Sunday, October 23, 2005

Running Responses to The Corporation and Frankenstein

People within it make decisions that design where it goes. It has defining components just like parecon does. The only difference is that parecon has not existed per se (but by that logic authoritarian societies are natural and ruleless because we couldn't find representative democracy).

Markets aren't robust at all. This is an empirical statement: Do markets accept a wide variety of conditions? They simply don't; markets are among the first things to collapse when crises occur, and in Katrina's wake we saw the natural choice to be cooperative institutions, not market-based asocialism. Parecon, on the other hand, can handle a whole number of varying situations and circumstances, indeed far more.

"It's common sense that social skills are very important in getting jobs and promotions."

Under a market economy, of course. There are some differences and some similarities. Also, we have to bear in mind the cultural and gender changes we want in this discussion as well. But let's take this example headon.

Someone who is attractive and fun to be around would be in sales now. They could be public debaters of plans, or laywers, or could be in the "sales" department. But the "sales" department, as Albert makes clear in Parecon: Life after Capitalism, is paid not based on their sales but only based on their effort/sacrifice, which means they only have the incentive to offer information to those who want it.

People can make social interactions as they please, getting connections or what not. There's no way to deal with that that's worth it. But they don't get paid more for it and there are redreses. Best of both worlds.

If people can sweet-talk their councils into hiring them, fine. But when they don't commit the proper effort, they hurt the whole council and thus everyone has an incentive to pay them less. If they also happen to be qualified, no problem. I would hope that, insofar as possible, worker's councils can see through charisma and hire the best candidate, but if they can't markets have the same problem.

”We all externalize and be extranalized on. The point is how to be relatively balanced.”

This is laughable. An externality is defined as a cost not borne by the consumer or producer in a transaction. Since a producer benefits from artificially low prices, they have every incentive to continue to externalize costs even when they detect a process that does. You are now showing how ignorant you are about markets' uncontroversial features, admitted EVEN BY ADVOCATES.

“How do you decide who deserve what from their efforts? I have no problem if you get more than I as long as I have enough(which is modest)I think most folks would agree.”

You don't. You look at effort and sacrifice and reward it. I think most people agree that if I work harder than you, I deserve more pay. And since that gives me more

In any respect, markets don't just set us all equal because hey, we're really not jealous of people; rather, it rewards output or bargaining power, which isn't fair or efficient.

“To reiterate. I would rather live in a society with some inequalities but with enough opportunities and social mobility rather than one which forces everyone to be uniform at the expense of all else.”

But your own argument says that we shouldn't really care about opportunities or social mobility since we're all just good with whatever we get.

“Life is about trade offs. For some reason you keep missing this point.”

I don't miss meaningless points. Unless you can identify the tradeoff for me to answer, this is just rhetoric.

“Only a crackpot would sell you a scheme with no catch.”
Of course there are catches to parecon. Some people can't be super-rich. And by your argument a catch is that we can't use markets anymore. Great. Those sound like good catches to me.

“Your method of argument is clear. Parecon claims it "solves" a problem but 1) its proposed solution is at best dubious and 2) it simply brushes aside the side effects that the "solution" may create”

I don't agree. You're simply wrong about parecon. If you can actually IDENTIFY FOR ME why you think the solution is dubious and what the side effects are, we can have an argument. If you can't, then you're asking me to accept your position based on faith. Sorry, no dice. At the moment you're behaving like a snake oil salesman, not answering problems about markets or just brushing them over and asserting with no evidence what the other properties are.

"I could say a polity is a type of state and be no more wrong than you."

Well, except that you're precisely inverting the commonly accepted definitions of the word, but that's not pure semantics if I can show the two aren't identical. When most people say "the state", they imagine a political organization, centralized, with national borders.

The fact that some people can be quite domineering has nothing to do with the system practically requiring everyone to be domineering even in self-defense. Just consider: Whether its abortion or gay marriage or what have you, everyone rushes for the state to ban the activity, rather than trying to convince people in the cultural realm to do what they'd prefer.
"and adjust my expectations now and then than to live in a rigid, ration economy."

But it's not a ration economy. You can buy whatever you want. You submit your consumption proposal and then throughout the year you can alter it as you please, but you might discover a shortage. Just like in capitalism where things get sold out.

Your next bit about not knowing is, of course, irrelevant in light of the above, but you're making another misunderstanding. My Mom plans pretty much on going to a yard sale every other week because she likes it (so yes, I prefer a parecon that allows yard sales). Sometimes things change, but nothing substantial. Under our tax code most people pretty well anticipate the kind of things they'll buy (say, X amount on entertainment), even if they don't know what it will be.

"Doestovsky said that if you design a rational paradise and put people in it the human heart would rebel."

Doesn't mean you should put people into a hell. I think people want a reasonable society that doesn't force them to practically try to kill each other.

“How do you decide who deserve what from their efforts? I have no problem if you get more than I as long as I have enough(which is modest)I think most folks would agree.”

You don't. You look at effort and sacrifice and reward it. I think most people agree that if I work harder than you, I deserve more pay. And since that gives me more

In any respect, markets don't just set us all equal because hey, we're really not jealous of people; rather, it rewards output or bargaining power, which isn't fair or efficient.

"So I ask you again, what would be the motivation to attain training if education is not compensated accordingly?"

You missed, as I noted, that within a reasonable degree the effort and sacrifice expended to acquire training is remunerated. But if that's the case, we can remunerate during the training process as well, if it's so onerous. And training may be difficult, but it ain't working in a coal mine, which also needs to be done. In any respect, except for a very few positions such as advanced professionals (doctors, lawyers, etc.) most people don't use anything like what they learn in college, and even most doctors and lawyers don't require half the classes they take. I admit this is a slightly different topic, but what it indicates is something I know Bwong agrees with: one can have a ton of mediocrity and have a working system.

There are also other incentives to be a doctor. There is the very natural social status and approbation, fairly important (as we all know when we cut through the crap and remember why people really buy fancy cars and houses), the desire to satisfy one's dreams and talents (do you imagine that most people who go through all those years of med school are thinking "Man, fat paycheck" or "I really want to help people"), the daily empowerment of being a doctor. What I wonder is, why wouldn't TOO MANY people try to be doctors?

You're also ignoring that the class "doctor" versus "janitor" doesn't exist per se. A balanced job complex provides for highly trained professionals in virtually every field.

I recommended you actually read on the topic, as good FAQs and introductory pieces are easily available. You apparently haven't done so yet.

"who charge $12,000 per lecture and live in rich suburban neighborhoods"

Chomsky doesn't charge $12,000, he charges nothing.

Albert and Hahnel developed parecon, and it grew out of what they quite naturally did at South End Press with others. The experience of left coops tells us that, even with the demands of the market, cooperative institutions can be quite effective.

"I think Fred has a disdain for markets because no one wants to buy his parecon bullshit."

It's not my bullshit (Eric Patton and others have advocated it on this forum alone), and when I speak to the working class I find broad appeal for parecon. The people interested in it and advocating it is broadening, not shrinking. I hear a lot of questions from more privileged intellectuals, very much predicted by coordinator class critiques. And Yakov, by that standard, you must have a disdain for, well, practically everything, as no one buys your crap. I may also note that Hahnel/Albert's books have sold reasonably well, given the difficulties leftist books face.

"You achieve so called "efficiency" by basically trying to match demand and supply exactly"

Yes, with direct information from consumers and producers.

GM only plans for cars (and weapons), but GE plans for, well, practically everything, and Microsoft plans for software, and... Since the vast majority of products are produced by corporations of middle to large size, EVERYTHING is planned to an incredible degree. Yes, of course market research is just statistical, but here's the thing. Since there's no apparatus that allows that information to be filtered, that information must be attained multiple times, which requires replication of services (a fact that you did concede). That means, on average, that there are huge inefficiencies: production of excess goods, etc. Those don't disappear in parecon, but they're sharply reduced.

The main problem with your argument, Bwong, is that you're arguing against a small group of eggheads who produce and implement a plan based on forms from absolutely everyone. But that's simply not the model, and the barest read of the topic would show that. Rather, there are rounds of "negotiation" wherein expected consumption (not "eggs" and "lettuce" but rather "groceries") is contrasted with expected production. This occurs on federated levels. It's not too hard to construct a computer program that makes a guess at the end result. Finally, given the data, a few plans are formed and there is a vote for each.

The nice advantage here is that a worker's council can detect that they're producing too many eggs based on information fron consumers just like in a market, and demand/supply can be constantly adjusted throughout the year just like in a market, but we have a good guess at the beginning of the year. But Bwong, this IS the way OUR economy works too. Every year, we all go through tax time, we all plan what we think we can consume, and producers in particular constantly plan all the time for everything: marketing, focus groups, advertising, assessment of sales from last year, quarterly earning reports, etc. all not just to BEAT but also CONTROL the market.

I can't imagine the number of times I thought of something that would be excellent to have and didn't see it, or didn't find a product I needed, or had to search through dozens of stores to get what I wanted.

You're also ignoring a vital point: provision of social goods doesn't require nearly as much of the planning effort.

“But these are MACRO plannings. Macro plannings only set up broad conditions, constraints and rules to guide the market process.The market mechansim then work out the deatils.”

But here's the analogous situation, then: Participatory planning does the macro strokes; consumers, as represented by consumer councils, and workers, as represented in worker's councils, do the finetuning.

No, it's not just macro planning. Small businesses plan every day, trying to figure out how much they should put out onto the storefront. Individual consumers plan.

If a worker's council notes that there are too many eggs, they can cut down on how many eggs they get from the agricultural councils. The participatory planning process is not a straitjacket, but a guide. Further, as Steinbeck notes in The Grapes of Wrath, the market leads to oranges rotting while people starve, NOT DUE TO “MACRO PLANNING” or some other crap, but simply the incentives of the market. The fact that other institutions can restrain this tendency is IRRELEVANT, just as the fact that the state can make some strides against racial and gender inequity is IRRELEVANT.

“Your so called intrinsic inefficiencies of the market is the nature of macro strategies.”

They're not the failures of central planning models, which are just as macro, they're unique failings of market. Commodity fetishism is ONLY possible under markets where producers are limited in linkage to each other, indeed competing, and consumers can't access except through non-systemic means information about the true social costs of their products. Markets depend on some degree of trust, even though they are instituted as a substitute for trust, because if someone lies about what they have someone gets profit from an inferior product. There's no incentive again fraud in markets, there is in parecon because one's wgaes are not linked to sales.

“Macro plannings only aim for optimal solutions "on the average". Glitches, mismatches of expectations and wastes are unavoidable.”

Yes. So we pick the best macro planning system or choose smaller systems. Here's another advantage: Parecon is the only economy I'm aware of that can rationally choose to go more bio-regionalist or more macro.

Since we know central planning can accomplish basic production, often more effective in some vectors than markets (as markets are invariably disasters), your argument is simply false.

“Parecon's planning is MICROMANAGING each and every aspect of the economy. It may seem more efficient because you're able to track the economy in a much finer scale.”

No, it simply isn't. The participatory planning process provides for guidelines, occuring at multiple levels, with information available to all producers and consumers. The back-and-forth nature of the process allows for qualitative information. And, since the economy is based on voluntarism, everyone has incredible freedom to refine their choices over time. Further, since after a few years a good record will emerge, the planning process will get better over time, not worse.

Bwong, you continue to have this fantasy about markets that any honest economist can tell you is just pure bull. There are giant database banks that contain minutiae about you or me, a veritable biography of practically every person who has ever registered online or used a credit card. As you continue to pretend that it's impossible to micromanage, what business is loudly yelling about is “narrow casting”, wherein we target consumers (and voters) WITH INCREDIBLE PRECISION, often appealing to demographics of a few thousand people. While you continue to pretend its impossible to run a good economy, capitalism is developing the means to do so.

“But this is misleading because the inefficiencies in setting up such a system,-just based on what you describe,-- vastly outweigh whatever efficiency gain you may derive from it. Again this is an instance of trade off, which the parecon totalists evidently cannot comprehend. Albert has no appreciation of complexity and nuances. All "plannings" are not the same.”

All rhetoric without warrants, implying arguments that I've answered. What parecon provides for is planning without inflexibility. The fact that we have a complex world doesn't mean we proceed blind.

The Princeton Volume contains proofs using a very interesting principle, one of the things that attracted me most to parecon. Your view was that parecon would mind control people to becime homo socialis. But what parecon does is the opposite: assuming homo economicus, it provides the incentives and the institutional roles that make homo economicus closely estimate homo socialis. It allows people's greed to be socially beneficial, not socially destructive.

“Who are the managers accountable for and whether managers are necessary?”

Wrong. The existence of “manager”, someone who transmits orders, is the problem. This is why advocates like you don't appeal to the working class, Bwong. The dude at the bottom doesn't care about the capitalist. He cares about the jerkoff telling him what to do. Of course management responsible to capital and not workers is bad, but having managers without capital does not lead to managers responsible to workers but managers responsible to themselves. This is the core of the coordinator class critique. This is an elementary derivation of the principle, “Power corrupts.” If people are in a dominating position, even if the first generation has the best intents, eventually that class figures out that, hey, they can rig the system to their benefit. This is what the USSR tells us. And the fact that you misread my argument this deeply is truly frightening.

I want to eliminate capital as a class to be accountable to. I also want to eliminate managers, though not policy-making (but that'll be democratic). People can, of course, have foremen or

And “necessity” doesn't really appeal to me, because people have the right to self-management, period.

“The first paragraph proves that management under the current system is accountable for capital but not workers, which I totally agree.”

No, it doesn't.

“But that does not prove that bureaucracies and managers are unnecessary.”

But it does indicate how dangerous they are. However, I have argued, to little onpoint rebuttal from you, that managers and bureaucracy are in fact not necessary, but deeply inefficient. A democratic decision-making process is not only possible, but with technology even easier. This is the import of my automation comment: Automation could have been used to eliminate managers and allow workers to run their workplaces; instead, it was used to empower managers and deskill workers, even when that reduced profit. We have seen, from SEP, from the Spanish Revolution, from numerous coop and revolutionary experiences, that we can have non-hierarchical rule.

I hope you see why I become very skeptical and critical of the perspective that we just need to have smart guys run everything. It's elitist, hierarchical, and is guaranteed to be justified regardless of actual merit by people like, say, mathematicians, who would benefit from such a system. It is why the Left will never appeal to the working class with your proposals: they don't want to have to deal with more crap. They might even prefer capitalism, not just prefer inaction, because at least the people who give them crap and tell them what to do every day are in turn humiliated by richer people.

“I indeed argue for a "bottom up" models(co-ops, say) where the management is accountable to the workers(=owners).”

Problem is that the workers, by virtue of having imbalanced job complexes, and the managers, by virtue of actually controlling the coops, will eventually be in conflict, and the maangers will almost always win. The managers will demand more power and money, and eventually you see Soviet totalitarianism or capitalism reemerge. The only way to prevent this is to eliminate a class of people who transmit orders. But I don't even need to prove that: people deserve to determine their own workplaces' policies and their own labor.

To quote: "For example, if you were a central planner, in a centrally planned economy, able to bend and massage economic outcomes to serve your class by further enlarging the advantages it enjoys due to promoting investment patterns that enhance information centralization and thus the further aggrandizement of intellectual workers – coordinator class members – your claim would be quite right."

“But for large institutions you still need professional managers and bureaucrats to handle day to day functions of the organization.”

Maybe, maybe not. In that case, you have a few options. They become a separate class but cannot issue orders, instead propose plans for the workers to ratify. Or you have foremen, or conductors in orchestras, but they're fundamentally answerable to the workers, replaceable, accountable, and don't issue “orders” per se. And the advantage, as you conceded, is that decisions arrived at democratically require less enforcement and monitoring, as well as include more viewpoints and styles of contribution and thus are superior.

“I am aware of your Dad's experience. But managing a workteam of 5 is not the same as running the payroll department of IBM.”

The comment about my Dad was not about his workteam but about how a coop is undermined by the market. I hope you rebut to that onpoint, as I (on a blog post) and Albert spend a lot of time talking about how the market pushes towards managerial dominance, worker disenfranchisement, etc.

But let's talk about that for a second. The payroll department of IBM could be arranged democratically, too. And, as you missed completely, my Dad isn't unique. The whole of the tech economy has been based on small teams of smart guys in somewhat democratic, BJC arrangements.

“The world is not black or white.”

Direct contradiction isn't non-dualism.

“Except it won't work on a large scale.”

Markets don't work on a large scale. They're catastrophes that require corporations and states to manage their screwups. We can't get much worse than that.

Your tradeoff argument, of course, is fun, because it implies that we just pick on various vectors to choose one or the other thing. Fine. So I just need to prove that the choices parecon makes are best. Suddenly your crap about “It won't work” disappears; after all, it's just another tradeoff,.

“To say that South end press is a model of a whole country is laughable, just like you fail to see the difference between your dad's workteam and IBM.”

Fallacies answered above. The Spanish Revolution was a largescale success. And even if SEP doesn't establish my argument in toto, it does prove that I have a practically 100% success rate so far. Markets have, what, 10%? 5%?

“Quantitative difference IS qualitative if it is sufficiently huge. This is complexity.”

Don't see the import of this comment, as parecon has both on its side.

"Not surprisng parecon sounds so perfect. All Utopian schemes are insanly simplistic. "

So now it's simplistic, eh? I really want you to explain how parecon can be simplistic, utopian, too detailed, authoritarian, and inefficient because it denies the dominance of managers and bureaucracies. This is blatant contradiction.

Parecon has simple principles, but with proper understanding they are very robust and offer quite a few potential answers and responses. It is an economy designed first and foremost to increase liberty, self-management and rights.

"Markets exist in very town and village since the dawn of civilization. Even nomads trade."

No, they don't. But, as you conceded, hierarchy and authoritarianism has existed in almost every society too; is it impossible to transcend those too? Was it impossible to institute representative democracy or private ownership because you didn't see it before? And of course people adopt a system that lets them screw each other when they don't trust each other, another matter you didn't rebut.

"Being so bitter about managers I expect you have some understanding of the managerial perogative."

I'm not bitter. I'm from a manager family and I may end up being one. It's pretty tiring for you to launch these ad homs all the time. A manager tells me what to do. Why should I have to listen? I can't get any simpler.

"If you can draw a red line directly from ANY market activity to the hell you describe..."
I have been. You then play with definitions, what you accuse me of, or say that it's a problem of all societies even when you can't establish that claim for parecon and can't rebut its unique nature in markets.

"Direct democracy doesn't work except for communes of a few hundreds."

Then liberty might require small communes interlinked, what Sale proposes. You then go onto talk about "complexity" with the utterly stupid consequence that you're ignoring that, hey, maybe we SHOULD choose the above. But I described how delegates could be used to transcend this problem, to laughable rebuttals. for more.

Re: Managers needed

In what institutions? By your own argument about mediocrity, most managers I know sit on their thumbs, micromanage useless things and do nothing of improtance. The only reason they're necessary is because workers don't want to contribute their energy to their totalitarian employer, their capitalist enemy.

What workers councils allow is for the rules to be formed so that people can arrange what they're doing. In most situations, that's by far enough, as you would know if you had done physical work recently. I know from my varied work experiences as both a temp and a tutor that managers were at best an obstacle and inconvenience. But if, say, a foreman is needed, that's fine. The point is that the foreman's role and behavior is democratically determined and she can be "fired" by the workers if she deviates.

I have no problem with a reasonable degree of flexibility for whatever bureaucracy is left. But they must be fundamentally accountable and their role is primarily to propose plans to democracies.

So now we have another of these "tradeoffs". You lean towards domination. I lean towards freedom.

Another advantage I describe: Markets lean towards production-oriented jobs and underpay "quality of life" jobs such as teaching, art, etc. But those are things we need to encourage, especially since we're running out of resources to do product-based jobs with. Parecon can provide for that.


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