Economic Update: Worker Co-Ops, Socialism’s Future

Economic Update: Worker Co-Ops, Socialism’s Future


Welcome friends to another edition of Economic
Update, a weekly program devoted to the economic dimensions of our lives—jobs, debts, incomes,
our own, those of our children coming down the pike to face us. I’m your host Richard Wolff. In today’s program we’re going to be dealing
with socialism. Partly because that’s what’s on the minds
of an awful lot of people these days, there’s a new resurgence, if you like, of the socialist
movement. Various kinds of socialism are being discussed. Some are being advocated. The Presidency of the United States is included
among the targets of a socialist change, if you like. So it seems to me important to talk about
this. But to do so in a way you may not have had
the opportunity to hear before. Namely the relationship between socialism,
on the one hand, and the whole idea and movement for worker coops on the other. Those two topics are very closely connected,
and I want to spend today explaining how and why that connection exists and is important. We can begin this way. Socialism, like everything else in the world,
changes. Socialism 200 years ago is not what it was
then, something different from what it is now. And that’s true for socialism 50 years ago
compared to today. And that’s not just true of socialism of
course. It’s true of capitalism and indeed of virtually
anything you can think about. But socialism having been a taboo in this
country for 75 years until recently, people are not aware of the changes that have gone
on in socialism, at least Americans are particularly unaware through no fault of their own. It has been a kind of agreement by the academic
circles in this country, by the mass media, and by the political leadership not to talk
about it, to act as if it either doesn’t exist or it’s some awful bad thing far away. We now know better, I don’t need to explain
that part to you, but I do want to talk about a fundamental change in socialism that will
help us situate its relationship to worker coops. In the 19th and 20th century as socialism
emerged and became a global movement—lots of different parts—but a global movement. It basically had to do with the following
idea that capitalism was fundamentally unfair, produced a small number of people with all
the wealth and power, and the vast number of people who had very little of either, and
that this situation was intolerable and needed to be changed. That situation was called capitalism and the
change that was needed was called socialism. And here’s how socialist understood what
they were doing. The solution to the unfairness, the inequality
of capitalism, they said, had to do with ending this situation that the means of production—the
land, the factories, the tools, the buildings, the equipment, the cash—was concentrated
in a very few hands. A few of our fellow citizens had those things,
most of us didn’t and as a result the economy served to the few who had, the political system
served to the few who had, and deprived the many who didn’t. And that socialism would fix that. And it would fix it in two ways. Number one, it would take the means of production,
stop them being the private property of a few and make it the shared collective property
of everybody. And the agency that would get that done was
the government. The mass of people using universal suffrage,
their right to vote, would vote in governments who would take the means of production away
from the private owners, make them the shared property of everybody—the people who had
been workers—but also the people who had been employers—capitalists, if you like. Take it away from them, make it everybody’s
and that way make sure that the economy was good for everybody, served everybody, the
gap between rich and poor would be dramatically narrowed, the injustices that go with that
would be reduced. And they took it one step further. To make sure things were less unequal and
less unfair the distribution of what we produced as a society would be planed, would be made
to be fair and not left to the market, which is an institution that favors those who have
the money to spend and militates against those who don’t. So public ownership of the means of production
and government planning would substitute for private enterprise and markets that’s what
socialism advocated. And let’s be fair to that socialism. It spread like wildfire from the first formulations
of these ideas at the beginning of the 19th century, it’s spread across that century
all over Europe, North America and beyond. And in the 20th century it spread to every
other corner of the world. Today there is no country that doesn’t have
socialist parties or socialist magazines or socialist schools and so forth and so on. It’s a global movement. It is understood in different ways in different
parts of the world, but it has spread in such a way that you have to acknowledge there must
be something about it that effects an awful lot of people in a positive way. There’s no other way to explain its growth. Okay. Has that socialism that was so successful
that took the forms I just announced? Did it also run itself into some difficulties
the kinds of difficulties that might mean that socialist would change what they understood
all wanted from socialism? And the basic answer to that question is yes. Socialism hit all kinds of bumps and those
bumps have led the socialists (both themselves but even their critics) to change the ideas
a little bit and I want to focus on that. First problem. If you change who the employer is—instead
of a private capitalist, it becomes a state official—it turns out that you’re not
changing a good part of what the problem is. Or to say the same thing a different way,
the socialist criticism of capitalism has to go far beyond changing who the capitalist
is. Because it really means if you understand
the idea, that nobody should be the capitalist. It isn’t that we should exchange this employer
for that one. It’s that we shouldn’t have the gap between
employers and employees. The way socialists discovered this was simple. When they took the means of production say
in Russia or China or many of the other societies it tried this, when they took the property
away from the private and gave it to the state—socialized it or nationalized it—they discovered that
the state as an employer could be as burdensome on the mass of people as the private ones
had been. In other words, the means—the idea that
the state was the means—to go beyond capitalism might have value, but not the state as the
end of the process because that just simply changes who is in the position of capitalist,
who controls all the decisions, who keeps the well for themselves. State officials are not a preferable minority
to private capitalists. Then socialist thinking about this took another
step. There’s a certain irony they said the capitalists
who denounce the state for being a dictatorship of a relatively small bureaucracy, ripping
off the society are in a kind of way the kettle calling the fire black. The kettle blaming something else that looks
a lot like a kettle. What do I mean? Inside a corporation, which is the major way
capitalism functions today, a tiny group of people—the major shareholders and the board
of directors that they select—make all the decisions, have all the power. Not only do they decide what the enterprise
produces and how it does so, what is done with the profits that everybody helped to
produce, this tiny group of people has additional power. It can say that any worker: “You’re fired. You’re out of here” depriving a worker
of a job and of income, which is a power even the government doesn’t have. Wow! So who are these people who run the dictatorship
inside every corporation, denouncing government bureaucrats who are basically doing something
rather similar? So socialist began to recognize that the notion
of changing who the employer is simply isn’t enough. Likewise, if the distribution is done by a
government planner rather than by the market—yes, you no longer have the market which favors
the rich—but it’s possible that the government given the power to control distribution might
also serve itself at the expense of society. Socialist thinking about these topics have
changed socialism. They don’t mean what they once did. And that’s really important because they’ve
come more and more to focus on this idea. In the past we socialists thought that by
capturing the state—hopefully peacefully through using the ballot, but if not, in a
revolutionary way, in either way grabbing the state—we could use the state to go from
capitalism to something in the future called socialism, where we would be free and we would
be equal and there wouldn’t be employers and employees. What has actually happened is that the ends
kind of fell away and the means took over. We went the first step, the socialist way—we
grabbed the state by revolution in one country, by votes in another country—but either way
when we gave all that power to the state it didn’t go with the next step. Something was missing and we ended up with
very strong states being the employer in place of the privates. Something was wrong. And the answer that socialists came to was
we changed the top of society, we changed who owns the means of production, we changed
from market to planning, but you know what we never changed, the socialists figured out—we
never changed the workplace. The place, where people who are adults spend
most of their lives, five out of seven days, the best hours of the day are in the workplace. And that was left pretty much unchanged. It was still a small group of people who ran
the business telling everybody else, the vast majority, what to do, how to do it, where
to do it, when to do it and deciding what to do with the fruits of the brain work and
muscle work of all those workers. And that was a problem. We hadn’t, the socialists admitted, we hadn’t
transformed the workplace. And if you don’t, that unchanged workplace
will undo the changes you were able to achieve in the realm of property or the realm of markets
versus planning. Socialism changed as it became more important
to recognize and focus on transforming the workplace than it had been before. Priority has come to be given to the unfinished
task of socialism to transform the workplace. And I’m going to argue in the second half
of today’s show that that transformation involves leaving the realm of the capitalist
workplace with those few people at the top: the owner, the capitalist, the employer, the
board of directors—one of you call them—making all the decisions, having all the power and
grabbing most of the wealth for themselves, to get rid of that you have to make the workplace
democratic. Everybody who works there has an equal voice
and not only do they all decide these questions, but they have to do it in coordination with
the customers they serve and the communities where they function. So that all the stakeholders have equal shares
of making the big decisions. The democracy of the workplace is the unfinished
business of socialism and has become the focus of what socialism will mean in the 21st century
which is quite different from what it meant in the 19th and the 20th. We’ll look back on those centuries as the
time when socialism became global and will look on the 21st century as the time when
it changed itself into a different movement with a different set of goals. Stay with me. We’ve come to the end of the first half. Come back and we will show how worker coops
solve this problem. Welcome back friends to the second half of
today’s Economic Update devoted to how socialism is changing from the original focus on the
state—the state ownership of means of production and planning—over to a focus on revolutionizing
the workplace. But before I jump back in, I want to remind
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to our Patreon community whose continuing support and encouragement and in some cases
genuine shared excitement is an enormous help to all of us and much, much appreciated. Okay. I want to talk now about worker coops and
explain why socialism is coming to focus and embrace that concept as the new form the socialism
of the 21st century. First, I want to take a step into the realm
of politics. You know some centuries ago we got rid of
dictatorships in our political life or at least we try to. We said we don’t want kings anymore. We don’t want a family or an individual
to have some kind of total power over all of us without being accountable. The king [had] has to follow up to kingly
rule that his son would be the king or if there wasn’t a son his daughter it would
be the queen. In other words, it had nothing to do with
us, it was some kind of process that was under their control. They not only controlled us now, they controlled
us into the future. Human beings across the world either got rid
of the king, that was the majority decision, or sometimes reduced the king to a kind of
figure head, to a ceremonial event. You can see that in the Netherlands, you can
see that in England, we still have kings, but they have no real power, the power has
become democratized. At least to the extent that the people governing
us are subject to our voting them in or out of power and in that way there’s some—sure
not enough—but there’s some accountability. We never did that in the workplace. We never did the same thing in the workplace. What do I mean? In the workplace we allow a tiny group of
people—the major shareholders who own the bulk of the shares, and let’s remember in
most companies that’s a tiny number of people—to elect the board of directors, usually 15 individuals
or so, and they make all the decisions and they are not accountable to the workers. Workers are the vast majority in every workplace. Just like the majority of people in every
community of your average residence. But that tiny number of residents if they
occupy the position of president or senator or mayor are elected by the people over whom
they rule. But the people who rule us in the workplace
are not elected by us. We have no power over them. They are unaccountable. We have left in a capitalist world, we have
left the absence of democracy in the workplace that we wouldn’t tolerate in our communities
with our politics. We got rid of the kings in politics, but we
give them a regular coronation inside of the workplace where we allow them to function
that way unaccountable. And socialism as the critique of capitalism
has to be at the forefront of saying “No, no, no, no, no, no, no. If democracy is good for us politically, it’s,
if anything, more important for us economically. If we want democracy where we live and reside
and raise our families, why in the world did we ever allow it not to be the rule the government
of our workplaces?” Well, some people say: “How could that work? You can’t have some people making the decision,
you can’t have everybody, some people have that normal…” Stop. Is everybody equal in the communities where
we live? No. Equality of everybody was never a condition
of democracy. The commitment to democracy was a commitment
to a way of interacting among people who are of course different. And the workplace is the same. Are some people skilled in some things? Yes. But let me remind everyone. A) Every person has both genius and idiocy
in varying combinations. You’re good at this, I’m good at the next
thing. You’re not very good at that, I’m not
very good at the next thing. Let’s be careful here. The way we relate to one another on the workplace,
like the way we relate to one another in the community, has got to be built on a recognition
of our differences, a recognition of our inequalities, and the respect for that in all of us. We want to be respected, even though there
are areas where we are not very good at, and that can be demanded of us as well. The democratization of the workplace achieves
that. Do we want someone to have a lot of skill? Absolutely. A brain surgeon is the one we want to help
us with a brain problem, a skilled pianist is the person we want playing the concert. Do we respect their differences? Yes. Does that require that because they have this
or that skill this or that education, they have the right there for to dominate us? Not at all, doesn’t follow. You know, if the skilled surgeon has all the
power and domination—and though some of you work in hospitals will know exactly what
I’m talking about—they will make decisions that they’re not competent on. Decisions about how you care for human being
require a lot more than the surgeon. They require the nurse, they require the aide
who can make all the difference—physically, mentally—to anyone’s going through an
illness. If you ever had that problem, you’ll know
that. And if you want all the people to be part
of caring for you, not just a specialist in this or that detail, you need a different
work situation. You need a democracy of the decision making,
so all the different people with their specialties of how to care for you, effectively can have
a voice. Worker coop revolutionizes the workplace. It recognizes the different skills we bring. It recognizes our individuality, which is
not recognized in a capitalist workplace as most of you know. Because it institutionalizes it. The respect for our different skills and the
commitment to have us all participate, makes the total work that we do—both the skilled
in the unskilled—very different and equally important which is what they should be. Don’t let the excuse of some difference
in this or that detail be the basis for an inequality of power, respect, and standing. Let’s remember how that has been misused
in the past. Sometimes people thought they ought to be
masters and other people ought to be slaves because of a difference in this case skin
color, which, if you think about it, ought to explain anything and doesn’t. If you study slavery, you’ll know it existed
as often among people with the same skin color as it did with people who had different skin
color. The using the skin color was an excuse, a
way to make it seem reasonable that some people had all the power and others didn’t. Some of you have seen that with folks who
have an education. They went to school for more years than the
next person. Okay, that’s interesting. That may have given you some extra skill,
that should be respected. But that you should dominate other people
because of the eight million factors that led to you being able to finish your education
and the next person not? Oh, no. That’s not necessary. That’s not justified. None of it. Let me turn to another question of worker
coops. Does everybody get paid the same? That’s part of what a democratic worker
coop will have to determine. I did decide to say, well, you spent more
money and time developing a skill, we’re going to give you all some of that money back
because it’s good for us that you have that skill, so will pay you a bit more than we
pay other people. Perfectly okay, just a question of working
that out. Here’s another thing. You have 2 children that you’re maintaining,
you have 4 children that you’re maintaining. Okay, maybe we’ll adjust pay a little bit
to take that into account. You live far farther away from the job than
she does. Okay, will take… In other words, you think about all the variables
and you think about having everybody understand how and why they’re getting paid individually
what they are. That’s what a worker coop would do. That’s what a socialized or socialist workplace
would be around. And guess what, if we were all together democratically
work out the distribution of income and wealth, we will not need to have huge divisive fights
amongst us after we distribute and, as the cry goes up, we want a redistribution of wealth
because too many people have very little and too few have very much. So that those with the little want to take
from the rich, and then we fight, and we bitterly contest. We divide and destroy our community. If we hadn’t distributed it unequally, in
the first place, if we hadn’t excluded people from the participation in deciding who gets
what—so we understand the rationale for why somebody will get a bit more than the
next person—if we all participated in that we won’t have to fight about redistribution. We will understand and have had our equal
say in making those decisions. Yes, going from what we have now to a socialist
workplace, a socialist workplace of equal voices of all working people, will take some
time and will take some adjusting. It’s like the difference from people going
from agriculture to industry, from the rural area to the urban area etc., etc. We’ve managed those transitions in the past
there’s no reason to believe we can’t manage them in the future. And here’s a final thought about socialism
that gives priority to their revolutionizing of the workplace, making it a democratic equal
decision. Going that way gives socialism an enormous
political advantage. Here is that advantage. For the first hundred and fifty years of socialism,
when it focused on the state, state taking over the means of production and state planning
replacing markets, in all that time the enemies of socialism—the people who want capitalism
to stay, who want the inequality because they’re sitting at the top—those people developed
a vast army of arguments against, propaganda against, denunciations of powerful state. And socialism is the powerful state that’s
going to take over. They’re not ready for these enemies of socialism. They’re not ready for socialism that doesn’t
celebrate the state, that actually celebrates something completely different, much closer
to everybody—the workplace and making it a more equal, a more democratic institution,
which is something the vast majority of workers will and do already love and want. That gives us an enormous advantage. Their arguments have been developed against
this. This is a way to advance the concept often
the attractions of socialism which is another reason. Excuse me, why socialists are going in that
way and in that direction? Socialism is changing. That shouldn’t frighten anybody. It shouldn’t upset anybody. It’s normal. Change happens to everything. And the critique of capitalism, which is more
and more on people’s minds, and they’re searching for a kind of socialism that can
be a popular successful movement, has now within its sights a way to do that by focusing
on a new target, a new priority—whatever we say about the role of the state— revolutionizing
the workplace makes sure that the people have control of the wealthy produce. And in the end, that will give them control
over any state in a way that capitalists now have, but that a cooperative workplace will
transfer to the mass of the average people. Thank you very much for your attention. I hope this has been of interest and I look
forward to speaking with you again next week.

100 thoughts on “Economic Update: Worker Co-Ops, Socialism’s Future

  1. People think that this stuff is just a fantasy but just wait until the next fincinal melt down. When the every thing bubble pops. . . Lord have mercy.
    Just a few years ago you didn't hear terms like Socialism but After that last melt down. . .

  2. Hi Richard. Please review the new legislation put out by the Sander's campaign to democratise the workplace. It would also be nice to have it compared to the Warren legislation.

  3. First part of this speaks to something fundamental I've concluded:

    Authoritarian Socialism is just Authoritarianism with Socialist trappings.

    The goal is, and should always be, to have NO masters. Not to have different masters, better masters, benevolent masters — but none at all.

  4. To be fair, some of the "bumps" or problems were administeted by "employers". Exemplified by the Palmer Raids, clandestine alphabet soup agencies infiltration and meddling, and mercenary thugs paid by the big box stores of the time and elite captains of extractive industries in the 1900s , the jailing of Sacco & Vanzetti, the damaging whisper campaigns against co-op founders, followed by the witch hunts of McCarthyism, are some of the strategies used by the "opposition" to dissuade the public from militating for socialism, mutual aid, and brotherhood. The opposition was violent and the people turned away from the movement to save their families.

  5. Listen carefully to what the wolfman says which is not much different than any other comie.
    First he says that capitalism isn't fair. It isn't. Nothing is. Some people are more capable than others and to say otherwise is false.
    Trading is fair. You can vote with your wallet and buy or not buy what you want.
    Also, no one is forcing you to work where you do and what for what price. It is a mutual agreement.
    The wolfman also says that the means of production should be TAKEN!!! By whom, with what army? Don't you think there will be a lot of resistance?
    What about big companies. They are owned by stock holders. Many depend on these stocks in their 401Ks or IRAs. What about the main street capitalist that own the local hardware store or plumbing service? Do you want to take that too? The wolfman wants to make everyone equally poor.
    When does the wolfman ever talk about being productive and generating wealth?
    If you want to make co-ops, I am all for it but remember that half of startups don't last 5 years. What then?
    Who supplies the capital for the startup? Who would be willing if the pay back isn't there and there is a 50% chance you will lose your investment in 5 years.

    The wolfman is advocating socialism by force. What is the difference between that and communism?

    I am willing to debate this commie any time. It is clear he has no real experience.

  6. The left have given me enough aversion therapy now , no more , I promise I will never vote for them again , now go away .

  7. As automation and ai take over the jobs then where are you going to find these workers . Another well off talking dick head .

  8. can you talk about rent control? The city where I live has a democratic socialist running for mayor with one of his main goals is to use rent control. I do not know much about this topic and thought it would be interesting to hear your take on this issue.

  9. There is on fundamental flaw in worker co-ops prof Wolff won't tell you about, or he just doesn't know. The flaw is human self interest (good in Capitalism) can work against a co-op.

    Suppose you have five grocery stores in a town, one of which is a democratically ran, worker own co-op. Well the co-op grocery store needs to stay competitive as does the other grocery stores, so they need to cut down on cost. It turns out this particular co-op's labor cost are a bit high. To remedy this, a suggestion is made for self checkout machines. Introducing self checkout machines will save on labor cost, and make the co-op competitive, but as I said, self interest will get in the way.

    In order to pass the measure, to have self checkout machines to save the business from failing, the workers have to vote on it. So, to the geniuses in the comment section, which workers will vote for the self checkout machines, which is a vote to be layed off? Hmmmm? Anyone? Do you see the problem? Workers in their own self-interest are not going to vote out there jobs, so instead of making the necessary sacrifice to get the self checkout machines, they will let the grocery store fail and everyone loses their job.

  10. In US "socialism" = "communism" = "dictatorship" = "fascism" = "totalitarianism" ……….etc. In US the people live on a different planet.

  11. Serious question: Say a person or a small group of individuals come up with and develop a new business of some kind. They take all the monetary risk and put in an extraordinary amount of work to get the business to be successful. At what point in that process do the socialists decide the business belong to the workers? And how are the founders compensated for their blood, sweat and tears?

  12. This is an excellent rundown of how America's current economy and the former Soviet Union were both plagued by a runaway concentration of power and how modern socialists focus on using democracy to break it up.

  13. I can see that these ideas look as if they should fit into an existing workplace but how might it be made to work in a start up? If I am a plumber and I start to get more orders than I can cope with on my own I might decide to take someone on. Then I might grow to two and three employees and so on. At what point does the worker co-op kick in? It is, after all, my business built on my initial idea and skill.

  14. I think it wouldn't be fair for a coop to offer one person more money just because they have children. I think it would be better for the government to have the role to implement tax breaks and potential UBI for the children to offset the person's income. Compensation for proximity to the work place should depend on availability and cost of housing near the work place. Also remote working options should be considered.

    One thing I would like to see implemented with companies (coop or not) is standardized pay for given positions sort of like how the US government GS payscale is. Base pay for a given position class then modifiers for each year of employment, bonuses for performance/enduring periods of time where work is more demanding. The advantage of this is if base pay changes then it changes for everyone in that pay group rather than new people suddenly getting bumped to the same pay level as long term employees. To many companies decide not to give raises in a given year just because they want to make excuses but continue to pay the upper level millions of $.

    That was an issue for that one company that raised everyone to $70k a year. If a particular position is hard to fill then the position should change to a higher value payscale and everyone in that position should get a pay bump to match the change. Payscale should depend on factors like education level, availability of skilled workers for that position, risk factors, etc.

  15. So the state owns the means of production but the same families and bankers runs the state dummies nothing changes

  16. So how will this work? Will some workers be more equal than others and own more shares than others? But surely those who've been there longer deserve more? … or perhaps not.. Will it make them lazier or work harder or no change? Short term and long term… Will they become institutionally corrupt and implode? Will the older workers and younger workers go to war on issues? Will workers blame each other when things go wrong? Will anemosities build up? …. What happens when they want to raise capital publicly? Can they sell shares, thus diluting their profits and power? and of course…. nepotism, Nepotism, NEPOTISM….. for good and for BAD!.. La La Land..

    Personally I think worker-owned but not democracy on the shop floor for all (main) decisions… Socialism is a statist philosophy, worker-owned cooperatives are not socialist, they are capitalist for a start, with workers being capital holders…. Don't hijack capitalism when you like it and call it Socialism, it's disingenuous…. Socialism really means people not allowed to own their own property (including food…..), with all property shared out by centralised state bodies as they deem fit… If we go by what happened in the past, this extended from the richest, to the poorest, with The State taking everything and killing millions of its own citizens… The USSR starved its farmers to death by stealing all their produce and leaving them nothing, all over The Ukraine for instance….. and they all buckled to capitalist ways more and more to stay afloat…. China is now more capitalist than communist/socialist in most ways… The semi-socialist, mixed systems of Europe are NOT SOCIALISM either, by a long shot….. Nor is welfare…. Zee Nazti Left certainly twist word definitions in all subjects… They liberally abuse English and defend very bad philosophies….

    Constitutional Direct Democracy:

    An individual rights-based constitution protects direct democracy and residents from authoritarian uber-lord domination and petty nanny state control freak overload.. No MPs or Lords, councils or councillors.. Concerned citizens vote for local and national state department heads, developments, budgets, open contract bids, laws, treaty and organisation membership..

    Personally: Minarchism not Monarchism. Low, bank-automated tax and benefits..

    But I believe KEEP DEMOCRACY OUT OF THE WORK PLACE….. it is not a good idea, even if workers owning some shares is a good idea… Many companies already offer share packages with the job as a bonus under capitalism…. Democracy is for running public things, not private things…. and A FREE MARKET IS DEMOCRATIC WHEN CONSUMER-LEAD in the bigger picture….. which all free markets are as far as I can tell…. Under Sozialism individuals cannot own their own business… even worker cooperatives will ultimately be owned by The Nazti State (Mafia kleptocrats)…

    'Pure' capitalism and 'Socialism' both have the seeds of their own destruction built in… Pushing either philosophy on its own makes you are an EXTREMIST NUTTER ignoring the evidence, either willfully or lazily with a closed mind.

  17. one very important step towards fairer society is a correct system of taxation. Simply putting a blanket tax on the rich, while very intuitive, is somewhat misguided. Taxation to end capitalism should be of a very specific kind: the taxing of capital
    Under the current system, work (or labour) are heavily taxed, through salary taxes on workers themselves, income taxes on the reward of the workers' labour, and sales taxes on the product of their labour. Notice how workers are taxed at multiple different steps of the process?
    These taxes only minimally affect the capitalist class. It's an inherently anti-poor taxation system.
    A better, and in my opinion more morally and ethically founded, taxation system, would exclude any form of tax on labour, and instead tax all forms of capital: shares, stocks, bonds, assets, etc… whoever "owns" those things better be putting in the labour equivalent to their value. Nobody should be allowed to freeload off the collective labour of society, just because they "own" stuff. That's nothing more than disguised feudalism. Why should the tenants support their landlord? Why not give that money to a homeless person or orphan, so they may have another chance at society?

  18. a topic I wish the left would discuss more, is crowdfunding as a means for democratising the distribution of resources.
    Rather than leaving the decision to fund or leave important projects in the hands of a few wealthy elites, democratic allocation of resources sounds like an idea with a particular socialist flair.

  19. We can NEVER , NEVER , realize true scientific socialism , using modern developed capitalism's monetary falsified ( of Fictitious Capital included ) values of privatized monetary system dominatinng all states , in NATO-Allied states ! what we need is completely new social structures ( other than republican models ) as Open Social University(Global) , with social status , in proportion to individual's cumulated total social activity accomplished since birth-dates, for all , and accounted in dynamic manners , + Direct Democracy plus New Human Rights and Global Law School of OSUG , for ruling against violations of N.H.R.!

  20. i think every business being a co-op is the future of capitalism.
    and by that i mean that every employee will have a equal share of the business and every shareholder will be an employee.
    This doesn't mean that all employees will get paid the same, upper management may still get 10+ times the wages of the workers, its just that all workers will be equal shareholders. the workers work for management, management works for the board of directors, the board of directors works for the shareholders which is the employees. As you sign a contract to join a company you gain shares in the company, as your contract ends (either by quitting or being fired) your shares get cashed in too. As a worker you don't need to know any management skills as a shareholder, you just get paid regularly from your shares worth along with your wages.
    This wouldn't make much difference to small business ('mum & pop' corner stores effectively run this way already) but would create a lot of stability for markets and the economy when done holistically.
    Naturally this would mean that brokers couldn't gamble with peoples lives by trading company shares on the stock exchange (Wall St) which is a good thing, additionally other benefits would be that companies would have better working conditions, better social engagement, environmental practices, less need for unions, better competitive markets, and stronger small town/ rural economies.
    .
    Where this has problems though is in regards to sub-contractors and casual workers as both of those would be a loopholes to stop employees from getting shares and both of those positions are needed. So i'm curious to see how Richard Wolff (or others) see this working or how they'd combat the issue I've outlined.

  21. Pro people or any group should have a leadership to lead them to reach their objectives people & groups should help the him

  22. The only problem is that the people in power won't give it up their power which means that will never be a transition to a worker's Co-op in the workplace.

  23. Professor Wolf once again trying to herd the sheep into the light, love you, Professor! Thank you!

  24. Demented Poop ๐Ÿ’ฉ opportunists ruined this country economy entirely we Indians are living in poop ๐Ÿ’ฉ economy of rss bjp modi kudi shaw shit bhagwat balless dick are the greatest economist ever born on this earth so we deserve now to eat their economic shit and economic poop ๐Ÿ’ฉ…jai ho rss bjp modi shaw bhagwat poop ๐Ÿ’ฉ economy…

  25. There was a proposal for healthcare cosponsered by a Republican and a Democrat which was a health care cooperative outside of the federal government.

    When I explain the cooperative structure alternative to Republicans they often love the idea because it is separate from the federal government. It makes sense to them.

    But it also creates real competition with shareholder corporations.

    In my opinion the idea is what would unit the Republicans and Democrats. I think both would be for cooperative health insurance, cooperative banks, cooperative businesses like the auto industry etc.

    The thing to know is the corporate politicians are more threatened by this idea than by thing like Medicare4all.

    Because it puts cooperatives outside of their political control and becomes a model which they canโ€™t compete with.

  26. To anyone who thinks, this only works in theory: There are numerous Co-Ops working. The most famous one, is Mondragon, in Spain.

  27. In socialism the top 1% consists of well connected government officials instead of brilliant high achievers as in capitalism.

  28. Socialism can be what we make it. We have social events such as a dances, barbecues, concerts and the like. They are to bring people together. That is how we should think of it. It does not mean there is a dictator, which I used to associate it with. Probably because of The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). We need to take care of each other and respect our differences. That is what our country was supposed to be about.

  29. I love how deranged he seems. Perfect. Polarity , jealously and calls to violence. All my problems go away if only the rich were not rich. Visit China in 1983… they tried that. The rich were still rich, and everyone else a slave

  30. Anarchists like Bakunin accurately described how authoritarian and unjust a socialist state (Marx's Red Bureaucracy) would become, long before the 1917 Revolution. This has been the crux of contention between the Libertarian and Authoritarian socialists for 150 years. This irreconcilable philosophical difference is what led to the Marxist coup of the 2nd International. It is only some Marxists who have managed to figure out what the anarchists having been warning of and pointing out since the 19th century.

  31. An offering of some nonsense which precariously found itself in my Inbox: I subscribe to the hosting bookstore's YouTube channel, not the opinion of the author; https://youtu.be/OnhI3w9aN80 "The Case Against Socialism" by Senator Rand Paul & Kelley Paul. Would love to see Dr. Wolff–in context/discussion, etc., "debate" this type of ancient history. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  32. The average corporate CEO makes over 300 times worker pay. Wealth inequality is caused by these greedy CEO's making too much money, as their workers live in poverty. The greedy CEO of Walmart is an example of this avarice and unfairness.

  33. No corporate CEO should make over 5 times the pay of the average worker. The greedy CEO of GM Mary Barra makes 22 million while her employees live in poverty. That's why capitalism has failed. It only benefits the rich.

  34. Can you do a series where how America rise as a country, to global power and what are, when did the factors which prevented more fair distribution of wealth and taken economy hostage?

  35. You did not stress enough that the workplace decisions should also take in consideration the impact that it has on the community, such as the pollution, noise, management of waste, etc. The community should have input on this. Otherwise great video .

  36. Hi dr. Wolf, please search about "workers' self-management in Yugoslavia". From 1950, almost whole country economy was made Workers Co-Ops.

  37. I live on Vancouver Island which as far a 'model' for being a modern version of socialism is probably as good as it gets in North America. Credit Unions dominate banking, gas stations are mostly Co-op and there are worker owned large enterprises. And the distinction is 'worker owned' ie worker owned capitalist enterprise. The workers own the company shares and ARE the board of directors.
    The weak point in this idea is that there has to a seed planted… somebody has to have the original idea that led to a profitable enterprise. That is the strength of the original capitalist model innovation leading to hard work that leads to wealth. That seed enterprise is crucial and frankly I can't see this being done by a committee. Yes once the worker enterprise is up and running it can produce innovation on a large scale, but the worker owned businesses I see here, usually start with a failing plan. We had a pulp/paper mill here that was going to close. Some of the workers and one key private investor bought it and have for decade now run it as workers being prime shareholders. The worker/owners now run the plant with about half the original workforce and with the wages and benefits that the profitability of the business can afford to pay. With self interest in the equation the place runs very efficiently. It didn't before. The critical take away is that they took over a failing enterprise,… they didn't create it. You have to have a level of self interest to be successful and… it will work best on taking over old failing business, not starting from scratch.

  38. This cannot be true and will solve nothing if CO-OPERATIVE – Fonterra Dairy Company is anything to go by! A farmers co-operative in New Zealand that pays massive $ to CEO & others at the top. That one day decided to take 3 months to pay contractors rather than accepted 30 days. That pollutes our New Zealand rivers, now some of the most polluted on the planet. So you come out covered in cow excrement and your friend gets very sick and is hospitalised (she put her head under the water). That exploits & destroys other country's ecosystems as well. Greed is greed, people are greedy, without laws and governments to keep the peace between rich and poor THINGS ONLY GOING TO DETERIORATE.

  39. It's unwise to claim to be a socialist in nearly all of America unless you want to be automatically shunned, fired or violence visited on you. Some parts of Berkeley, SF, Oakland and NYC are socialist-tolerant, but otherwise labeling yourself a "socialist" isn't good for the health or success of any person in/visiting America. Americans are just too brainwashed and intolerant, so you have to sell them on ideas and actions on their individual merits, not on divisive labels.

  40. Lol the socialist view of the world is so warped an confused. If you disagree, read the Austrian economistsโ€™ treatment of socialism. Also the idea of worker co-ops have been around for a long time. This is not a 21st century idea.

  41. These types of ideas need to be discussed more in the mainstream.

    Socially Democratic ideas have started to infiltrate but co-ops are still a relative unknown to most here.

    As usual, Lobo breaking it down proper.

  42. cooperatives have been around since beginning of 19th centrury. they stem from anarchism, not socialism or marxism. Marxist-leninists despised coops, even Marx did was against them(3rd volume of capital).
    Prof.Wolff talks about coops such that these are new ideas, and related to Marxists. No, they are not. It is very amazing to promote cooperatives, but it is very disappointing to distort history.

  43. It's about time we shift paradigm and stop using the word "socialism" as an economic system and replace it with "HUMANITARIANISM" which doesn't carry the negative connotation of the past.

  44. There is great merit in worker-directed enterprise (worker co-ops) in controlling the means of production for many types of businesses. One question that arises is, would worker co-ops compete against profit-seeking private enterprise or would the latter not be allowed at all (or special favors would be granted to worker co-ops to be competitive in the market)?

  45. Wolff hates UBI but UBI's most vehement 21st century proponent digs worker coops: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LK7Uafk83_o
    Indeed, Yang's use of the term "freedom dividend" metaphorizes our nation and its collectively generated wealth into a kind of business in relation to which we are ALL shareholders. In spirit, therefore, the philosophy underlying Yangian UBI ( or YUBI! haha!) is very much congruent with Wolff's description of worker coops.

  46. Great teaching. This man needs to do seminars for African socialist movements, it would do wonders for our politics. Keep on going Dr Wolf. โœŒ๐Ÿฟ&โค4rm๐Ÿ‡ฟ๐Ÿ‡ฆ

  47. I like this argument because it's an honestly non utopian vision of socialism. It implies that the social struggles and hierarchies (racism, sexism etc) won't be immediately eliminated with its advent. This is something the hangers on to 20th century socialism like marxist leninism lie to themselves about. I also agree that right wing talking heads aren't ready for a more concrete debate about socialism as community/workplace ownership. I recently watch a video of Ben Shapiro and he was asked what he thought about socialism as workplace democracy and he pivoted back to his old arguments about state ownership, namely because it's not a good look for him to appear as against the expansion of the democractic principal.

    I wonder though what differentiates Wolff's socialism from the mutualism of people like David Ellerman who despite being anti-Marxist are pro Cooperative economy. Ellerman argues that Marxism is simply an identity tag that leftists parade around without justification and that the real problem with capitalism is not the unfettered trading or growth but is a misunderstanding of the right to ownership. That the wage labour paradigm is an evolution of slavery and servitude coming from the feudal system.

  48. Work place Co-ops would never work for most people in most jobs. They only work on a limited bases because it requires the workers to be dedicated to making it work and most people donโ€™t have that level of dedication to their job.

  49. Capitalism works like darwinism because the vast majority of those who work succeed. They then go forward to help produce even more successful people making the nation more wealthy and strong.

    Socialism on the other hand promotes those who refused to work producing very little or nothing until the collapse of everything.

  50. Professor Wolf, would be interested in a video who your new socialism differs from anarchism. Also, with markets in place and people being free to associate, e.g. create coops with only people with skills in high demand, are you sure there would be no need for redistribution?

  51. Any suggestions on literature on how to start a coop? Including how one would involve other stakeholders than only the workers.

  52. Though Communists were always vilified. The rest of what you're saying was some how instilled/learned by my peers during the 60s counter culture wars. Obviously a war lost to rampant greed & corruption. Thx You for the counter corruption.

  53. god this man is insufferable. every word is dripping with venom. every sentence is teeming with contempt and every paragraph reeks of academic fraud.

  54. Socialism = open source
    Manhattan earth project
    Capitalism will become obsolesces
    If you know how to "Game Theory" how to eradicate scarcity and are intelligent enough to. Evolve out of the human worst of conditions
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yG3mu_7Y_Ao&t=5s

  55. I understand these videos are directed towards the layperson, but the idea of workplace democracy is not new. The narrative here is that state socialism was tried but had crucial failings, thus modern socialists learned from those failings and determined workplace democracy was the missing piece.
    But this is perspective glosses over so much crucial historical info.
    I'd think it better to explain Marx's actual theory and to contrast it with the way things actually developed in the USSR and elsewhere and why the material conditions didn't allow for workplace democracy to develop.

    I'm very fond of Dr. Wolff and [email protected] and find your work indispensable for the education of newbies to socialism, but the claim that workplace democracy, or even it's emphasis, is a new development in socialism just does not seem very accurate.

  56. Your democracy in decision making clearly resonates Marx's idea of being-in-common. So, you can't escape the question of subjectivity. Eager to know from you that how is it possible to change the homo-economicus to a communist subject amidst the vast ideological interpellating apparatuses of capitalism ????

  57. All system made by human all systems not perfec BUT BUT we should choose closest to justice
    Progressivism means every 5 years have new ideas for politics and economy
    Socialism means 50% government economic 50% private institutions economy
    it's about balance.. life needs balance.. economy need balance too
    If you see in country everything is cheap that's not a healthy sign for economy
    If you see in country everything is expensive that's not ethier a healthy sign for economy

  58. Excellent presentation. A little heady for most folks, but clear enough to expand a patient listener to the potential of a democratic workplace.

  59. Worker co-ops aren't illegal and perfectly acceptable business practice within a capitalist system.

    But what happens if I think the company shouldn't rest at $1 million in profits but my coworkers are like "nah man we're good".

    Why do my coworkers now have the right to determine my income and productivity? You've replaced one dictator with a council of them.

    And what happens when all of those greedy capitalist pigs form their own co-op, where they're all in agreement that maximizing profit is the goal of the company?

    Better yet, during economic downturn, imagine getting FIRED BY UNANIMOUS VOTE. Right now you can blame "the CEO" but knowing all of your coworkers are in favor….ouch.

  60. Greetings Mr Wolff, i want to start out by saying i your discussion skill is magnificent no matter what environment you are in.
    i support the democratic workplace. i understand the need for equal coop in the workplace.
    to set this up seems to me the issue, and your working that out… we are working that out. if the resources present themselves i will be an advocate in any business end ever i can inform.
    in Australia we now have a political party that seems to be showing the description of democracy more accurately. #voteflux has been on the last ballot paper and is continuing it presents in politics, i would love you to "look into" it and maybe some day include such a political standing on if it is moving forward or whatever way it is moving at all.(chuckle)
    https://voteflux.org/
    my father has taught me my views as most do, and this eliminated a tier of government in Australia, ergo my dad is pleased.

  61. Not to introduce FUD because employee ownership is mostly good, but does it introduce perverse incentives (greed) for employees to act just like capitalists in terms of pollution, exploitation, political corruption and externalities?

  62. I wish I could like Professor Wolff's videos as many times as I find myself nodding; clapping; and/or saying, "Wow! Well said!"

    He is one of my inspirations. He is one of the reasons I self-describe as an "alt-Marxist" cooperativist. He is one of the reasons my comrades and I are developing our own network of cooperative enterprises.

    Workers of the world, unite!

  63. It is hard to believe that people have been convinced that the only way to organize a major part of society is everyone against everybody else (or more precise everyone for those who own more than they can possible deserve, need or even earn in a fair manner) and that organizing society to work together for the betterment of all is a thing considered to be unacceptable and basically evil.
    But then again most of what humans do in an organized way, mainly what is complient to government and economical doctrine could hardly be more alien to me.

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