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 No.546488

Could someone share or recommend articles or books which systematically critique co-operatives?

Bonus points if it assumes that all production is done under a co-operative model. Currently finishing off an article which includes a brief critique of farm forestry co-operatives. I have a general critique but feel that I'm providing a fairly weak argument and as I know this is a topic that many writers have engaged with, I'd like to quote mine.

 No.546492

There isn’t a single example of AES that didn’t involve cooperatives

 No.546493

Also you should do research before you come to conclusions not afterwards

 No.546496

Marx especially the Grundrisse

 No.546497

>>546488
>Hello leftypol, I want to write an article but I don't feel like doing the research for it. Help!

 No.546503

Bordiga

 No.546504

>>546492
>AES
>Cooperatives
<Socialism

 No.546505

>>546504
Okay, so name an example of AES that didn’t involve cooperatives

 No.546512

>>546505
people would argue that the existence of markets necessarily makes it not socialist

 No.546514

>>546512
Socialism is obviously when a country calls itself socialist and adopts the aesthetic.

 No.546515

>>546512
>>546514
Socialism is a process not a steady state

 No.546517

>>546493
>>546497
Bruh I just wanted reading recommendations. I'm not a hive mind so there's likely texts that I've missed

 No.546518

>>546505
>cooperatives

Come the fuck on sage

 No.546519

>>546515
>socialism is the process of where a country calls itself socialist but eventually becomes capitalist again
>All AES have become capitalist

I just want to be on leftypol once without folks like you spewing the same shit. I don't care if socialism is a process, I just want reading recommendations ffs.

 No.546520

>>546518
>>546503
I've read a decent amount of Bordiga, but haven't come across his critique of co-operatives. Would you know the name of the essay/s?

 No.546525


 No.546552

Money systems generate extreme inequality by default. Even if we created a Mars society with clones who all have the same talent, work ethic, etc. and with each person starting out with the same amount of money, over time the wealth structure would become very unequal:
https://www.physics.umd.edu/~yakovenk/econophysics/

 No.546559

>>546488
das kapital

 No.546572

>>546559
>t. never read Marx
Marx isn't opposed to coops, he says they're seeds of a new society growing out of the old. Coops themselves aren't revolutionary and getting everyone into a coop will not lead to communism directly, but they are useful because they give us empirical evidence that companies can be run democratically, which is a feature of socialism.

 No.546777

>>546492
IIRC most AES states encouraged the forming of cooperatives only in the agricultural sector. Stalin and the works of Lenin he cited at party congresses mainly talk of co-operatives as a means of political organisation for the peasantry.
The clear outlier is Yugoslavia, which in turn saw capitalist competition and was dependent on foreign capital.
Therefore it would be reasonable to seek a defect in the concept of cooperatives, at least when applied outside the agricultural sector of a workers and peasants state.

 No.546791

Marx, poverty of philosophy, critique of mutualism.

 No.546874

>>546512
Co-operatives (ownership and management of production at the level of the firm by the workers) doesn't require a market. You can have a planned economy (including a central plan) and leave it up to the individual foundry or factory or farm how they manage production to meet that plan. The plan plays the same basic role as the market: indicating to the workers how much of the products they should produce and where they need to go.

 No.546931

>>546791
quote the relevant passages

 No.546938

>>546488
There is lots of neoliberal material about this trying to justify the need for bourgeoisie class to exist.

 No.546948

Marx thought of co-operatives as transcending capitalist private property, much like stock companies do, where production is increasingly socialized, as it is the general tendency of capitalism over time.
<The co-operative factories of the labourers themselves represent within the old form the first sprouts of the new, although they naturally reproduce, and must reproduce, everywhere in their actual organisation all the shortcomings of the prevailing system. But the antithesis between capital and labour is overcome within them, if at first only by way of making the associated labourers into their own capitalist, i.e., by enabling them to use the means of production for the employment of their own labour. They show how a new mode of production naturally grows out of an old one, when the development of the material forces of production and of the corresponding forms of social production have reached a particular stage. Without the factory system arising out of the capitalist mode of production there could have been no co-operative factories. Nor could these have developed without the credit system arising out of the same mode of production. The credit system is not only the principal basis for the gradual transformation of capitalist private enterprises into capitalist stock companies, but equally offers the means for the gradual extension of co-operative enterprises on a more or less national scale. The capitalist stock companies, as much as the co-operative factories, should be considered as transitional forms from the capitalist mode of production to the associated one, with the only distinction that the antagonism is resolved negatively in the one and positively in the other.
https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1894-c3/ch27.htm
His critique of it was that as long as co-ops remains atomized, it won't lead to a gradual transformation of society into a socialist mode of production, but would rather reproduce the anarchy of the market.
<Yes, gentlemen, the Commune intended to abolish that class property which makes the labor of the many the wealth of the few. It aimed at the expropriation of the expropriators. It wanted to make individual property a truth by transforming the means of production, land, and capital, now chiefly the means of enslaving and exploiting labor, into mere instruments of free and associated labor. But this is communism, “impossible” communism! Why, those members of the ruling classes who are intelligent enough to perceive the impossibility of continuing the present system – and they are many – have become the obtrusive and full-mouthed apostles of co-operative production. If co-operative production is not to remain a sham and a snare; if it is to supersede the capitalist system; if united co-operative societies are to regulate national production upon common plan, thus taking it under their own control, and putting an end to the constant anarchy and periodical convulsions which are the fatality of capitalist production – what else, gentlemen, would it be but communism, “possible” communism?
https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1871/civil-war-france/ch05.htm

>>546504
The reason socialist countries had cooperatives instead of communes was due to the fact that they still had a significant difference between the city and the countryside, through which commodity production was the mediator.
<Unlike the artel, where only the means of production are socialised, the communes, until recently, socialised not only the means of production, but also everyday life of every member of the commune; that is to say, the members of a commune, unlike the members of an artel, did not individually own poultry, small livestock, a cow, grain, or household land. This means that in the commune the personal, everyday interests of the members have not so much been taken into account and combined with the public interests as they have been eclipsed by the latter in the interests of petty-bourgeois equalisation. It is clear that this is the weakest side of the commune. This indeed explains why communes are not widespread, why there are but a few score of them in existence. For the same reason the communes, in order to maintain their existence and save themselves from going to pieces, have been compelled to abandon the system of socialising everyday life; they are beginning to work on the basis of the workday unit, and have begun to distribute grain among their members, to permit their members to own poultry, small livestock, a cow, etc. But from this it follows that, in fact, the commune has gone over to the position of the artel. And there is nothing bad in that, because it is necessary in the interests of the sound development of the mass collective-farm movement.

<This does not mean, of course, that the commune is not needed at all, and that it no longer represents a higher form of the collective-farm movement. No, the commune is needed, and it is, of course, a higher form of the collective-farm movement. This applies, however, not to the present commune, which arose on the basis of undeveloped technique and of a shortage of produce, and which is itself going over to the position of the artel; it applies to the commune of the future, which will arise on the basis of a more developed technique and of an abundance of produce. The present agricultural commune arose on the basis of an underdeveloped technique and a shortage of produce. This indeed explains why it practised equalisation and took little account of the personal, everyday interests of its members, as a result of which it is now being compelled to go over to the position of the artel, in which the personal and public interests of the collective farmers are rationally combined. The future communes will arise out of developed and prosperous artels. The future agricultural commune will arise when the fields and farms of the artel have an abundance of grain, cattle, poultry, vegetables, and all other produce; when the artels have mechanised laundries, modern kitchens and dining-rooms, mechanised bakeries, etc.; when the collective farmer sees that it is more to his advantage to get meat and milk from the collective farm's meat and dairy department than to keep his own cow and small livestock; when the woman collective farmer sees that it is more to her advantage to take her meals in the dining-room, to get her bread from the public bakery, and to have her linen washed in the public laundry, than to do all these things herself.

https://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/stalin/works/1934/01/26.htm

See also:
https://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1923/jan/06.htm

>>546518
I don't know if Bordiga really said that but that would basically make him a value critic and not a Marxist, where class struggle is already superseded. I'm sure nobody denies that as long as there is commodity fetishism work will always be alienating, but such an maximist and franky infantile position does not help.

The reason co-ops today are so shit and sometimes act as cartels (like housing co-ops, credit unions, etc.) is not because the idea of a co-operative enterprise is shit in itself, but is simply because of the re-shuffling and social engineering that occurs in state-monopoly capitalism, where different classes and stratas are played out against one another, because production is already socialized to the maximum. Similarily, (most) unions are full of labor aristocrats and therefore fully subsumed under right-social democratic forces, but that does not mean that trade unionism is generally a bad idea. Although I do not see an opening for a successful co-op movement, the working class today does not have much interest in it nor would it necessarily lift them up in some way. Since production is already socialized, we are dealing with imperialism as the latest stage of capitalism, and the capitalism of the 19th century where co-operative factories could have potentially plotted a different path for socialization will not come back. And at worst the "co-op argument" can be used by opportunists who blink left but then turn right by "defining" socialism as "worker ownership of the means of production" therefore negating the real material opportunity for real change.

 No.546950

>>546777
People like to shit on Cuba but since the special period they've allowed co-ops to go outside agriculture and it's providing a bullwark against the petit and individual business owners attached to tourism

 No.546955

>>546505
Belarus

 No.546956

>>546874

There is an issue here with what "the plan" specifies:

If it is only an output target then some form of the logic of individual profit seeking may reemerge and/or many sectors may become dysfunctional.

Health & safety, wages & prices, shift duration, workweek length, supply chain choice, investment decisions, etc. are all factors that "the plan" may or may not consider.

Ergo, what "cooperative ownership & control" means in practice isn't independent from plan specifications andsocial institutions (or lack thereof) more broadly.

 No.546959

>>546492
There isn’t a modern society that has existsted without co-ops because it’s so irrelevant to societal models.

 No.546967

>>546948

Indeed. The key is "ownership and CONTROL". Merely having a title deed and receiving dividends does not imply control.

Even capitalists do not fully control the means of production; Rather it is the logic of capital (capitalism) that exerts control over them and the means of production over time.

 No.546972

>>546948
so what is your opinion then? Given all of this? Seems to me with the information you've given there is probably a place where co-operative industry and be used in a socialist society, yes they are not perfect, but socialism is never perfect and needs must.

 No.546986

>>546972
Sure, but I think heavy industry should most definitely be state-owned. Co-operatives should be used as peripheral hinges where relations can not be fully mediated by planning (yet), such as consumer cooperatives that sell commodities or farms that sell their produce to the state. As long as the heights of the economy are state-owned I don't see a problem with that (and it wouldn't make commodity production generalized, either).

 No.546987

>>546552
I don’t disagree with that analysis of markets, after all the agrarian capitalist model had many independent producers in the early phase in England and America and there was indeed inequality between such producers. But what I don’t like about it as a critique of let’s say “legislated” or mandated cooperatives (which it isn’t directly) is that it seems very undialectical to me. There has been no economy of generalized cooperatives that arose out of proletarianization. Yugo doesn’t count here in my mind, I don’t think it’s structure was substantially different from Soviet worker councils electing representatives (and Yugoslavia remained pretty centralized in key areas, including general property ownership, with the emphasis on workplace democracy and profit-sharing following the more early Soviet style phase).

Which is to say that it is unclear what the effects of such a move would be. I don’t think it is a foregone conclusion that it would be dissolution back into capitalism, anymore than something like liberal democracy had to devolve back into central monarchy. People made those arguments, and you can easily make such a deterministic argument that the central state form creates an imperative for overt central authority. But I think that is a very reductive kind of argument. Even an idea like capitalism has to dissolve aristocracy, it clearly doesn’t. The birthplace of modern capitalism, England, has the fooking Queen and her spawn still running around, and even still has the descendants of aristocrats that still own vast tracts of land. The land owners in England supported enclosure and proletarianization, it was their means of extracting greater rents by leasing land to the most competitive capitalists.

Markets foster competition, which introduces levels of instability in production. The effects of this are felt most acutely by workers, as they naturally have less cushion in the form of property. I don’t think this changes in a cooperative economy, workers would still mostly experience themselves as workers except now their retirement isn’t in a stock market (as it doesn’t exist) but instead back in company pension schemes (which perhaps get insured and risk pooled or something like that in a truly disconnected cooperative economy, but ideally I’d think cooperatives could just federate and have direct shared pensions or otherwise offload more of it to a state retirement program). Profit shares split across a whole work force don’t raise average income that much. I mean, it does from the perspective of a worker who might make 40k and get an extra 10-20k now in potential profit distributions. But clearly they aren’t rich, they don’t have the financial flexibility of even most modestly successful small business owners. So to them, they’re still a wage worker that gets a bonus at the end of some period. I think from their perspective the market threatens their bonus rather than creates it, unlike a capitalist who clearly sees the market in labor is essential to them getting their 500k in profit distributions, even if it is uncertain at times. So there is still potential to move against the market, rather than have workers suddenly favor the market even though it still periodically destroys their pensions and leaves them making less money or outright unemployed.

Also, the levels of inequality produced by markets are not that severe on their own (it’s primarily the employment relation), and the question is what other constraints are there to inequality and what can be bought and sold. Cooperatives politicize compensation within the firm, and it isn’t uncommon for them to set caps on salaries. Furthermore, if it is legislated that labor can’t be exploited then labor can’t be bought and sold, so there is effectively a ban on private (individual) accumulation through production. So inequality can mostly be rendered inequality in consumption. If that is the case, then there is far less danger of re-emerging class structures.

But my point is just that cooperatives and markets shouldn’t be seen in a vacuum, that is what I mean by undialectical. Cooperatives and markets aren’t good or bad in a vacuum, the question is their context and what they could be analyzed to be moving towards. I think we should move away from markets, but I don’t think markets are just “bad”. They helped us get out of feudalism, and they helped navigate the tumultuous period of the NEP. But in either case the question is the context, and common knee-jerk opposition to cooperatives and markets feel like a weird communist virtue signaling. It’s usually a highly reductive and fruitless game.

 No.547247

File: 1634242706057.jpg (228.61 KB, 1024x990, rosa.jpg)

Co-operatives – especially co-operatives in the field of production constitute a hybrid form in the midst of capitalism. They can be described as small units of socialised production within capitalist exchange.

But in capitalist economy exchanges dominate production. As a result of competition, the complete domination of the process of production by the interests of capital – that is, pitiless exploitation – becomes a condition for the survival of each enterprise. The domination of capital over the process of production expresses itself in the following ways. Labour is intensified. The work day is lengthened or shortened, according to the situation of the market. And, depending on the requirements of the market, labour is either employed or thrown back into the street. In other words, use is made of all methods that enable an enterprise to stand up against its competitors in the market. The workers forming a co-operative in the field of production are thus faced with the contradictory necessity of governing themselves with the utmost absolutism. They are obliged to take toward themselves the role of capitalist entrepreneur – a contradiction that accounts for the usual failure of production co-operatives which either become pure capitalist enterprises or, if the workers’ interests continue to predominate, end by dissolving.

Bernstein has himself taken note of these facts. But it is evident that he has not understood them. For, together with Mrs. Potter-Webb, he explains the failure of production co-operatives in England by their lack of “discipline.” But what is so superficially and flatly called here “discipline” is nothing else than the natural absolutist regime of capitalism, which it is plain, the workers cannot successfully use against themselves.

Producers’ co-operatives can survive within capitalist economy only if they manage to suppress, by means of some detour, the capitalist controlled contradictions between the mode of production and the mode of exchange. And they can accomplish this only by removing themselves artificially from the influence of the laws of free competition. And they can succeed in doing the last only when they assure themselves beforehand of a constant circle of consumers, that is, when they assure themselves of a constant market.

It is the consumers’ co-operative that can offer this service to its brother in the field of production. Here – and not in Oppenheimer’s distinction between co-operatives that produce and co-operatives that sell – is the secret sought by Bernstein: the explanation for the invariable failure of producers’ co-operatives functioning independently and their survival when they are backed by consumers’ organisations.

If it is true that the possibilities of existence of producers’ co-operatives within capitalism are bound up with the possibilities of existence of consumers’ co-operatives, then the scope of the former is limited, in the most favourable of cases, to the small local market and to the manufacture of articles serving immediate needs, especially food products. Consumers’ and therefore producers’ co-operatives, are excluded from the most important branches of capital production – the textile, mining, metallurgical and petroleum industries, machine construction, locomotive and ship-building. For this reason alone (forgetting for the moment their hybrid character), co-operatives in the field of production cannot be seriously considered as the instrument of a general social transformation. The establishment of producers’ co-operatives on a wide scale would suppose, first of all, the suppression of the world market, the breaking up of the present world economy into small local spheres of production and exchange. The highly developed, wide-spread capitalism of our time is expected to fall back to the merchant economy of the Middle Ages.

Within the framework of present society, producers’ co-operatives are limited to the role of simple annexes to consumers’ co-operatives. It appears, therefore, that the latter must be the beginning of the proposed social change. But this way the expected reform of society by means of co-operatives ceases to be an offensive against capitalist production. That is, it ceases to be an attack against the principal bases of capitalist economy. It becomes, instead, a struggle against commercial capital, especially small and middle-sized commercial capital. It becomes an attack made on the twigs of the capitalist tree.

https://www.marxists.org/archive/luxemburg/1900/reform-revolution/ch07.htm

 No.547290

>>547247
She was just wrong about this. Worker cooperatives and consumer cooperatives have not proven to have any particular historical relationship, as they both wax and wane independent of each other (and it is not clear that they have acted to compliment each other). Furthermore, her analysis is highly reductive to an implied need to overcome capitalism all at once. That isn’t even how capitalism itself came into power, nor its predecessors. They generally swallowed up the prevailing mode from the margins as they subsumed the then acting contradictions into a complimentary (but different and ultimately exclusive) logic. Capitalism began in England, unambiguously. People point to earlier centers of commerce, like Adam Smith admiring the Bank of Amsterdam, but England was the real spark that set off an uncontrollable fire. And if you look at England, it was a segment of the landed gentry and aristocracy that spurred capitalism as a way to generate rents on their land. Their activity subsumed the logic of earlier forms of land rent and direct appropriation, the more continental medieval forms, for one mediated by a market that was driven by enclosure and proletarianization. As they created cheap and available labor and expropriated the peasantry in the same swoop, they set off the self-expansion of value. That process then consumed the continent as England basically began to dominate the world which pressured the other European powers down the same path.

If you simply looked at what the landowners in England were doing you could’ve easily believed that they were in the process of dismantling the English state back into petty feudal sovereignties, after all they were using the central state to dispossess the peasantry and force them into wage labor on their lands. But they weren’t doing that, the process of dispossessing them and making them work for wages in agricultural production that enriched the landlords and emerging capitalists was ironically empowering the central state as it was increasingly necessary for the state to coordinate the disciplining of labor and commodification of everything.

Which is to say that even if mechanisms of appropriation are similar (in the English case it was landlords just looking to extract rents as they always had, but the context of how that was developing was unique), the process of social development can be very different. Simply existing in commodity markets isn’t enough to force you to become traditionally capitalist, anymore than simply existing in a tradition of landowners extracting rents from the producers forces you to become feudal (or to recreate the Roman plantation system for that matter). The class structure is what produces the development. England’s class structure fundamentally changed when the peasantry were being expropriated and were forced to work for wages. Their right to the commons was revoked as traditionalist mumbo jumbo. I think it isn’t at all clear that giving the proletariat a right to control/own the firms is going to just devolve back into capitalism, nor will it remain in some stasis of “market socialism”. That is a fundamental change in true class structure, the market and commodity production will not simply remain the same or collapse back to a prior point in history. That’s a naturalization of capitalism, it implies that capitalism has some transhistorical destiny to appear when the market is big enough. It gets the whole chronology backwards, class structures or “social relations” produced capitalism, not markets or commodities. Those have always existed, the question is why it took thousands of years for capitalism to appear, which is a specific form of general commodity production for exchange. It isn’t sufficient to just point back at commodity production for exchange, that has always occurred to varying degrees. Why did it grow like it did in England? Why did it consume the world? That can’t be answered by just pointing at it as a virus, it didn’t grow like it did until that specific point in history, and it did it because of a set of social relations that produced it.

 No.547903

Damn, reading this thread makes me wish I was smarter :(

Seems like so many good points and conterpoints, but I'm struggling to keep up.


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