visit to the dentist, after the permanent crown had been cast, to put it on.

But not this month. The dentist just took a scan, and printed off the new crown and cured it in under half an hour. And then put the permanent crown on. One visit and done! So in some senses, the future is already here.

But what Drexler and the others miss, I think, is that someone first has to create the originals. Yes, someday I may be able to, as bobbyp put it, print off a Rolls. But for that to happen, first somebody has to design a Rolls. And the software to create each of the parts. You can only do 3-D printing of something that you, or someone else, has first imagined and created.

(I've also got some reservations about how well you can print off something with moving parts. But that's a separate discussion.)

...a dragon, the dragon, Mondragon.

Well, I choose to think of the Mondragon as a gold dragon, which means it's a lawful good dragon.

Productivity improvements from automation could easily leave us with an economy with 75% structural unemployment.

Come the day that happens, we are going to have to have made some serious changes in our culture, and probably our psychology. There are, in case anybody has missed it, a lot of people out there who essentially define themselves by their work. And without it, they are lost. It is really sad to visit a nursing home and seem them just sitting there, waiting to die. But once they retire, they just don't have anything.

Actually, I expect that it one reason women live longer than men on average. The need to cook the meals and clean the house never goes away. That job never goes away. But for a lot of families, that is "women's work." (Not defending it. Just sayin'.) So he has nothing to do, but she does -- and so he fades away first.

We already see some of this in the parts of our society where there is massive unemployment. Guys standing aroudn with nothing to do . . . so they find something to do. Whether that is scrawling graffiti or starting fights or whatever.

Pretty clearly, we need to invent another way to give focus and purpose to people's lives when there isn't a job to do that. Sure, for many of us here, we can write (or at least read) books, or play sports or various other hobbies. Maybe even spend hours reading and commenting on blogs. But that isn't the bulk of the population.

Creative ideas for things to do for those who aren't creative: definitely needed.

So, huge changes to the existing legal and other social and institutional infrastructure, perhaps not required.

To clarify: I agree with this completely, and wished to underscore this as a definite plus over more government-centric ways of changing The Way Things Are.

wj, maybe we should live like these people. At least, I'd like to figure out how.

Where do working Joes come up with that kind of money?

I think your (Blackhawk's) analysis here is right on.

Per the RagBlog piece (the "it's") link in the original post) the way the Mondragon founders addressed this was:

1. begin by establishing a credit union so folks could pool whatever resources they did have
2. pick manufactures that don't have very large capital requirements to start out

So, the first factory Mondragon set up made simple paraffin heaters. Then, they built from there.

IMO the biggest impediment to doing stuff like this here is getting people to buy into communal effort, of any kind.

There really are no legal or regulatory roadblocks. People just have to want to do things in a particular way, and have to be willing to assume the responsibilities and headaches required to make it work.

It appears that the Basque culture that gave rise to Mondragon make that way of doing things more congenial than it might be here. That's a cultural issue more than anything else.

Culture, perhaps, and also information. Not everyone knows that you can even do stuff like this.

To clarify: I agree with this completely, and wished to underscore this as a definite plus over more government-centric ways of changing The Way Things Are.

Understood. And, I share your preference for private sector solutions when they get the job done.

"Brett, Drexler is not the only one with a vision for micro-manufacturing."

I know about rep-rap, and you think I don't know that? Drexler's vision was an example, nto the only thing I could think of.

I don't think employee ownership of stock is a solution to advancing automation putting people out of work, because of that "employee" thing. (For all that it has other virtues.) Automation is making a larger and larger portion of the population cost-ineffective as employees, and any employee owned company that decides not to automate just to keep people employed is going to get it's lunch eaten by companies that do automate.

The sovereign wealth fund has some potential in this direction, I just like the idea of having physical posession of my share of the means of production.

sapient, I think at least part of the secret is staying engaged and interested. If you are, then you don't become what we think of as "old", you just get more experienced. Like the guy in your article. He's got stuff he is doing, and enjoys doing. He's engaged with the world around him. And he just keeps going and going.

Similarly with people who don't have formal jobs. They need to have something that they are interested in. Something to provide focus. I wonder if that doesn't become a major feature of our education system in the future: help kids figure out what they are interested in and want to do. They still need to learn the basics, of course. And what they are interested in may well change. But just the idea that there might be something interesting out there will be critical.

I have a preference for whatever gets the job done, regardless of whether it's private or through government action. But I guess the point is that people are of the opinion that government is too flawed to be solution most of the time, so they see no conflict in preferring private solutions, since those are usually the solutions that actually do get the job done, in their (including mine sometimes!) opinions.

(Then there's the "maybe it can be government, just at a level lower than federal" thing, which is a first cousin of preferring the private sector over government.)

I just tend to think there's a bit of "oh no! socialism!" at work, even when we're not talking about anything remotely close to, say, the government making everyone's shoes (or whatever - maybe iPods *shudder*).

I know about rep-rap, and you think I don't know that?

I've learned better than to assume that other people necessarily know things. Certainly I occasionally find the most amazing holes in my own knowledge. (Besides, other people might not be as well informed.)

But just the idea that there might be something interesting out there will be critical.

Education should be about preparing people for life, not just a job. I recall an argument, somewhat beer-fueled during Phillies game, much to the annoyance of others in our section, about my friend's displeasure at being required to take college courses not directly related to his major at the time (journalism) based on the notion that the sole purpose for getting a degree was to get a job. (How someone manages to be a good journalist without a reasonable base of general knowledge beyond journalistic conventions is another question, even if I were to accept what I'll call his "vocational school premise.")

But, yeah, that's part of the American psyche. Your value as a member of society is very largely determined by how you make a living and how much you can get paid to do it. That's not to say that people don't recognize at all the value of, say, being a good parent, but that kind of stuff should be higher up on the list of valuable things in our culture IMO.

"IMO the biggest impediment to doing stuff like this here is getting people to buy into communal effort, of any kind."

Yes. That and the idea some things in life are more important that maximum profits each quarter; long term things like sustainable communities, sustainable environment, security, happiness and free time to spend with family, friends and artistic pursuits.

The US is really screwed up, culturall values-wise. It's all about more and more and faster and the dollar is the ultimate metric.

That train is barrelling down the tracks and I can't even imagine how we slow it down. let alone bring it back to the station to be sent out on a new route.

Again, trying to instantiate that kind of thing using the government is, IMHO, ass-backward.

Gentlemen, I give you the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enclosure>enclosure movement.

Discuss.

Brett skrev:

collectives can't control jack

Exactly.

And that's why no rural electrical co-op, farmer's grain co-op, or local utility co-op has ever succeeded.

At least, I'd like to figure out how.

Sleep until you wake up. Throw away your clocks and wrist watch. Raise your own food. Take a nap every day. Hang out with your buddies and family in the evening, drink wine, play some dominoes, and have a lot of laughs.

Add in lots of olive oil, sunshine, and nice salty sea air.

I think they stay alive because they're having too much fun to die.

Hang out with your buddies

Hey, that's y'all!

"And that's why no rural electrical co-op, farmer's grain co-op, or local utility co-op has ever succeeded."

I think I can guarantee to you that every one of those that succeeded had particular identifiable people making the decisions, not some mass "collective", which was my point. Not that organizations called "collectives" can't succeed, and involve things being controlled, but that the control wasn't exercised collectively, but instead hierarchically.

Hierarchy is inevitable in large, complex organizations. You want to avoid it, you need to make any organizations small, ideally atomistic.

I don't think the point was that we need complete egalitarianism so much as lower-level workers having significantly more say in how their places of work operate than most currently do in the US (and most of the world) today. Here we have a post pointing out a working model for that, but you're ignoring it in favor of beating a strawman or excluding a middle or whatever it is you're doing.

Hierarchy is inevitable in large, complex organizations. You want to avoid it, you need to make any organizations small, ideally atomistic.

Anarchist! But wait. How would we transition to this? Coercion? Wouldn't that be a crime? Who would pass the judgement? Who would impose the punishment? And thence to.....

Paradise. Yes. 80 virgins await! AMWAY distributorships for all. Free replication of anything. Property relations abolished at last!!

Welcome to the light, Brett. The race against heat death is on. U gotta' believe.

Ooops. Now wait a minute here...maybe, Brett, you think hierarchy is a good thing? But doesn't that mean coercion? You know....(wingnut caps on)FORCE (wingnut caps off)?

Whither Liberty?

"I think I can guarantee to you that every one of those that succeeded had particular identifiable people making the decisions, not some mass "collective", which was my point. Not that organizations called "collectives" can't succeed, and involve things being controlled, but that the control wasn't exercised collectively, but instead hierarchically.

Hierarchy is inevitable in large, complex organizations. You want to avoid it, you need to make any organizations small, ideally atomistic."

I agree with this, but it has nothing to do with what I've read discussed here, as not a single person said, implied, or even wiggled suggestively at the idea that hierarchy could or should be avoided. You are having a conversation with yourself.

I have never been able to understand why Corporations are okay, but unions are not, according to Republican party thought (assuming we're speaking about principle rather than real-world incentives). Corporations are accumulations of people and capital that accomplish more than the sum of their parts. So are unions. Why is one less intrinsically trustworthy than the other? I understand that unions can be bad or abusive. So too can corporations. I think they are both very useful, and especially when one can check the other. One problem we have in this country is that unions are very weak now and no longer able to effectively check corporate power, which leads to more corporate abuses. If the reverse were true we'd probably be in a lot of trouble too.

I think I can guarantee to you that every one of those that succeeded had particular identifiable people making the decisions, not some mass "collective", which was my point.

I think the issue here is what is being decided.

Mondragon has managers. So, operationally, there are people making the kinds of day-to-day decisions that basically keep the wheels on.

And they have an executive committee, which is elected by the members, and which appears to function more or less like a board of directors in a US corporation.

And other decisions are decided at a one-person one-vote level. A lot of fairly important decisions appear to be decided at that level, i.e., the "mass collective" level.

I think it's true that it requires a particular social orientation - a certain set of assumptions about how folks ought to relate to each other, and what responsibilities they have toward each other - to make that work. If, as you describe, your idea of freedom is the ability to tell other people to go to hell, it might not be workable.

But that's a choice, as much as it is anything else. It's not inherent to human nature.

Whatever they are doing, they have been remarkably successful with it, and have been doing so for over 50 years, so simply asserting that "it can't be done" doesn't really hold up.

A stronger claim might be "it won't work here", but then that leads to the question "why not?".

I have never been able to understand why Corporations are okay, but unions are not, according to Republican party thought

The union body uses its head to achieve something for the body, the corporation head uses the body to achieve something for the head*. The used part is the necessary evil for the using part. The idea that the many use the few instead of the other way around seems completely unnatural to the Rightist mind.

*at least that's the theory. Some unions are run of course like corporations (the opposite is very rare).

"Ooops. Now wait a minute here...maybe, Brett, you think hierarchy is a good thing? But doesn't that mean coercion? You know....(wingnut caps on)FORCE (wingnut caps off)?"

What gives you the idea I think hierarchy is a good thing? No, I don't. I think it falls into the class of "bad things we don't yet know how to avoid", like government, dying, and such.

That's why I hope for a future where autofacs have allowed individuals and small groups to attain self-sufficiency; It's our best hope of minimizing hierarchy. Collectivism? Just another form of hierarchy, and one with a really terrible track record.

The problem with THAT kind of "broad based ownership of productive enterprises", is that collective enterprises tend to be effectively owned by those who manage them

So what you are saying is that capitalism can't work.

McDonalds has a broad base of ownership. I own 0.000000045% of it. I don't spend much time managing it.

This can't work?

Where are my fries?

Brett has them.

He will deny this, at first. Be persistent.

I assure you, I don't have them anymore... Perhaps you should inquire with the Greenville sanitation department?

Duff, do you think institutions which "work" can't have problems? Any system which involves private ownership of the means of production is capitalist, whether you're talking some mega-corporation with rent-seeking management sucking off most of the productivity, (Cheating the stockholders as much as the employees...) or a plumber who owns his own wrench.

What has a problem are large organizations. Collectivizing them doesn't do squat to solve the problem.

do you think institutions which "work" can't have problems?

I think all institutions have problems.

Corporations owned by thousands of stock holders will have problems and corporations owned by thousands of employees will have problems.

I don't see what the difference is and I don't see what the better alternative is.

Any system which involves private ownership of the means of production is capitalist,

Category error. Big time. Do you think feudal Europe was "capitalist" by any reasonable definition?

I think the parts of it that involved private ownership of the means of production were.

They really weren't.

I feel so comprehensively refuted by that remark.

I think I can guarantee to you that every one of those that succeeded had particular identifiable people making the decisions, not some mass "collective", which was my point. Not that organizations called "collectives" can't succeed, and involve things being controlled, but that the control wasn't exercised collectively, but instead hierarchically.

Yes, but the same is true whether that collective is "the employees" or "the shareholders". I believe the critical point is that in these companies, those two groups are essentially the same.

For those who imagine that simple abundance, including individual production, will ever make us free -- have you read this novel by Damon Knight?

from http://www.fantasticreviews.com/a_for_anything.htm

"A for Anything was first published in 1959, but is still interesting and relevant. A for Anything, originally titled The People Maker, begins from the premise that a new invention, the Gismo, makes it easy for anyone to duplicate anything. With a Gismo, one need never again lack for food or water or clothing or any other essential material. Since a Gismo can even duplicate another Gismo, all of mankind's problems should be solved, right?

Not in a Damon Knight story. Knight observes that once all material items have become essentially free, the only remaining commodity of value will be human labor. He makes the intriguing assertion that the inevitable result will be an economy of slavery."

Without giving away too much, the resultant social structure that Knight postulates involves artificial scarcity -- just like our current corporate feudalism model.

Arguably, we already possess the resources to grant our entire population a reasonably comfortable life. This is almost certainly true of the developed world, at least. The bottlenecks are political and ideological, not technical. While I, as much as anyone, would like to have my F. You Money, I believe there is no chance of that for the majority of us under the current system.

Collective rewards will likely require a collective solution -- to start with, a shift in values that ranks cooperation above competition. I don't think there is anything in human nature that precludes this -- we've seen societal shifts of this nature within living memory.

The usual methods of shifting values on a mass scale involve education/propaganda in synergy with institutional structures. But no, I can't say how we get there from here, especially since such a large portion of our societal resources currently goes to propagandize the opposite approach.

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