Reply To: Asking About Parecon/Parsoc

ZSplash Forums AskAlbert Asking About Parecon/Parsoc Reply To: Asking About Parecon/Parsoc

Michael Albert

> “but productivity will be lost if empowering work is redistributed!”

If I can do surgery, and I do 40 hours a week of it, and then I switch, in a new system, to 20 hours a week of it – then 20 hours of surgery is lost. If we stop right there – then for all surgeons half is lost. Society lost half its surgery. If we consider that among the 80% of workers who have their creativity and initiative crushed – a subset would, in a society that welcomed it – become surgeons at 20 hours a week, replacing what is lost, and more, then we have a more complete picture, and the loss is eliminated. Now if we take into account all kinds of transfer from unproductive work, or work benefitting a few, to work that is productive and benefits all – productivity of benefits hugely increases. If we include as part of the output of work the well being of workers themselves, now the benefits are stupendous. And so on…

If a critic is right that humans can only do empowering work as their full load, and if they do anything that isn’t empowering, then their productivity when doing empowering work will drop significantly, then will their productivity drop, significantly, even for the 20 hours they do? Answer, well, if we assume x, then x follows, yes. But the assumption is wrong and the additional features and implications are ignored.

Suppose someone came along and said to a surgeon who is doing 40 hours of surgery a week, we will pay you just like now, but you only have to do 20 hours. In fact, we will pay you twice as much to do only 20 hours. Do you think surgeons would say, no way… my productivity will drop?

The reality is productivity of that one person, per hour, would likely go up, due to being healthier, etc. etc. The reality is that the long hours of surgery – much less than 40, are precisely about maintaining the monopoly of surgeons on the activity – as well as doing tons of unneeded surgeries to jack up profits. If we include not spending time and acting in ways to preserve his or her dominance in the hospital, then I am quite sure the surgeon’s productivity per hour would go up… and so on. If we add that the health care is now oriented to – well – heath – and not to profit and maintaining the conditions of profiting, then the situation becomes, again, overwhelming…

I don’t know what more to say – other than to suggest longer discussions in other works, or, if you find the above unconvincing, explain why…

The subtext is worker well being just doesn’t count…patient well being, even, doesn’t count, profits and power count. So, if we ask, pursuing profits and power as the priority, would balanced job complexes diminish these, for elites, the answer is certainly yes.

The comment on the coordinator class is similar. “Represent factors of production”? What does that even mean? I honestly don’t know. I can guess that the person means capital is a factor, labor is a factor, so you can only have two classes if we define a class as respecting one of those. But what kind of definition is that? The only sensible definition of economic class in my view would be that a class is a group that is demarcated by its position in the economy such that the difference between it and the rest are sufficiently important to understanding how the economy works, and, from our point of view, what it can and does deliver and thus, what we might want instead, that we should identify the group as compared to other groups. With that definition, one analyst might argue the only groups that matters are ones that have different ownership relations because only that difference can yield a group we should identify and think carefully about, relate to, etc. Many have claimed that. If you propose a class based on something else to such a person, say on having a monopoly of empowering tasks – the person will say, wait, that can’t be a class. They don’t own different property, etc. If one replies but their economic conditions give them different interests, views, values – rewards, influence, etc. etc., the person denying that coordinators are a class may just repeat, but they sell their labor time and don’t own capital. If the person were correct that that meant coordinators couldn’t possibly be a class, then the person should be able to say, instead, wait, that group you call coordinators may earn a little more, like unionized workers earn more than those not in a union, but it has the same basic interests, views, values, and means of garnering rewards, and influence, as all other workers. Since that is a demonstrably absurd claim – they instead repeat, like a mantra, but the coordinators don’t own property differently than other workers, so they CANNOT be a separate class. So, their reply to a claim that there is another basis for class difference, including demarcating a new ruling class, even, is simply to say, well, no, there can’t be. I have a book somewhere on my shelf that says no – so no it is.

I don’t understand the next question, either. Workers could burn down a factory or a city and subvert economic activity. It is biologically and physically possible? Sure. Is that a criticism? No, not unless one makes a case that workers would have reason to do that that stems from the working of the system.

Could the pilot of a pareconish airplane intentionally crash it? I mean this seriously. So could workers strike against, anything at all? Yes, unless there are rules or laws against it. Would they – for what reason, to what gain, at what loss? That is a more real question. If you think through the incentives, the rewards, the costs, it becomes clear that as soon as we are talking about people in an established, functioning, parecon, it is very nearly on a par with worrying about pilots crashing intentionally.

The permission a producer or consumer needs to proceed comes from the whole planning process, in the form of the final plan, thus it depends on the collective overall response of those who consume what you produce, or produce what you consume.

Yes, I found the article you mention – it should have links to the others, but it didn’t so I added them. Not sure why. I didn’t remember the piece, but I searched for anything by me with the word snake in it. That way I found the followups right off too – four pieces, beyond the one you mention, I think it was, each addressing some of the concerns.