An Interesting Find
First off, oops.No more jokes about swine flu. I'm wondering how those who think over-population is our planets biggest problem view pandemics? Lesser of two evils? Natures revenge?
I mentioned the little collective book store in Portland ( fantasy check: me living out my days surrounded by radical literature, chatting with activists, eating avacado and cheese sandwiches in just such a little grotto) where I found this gem, Work Politics and Power :an International Perspective on Workers Control and Self-management by Assef Bayat. In it he describes four approaches, the first being the corporatist approach advanced by the International Labor organization.(ILO) He states:
"..the ILO perpective focuses mainly on the issues of raising the productivity of labour and providing conditions for industrial peace- issues on which organized workers are assumed to stand as partners with the employers and managers. In an atmosphere of cooperation, all parties are assumed to benefit from improvement in individual companies and in the economy as a whole. capital and labour are viewed as having an equal position, being engaged in free agreement; the state is to act as a neutral arbitrator between the two..."
Sound familiar? This is the dominant narrative accepted by liberal and conservative both, it is what in fact unites them in their utopian vision of late capitalism.It is further enhanced by a religious devotion to techno-scientism.
" in it's assesment of the new forms of work organization, for example, job enlargement or job enrichment , the ILO suggests that 'sophisticated and diversified scientific and technical methadology furnishes a group for the emergence of these new forms of workers participation.'
I call this Google-ization ( disclosure: my son-in-law works for them) with all it's lax atmosphere, pampering, hidden- hierachical structure etc. and creativity development. It's better than the killing floor, no doubt, but consider what else it replaces.
Bayat goes on to discuss Third Way Approaches ( worker participation/management but could include private ownership) ,an "aggressive encroachment approach, ( sort of following Gramsci, that is worker control as a vehicle for political change at the societal level) The fourth is the Workers State approach identified with anarcho/syndicalists, libertarian Marxists and council communists.( who disagree on HOW to get there) This takes the form of councils or freely associated communities of workers as an alternative to a bureacratic state or centralized planning, etc..
Published in 1991, the work foresees many of the problems that thinkers like Albert and Hahnel have been working on in their development of Parecon. New issues, especially in the division of labour, led to analysis of a "coordinator class" and "job complexes" and it is interesting to read the history of the thinking that brought us to this point.