Tuesday, December 04, 2007

You can tell how high a person comes from in the class structure by who they identify the enemy as

Like Rick Wolff, who seems to think that the only exploiters out there are corporate boards of directors. In Neoliberal Globalization is not the Problem, published on MRZine, his basic argument--which is that capitalism swings between neoliberal and welfare state forms based on how the market is doing for a particular country--is somewhat obscured by the weird terminology he uses about exploiters and those they exploit. Boards of directors appropriate surplus value, which is really a way of saying that they make much more money off of peoples' work than they're paid. I get visions of a small group of men in top hats and tuxedos running all over the place with bags of money, personally appropriating the surplus value of thousands or millions of workers. Like upper management isn't responsible, and like managers further down the line aren't lackeys for those at the top. Similarly, his idea of what socialism means is, in explaining Marx, "a communist alternative where productive workers functioned as their own board of directors, collectively appropriating and distributing the surpluses they produced". What about workplace democracy and workers' self management? What about councils set up in large businesses by workers so that they can vote on policy? How exactly does he expect to sell this vision, even if he's somewhat simplifying it, to people who consider not just a never seen "board of directors" but their own bosses and pretty much everyone in management to be the exploiters?

Like I said, you can tell how high up a person comes from in the class structure by who they identify as the enemy--the further up they start from the smaller the number of people who they say are responsible for the sins of capitalism...until you get to "Boards of Directors".

1 comment:

Phil BC said...

The idea of workers control and workers democracy sound far more militant than his 'collective board of directors' approach. Maybe he thought if he called a spade a spade, he'd scare off some of his readers.