From Cibernética Americana
somebody's spin on Capitalisms
Text I placed in EnWiki was for a time used as the distinguishing characteristic of Capitalism, focused on markets and market actors. These days I'm more inclined to identify the Capitalist epoch as the period where exchange value progressively drowned out every other form until that progression became unsustainable. As far as defining Capitalism as a thing distinct from its material historical reality, that's pretty much for anybody to do as they please and a number of people have done.
I define it as transformed production where workers and social capital interact directly, with a complete divergence from these standard characteristics of the prevailing mode:
- In historical context, intensification and clarification rather than enervating grifts and obfuscation by various private or public conspiracies wrt relations of production. In global society a vast range of situations exists with respect to present and past social/labor relations of production. Labor unions, the failed socialist states, and basic awareness of current human nature are among the things that give pause to any moves to worker solidarity. It is a notion that precedes me but which I intend to give the fullest expression, that the Capitalist system cannot complete its stage of history until it has fully played out its useful role in development. For this reason, and by my personal inclination to support the principles of self determination, supreme individualism, autonomy and the natural right of private property in so far as works one creates one's self, I am resistant to fusion with any group that is unexamined or clearly in conflict with these principles, which the vast majority are intrinsically by their uncritical adoption of relations from the prevailing order. I am focused mainly on my productive powers and am only concerned with external social and distribution issues when they become specifically tasked subject matter for me. Prior to that, these issues are mere technical details to be addressed in projects like Public Market.
- Worker control. This is actually present in the prevailing mode as a stipulation when workers are not employees, in order to make clear that the contract worker has assumed all the responsibilities of an employer. This control factor is generally useful to distinguish actually free independent workers from various kinds of exploitative labor resale where the labor is sold as contracted or outsourced and the relation between the worker and exploiter/reseller is one of employee/employer. A free worker is strictly self employed and deals with other employers as a peer concern, including any 3rd party agents. In particular, standard firms generally want the actually independent worker to show insurance and other liability limiting factors that they would have if dealing with the worker via a reseller that absorbs the cost of those factors, i.e. dealing with a legal peer in the labor transaction (or a subalterned unit if a direct hire).
- Labor paid by value rather than job time. Standard capitalist practice is like softened chattel slavery where the master/capital or its proxy rents rather than owns the worker. Much obfuscation is spewed to cover this core relation of master and slave but it inevitably makes itself felt sooner rather than later especially when workers take supposed freedoms seriously, particularly ones suited to and hard won from an early stage of capital-labor relations, and then encounter the reality of their status as (non-self) employees in a later triumphal stage.
In Work Breakdown Structures for my projects I may assign a wage to a tasks resource assignment. In this case the wage is a factor applied to my current retained day rate used with the estimated makespan strictly for planning purpose, without regard to the value of the completed task. For this reason, in cases where there is an excess of value relative to this wage, performing the task myself is indicated.
- Production for use as actual real reason for it. The capitalist firm ubiquitously proclaims that it is producing for society and generally silent about its actual motive which is extraction of profit in control of the exchange where the work product has become its private property . Worker production may have the production of surplus value realized in exchange as an economic criterion but it is the use value of the thing produced that is the purpose of the activity and surplus via exchange is not in general a requirement for undertaking production.
- Value distribution to producers. Standard capitalist practice controls production only to the extent necessary to extract the produced surplus exchange value. In Worker Capitalism, this surplus, if it exists, is distributed among the producers according to self determined rules. Finance and share markets are antithetical to Worker Capitalism and should be nationalized and proscribed, respectively. Besides the base equity that inheres in being an equal member of society, equity is not a commodity and cannot be bought, only earned.
- No Dependency. In classical capital/labor relations, the employer encourages various kinds of worker dependency consistent with the notion of having purchased and for biz purposes owning a lump of labor with various needs extraneous to production. In contrast, in Worker Capitalism, each individual worker is expected to function as an independent capital that can fully and responsibly act in its own interest, pay its own way in society from the value of its labor which is undivided except for any taxes paid to society at large for the myriad services the latter provides.
- Disintermediation and Waste Elimination. Actually existing Capitalism imposes many expensive layers of superfluous and often questionable or obviously pointless labor between workers actually providing the required labor and the consuming society because they "make money" without making anything really of use to the consumer. Whole industries exist that basically really only function to increase consumption and pad the flow of the profit system. The elimination of these parasitic layers by price competition, automation and shaming, and their redirection to actually useful production are goals of Worker Capitalism as I define it. Concomitant with the expectation of each worker being a consciously self interested capital, each is expected to be a responsible participant in and concerned for the overall efficient and just operation of the entire social capital.
- Completed and Scoped Monetization. As an ism, received late Capitalism is characterized, or thought to be by complete monetization of all values. In fact this process is nowhere near complete because many areas of production (e.g. domestic work) just don't fit the model of fungible expropriation. On the other hand the supremacy of accumulation as the paramount value is complete. For the purposes of computation we advocate the completion of the first and our programme has as a main result the restoration of the supremacy of real values based on uses of production but at no prejudice to personal accumulation based on one's own ability to produce. Thus, Worker Capitalism could also be called Direct Capitalism with the same relation to the received form and to a basing on individuality as Direct Democracy has to bourgeois Representative Democracy and actual rule by the people.
As commonly defined, means token ownership via shares in otherwise received capitalist production whether private, publicly traded, or state cap.