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Beyond Class Rule Is Parecon


 

This is a draft of chapter eight in a forthcoming – now being written – book titled Fanfare for the Future, presented here for participants in the HelpAlbert ZGroup to evaluate, critique, propose alterations of, etc. Please do not reproduce in any other venue than here…

As per the logic of the past two chapters, our visionary task is to conceive institutions consistent with our values for each major aspect or sphere of society. Dealing with economy, in this chapter, means conceiving economic institutions for production, consumption, and allocation. We call our vision, which has come into being most explicitly over the last twenty years or so, participatory economics, or parecon for short.

 

 

 

Parecon’s Values

Translating our preferred values, which we proposed last chapter, into their meaning in the economic sphere will get us started toward arriving at an economic vision. 

 

 

Solidarity

 

The first value we settled on was about relations among people. In capitalist economics, to get ahead, one must trample others. To increase your income and power you must ignore the horrible pain suffered by those left below or even help to push them farther down. This is not rhetoric – it is, instead, the logic of the roles owners and worker – buyer and seller. Greed is good, runs the mantra.

 

In contrast to the capitalist rat race, in which even the winners are rats, a good economy should be a solidarity economy generating sociality rather than anti social greed. A good economy’s institutions for production, consumption, and allocation, should, by the roles they offer, propel even antisocial people into having to address other people’s well being if they are to advance their own well being. To get ahead in a good economy, should derive from and depend on others getting ahead as well. When we act to better our lot, in doing so we become more solidaritous with others, rather than bending ourselves to be hostile to others.

 

Interestingly, this first economic value, so contrary to the capitalist logic of “me first and everyone else be damned” because that it my only way to operate consistently with and successfully in the capitalist institutions I encounter, is entirely uncontroversial. Who in their right mind would argue that if we could have the same output with the same conditions and the same distribution of income, an economy would be better if it produced in the process of delivering all that more hostility and anti-sociality in its participants than if it produced more mutual concern in its participants? Who would rather live in a hostile dystopian realm of nastiness than one of mutual aid? Other than psychopaths, we all value solidarity and would all prefer not to trample others. We desire solidarity, not anti-sociality. The irony is, among their own kind, even rats greatly prefer this. Calling the interpersonal hostility imposed by the market and property relations of capitalism a rat race actually does a disservice to rats.

 

 

Diversity

 

Our second value has to do with the options people encounter in their economic lives. Capitalist market rhetoric trumpets opportunity but capitalist market discipline in fact curtails satisfaction and development by replacing what is human and caring with what is commercial, profitable, and in accord with existing hierarchies of power and wealth. In the process of doing this, market diversity is constrained to not include humane options. We get Pepsi and Coke and so on – but we do not get soda that takes account of the well being of soda producers or consumers, or the environment – and likewise for other products. The tremendous variety of tastes, preferences, and choices that humans naturally display are truncated by capitalism into conformist patterns imposed by advertising, by narrow role offerings, and by coercive marketing environments that produce commercial attitudes and habits. Yes, we are varied in the Mall and the corporate workplace, but their are tight constraints on how varied, ruling out options that account for human well being and development above profit and power for the few. 

 

In capitalism, we seek the one most profitable method instead of many parallel methods suiting a range of priorities. We seek the biggest, quickest, brightest, of almost everything, if that is what we can sell most widely without undercutting hierarchies of power and wealth – virtually always crowding out more diverse choices supporting greater and more widespread fulfillment and, most important, affecting people’s knowledge, skills, confidence, and ties in ways contrary to elite domination.

 

In the economy that we seek, what we are calling a participatory economy or parecon, given our values, we instead want economic institutions that not only wouldn’t reduce variety but that would emphasize finding and respecting diverse solutions to problems. A good economy would recognize that we are finite beings who can benefit from enjoying what others do that we ourselves have no time to do, and also that we are fallible beings who should not vest all our hopes in single routes of advance but should instead insure against damage by exploring diverse parallel avenues and options. Even when we think there is one best way – most of the time, in fact, it is not the case, or at least will not always be the case that that one way is alone optimal. We should rarely, if ever, put all our eggs in one basket shutting down other options.

 

Diversity, like solidarity, is also an entirely uncontroversial value. Again, it would be perverse to argue that all other things equal, an economy is better if it homogenizes and narrows options than if it diversifies and expands them. Who would favor that? No one. So we uncontroversially value economic diversity, not economic homogeneity. Though we should perhaps add, this doesn’t imply that we think all thinks are equally desirable, or that adding option after option is better than not ruling out some options. In particular we should rule out options whose inclusion tends to rule out many or even most other options – options that generate homogeneity. And we should also rule out, of course, options that violate others values we hold dear, as well. Not confining ourselves to narrow single conceptions isn’t the same thing as anything is welcome.

 

 

Equity

 

The third value we discussed earlier was equity or fairness regarding what each actor enjoys. This value is more controversial and it will need some more attention if it is to become clear and compelling to us. 

 

Capitalism, to start from where we are, overwhelmingly rewards property and bargaining power. It says those who own productive property deserve profits based on the productivity of that property. And it says those who have great bargaining power from a monopoly of knowledge or skills, or from access to better tools or organization, or from being born with special talents, or from being able to command brute force, are entitled to receive whatever they can take. 

 

Obviously real fairness entails eliminating the property and thuggish roads to well being. But more positively, equitable economic institutions should not only not destroy or obstruct equity, they should propel it. A problem arises. What is equity?

 

Well, it can’t be equitable that due to having a deed in your pocket you earn 100, 1000, or even a million or ten million times the income some other person earns who works harder and longer. To inherit ownership and by virtue of that ownership vastly exceed others in circumstance and influence cannot possibly be equitable. 

 

And it also can’t be equitable to reward power with income. The logic of the Mafia, the same as the logic of Wall Street, the same as the logic of the Harvard Business School, are all that each actor should earn as remuneration for their economic activity whatever they are strong enough to take. This norm promotes not equitable outcomes, but thuggery. Since we are civilized, we of course reject it.

 

What about output as a basis for income? Should people get back from the social product an amount determined by what they themselves produce as part of that social product? After all, what reason can justify that we should get less then what we ourselves contribute? Someone is taking part of the wealth I create. Or what reason could justify that we should get more than our own contribution? I am taking some of the wealth others create. Shouldn’t we each get an income based on the amount we produce? 

 

This seems obvious to many caring and humane people – including even to most anti capitalists through history. But let’s look closer. Suppose Jack and Katherine do the same work for the same length of time at the same intensity. If Katherine has better tools with which to generate more output, should she get more income than Jack who has worse tools and as a result generates less output even though working as hard or harder? Some may say yes. Others may say no. This is about what we prefer. All we can do to choose a norm for remuneration is look at the implications of any proposed preference and spell them out more carefully.

 

Okay, should someone who happens to be employed producing something highly valued be rewarded more than someone who happens to be employed producing something less valued, though the latter is still socially desired and important to provide – again, even if the less productive person works equally hard and equally long and endures similar conditions as the more productive person? 

 

Similarly, should someone who was lucky in the genetic lottery, perhaps inheriting genes for big size, musical talent, tremendous reflexes, peripheral vision, or conceptual competency, get rewarded more than someone who was genetically less lucky? You are borne with a wonderful attribute. You didn’t do anything to get it. Why, on top of the luck of your genetic inheritance should economic institutions reward you with greater income as well? There is no earning happening. No high morality is evidenced.

 

In light of the implicit logic of all these examples, we should consider the idea that to be equitable, in our view, remuneration should be for effort and sacrifice in producing socially desired items. 

 

If I work longer, in this view, I should get more reward. If I work harder, I should get more reward. And if I work in worse conditions and at more onerous tasks, I should get more reward. However, I should not get more for having better tools, or for producing something that happens to be valued more highly, or for having innate highly productive talents, nor should I get more even for the output of learned skills (though I should be rewarded for the effort and sacrifice of learning those skills), nor, of course, should I get more for work that isn’t socially warranted.

 

Unlike our first two values, solidarity and diversity, this third economic value of rewarding only the effort and sacrifice that people expend in their socially valued work, is quite controversial. 

 

Some anti-capitalists think that people should be rewarded for the overall volume of their output, so that a great athlete should earn a fortune since people in society highly value watching him or her play, and a good doctor should earn way more than a hard working farmer or short order cook, since an operation that saves a life is more valued than a dinner or some additional corn. An equitable economy, however – or at any rate a participatory economy – rejects that norm. 

 

Participatory economic equity, as advocated in this chapter to accompany solidarity and diversity as our third value, instead requires that assuming comparable intensity and duration of work, a person who has a nice, comfortable, pleasant, and highly productive job should earn less than a person who has an onerous, debilitating, and less productive but still socially valuable and warranted job, due to the sacrifice endured. The participatory economy rewards effort and sacrifice endured producing socially valued labor. It does not reward property, power, or output. You have to produce socially valued output commensurate to the productivity of your tools and conditions, yes, otherwise you are wasting assets and not benefiting society, but you are not remunerated in accord with the value of your output, but instead with the effort and sacrifice you expend generating valuable output.

 

Two other anti-capitalist stances regarding remuneration claim many advocates, and we should consider those too. The first says work itself is intrinsically negative. Why should anyone thinking about a better economy think in terms of organizing or apportioning work? Why not just eliminate work? 

 

This stance correctly notices that our efforts to innovate should seek to diminish the onerous or otherwise adverse features of work. But it moves from that worthy advisory to suggesting that we should entirely eliminate work, which is obviously nonsense. 

 

First, work yields results we do not want to do without. The bounty that work generates justifies the costs of undertaking it. In a good economy, people would desist from excess work rather than suffer only insufficient returns for it. We expend our effort and we make associated sacrifices only up to the point where the value of the income we receive outweighs the costs of the exertions we undertake. At that point, we opt for leisure, not for more work. I want some stuff, so I am going to work, to be sure, but I don’t want stuff so much that I will work myself all hours of day and night, or at a breakneck pace, or in odious conditions. Nor will I forget that it is desirable to change work to make it more pleasurable and less painful, more interesting and social and less boring and fragmenting, more sustainable and less pollutive, more productive and less wasteful. 

 

Second, though related, as the famed geographer and anarchist Peter Kropotkin argued, “Overwork is repulsive to human nature – not work. Overwork for supplying the few with luxury – not work for the well-being of all. Work, labor, is a physiological necessity, a necessity of spending accumulated bodily energy, a necessity which is health and life itself.” In other words, the merits of work are not solely in its outputs, but also even in the process and the act itself. We want to eliminate work that is onerous and debilitating, yes, but we do not want to eliminate work per se. We need to keep work, partly because of the outputs, partly because of the fulfillment that comes from the labor itself. So often we need to figure out how to do work differently than now, and we need institutions that permit and facilitate such choices. So about the advisory that we should reject work per se, we instead reject rejecting work per se.

 

The second anti-capitalist remunerative stance that rejects our approach to remunerating only duration, intensity, and onerousness of work, claims that the only criteria for remuneration ought to be human need. We should follow the advisory, “From each according to ability, to each according to need.”  

 

What this stance rightly highlights is that people deserve respect and support by virtue of their very existence. If a person can’t work for reasons of health, surely we don’t starve them or deny them income at the level others enjoy. Their needs, modulated in accord with social averages, should be met. If, likewise, someone has special and high medical needs, these too should be met even beyond the volume, intensity, or type of work the person is able to do.

 

So far, so good. The problem with rewarding need arises not when we are dealing with people who are physically or mentally unable to work, for which the advisory makes perfect sense, but when we try to apply the norm to people who can work and have no special medical needs. 

 

For example, can I forego work and still benefit from society’s output? Can I forego work and consume however much I choose? If we say yes, then why won’t people choose to work relatively little and yet to consume a whole lot? 

 

Usually what those who advocate payment for need and people working to capacity have in mind, is that each actor will responsibly opt for an appropriate share of consumption from the social total and will responsibly contribute an appropriate amount of work to its production.

 

But how does anyone know what is appropriate to consume or to produce? And, more subtly, how does the economy determine what is appropriate? 

 

It turns out that in practice the norm “work to ability and consume to need” becomes for those who advocate it, work and consume in accord with social averages unless you have a good reason to deviate from those. Advocates of the norm believe or assume that people will responsibly go over and under social averages only when it is warranted. 

 

But when is deviating from average warranted? Why won’t one person think it is okay for so and so reason, and another person think it isn’t? More, how does anyone even know what the social averages are? If we are all just working to the extent we choose and taking content to the extent we choose, what way is there to measure either? Likewise, how does the economy decide how much of anything to produce? How does anyone know the relative values of outputs to meeting needs if we have no measure of the value of the labor or other inputs involved in their production or of the extent to which anyone wants the outputs? How do we know if labor or other assets are apportioned sensibly and if we need innovations to increase output of some items or we should diminish output of others? How do we know where to invest to improve work conditions, to generate much desired output rather than other stuff that is consumed, but not much appreciated? 

 

Whether one believes that remuneration for need and working to one’s ability is a higher moral norm than remuneration for effort and sacrifice – and this is an open question that reasonable people often differ about – the former norm is not practical unless there is an external measure of need and ability plus a way to value different labor types plus a way for people to determine what is warranted behavior plus an expectation that we will all do so. But all these qualifying requirements are precisely what rewarding effort and sacrifice instead of rewarding need makes real, even as it also enables people to work and consume more or less as they choose, and permits everyone to judge relative values in tune with true social costs and benefits. In other words, the aims lurking behind the desire to remunerate only need and work up to ability are in fact fulfilled most desirably and fully by remunerating for the duration, intensity, and onerousness of socially valued labor. 

 

So, finally, we have our third economic value, a controversial one even among anti-capitalists. We want a good economy to remunerate duration, intensity, and onerousness of socially valuable labor, and, when people can’t work, to provide income and health care based on need. Of course as with solidarity and diversity, we have to see if we can conceive institutions to deliver these values – and to do so without incurring mitigating losses. But now we are just arriving at some sharer values – implementing them comes soon.

 

 

Self Management

 

Our fourth value to translate to economy, and the last we will employ to guide our first try at an institutional vision, leaving stewardship and internationalism for coming chapters, has to do with decisions. 

 

In capitalism, owners have tremendous say. Managers and high-level lawyers, engineers, financial officers, and doctors, each of whom monopolize empowering work and daily decision-making positions, and all of whom together we have called the coordinator class, have substantial say. However, people doing rote and obedient labor rarely even know what decisions are being made, much less being able to influence them.

 

In contrast, we of course want a good economy to be a richly democratic economy. One way of succinctly saying this is that we want people to be able to control their own lives consistent with others doing likewise. Each person should have a level of influence that won’t impinge other people’s rights to have the same level of influence. We each affect decisions in proportion to how we are affected by them. This is called self management.

 

Imagine that a worker wants to place a picture of his daughter on the wall in his work area. Who should make that decision? Should some owner decide? Should a manager decide? Should all the workers decide? Obviously none of that makes much sense. The worker whose child it is should decide, alone, with full authority. He should be a dictator in this particular case. The wall of my office or work area – my daughter, my eyes viewing it, I decide. Sometimes making decisions unilaterally makes sense. 

 

Now suppose instead that a worker wants to put a radio on her desk to play loud, raucous, rock and roll all day long. Who should decide? My office, my desk, my ears, I decide? No. Obviously not. Because it isn’t only my ears that will hear it. We all intuitively know that the answer is that all those who will hear the radio should have a say, and that those who will be more bothered or more benefited should have more say. The worker no longer gets to be a dictator, nor does anyone else. 

 

At this point, we have implicitly arrived at a decision making value. We easily realize that we don’t want a majority to decide everything all the time. Nor do we always want one person one vote with some other percentage deciding. Nor do we always want one person to decide authoritatively, as a dictator. Nor do we always want consensus, or any other single approach to discussing issues, expressing preferences, and tallying votes. All the possible methods of making decisions make sense in some cases, but are horribly unfair, intrusive, or authoritarian in other cases because different decisions require different approaches. 

 

What we hope to accomplish when we choose from among all possible institutional means of discussing issues, setting agendas, sharing information, and finally making decisions, is that each person influences decisions in proportion to the degree he or she is affected by them. And that is our fourth participatory economic value, economic self management. 

 

 

Problems with Our Values?

 

Before moving on to try to implement our values via institutions, we should consider whether they have any damning problems. Let’s take each in turn, even if only briefly.

 

Is there any problem with an economy generating solidarity among its actors. Well, someone could say it will make us uncritical, so that we interact with one another only with praise, only with flattery, and so on. But of course that isn’t solidarity – which is, instead, premised on honesty and only including, in addition to that, concern, empathy, mutual aid, and, in particular, at rock bottom, shared interests. 

 

Diversity? Well, someone might say if you emphasize diversity you might add options ad infinitum crowding out the excellent with the mediocre. True enough. Sort of like objecting to saying Vitamin C is good for you by nothing that if you have a pound of it a day you won’t last long. 

 

Maybe someone can find something sensible to worry about regarding solidarity or diversity, but I can’t.

 

Equity is another issue. However. Here reasonable sensible people are going to very quickly have severe doubts. The argument goes like this. If you remunerate for duration, intensity, and onerousness, why will I become a surgeon? I can make as much, in fact I can make more working in a coal mine, say – so I will opt for that, or something like that. And so will everyone who would have been a surgeon in a capitalist economy. And we will all die for want of medical care. If this is right, our value is suicidal, so we have to access this objection. Expressed in more fancy technical language, the critic says parecon’s equity value generates insufficient incentives to produce what society needs. 

 

The rest of the logic, when pursued a bit deeper, goes like this. Becoming a surgeon takes so long and is so difficult, I won’t do it unless I get rewarded appropriately. I have spoken with all kinds of audiences, all over the world, and this objection always arises, always in virtually the exact same form, as abovem and always with absolute confidence. So I tend to do a little thought experiment with folks, to test the logic of their claim. 

 

I point to two folks in the audience and say, okay, you (the first one) are just getting out of high school and going to work in a coal mine, or something comparable, for, let’s say, $50,000 a year. You (the second one) are also just getting out of high school but are going to go to college, then medical school, and then be an intern for a couple of years, and then be a surgeon – earning $500,000 a year. What you are telling me is that going to college is so much worse than being in the coal mine for those four years, and then going to medical school is so much worse than being in the coal mine, and then being an intern is so much worse (and here there is at least some minuscule possibility of it being at least plausible), that after those years, for the next forty, you need to earn ten times what the coal miner earns. I say it is total malarcky. I say you earn more only because you can take more. I say you don’t need it as an incentive, or wouldn’t, if things were arranged differently. So let’s test it. 

 

And then I say to person two, suppose I drop your income as a surgeon to $400,000 will you forego college, medical school, and being an intern, as well as then being a surgeon, to instead go into the mine, or work on an assembly line, or cooking burgers, or whatever? No? Okay, how about $300,000, $200,000…$50,000, $40,000 – and with every audience, not most, everyone one, I get the same result. The person asks me, what’s the minimum I can survive on. I am going to be a surgeon, or lawyer, or engineer, or whatever – not a coal miner, or short order cook, etc., down to whatever pay level I can manage to survive on. And there goes the objection.

 

The truth is, what we need an incentive for is to do that which is more oppressive to us – so, to work longer, harder, or at worse conditions. And some hold out says, what about medical school? And I answer, we get income according to effort and sacrifice while in school, of course. But please, don’t make believe that would be higher than for digging coal. 

 

I typically also point out, just to round out this account of the thought experiment, that being an intern in a hospital has almost zero to do with good health care – being up for thirty hours and handling emergencies? – and almost everything to do with socializing the new doctor into the community of doctors – willing to pursue profit for the hospital and riches for self even at the cost of health care, of course. Indeed it is quite like fraternity hazing, or, more aptly, book camp in the army, getting soldiers ready to kill without remorse. And it generally takes only minutes to achieve consensus on what being an intern is about too, even with medical students – or lawyers, who go through a similar hazing/socializing process – which says something about the extent to which, indeed, everyone knows that everything is perversely organized on behalf of elite benefit no matter the cost to others.

 

So what about the fourth value? Self management. Here too, there is a quick and almost but not quite as universal objection. If all people, save presumably those in a coma or literally unable to cognitively function, have a say in proportion as they are affected, we will get horrible decisions, says the critic. His logic is that decisions involve serious cogitation and some people are much better at making decisions than others – and if we are all deciding we will get bad decisions compared to if we have just the experts decide. 

 

In response, first, while the critic may think they are just rejecting self management, in fact their complaint also rejects democracy, and even, arguably, makes a case for dictatorship. Thus, if Joe Stalin happened to be the best decision maker in society, than by this critic’s logic, why shouldn’t Joe Stalin decide everything? The point of this aspect of my reaction is that the quality of decisions is important, but so is participation, for many reasons, of course. We don’t argue against having a dictator solely on the grounds that Joe isn’t omniscient and or is malevolent. 

 

But then I also say to the critic – however, I want to make very clear that I agree that expertise is of course very important to good decisions. And then I ask the person, “who is the world’s foremost expert – the foremost expert in the whole world – regarding what your preferences are?” The person invariably replies that he is (although, every so often, someone will answer my mother is). And I then point out that by that stated logic, that means that when it is time to consult people’s preferences, to tally those preferences into our decision, he (or his mother) is the person to consult as the best expert in his preferences – it is he who should be counted. 

 

Next, since that isn’t alone enough to seal the case, I tend to give some example of a simple decision. For example, I will say, imagine we are a workplace. We are going to paint the walls and we need to decide the paint to use. There are three cans, one of them is lead based. That, however, happens to be the one that most people like the look of. We agree that the impact of the paint on the wall on each is such that in this case majority rule makes sense. We are all very comparably affected. So we vote and the lead paint wins. In fact, only the expert chemist who knows about lead in paint – this is twenty years ago – votes against using that one. We screw ourselves. What’s the lesson.

 

And everyone says, well, we should have found out the expert’s knowledge and taken it into account. And I say, of course, and that seals the deal. We don’t let the chemist decide for us. But we do consult the chemist. We don’t let experts decide everything, but we do consult experts, and then they, and we, self manage our circumstances. 

 

 

Parecon’s Institutions

 

When people ask, what do you want for the economy?, at this point we can reasonably say we want solidarity, diversity, equity, and self management, but that is not alone sufficient to answer their question. If we advocate institutions whose logic leads to outcomes contrary to those values, such as markets, corporate organization, and private ownership, what good is our rhetorical attachment to fine values? Bill Clinton and Bill Gates would probably say they too like solidarity, diversity, equity, and maybe even self management, but really requires some minor compromises – leading to wars, starvation, indignity, etc., plus their enrichment and empowerment. So we need to advocate the values, yes, but we also need to advocate a set of institutions that can make our favored values real without compromising economic success.

 

 

Workers and Consumers Councils

 

Workers and consumers need a place to express their preferences if they are to self manage their economic actions, as our values advocate. Historically, when workers and consumers have attempted to seize control of their own lives, they have invariably created workers and consumers councils. So too in a participatory economy, except that in the parecon case workers and consumers councils include an additional explicit commitment to self management. Parecon’s councils use decision-making procedures and modes of communication that apportion to each member a degree of say in each decision proportionate to the degree he or she is affected. 

 

Council decisions could sometimes be resolved by majority vote, three quarters, two-thirds, consensus, or other possibilities. Different procedures could be used for different decisions including involving fewer or more participants and using different information dispersal and discussion procedures or different voting and tallying methods. 

 

Consider, as an example, a publishing house. It could have teams addressing different functions, such as promotion, book production, editing, etc. Each team might make its own workday decisions in the context of broader policies decided by the whole workers council. Decisions to publish a book might involve teams in related areas, and might require, for example, a two-thirds or three-quarters positive vote, including considerable time for appraisals and re-appraisals. Many other decisions in the workplace could be one-person one-vote by the workers affected, or could require slightly different vote counts or methods of challenging outcomes. Hiring might require consensus in the workgroup that the new person would join, because a new worker can have a tremendous effect on each person in a group that he or she is constantly working with. 

 

The point is, workers decide in groups of nested councils and teams both the broad and the narrower workplace decisions, including both the norms and the methods for decision making, and then also the day to day and more policy-oriented choices. 

 

It really isn’t very complicated in practice as compared to in brief description. Obviously we could usefully assess ease of operations, efficiency and quality of outcomes, etc. and we will come back to those matters later. But for now, the reader may note that for full self management the decisions of a workplace regarding what to produce must also be influenced by all other people affected by that production, not solely be the workers themselves. 

 

Those who consume the workplace’s books, bicycles, or band-aids are affected and must in turn have some say. Even those who are unable to get some other product because energy, time, and assets went to the books, bicycles, or band-aids instead and not to produce what they wanted are affected and so must be able to affect the choice. And even those tangentially affected such as by derivative pollution also have to have influence, and sometimes a lot of influence. But accommodating the will of the workers with the will of other actors in appropriate balance is a matter of allocation, not of workplace organization, so these matters will enter a bit later. 

 

 

Remuneration for Effort and Sacrifice

 

Parecon’s next institutional commitment is to remunerate for effort and sacrifice, not for property, power, or even output. But who decides how hard we each have worked? Clearly our workers councils, which is our fellow workers, must decide within the context of the broad economic norms established by all the economy’s institutions. 

 

If you work longer, and you do it effectively, you are entitled to more of the social product. If you work more intensely, to socially useful ends, again you are entitled to more income. If you work at more onerous or dangerous or boring but still socially warranted tasks, again, you are entitled to more. 

 

But you aren’t entitled to more income by virtue of owning productive property because no one will own productive property in a parecon. Productive property is all socially owned. And you won’t be entitled to more income because you work with better tools, or produce something more valued, or even have personal traits that make you more productive, because these attributes don’t involve e

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