Five Ideas for Freedom

This weekend Workers Liberty are running a three-day summer school called Ideas for Freedom. As a contribution to this gathering I, as a member of the Project for a Participatory Society – United Kingdom (PPS-UK), would like to present the following ideas for a classless / participatory economic system –

Idea No 1 – The Coordinator Class:
For anyone interested in organising for a classless / participatory economy raising coordinator class consciousness is vital.
The coordinator class are those who monopolise the information and decision-making authority necessary to determine economic outcomes. They are an intermediate class in capitalism and the ruling class in coordinator economies such as the former Soviet Union, China, and Yugoslavia.

Idea No 2 – Self-managed Worker and Consumer Councils:
As an alternative to capitalist ownership or coordinator control of the economy we propose self-managed worker and consumer councils.
When ordinary people try to take control of their own economic activities they have often created some sort of democratically run councils. We believe that the fairest form of democracy is self-management; by which we mean that people should have a say in decisions in proportion to the degree they are affected by the outcome of that decision.

Idea No 3 – Balanced Job Complexes:
As an alternative to the hierarchical division of labour found in both socialist and capitalist economies we propose balanced job complexes (BJCs).
The hierarchical division of labour results from some peoples jobs being made up of tasks that are empowering and desirable whilst other peoples jobs are mostly undesirable and disempowering. This arrangement undermines self-management. In contrast BJCs, which evenly distribute empowering and desirable tasks equally amongst workers, creates an economic environment that facilitates and encourages participation whilst safe-guarding against coordinator class dominance.

Idea No 4 – Remuneration for Effort and Sacrifice:
As an alternative to remuneration for power and / or ownership we propose that people should be rewarded according to the effort and sacrifice they make.
All economies need criteria for remuneration. The criteria for remuneration in a class ridden economy, like the one we have today, will reflect the interests of the dominant classes. We believe that rewarding people for effort and sacrifice is both fair and compatible with self-management.

Idea No 5 – Participatory Planning:
As an alternative to both competitive markets and central planning we propose participatory planning.
Participatory planning is a process in which producers and consumers propose and revise their own economic activities via their councils. The process involves a series of rounds that result in an equitable and efficient plan. To get the process started participants receive information – indicative prices based on the previous years final prices – from the Iteration Facilitation Board (IFB) which is a workplace which specialises in processing and delivering information during the planning process.

These are very brief introductory statements. For a comprehensive account of these ideas, and more, visit ParEcon. Feedback from members of Workers Liberty (and others) is most welcome.


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