Alternatives to capitalism?

June 28, 2012

In this brief article first published in the Guardian, Richard Wolff, professor of economics at the University of Massachusetts and New School University, discusses the amazing success of the Mondragon Corporation of Spain and its potential as a model of social organization in a post-capitalistic economy. Key differences between businesses working within the MC framework and typical corporations are (1) the democratic nature of the decision-making process within the organization and (2) the limits on income inequality between workers. Imagine all businesses in a country working within the MC framework and you have a realistic and intriguing alternative to capitalism.

Here is a brief description of MC taken from Wolff’s article:

MC is composed of many co-operative enterprises grouped into four areas: industry, finance, retail and knowledge. In each enterprise, the co-op members (averaging 80-85% of all workers per enterprise) collectively own and direct the enterprise. Through an annual general assembly the workers choose and employ a managing director and retain the power to make all the basic decisions of the enterprise (what, how and where to produce and what to do with the profits).

As each enterprise is a constituent of the MC as a whole, its members must confer and decide with all other enterprise members what general rules will govern MC and all its constituent enterprises. In short, MC worker-members collectively choose, hire and fire the directors, whereas in capitalist enterprises the reverse occurs. One of the co-operatively and democratically adopted rules governing the MC limits top-paid worker/members to earning 6.5 times the lowest-paid workers. Nothing more dramatically demonstrates the differences distinguishing this from the capitalist alternative organization of enterprises. (In US corporations,CEOs can expect to be paid 400 times an average worker’s salary – a rate that has increased 20-fold since 1965.)

Tags: , ,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Democracy Now