Why Our Economy
In the workplace, decisions have to be made. Work, itself, might best be defined as the unpleasant and irksome process of decision-making and acting out those decisions. There is no industry that escapes this concept, whether it is distribution, manufacturing, or agriculture. Everywhere that work presents itself, there are automatically choices that must be made.
Decisions such as determining the amount of time or labor needed to complete a project, which businesses to buy from or sell to, and how much needs to be produced to adequately satisfy market demand while considering risk. These are not choices made by situations, but by people who evaluate and consider options. But what is better -- that the decision is made by a single boss, or that it is made by the collective workers themselves?
A choice may seem obvious, like to sell when the market price is high, or to increase production if current stuck doesn't meet demand. But even then, it takes a mind to analyze the situation, and no matter how simple the facts may be, they can only be weighed according to human interests by a human mind. Computers may aid humans in their decision-making, but they have not replaced the act of choice. We cannot eliminate the fact that choices must be made; we can, however, logically consider the effects and motives of the two, possible decision-makers.
The motives, in terms of economics, are the same for both parties, but they do not form in the same way. If the employer is the one who evaluates potential solutions for the business, they will do whatever maximizes profit. The motive of business is to establish wealth that serves our self-preservation -- or, at least, makes living more comfortable. It is profit that brings the employer to hiring workers, producing, and selling.
If the workers were given ownership and management of the firms in which they worked, they would have the same impulse. Their wages depend on being able to exchange their productive labor. They will interact with the markets, whether buying or selling, with a similar end in mind as the capitalist. It may even be a stronger instinct, as the capitalist managed his business for the wealth of another mansion or another boat; the worker would manage their business for the wealth of providing for their families and giving education to their children.
The Capitalist, then, enters the market with the least to risk, simple by the marginal utility of what they can gain versus what they can lose. The worker, on the other hand, enters the market with the fear of hunger, the thought of surviving, and the need of finding some enjoyment in what is otherwise a slow existence. If business is operated by the workers, they would certainly have an eye towards maximizing employment. Rather than high-risk strategies that expose workers to layoffs and burden the economy, their market tactics become sophisticated.
The worker-managed business, then, more greatly satisfies the needs of the common laborers. Both the capitalist and the worker are motivated by profit and by satisfying their material desires. But the capitalist does not need to think of their families going hungry if their business fails -- they do not need to think of sleeping outside, begging, and the harassment by law enforcement that comes with it. The worker, then, manages the industry with an eye towards stability and longevity; the businessman, on the other hand, becoming more and more wealthy, may retire twenty years after opening the business, leaving the workers to find new employment elsewhere.
The worker is inherently more economically responsible, since their impulse of "bread and butter" is for actual bread and butter. The self-interest for "bread and butter" of Capitalists is actually for endless forms of luxury: sports cars, vacation homes, trips around the world, expensive electronics, and elegant cuisine. One is concerned with providing for themselves, the other is concerned with overconsumption.
One must then consider the laborer and the capitalist in terms of their social characteristics. A group of workers is not a single capitalist: it may be hundreds or thousands of people to the one actual owner of their industry. Or, in other cases, they may have an ambiguous master, "the shareholders." In any case, a group of workers is not a single person, corrupted by massive wealth, who can hoard their possessions and shelter themselves off from the world. The workers are common people who have personal and social ties within and throughout every community: in the hospitals, the schools, the soup kitchens, the parole offices, the prisons, and the homeless shelters.
When a single capitalist deliberates on a question, like laying off workers to increase profits, they can block out all of these facets of the community. But among the workers, there are always those who have intimately and personally experienced their society. Their voices will be heard and heard loudly, even if other workers feel inconvenienced by losing a few minutes of their time. Taken together, as well, it is likely that the majority of every group of workers has some deep connection to something outside of work that they value.
The mind of the wealthy capitalist is like that of the serial killer, who can close off all their senses so they can strangle a community to death with unemployment, all done out of some suggestion of "self-interest." The industry that is managed by the workers, however, has multiple consciences, drawn up from varying backgrounds. While they differ from each other in various respects, working together necessitates a mutual and reciprocal respect of interests. It may appear to be many different views, all working in different directions with different hopes. But together, despite differences, they are in unanimous harmony on one point: providing society with its employment, markets with fair prices, and employees with fair wages.
The worker has direct experience with poverty and unemployment, so they will have a motive in decision-making toward providing jobs and opportunity. The worker is also the consumer of businesses, eating the food they harvest and clothing themselves with apparel they manufactured. Therefore, every business will have a self-interest in producing quality goods that meet the interests of the consumers. No longer will food be poisoned by chemicals to improve its texture; no longer will housing be inadequate and cramped; no longer will electronics be unsafe, or canned vegetables be contaminated with blood. These are acts done by a Capitalist who intends to never use the commodities they produce. They are not acts of the workers who expect themselves, their co-workers, or their families to consume what they make.
In terms of ecological responsibility, is this characteristic found more often in the worker or in the capitalist? Who is more conscious of the environment when they are approached with a decision? The capitalist, throughout the ages, has always sacrificed forests for paper mills and seas for overfishing. Instead of paying the costs of properly disposing chemicals, the ocean is exploited. Instead of paying for the equipment to reduce air emissions, the atmosphere is exposed to the damage. In order to save the profits of the few, the air and water that belongs to all people must be sacrificed. Those who are so clamorous about "private property" do not believe in the property rights of the public. If they did, they could only repay all of the damage they've done by collectivizing and socializing all industry.
One can avoid the toxic chemicals of capitalist pollution by moving, whether it's a contaminated seaside, a hole in the ozone, or a soil full of poisonous chemicals. However, this option is only readily and easily available for the Capitalist, and a complete economic and social burden upon the common laborer. Again, the decision-making process that best benefits the total happiness of humanity is worker self-management. It also provides a tremendous boost to all causes of social justice, whether it is the elimination of homelessness or the protection of the environment.
Society is just an organization of people who are working together mutually for the improvement of every participant. Now we have a choice -- what is better in meeting the needs and desires of every member of society? A system of capitalist ownership or an organization of worker self-management? If we want to make the change toward a society with laborers managing work for themselves, we need to organize the workers among ourselves towards this end.
Real worker self-management, though, means both Anarchism and Socialism. It means abolishing authority over work, by either the capitalist or the state, allowing the laborers themselves to directly manage their work. It is not a situation where control is handed over to the bureaucrats of the state; rather, the group of workers themselves must be regarded as an autonomous collective. This plan of worker self-management is only possible through a revolution, as both the capitalists and the state hate losing their power over the common people. We must organize not for a politician, a political party, or a program of legislation -- we must organize for the people to directly manage and control their daily lives, and nothing less!