Re: [sixties-l] Re: corporations and techno-change availability

From: William Mandel (
Date: Fri Jul 14 2000 - 21:28:15 CUT

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       I don't know what you mean by syndicates, Paula. It used to be
    a synonym for "trusts" or quasi-monopolies. In other languages,
    that word means labor union.
       As to workers' collectives or co-ops, there is a long history,
    with a very rich literature, pertaining to the Soviet Union, the
    United States, and other countries, showing that industry
    functions best when a single individual gives the orders.
    Unpleasant but true. Production and workers' collective co-ops
    may last a decade or two. They usually don't. Absolutely none
    have the longevity of the greatest corporations: the Big Three
    auto companies here, major oil companies here and abroad, radio
    and electronics manufacturers like Phillips in Holland, etc.,
    etc. It is simply that, in the market place, the hardest-driving
    win out in the key indicator, productivity of labor, which is
    what determines price. Workers simply don't want to drive
    themselves hard.
       And if you don't have a market, as in the Communist countries,
    monopolist burocracies perform the functions of allocation and
    planning, and experience proved that, lacking the stimulus of
    competition, they fall behind worldwide in the introduction of
    the new products that make our lives easier. The bottom line is
    that the people want those products, and cast off Marxist
    socialism in every instance but Cuba, where I see no reason to
    expect it to remain an exception after the Father of His Country
       You are perfectly right that in modern society, as in all
    previous ones, there is a minority, usually quite small, for whom
    material comfort is not the be-all and end-all. In the past, such
    people became monks and nuns. In a few cases there have been
    enduring religious sects such as Mennonites. In all societies,
    artists, but for the tiny handful who make it without selling
    their souls, put their creativity first. But the vast majority,
    meaning of course those whose votes determine who will rule in a
    democracy, put living standard first.
                                            Bill Mandel wrote:
    > I am confused, Bill--are you saying that only capitalist corporations or
    > state monopolies can do the large-scale production necessary (your
    > term--though I see why, here) for mass production and/or for mass prod. of
    > new technologies? I guess it's not obvious to me why this should be so--why
    > workers' collectives or co-ops or syndicates or whatever couldn't do this,
    > while those involved live a more human (work)-life too.
    > In a way your points may lead (some of us) to those, I guess, of some of
    > the green (left)--maybe technology's goods aren't worth their (human and
    > ecological) under-structures. This is fascinating--seriously.
    > Paula

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