4. Flat management, democratic planning and a basic income By Yanis Varoufakis and Michael Albert December 25, 2021 Change text size: [ A+ ] / [ A- ] Email this page Posted in: Parecon, Reimagining Society, Vision/Strategy | Comments: 2 Please Help ZNet Source: Meta Michael Albert and Yanis Varoufakis, members of mέta’s Advisory Board, take part on an ongoing debate on how a postcapitalism worth striving for could look like. Here is the fourth contribution the whole discussion, to be constantly updated and enriched, can be found here. 4. Flat management, democratic planning and a basic income Yanis Varoufakis, 23rd December 2021 Michael: Glad that we are proceeding slowly, refusing to take for granted vague terms like ‘equitable’ and ‘just’ – terms within which all manners of oppressions and irrationalities can take refuge. Before proceeding, and in the interests of full disclosure, let me state it for the record that, from a young age and to this day, I have signed up to Karl Marx’s dismissal of equity (as a bourgeois notion) as well as to his antipathy to defining freedom as the right to make free choices as long as they do not impinge on others. So, when you ask me whether we agree “…that we should all decide our lives up to where our choices impinge on others, but from there on, others should have their self managing say, as well”, my response is: No, we certainly don’t. Interdependence is a given in any social network. Thus, according to your definition of freedom, every Tom and Dick has the right to scream that Harriet’s choices somehow impinge on theirs. Who will adjudicate then? Tom and Dick, merely because they are in the majority (or any majority for that matter)? That is unacceptable. You ask me why I am alarmed by your definition of equitable: “…Equitable means we receive income for how long, how hard, and the onerousness of the conditions under which we do socially useful work.” The answer is because I shudder to imagine who will decide what constitutes ‘socially useful work’. What happens if Harriet wants desperately to work on some new project that Tom and Dick consider ‘socially useless’? Or who gets to quantify how hard or onerous a particular job is? The majority again? Just writing these words makes my throat choke with angst. You ask: “Do we agree that to end coordinator class rule we need to replace the corporate division of labor with jobs balanced for empowerment?” Sure, we agree. But, who gets to decide the job balance necessary for Harriet’s empowerment? My answer is: Harriet. No one else. Not Tom and Dick. No worker council should tell Harriet what is good for her to do, let alone decide on her behalf. Sure, they can chat about it in the assembly, on the company’s intranet, via all sorts of teleconferences etc. But, unless Harriet gets to decide what Harriet does, it ain’t self-management. >Naturally, the question then becomes: How do things that need to get done get done? I have concrete ideas on how to answer this all-important question. But, in the spirit of taking this conversation slowly, I shall begin by setting down five basic principles that enterprises should adhere to: Authentic self-management: Participants (i.e., worker-co-owners) must be free to join at will, or to quit, work teams within the enterprise – and to pursue projects without anyone’s permission Democratic hiring & firing: A democratic process must determine who is brought into the enterprise, but also who is fired (Nb. The right of the collective to dismiss a participant as a necessary counter-balance of authentic self-determination) A basic income for all: Without an adequate basic income, to fire a participant is to jeopardise her capacity to live. This would vest too much power in the hands of the majority (within the enterprise) while, at once, making it harder to fire someone that deserves to be fired. Democratic resource allocation: The collective decides how much the basic salary is, how much to spend on infrastructure (including R&D), the enterprise’s multi-year plan and, lastly, how much to set aside for annual bonuses (to be distributed according to a democratically agreed process) Your thoughts?