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July 10, 2016


Xavier Trapnel

every staff meeting i have ever attended that had more than a dozen participants has turned rapidly into a perfect demonstration of the iron law of oligarchy.

student unions and trade unions are internally democratic but not clear they represent the interests or preferences of members due to poor incentives to actively engage.

workers democracy just isn't that democratic.

Matt Moore

@Xavier - I think the point is, if you favour democracy at the national level, where public choice problems such as you describe are acute, you should favour it in more local settings, where they are less acute (although still present, as you say).

I would make two other points. First, political / democracic decision making is so flawed, that it should only be used when we absolutely must have a common solution. For example, criminal law. In situations where individuals can easily exit the institutio or start their own, there is no argument for political decision making. You don't need to impose the position of the 51% on the rest when you should be able to persuade.

Second it a revealed preference argument. If worker democracy is so much better than managerialism, then why don't we see it everywhere already? It isn't illegal. They are no major institutional penalties that I can see.


@ Matt - revealed preference suggests there is a demand for control at work: the numbers of self-employed have been rising for years.
The reason why big firms don't swithc to worker democracy is that bosses would rather take multi-million salaries and work in sub-optimal firms than accept a pay cut, less power but work in a better one.
@ Xavier - there's nothing wrong with a lack of engagement if it betokens satisfaction. The problem is that under existing arrangements, it might instead be a sign that people just don't think that (eg) staff meetings change much of substance.


There is one government within a nation - usually.

There are lots of businesses - all running with different management systems. And you can choose which one you want to work for - within reason -or at least you could with correct fiscal policies.

As usual that's the bit that Chris misses. You don't have expert led systems in a government because that like having one company that does everything - a monopoly led by madmen with power over everything.

Similarly there is a reason you don't have a democratic army.

I notice the "Given that the case for worker democracy is obviously so much stronger than the case for a referendum, how can anyone who favoured having a referendum oppose worker democracy?"

That's another of the logical fallacies that seem to have become very popular amongst Chris's class. It's a riff on "not all Leavers are wacists, but all wacists will vote Leave".

It's almost like you guys believe that identity politics tricks actually have any effect outside your little clique. Rather than just being laughed at for their crudeness and obvious sophistry.


How much control should workers have?

1. Japanese continuous process improvement: Kazien
2. German workers representatives on boards.
3. Where the workers are the owners.

If companies are not owned by their shareholders (EU), they are equally not owned by the employees.

The rent seeking of management has grown from an attempt to align the interests of management with shareholders by making management shareholders (stock options).

Extending this to workers, through share holdings, or ownership does not align the companies with the interests of society in general, although it does broaden the mandate.

We have the examples of several co-operatives including John Lewis partnerships through to Mondragon.

"Vincent Navarro wrote that from a business perspective, Mondragon is successful in matching efficiency with solidarity and democracy. However, he writes that the number of employees who are not owners have increased more rapidly than worker-owners, to a point that in some companies, for example in the supermarket chains owned by Mondragon, the first are a much larger group than the second."

Again a two/three tier system has developed, workers who are owners, workers who are hired help, and society in general (non-participants).

Distributionalism but not Horzontalism (wikipedia is fun)

Given that increasingly human labour is disconnected from the creation of wealth (via machines), there is the potential for increased rent seeking and concentration of wealth, an issue society in general needs to address.

The issues are distribution, control and rent seeking. The mandate needs to extend to all in society, not just the economically active or rent seeking, especially as potentially the economically active group shrinks from the majority of adults (in a nation).


Struggling a bit with the difference between private and public, are you Chris?

Your argument basically boils down to "if we're going to consult ordinary citizens on the decisions facing the country, we should be thinking about forcing private businesses to consult their employees on *their* decisions."

Which only works if you think that a) having a contract of employment with a company is equivalent to being a citizen of a country, and b) people who are neither employees NOR shareholders have a right to decide how a private business should make decisions.

Classic Marxist thinking "this is the model I favour therefore everyone else should be forced to follow it."

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