What does Holla Forums think of worker owned companies?

What does Holla Forums think of worker owned companies?

are they effective means of securing workers rights?


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Co-ops have certain advantages but they are essentially self-managed capitalism.

Capitalism is not the same as markets. It's the relationship between employer and employee, whereby the employer extracts surplus value from the employee.

If there's no employer, it's not goddamn capitalism.

Marx would beg to differ: “Let us suppose the workers are themselves in possession of their respective means of production and exchange their commodities with one another. These commodities would not be products of capital.” (Capital, Volume III)

No because they devolve into de-facto private companies like Mondragon.

In a society where co-ops were the norm, it's likely that the reduction in alienation would make it clear to workers that they should turn from production for exchange to production for use. The practical problem of this approach is getting a large enougn portion of the economy to be co-ops since co-ops will always be at a massive disadvantage to class-based companies in a marketplace (since with class-based relations of productions the workers' wellbeing and earnings can be sacrificed for the sake of profit).

Lenin, as usual, was right. Within a capitalist economy, they're a step up from regular companies, as it distributes wealth more fairly, reduces alienation, empowers work etc. But unfortunately, they simply cannot act as the backbone of a future socialist uprising or anything of the sort, because they still operate under the profit motive, to say nothing of the ever-present law of value. The co-op is great for the people who belong to it, but to the rest of the world, the co-op is undistinguishable form a regular company. They're as much of a black box to an outside observer, and have no actual impact beyond the company's doors. They can't act as a revolutionary institution.

After a revolution and within a socialist economy, however, they actually can act as one of the pillars of the workers' State, alongside unions, councils and what-have-you.

Capitalism isn't solely defined by the employer-employee relationship, fam. It doesn't matter who owns the firm if that firm exists in a market environment where it has to compete with other firms, since it either has to do the exact same things as a privately owned firm in order to survive, or it is outcompeted and dies. Worker management would be an integral part of any socialist society, but worker management on its own, in a capitalist society, would simply mean that the workers have to exploit themselves.

Co-ops don't do away with the employer; they merely fuse that role with that of employee. The same capitalist laws of motion are in effect.

theres no hope

Indeed: "The means of production and subsistence, while they remain the property of the immediate producer, are not capital". However, "they become capital under circumstances in which they serve at the same time as means of exploitation of, and domination over, the worker". These circumstances need not translate to direct domination by a distinct, separate class (though that is very often the case) — they can also be (and I would argue they fundamentally are) an abstract system of impersonal market imperatives. The quote you cited (which by the way refers to pre-capitalist production, if I'm not mistaken) does not contradict the possibility of self-exploitation.

t. Marx

I’m pretty sure that economic planning (i. e. a system in which workers are dictated what to produce by a certain authority) is more oppressive than a market system in which workers voluntarily decide what to produce and consume.

Market mechanisms have existed for thousands of years before capitalism

This is probably the most compelling argument against the worker cooperative. Without oversight, as a cooperative grows larger it must adapt to the capitalist system. Mondragon is the perfect example of this. Still, the grand majority of worker cooperatives are far less exploitative then Mondragon and private corporations. Perhaps if additional conditions had to be applied and the worker cooperative existed in a market of other cooperatives, this inevitability could be circumvented.

Wow, holy shit fam I hadn't noticed that at all. What a stunning revelation. It's almost as if capitalism has been thousands of years in the making.
Making such an utterly banal point does nothing to counter what I said. Coops alone do nothing to change the system. The firm will still have to compete in a market, which means it has to do all the same things a regular firm does in order to compete: drive down prices, drive down wages, make more for less. All you've done is make it so that the workers make this decision, not the boss. Furthermore worker management on its own doesn't tackle the issue of property, middlemen, the state, imperialism, anything besides the ownership of a single (single!) firm.
If you have a system that still has a state, that still has private property, that still has imperialism, then it's not socialism.

And? There’s nothing wrong with that as long as market competition forces firms to be responsive to demands of consumers, indirectly leading to production for use.

You can’t have any single economic or political system without a state that would enforce it. You can’t be an anarcho-socialist, just like you can’t be an anarcho-capitalist or an anarcho-*insert any other politcal ideology*.

Even Marx believed that some forms of private property must be maintained under socialism: “the property of petty artisan and of the small peasant…there is no need to abolish that".

As Jaroslav Vanek and James Meade have demonstrated, labour-managed firms have less insensitives to expand, and therefore it is unlikely that they will try to force their governments to assist them in expansion into foreign markets.

i worked for a cooperative, 'worker owned' and "profit sharing" national company. It felt like any other company because decisions came from the top to the bottom and we were expected to comply or face consequences, and this makes sense. Why would bottom tier employees make high level decisions?
We had some profit sharing incentives which made us care about the trajectory of the company and its strategies but we had no input on the trajectory or the strategies because #1 they were above our paygrade (meaning beyond our skill and expertise) and #2 we didn't have time to ponder such things, it wasn't our job, we had other work to do.

workers should have rights that are conducive to the work they do and the value they add. My job was to create very specific insurance policies for certain clients and that's what I knew how to do. It wasn't up to us to determine our rights, benefits or privileges. THat was for management and the CEOs big boys to figure out, and they made their decisions with profit and long-term survival in mind.

If your company is profitable you can afford to give your workers good benefits, we were very well taken care of financially and in terms of extra benefits. But it really wasn't any different than a regular capitalistic business, except they kept telling us we're "cooperative" and our bonuses and stocks were linked to company performance and that we gave to charity and did all sorts of "good deeds"…blablabla. I'm sure Goldmansachs does similar shit, probably for tax purposes.

Market competition forces firm to compete, which means driving down prices. In order to drive down prices and still make a profit, you have to drive down wages. Market competition forces coops to make the exact same measures that a privately owned firm. Sure, you're not likely to see workplaces getting exported, but the workers are still at the mercy of the market, and if some other firm starts flooding the market with cheap goods (perhaps because it is willing to move their production to countries with a cheaper workforce) then the coop will simply die. Any coop will still have to exist in an economy dominated by firms that aren't coops.
I'm not even sure what the fuck you're on about here. My point is that coops do nothing to change anything besides the ownership of single firm, replacing a single employer or a board of directors with workers (and that's not even mentioning the fact that many worker-owned firms don't have worker management). What that means is that all the other parts of the system, including the existence of privately owned firms, are unchanged. And because the coops exist in the same unchanged system, they are subject to the same pressures that drive any other firm and which ultimately undermine their sole purpose. In order to make them viable on a large scale, you will need a state that supports them and suppresses capitalists, and the logical conclusion to that is socialised production and the elimination of markets.

As for this, why wouldn't they expand? A worker-managed firm is still a firm, they're still driven by profit (after all, more profit means more money for the owners- i mean workers). If they can profit by expanding, they will. The reason most coops aren't particularly expansionist is because they're small, it's like saying small businesses have less incentive to expand. If the economy is dominated by large coops, then they will obviously expand and will merge with each other, just like any any other business. Furthermore, as mentions, it's not like every worker will have equal say. If the 'worker-managed' firm is run by a CEO and some senior workers, then there's little stopping them from making decisions that benefit them and the business at the expense of the other workers, and at that point what is even the difference between a coop and any other firm? None. It is still a firm. Firms don't care about any other firm, they don't care about any other country. If they can profit by fucking over other people in other countries, what's stopping them?


"Competition benefits the consumer" is bourgeois shibboleth. Market imperatives don't "indirectly lead to production for use", it ensures exchange-value ultimately remains the only factor of importance.

You didn't quote Marx in full. Marx added: "There is no need to abolish that; the development of industry has to a great extent already destroyed it, and is still destroying it daily." He saw self-employed artisans or farmers as a relic of pre-capitalist social relations doomed to vanish.

Co-ops require cheap labor as much as gigantic multinational conglomerates to compete on the market. If you're a co-op manufacturing consumer electronics, you'll still need that sweet Foxconn slave-driving.

You are omitting the fact that firms have incentives to attract better workers, and if they want to do that they have to offer them higher wages.

Read “The Theory of Labour-Managed Firms and of Profit Sharing” by James Meade.

They do in a Walrasian equilibrium.

Since worker cooperatives have less incentives to expand, there is going to be more competition for employees in an economy based on labour-managed firms.

What does it have to do with exchange-value and accumulation?

That doesn't address my point. If competing top-down companies use cheap labor that allow them to drastically drive prices down, co-ops will need to tap into that same well if they want to say afloat.


Do you even fucking read what you write, ever?

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Where the fuck did I even imply workers shouldn't seize the means of production? It's a necessary step towards building socialism but it is hardly sufficient by itself. Seizing the means of production while leaving the whole structure of capitalism unchanged will not result in socialism but in more democratically-managed capitalism.

Not this guy but you'd need to be either arguing in bad faith or seriously illiterate to read that into his post. Capitalism is bourgeois class rule but not just that — that's not controversial or contrarian.

t. David McNally

What this guy said, fam
In fact, that pretty much sums up everything I've been trying to say.

History teaches us that planned economy leads to starvation and death of millions and the only logical solution to this is to introduce market elements in a socialist economy. The next best thing to a state owned planned economy is worker owned means of production who exchange commodities on the market.

Wut? Daily reminder that the only socialist country to ever implode due to economic contradictions (and not revisionism and/or imperialism) was a "market socialist" one.

My gott, read a fucking book

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You forgot about the cannibalism and the black magick rituals

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Maybe some potential for possible progressive transition to socialism but I wouldn't put my money on it. They're highly preferable to regular companies, no doubt, but operating under a capitalist mode of production severely limits them. Under socialism however they could run the consumer goods and services markets alongside the economic planning sector.


All the contradictions of capitalism defined by Marx apply 100% in a market socialist economy. They are on the same level of social democracy and are arguably counter to the goals of communism.


Just keep gulping down that anti-communist propaganda m8

This is the same argument capitalists use.