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My dad's argument against mutualism (sort of)

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Wheylous Posted: Sat, Dec 8 2012 6:29 PM

I doubt my dad knows the exact ideas behind mutualism (who does, amirite?) but he had a general critique of a system of worker-owned workplaces.

As far as I understand mutualism, you have workplaces which are owned by the workers. They vote democratically on what to produce, how much, and how. They also have the power to exclude outside workers from the capital, although if they let someone into their workplace, they must allow them to vote.

My dad's idea is as follows:

Imagine that there is a worker-owned coal mine. What happens when it is depleted? The workers no longer have jobs at the mine. In order for them to continue to have some sort of work, they need to go work for another factory. But factories have the power to exclude workers. Why would another factory bring in more people, only to have to share the votes with them?

I then pointed out that perhaps workers would own some sort of share in multiple companies for job security so they can move between them.

So he said fine, what if an entire industry goes under? In that case, I doubt the workers will have insured themselves against such possibilities. And it very well might be the case that they will be out of a job because other factories will not take them in due to power concerns.

 

He then said something else: Due to the division of labor, we know that not all workers can know everything that goes on at a company. It's absurd to expect all workers to be up to speed on all necessary info to run a factory on the market. Hence, you would need division of labor within a company. Wouldn't this, however, create hierarchies? Hence, the real-world necessity of the division of labor necessarily creates hierarchies (if not of anything else, of information).

 

Do these critiques hold water? For the first one, I'm trying to figure out whether my critique is correct - that firms wouldn't want to take on more workers because they would need to share power more.

Since neoclassical analysis is easier than Austrian analysis, I'm at the moment trying to draw out some  theory of the firm graphs to figure out a mutualist economy.

Thoughts?

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Malachi replied on Sat, Dec 8 2012 6:37 PM
The first argument doesnt apply unless there is some restriction on the workers setting up their own new business, either buying more mineral rights or retraining the whole syndicate. One imagines that a well-managed syndicate that had depleted an entire mine might have some cash reserves for this inevitable event. The second argument is sound. Also, there is no reason to believe it would be easy to gain entry into a real-life syndicate. Since you instantly become an owner in shared property, one imagines that you might actually have to buy in. At the very least they need to be highly qualified for ones labor to be worth the dilution of profits and ownership control, much more so than in the case of simple employment.
Keep the faith, Strannix. -Casey Ryback, Under Siege (Steven Seagal)
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I've been told that trying to understand Mutualism will make you want to blow your brains out.

It just seems so strange. Pro-free market, yet anti-capitalist? What?

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Without the division of labor the syndicates would be absolutely swallowed by firms who employ a division of labor.

Question: Does mututalism call for the end of the division of labor?  How the hell are pencils to be made?

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Well, if division of labor is to be ruled out due to creation of information hierarchies, then you can still have division of labor across companies, just not within companies.

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