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Sixth Sun Socialism spreading beyond Venezuela...

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MensajePublicado: Dom Ene 06, 2013 3:42 pm    Título del mensaje: Sixth Sun Socialism spreading beyond Venezuela... Responder citando

Would some kind comrade please translate the work of Prof. Richard Wolff, so that the Venezuelan adherents of 21st Century/Sixth Sun Socialism (perhaps including President Chavez and VP Maduro, both of whom are, I understand, voracious readers) know that the work is continuing outside of Venezuela and even ALBA? This latest is from Prof. Wolff's "Democracy at Work" campaign: precisely the point of the consejo movement, no?

The Work Experience: WSDEs vs. Capitalism

by Professor Richard D. Wolff

In capitalist enterprises across the US, when the working day ends and employees return to their homes, many stop at bars along the way. Signs invite them in for a “Happy Hour” of drinking. The implication is that the previous hours – working – are the day’s unhappy hours. Similarly, current mainstream academic economics (“neoclassical economics”) ascribes “disutility” to labor, an absolute and universal characteristic of labor per se. It theorizes that workers suffering the disutility of labor are compensated by the utility of the consumption enabled by wages. This labor-bad-consumption-good presumption, so deeply ingrained in capitalist culture, also surfaces in countless popular songs, films, books, and stories.

Yet labor is not inherently negative. It need not be a “disutility. Workplaces could be (partly or entirely) creative, stimulating centers of people’s relationships, productive activities, and personal growth. Many young people enter the adult labor force with expectations and demands for what they term meaningful, creative, and educational jobs. Of course, many young people and even more older people have given up on that possibility, resigned to a life where labor is a burden whose compensatory offset is consumption.

Many workers view work and workplaces so negatively because they are not organized to be positive experiences for workers. In capitalist enterprises, the boards of directors organize work processes to achieve their priorities: typically, mixes of profit maximization, growing market shares, and enterprise growth. Employees’ educational and personal growth, individual self-realization, and the quality of their workplace relationships are not priorities of capitalist enterprises. The varying mixes of directors’ and major shareholders’ priorities for capitalist enterprises routinely subordinate workers’ well-being.

Thus, for example, capitalist enterprises are not organized to stress the development of their employees’ physical or mental capabilities. Even the basic safety and health of workers have been widely compromised by employers unless and until workers successfully struggled to gain some protections. Capitalist enterprises do not generally provide workers with time to participate in collective decision-making, neither inside the enterprise (to design, operate or change it) nor in politics and culture outside the enterprise. Skill development and personal growth derived from such activities – and the happiness and satisfactions thereby afforded workers – must be found outside the enterprise, if at all, rather like “happy hours” belong to bars, not workplaces.

The profits produced by the collective labor of all employees accrue to and are distributed exclusively by a tiny minority of the individuals engaged in capitalist enterprises: boards of directors and major shareholders. As designers and governors of the enterprise, they are concerned with the profit from work, not the majority’s (employees’) relationships and personal development in that work. Those atop the capitalist system occupy the comfortable offices, undertake the ultimate supervision and strategizing, and enjoy the perquisites including large pay packages.

For most employees, capitalist work processes are typically dull, repetitive, and isolating. Intrusive monitoring and pressure often worsen their conditions. Workers’ opportunities for creative or independent initiative are rare. Their chances to control or redesign the work process rarer. Workers are order-takers; boards of directors and major-shareholders are order-givers.

The daily lives of workers, at least 5 out of 7 days per week, revolve around their work. If that work has the organization and characteristics described above, it will stultify, frustrate, and deaden workers’ lives. What happens on the job usually carries over into the community during non-working hours. Major shareholders and directors of capitalist enterprises usually also dominate politics and culture in societies where enterprises are organized in the usual hierarchical capitalist way. Workers’ political and cultural needs are subordinated to their employers’ priorities.

In stark contrast, WSDEs could and likely would organize work differently. The objectives of profit and growth would not have priority over the objective of making the work experience an exciting, creative, and continuously educational experience. The all-round development of a community’s population requires precisely that the workplace and work time – which absorb a huge portion of most adults’ lives – be made physically, mentally, aesthetically, and educationally positive. Consumption would no longer be privileged over production as human activities, nor would consumption be made any more beautiful and attractive than production.

A transition from capitalist enterprises to WSDEs would transform the experience and hence the meaning of work for most people. It would democratize the design, direction, and control functions of enterprises. Everyone would participate in, be educated for, and learn from making collective decisions about what, how and where to produce and how to use the enterprise’s net revenues. WSDEs would organize work to produce desired quantities and qualities of outputs (objective set A) but also and equally to yield work experiences that are productive of strong relationships and personal growth (objective set B). When contradictions arise between objectives A and B, neither will be prioritized over the other.

WSDE’s have different objectives and correspondingly different organizations of the place, time, and processes of work. In a transition to WSDEs, resignation to the burdensome work experience typical of capitalism would give way to the actuality and then growing demand for meaningful, self-realizing work as a basic human right in any civilized society.

Concluding parable: during 2012’s presidential election campaign, both Obama and Romney referred glowingly to the Marvin Windows and Doors Company of Warroad, Minnesota. They celebrated that capitalist’s decision to cut all workers’ hours, some benefits, and some salaried executives’ pay to avoid laying off any workers during the crisis. Their decision, both candidates noted, saved their communities from unemployment’s “devastating impact.” Imagine the different situation had Marvin Windows and Doors achieved a transition to WSDE. Then its workers would likely have decided democratically to make sharing of unemployment a principle of the enterprise’s functioning, a commitment to their personal lives and relationships. Sharing unemployment would then precisely not depend on a few capitalists’ decisions at the top. Most US capitalists do not, in fact, share unemployment. The Mondragon Cooperative Corporation in Spain, partly a WSDE, has long been doing so routinely.

Hasta pronto, y a la victoria, siempre, MKO.

Ultima edición por rararoadrunner el Dom Ene 06, 2013 4:01 pm; editado 1 vez
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MensajePublicado: Dom Ene 06, 2013 3:51 pm    Título del mensaje: Latest "Global Capitalism Update" video... Responder citando

Here's the video with which Prof. Wolff closed out the Fifth Sun: Global Capitalism December 2012 Update

Hasta pronto, y a la victoria, siempre, MKO.
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MensajePublicado: Lun Ene 07, 2013 10:46 am    Título del mensaje: Responder citando

In Spanish:

Hi there, "rararoadrunner"! Now I realize you never provided the whole text of your book you wanted to be translated, uh?

Prof. Wolff escribió:
The implication is that the previous hours – working – are the day’s unhappy hours...

[work] will stultify, frustrate, and deaden workers’ lives

Karl Marx in his Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844 escribió:

What, then, constitutes the alienation of labor?

First, the fact that labor is external to the worker, i.e., it does not belong to his intrinsic nature; that in his work, therefore, he does not affirm himself but denies himself, does not feel content but unhappy, does not develop freely his physical and mental energy but mortifies his body and ruins his mind.

The worker therefore only feels himself outside his work, and in his work feels outside himself. He feels at home when he is not working, and when he is working he does not feel at home.

His labor is therefore not voluntary, but coerced; it is forced labor.

It is therefore not the satisfaction of a need; it is merely a means to satisfy needs external to it.

Its alien character emerges clearly in the fact that as soon as no physical or other compulsion exists, labor is shunned like the plague.

External labor, labor in which man alienates himself, is a labor of self-sacrifice, of mortification.

Lastly, the external character of labor for the worker appears in the fact that it is not his own, but someone else’s, that it does not belong to him, that in it he belongs, not to himself, but to another.

Just as in religion the spontaneous activity of the human imagination, of the human brain and the human heart, operates on the individual independently of him – that is, operates as an alien, divine or diabolical activity – so is the worker’s activity not his spontaneous activity. It belongs to another; it is the loss of his self.

As a result, therefore, man (the worker) only feels himself freely active in his animal functions – eating, drinking, procreating, or at most in his dwelling and in dressing-up, etc.; and in his human functions he no longer feels himself to be anything but an animal. What is animal becomes human and what is human becomes animal.

Certainly eating, drinking, procreating, etc., are also genuinely human functions. But taken abstractly, separated from the sphere of all other human activity and turned into sole and ultimate ends, they are animal functions.

Communism as the positive transcendence of private property as human self-estrangement, and therefore as the real appropriation of the human essence by and for man; communism therefore as the complete return of man to himself as a social (i.e., human) being – a return accomplished consciously and embracing the entire wealth of previous development.

This communism, as fully developed naturalism, equals humanism, and as fully developed humanism equals naturalism; it is the genuine resolution of the conflict between man and nature and between man and man – the true resolution of the strife between existence and essence, between objectification and self-confirmation, between freedom and necessity, between the individual and the species.

Communism is the riddle of history solved, and it knows itself to be this solution.

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