RDW vs. leftcom

Richard Wolff just had an AMA on Reddit where a leftcom challenged his coop-faggotry with some points. Pic related.

Link to the otherwise lukewarm AMA: reddit.com/r/LateStageCapitalism/comments/80ge9z/richard_d_wolff_here_professor_of_marxian/

Link to just the leftcom retort:

Not sure who's worse Mr "Yeah man those co-ops are definitely going to end capitalism" man or the guy whose entire tendency boils down to "Well not real socialism man!"

I'm pretty sick of hearing Wolff talk about co-ops as well but that leftcom guy is a total fucking faggot.

Sadly I have to agree. RDW comes off as pedantic, leftcom as a no-context quote-fag.

fucking leftcoms forcing me to like co-ops.


You can see that the Leftcom is trying really hard here, he quotes Bordiga and shames Lassalle which convinces me right away that he actually hasn't read much theory. He namedrops Lassalle because he knows Marx called him a nigger once, there literally no reason to do this other than pretending to be an intellectual.

Disappointing. Wolff never actually addresses the central question of how his co-op world would overcome capital. He just mumbles about the dead ends of the past and ideological purity. Bitch move tbh.

I'm sure he would have said something in that regard if the guy didn't come over like a total asshole and internet warrior who has read Bordiga once.

Co-ops are a good foundation to use as a way to overcome capital. Co-ops means resources, skilled workers and capital that can be used to fund socialist politics and projects. The only way to defeat the capitalist will be to organize and collaborate as a class ourselves. Having cooperatives based off and organized with Marxist aims would be great assets to a revolution political or otherwise.

Ok, I get co-ops as a kind of economic foundation or entry-point for socialism, but the main question still remains: how to go from coops to a planned economy? It's obvious you can't do it without a state, and it's obvious that some coops will be hurt by it, their privileges canceled out.

If this is his actual position he should be able to articulate and defend such a position, rather than dodging questions or simply disparaging the person asking the question. If someone is wrong he ought be able to explain why, not simply accuse them of analytical mistakes. It's the the first time he's done this either, every time this question has been raised in the past he has responded in the same vague way.

Forgot my shitposting flag, though I suppose it's appropriate in this thread.


Agree. From how I understand economics, I have little to no reason to believe that co-ops competing in a capitalist market will lead to socialism, history tells us that these models either collapse or reverting back to liberal capitalism, because the amount or the identity of shareholders of a capitalist firm doesn't change anything regarding the capitalist laws of motion.

I guess Wolff is trying to get to really naive and uninformed liberals, but even then, I don't understand the fetishism of workplace democracy. So if I'm voting on who's going to clean the toilets tomorrow that work is suddenly less alienating? I mean, there are co-ops out there, right now. You are free to apply. My girlfriend worked in a co-op retailer and she said it's just a job, like everything else.

Worker ownership only makes sense when the mode of production is centered arround human need, only then can workers really be masters of their own fate.

Think about what different input information would a said coop have in capitalism and in planned economy of socialism.

In capitalism, all accounting is done in money and the task is to find what and how much to produce with what you have so all workers have a liveable share of the profit, accounting for capital accumulation of course. Solving this task is done democratically in coop. And they have to account for the transformation of goods into money on a market. A rather complex task.

Economy planning would get information about production capabilities and assign the coop a quota to fulfill, it one has to follow example of existing former socialist economies in COMECON about the quotas of production. Again internal problem of assigning tasks and work time is done in coop democratically, and output is given to some distribution system. Accounting is done in labour tokens to keep track of work required.

The state planning effectively replaces the free market, not interfering with the function of the coop itself as it was in capitalism.

Of course this is ony one possible way to look at it.

Exactly, coops alone will not bring socialism. Something about political demands of the masses, who begin to imagine what would happen if their labour was notalienated, and their surplus was not privately appropriated. With coops, many will begin to see this possibility clearly.

If anything, they will have a clear opinion what to do with unproductive parasites who usurp in form of rent. They will do away with them in coops, and there is one step from eradicating the rent collectors from the entire society.

My mistake
Not the only possible way to look at coops in capitalism and socialism, there of course might be other ways.

Putting co-ops at the front of your program is pure economism (and bad economism at that). It totally disregards Marx and Engel's central theory on the destruction of capitalism, namely revolution and dictatorship of the proletariat. Marx was clear that the immediate goal of all communists in capitalist society should be the destruction of the bourgeois state and formation of the proletarian state.

I don't even know why this would even appeal to anybody. Leninism and similar tendencies make clear radical proposals, but I don't know why anybody would think co-ops are a good idea. What's in it for me as a worker? Sure, I'm owning some insignificant share of the company, but I'm also sharing the risk.

It's legalism at best, your relation to the MoP is still the same, but your legal relation is different.

Co-ops exist just fine within capitalism of the liberal and fascist brands with no problem. It's fine to throw support to co-ops and establish relations with the workers within them but we must recognize they can't be the revolutionary vehicle in any way and should be similar in function to unions. Namely, as organs that allow the communist party to develop relations with the mass of workers within them, and to be able to direct the masses through these organs.

People here are too idealistic. Co-ops are the best you can hope for coming the next few decades. Problem with establishing a strong state from the getgo is that you put power in the hands of a few which will always corrupt the ones involved. Take whats happening in China at this very moment.

The leftcom dude makes some good points but he comes off as a gigantic dick. I think the worst part of some leftists is that though they claim to represent the working class and the mass of people, they seem to lack the social etiquette to make their points in a polite manner.

I'm not sure how this is exclusively leftcom. Surely any ☭TANKIE☭ would agree co-ops are not the way to socialism?

Focus on abolition of markets. Then you cooperitivize.

As with most things, Lenin's opinion on co-ops was right.

Sure, but the guy quotes Bordiga and says stuff like "New ideas? Such is the apologism of Lassale!", like, what the fuck.

What about the somewhat idealistic belief that self-exploitation (as in "voluntarily" dedicating part of your wage for accumulation of capital, so as the coop can compete on the market) would make the surplus value concept more tangible, thus providing an incentive for the abolishment of markets through merging of coops?

because socialism doesn't just grow out of capitalism willy nilly. converting the whole economy to co-ops would only serve to decentralize the means of production further and petty-bourgeois-ify the proletariat.

That would just turns the proletariat into a sort of abstract bourgoise, so they would have a half proletarian and half bourgoise class interest.

its funny the leftcom menace made me about 30% more tanky

The very positioning of an objective economic phenomenon onto the personal level, i.e.
is problematic. If you need you resort to such a theoretical (unmarxist, mind you) position, you are doing it wrong. Co-ops must be criticized from the POV of the economy as a whole, i.e. systemic critique.

It is a Marxist critique. Marx himself used something similar in the poverty of philosophy against Proudhon.

I'll have a stab at it. If you take capitalism and the one thing you change is co-ops, and all production occurs in co-ops, you will still replicate a lot of the ill effects of capitalism today.

One of them would be, and here I'm mostly just giving you garbled Harvey, is unequal geographic development, and the building up and destroying that entails. If all that happens is suddenly co-ops, you will have a number of well-doing co-ops with all the latest technology and practices in the places that are today rich, and a lot of struggling co-ops in places that are now shit. Having co-ops does not suddenly increase the fixed capital in say Appalachia. You will have some very powerful Silicon Valley co-ops who will make their influence felt, and will exploit the weaker co-ops thanks to market power and so on. If you want to tackle these kinds of issues, you need organization at a level above the firm, in the national and global economy - that is, economic planning, collectivization, SOEs, national development programs, and so on. None of this comes built in to the co-op model, though you could argue that once you have co-ops, this will empower people enough to more effectively struggle to get it.

You would also still have all the contradictions of capitalism poitned out by Marx. Falling rate of profit, increased need to exploit labor power and all that stuff.


What is this supposed to mean? Most of the people you quoted agree with you.

But if every co-op is conected by a larger co-op for the same type of products or services and every product and service is part of an even larger co-op you don't really get that issue. It might have to be arranged a slightly different way but you get the idea.

So… The economy is one large co-op composed of a bunch of small ones? How is that different from a private planned economy?

You can't just not called it planned economy.

At that level of "worker control" why wouldn't you centralize the economy and produce for use?

Is a meme reply you can use when someone claims co-ops are socialism.

Sorry leftcoms I still just don't find the whole "self-exploitation" concept persuasive.

well then you need to go back and hit the basics. and it's not a leftcom thing, its a marxist thing.

wtf is this referring to?

It's necessary for each worker to produce more then needed for self survival. At the very least you need surplus to sustain the young and old. Whether or not this is exploitation will depend on the mode of production.

the premise of self-exploitation isn't based on the need for surplus production.

CNT/FAI would be the confederation of trade unions that heavily leaned anarcho-syndicalist (Confederación Nacional del Trabajo) and the anarchist militias strongly associated with them (Federación Anarquista Ibérica) that, in concert, maintained a strong degree of control and influence within revolutionary Catalunya and other parts of Spain during the civil war.

Bank loans almost certainly refers to one aspect of mutualist praxis which advocates the establishment of mutual credit banks, "owned" and largely operated by the people who hold savings accounts at those banks, which take advantage of fractional reserve banking to offer low-interest loans for the creation of worker co-ops and individual enterprises, in order to speedily overcome a serious problem within socialist praxis, that is, the building-up of dual power. Banks, currency, and markets all sound pretty spooky/liberal to a lot of other socialists.


Well, how did it go?

Please defend this claim on proper theoretical grounds.


General: if you still use a bank and not a credit union and work for a boss so you can pay rent to a landlord so you can ultimately order stuff on amazon then (You) don't really belong in the discussion of the effective use of building the coop movement, really.
The coop itself is the armchair, fools. That is what you sit on and wait for the crisis of capital to play itself out.
For anyone who thinks leftcoms can't be insurrectionary / any other active category: Read Gilles Dauvé.

So, in English:

Nope. A lot of the cold takes about dual power are coming from people with no stake in the matter. They haven't invested any energy into effectively subverting capital, so they argue that coops end up only forwarding capital.
It is not until one casts off the banks and bosses does one realize the potential that worker labor has; caught up in their world, what possibility is their to discover other options of work? How can you possibly feel the gravity if you don't enter the orbit?