Mercury Rising 鳯女

Politics, life, and other things that matter

Posts Tagged ‘economic democracy’

Richard Wolff On Detroit, Cars, And Capitalism’s Inherent Flaws

Posted by Phoenix Woman on July 27, 2013

This is a good point:

If the autoworkers had transformed the auto companies into worker co-operatives, Detroit would have evolved very differently. Worker co-operatives would not have moved production, thereby undermining their jobs, families and communities, including especially Detroit. Workers would not have destroyed themselves and their communities that way. Moving production, a distinctly capitalist strategy, was key to Detroit’s population dropping from 1.8m in 1950 to 700,000 today.

Workers co-operatives would also have searched and likely found alternatives to moving that might have saved Detroit. Workers co-operatives, for example, would likely have paid less in dividends to owners and salaries to managers than was typical at Ford, General Motors and Chrysler. Those savings, if passed on in lower automobile prices, would have enabled better completion with European and Japanese car makers than Detroit’s Big Three managed.

We cannot know how much more Detroit’s auto industry might have benefited from technical progress had it been organized as a workers’ co-operative. We can guess that workers have greater incentives to improve technology in co-operatives they own and operate than as employees in capitalist enterprises. Finally, worker co-operatives would likely have switched to producing (and helped to promote) mass-transit vehicles or other alternatives to the automobile to retain jobs and well-being once they saw that continued automobile production could not secure those priorities for worker co-operatives.

Economic democracy: Worth trying.

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Even The Financial Times Has Nice Things To Say About Mondragon

Posted by Phoenix Woman on April 8, 2013

You could have knocked me down with a feather when I saw this article in the Financial Times (registration required) saying very nice things about the Mondragon Corporation in the Basque region of Spain.

What seems to have impressed Miles Johnson, the author of the FT piece, was the speed with which a collectively organized company like Mondragon can respond to market opportunities. He cites a situation that occurred in 2009 where various European governments introduced policies intended to stimulate automobile purchases. This meant that carmakers, who had scaled back production and thus orders for parts, suddenly had to get parts supplied to them, and fast. Mondragon informed its workers in its automotive parts divisions of this opportunity and asked if they were willing to work extra hours to fulfill these parts orders. They were, and soon the carmakers were able to meet the boost in demand.

Mondragon is by no means perfect, as its own workers will tell you without your even having to ask. But it’s a good start at working out how workplace democracy can thrive in the modern world.

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Rick Wolff: The Smartest Economist You’ve Never Heard Of (Next To David Harvey)

Posted by Phoenix Woman on June 19, 2012

Rick Wolff’s website,, has all sort of nifty videos and online lectures for those wanting to learn the forbidden history of economics and the future of economic democracy.

His latest book, Occupy the Economy, will be the subject of an FDL Book Salon next month. Check it out!

(And while you’re at it, check out that David Harvey guy, too.)

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