Monday, June 6, 2011

Workers Under Capitalism Are Like Cattle Being Herded Into A Corral

You could say that I’m for anything that’s voluntary. I think workplace democracy would be the norm in a free and healthy society. However, where free people decide among themselves that it might suit their particular needs for one of them to specialize in administrative work, that’s okay also.

The problem with the status quo, as I see it, is that the top-down approach is shoved down people’s throats by forcibly cutting off alternatives. Workplace democracy might not be explicitly outlawed, but the ruling class has all of the bargaining power thanks to all of the favoritism they get from the state — so the worker typically has no choice but to enter a “voluntary” employment relationship with them in which they get to set all of the rules.

Imagine cattle being herded into a corral. They are not actually shoved through the gate. It’s just that every *other* direction they try to go, they run into obstacles deliberately put in their way. In the case of workers under capitalism, the herding is accomplished by monopolization of capital in the hands of a state-allied ruling class and state-enforced privilege — things like licensure requirements and a huge amount of regulations that act to forbid people from self-employment if they don’t have the resources to deal with all of the bureaucratic overhead costs that sort of thing dumps on them.

Consider… what would it actually take to start working for yourself as a self-employed taxi driver? A car, a mobile phone and maybe $50 worth of business cards to get you started. Proof of insurance might be helpful to show difficult customers worried about safety.

Those are about the only natural costs. But the artificial costs are huge…

You can’t just start driving a taxi independently like that under capitalism without risking being kidnapped by people who would call it an “arrest”. You have to pay a large amount of money for special licenses. You have the costs of complying with various special requirements that go along with those licenses.

So one often has little real choice about whether or not to take a job working for someone else under the present system. - Brad Spangler in an answer during a Dialogue With a Young Communist

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