Review of No Bosses – or actually not a review

By Caed Stephenson


My aim here is not so much to write a review of No Bosses as to offer up something to go with it, something which makes fuller sense of it for me. I have no argument with parecon as parecon and I probably lack the knowledge to properly refute it in any case. It all seems pretty sound to me as an economic strategy, is the product of serious long hard thinking covering angles I have not even thought about and starts out from all the right practical questions. My purpose from here, instead, is to put parecon alongside dialectical materialism.


Certain people, maybe even Albert himself, could find that idea horrifying and for reasons with which I sympathise. The libertarian left has had some very tricky and sometimes lethal entanglements with the more orthodox Marxism. I have felt the rage too about Spain, about Kronstadt and the rest. All the same, these days I just do not find the philosophical underpinnings of non-Marxist socialism convincing. For me, as much as I appreciate the practical politics of the libertarian left, dialectical materialism much better fits the philosophical bill and somehow this becomes relevant to the way I read No Bosses.


First, a word about language. Some say dialectical materialism fails the first hurdle because it talks a language no one understands. I have some answers to this:

  • Honestly trying to work things out is even more important than speaking plain English. If the results of being true as you can be to your times are a little verbose, this is a better starting point than peddling something plain-talking but lightweight.

  • An important aim in the workers’ movement is to take possession of analytical language and ideas. If we are going to be in a fight, we may need these.

  • Dualist right-wrong thinking is more mainstream than dialectical thinking and therefore everyday language has wrapped itself around dualist logic. The expression of dialectical thought is likely to be on the clumsy, confused side sometimes as a result

A further claim some folks make is that Marxism, including dialectical materialism, is either faculty lounge twaddle or worse, an elite ruse, all about paving the way for a new ruling class in workers’ name only. At one time, I myself believed in a version of both these in combination. However, I just cannot square either with reality any longer. There are a whole lot of facts as well as flesh and blood fellow workers I would have to ignore.


Firstly, why Marxist materialism? I believe that when people make choices, they do so with their bodies as well as their minds and, furthermore, with the bodies of those they love. Thus, for human freedom and human nature itself to mean anything it is crucial to admit that we ride on tides and currents larger than our abstract, disembodied wills. Understanding this is a matter of in-struggle empathy. Real Marxism, including within its Marxist-Leninist variants, has been at its best when it puts this empathy front and centre, at its worst where it has gone off chasing voluntarist imaginings in spite of the human cost. What people misunderstand as deterministic and mechanistic in Marxism, that is, its dogged materialism, is actually one of its best parts, what keeps it honest to itself and to working people.


And then why dialectics? Dialectical thinking rests on an insight which is part of how I live, the unity of opposites. The world I see is alive with forces arising out of each other and yet developing in contradiction to one another. Intuitive and intellectual sense of this gets me closer, not further away from reality’s movement in my judgement. Above all, simple good-bad dualisms strike me as less and less useful these days. It is worth pointing out that Marxist-Leninist regimes have generally been at their most nasty where they have dropped dialectical subtlety in favour of such simplistic dualisms (involving “capitalist roaders”, “kulaks” or some such). Unlike what I thought back as a twenty-something in the nineties, dialectics can be but is not always another name for authoritarian pseudo-scientific word games. `


Something else, maybe a bit cranky of me to say, but if Marxism claims that revolution happens where the productive forces bust out of the social relations, this might sound like some highfalutin, obscure dialectics talk. However, especially if you move past a crude mathematical understanding of productive forces, to me this is elementary. My advice, folks, is that if your instincts tell you this is not what is happening at an apparent revolutionary moment, grab friends and family then bounce. It is not the real thing.


I am not saying this because I think capitalist modern industrial society is superior as a mode of existence compared to, say, many indigenous Australian cultures whose subtlety and artfulness in the way they managed things leaves European style modernity for dead. All I am saying is that, wherever humanity decides go afterwards, the jumping off point from locked-in hierarchical society only becomes visible in so far as we can maintain everyone in material security, happiness and dignity as we make the jump. This takes social productive force which history and specifically capitalism (not feudalism, not slavery, not classical imperialism, not late medieval mercantilism, not peasant freehold) has brought us to. Without this force there for the taking, the “old filthy business would necessarily be reproduced”. I know it is a little suspect to keep using the words of some bloke from one hundred and seventy years ago but it is worth underlining their continuing truth in this case.



THE IMPORTANCE OF NO BOSSES


Returning to parecon and No Bosses, Albert builds his system on the values of “self-management, equity, solidarity, diversity, sustainability, internationalism, and participation”.


Especially in view of Albert’s practical elaboration of each, I am in whole-hearted agreement with all of them. I feel many of them in my gut. Why I do so, however, is not just because of some eternal notion of right and wrong like I might learn in church or a university ethics course. These values have historical weight at this point in time becauseit is this point in time.


The practical defining pieces of parecon are self-management, equitable remuneration, balanced job complexes and participatory planning. Again, a big yes to all of these but the last on the list is the circuit breaker and the one making all the others possible. The mechanics of its iterative processes are naturally much more complex – and fascinating to a socialism nerd like me – but, in summary, "…participatory planning is an entwined process of all producers and consumers, assisted by information agencies but entirely self-managed. No top. No bottom. No center. No periphery."


In other words, and here is the kicker, this is a planning system that runs not from one down to all like twentieth century versions but from all to all. This would be not just an interaction between individuals and producers, mind, but also, as I think albert would emphasise, one between organic collectivities; workplaces, communities,

neighbourhoods, associations of many other kinds. This is planning by workers from household or council meeting hall to shop floor and back again. This is not therefore just working and consuming under the shadow of an alien, albeit apparently benign apparatus. If this is even remotely, minutely just half possible, it sets fire again to a big story, a dialectic, and hints furthermore that this story might have an end.



THE DIALECTIC OF PRODUCTION AND ALLOCATION


Marx talks about two moments of capital, production and circulation, but we could apply this way of thinking to economic life as such. The process under any system by which material things come to people or to each other has two parts:

  1. the physical process of making and transporting things

  2. the social mode stamping things and labour with destinations and channelling abstract economic value back to their sources.

With a little snipping around the edges, we could call these two acts production and allocation. Each act needs the other but they can still fall into contradiction.


Within markets, allocation, as buying and selling, has come to dominate production and we call the present form of this domination capitalism (slavery being another form). It would seem fairly sensible that allocation should inform and guide production but here we mean something more than that. Firstly, what defines capitalist power is allocation in its pure fluid form as simply money rather than formal titles such as birthright or eventually even any other cultural lineage, with the state as universal force-guarantor behind circulation as such. In its freedom as money, capitalist allocation can have a merry old time bashing production, stomping on it, automating it, containerising it, micro-managing it, making it dance, making it run, making it stand still. Capital is allocation run amok. Above all, if we personify allocation as the capitalist and production as the worker, the capitalist has hit upon the wonderful trick of buying only production’s ability to remake itself every day (in the case of variable capital anyway) then cleverly selling the product. In return for the means to live, the worker offers up a full day’s work and does whatever the capitalist asks all day. Predictably, the capitalist becomes richer and the worker, poorer. Capital in turn takes its cues from markets more generally and will hire or fire labour, build plant or let it rust according to what is going on in its own larger allocation scene. This further cuts down production’s status relative to allocation. The worker is at the mercy of the boss and of the market in general. All in all, under capitalism, allocation rules production as one economic principle over another. The catch is that, in the same stroke, capitalist allocation also radically changes production, revolutionising it, concentrating it, socialising it in the sense of making it interdependent. In other words capitalist allocation generates the anomaly of social production.


Even more ominously as it turns out, because capitalism has spread unevenly, it has duly become imperialistic at its core. From here, it has tended to lord it over production in other places even to the point of hobbling any emerging capitalism there. Thus, from the viewpoint of these other places, the available united forces of production, that is, the potentials in the world to make and have things, have fallen into contradiction with the imperial social relation. The local capitalist class meanwhile has usually been too weak and corruptible to make the break so the state has stepped in forcefully as the main agent reinvesting surplus into capital goods: hence we speak of state capitalism – not in the sense of ‘capitalism’ equalling evil but as an objective description of the developmental task these societies have had on their plates. Since it has been the sharpest dressed analytical tool for diagnosing the imperialism problem in the first place, Marxist-Leninism has taken up the mantle of state ideology, with the Marxist side of this equation further providing the religious trappings of communist utopia and so on.


Unfortunately, whatever other impressive achievements we could chalk up next to anti-imperialist state-run economies, collective control by workers over allocation has not really been one of them. Full worker power has not been historically imminent within these revolutions, not because worker power has been incapable of taking over production but because it has not had the means to take over allocation. In spite of some pushing and shoving, socialist allocation, usually as central planning, has ultimately ruled over production with a familiar stony face.


The process is down go questions to workplaces (seeking information), up go answers to planners. Down go draft instructions, up go concerns/problems. Down go orders. Up goes obedience.


There have been some hints at counter-tendencies such as Cybersyn in Chile in the early 70s, more recent democratic initiatives in Cuba, various ‘ultra-leftist’ experimentations in China, and pretty obliquely maybe even something like the Glushkov proposal for the Soviet economy in 1962. As a broad sweep, though, the state under socialism has become the new boss, the buyer of labour power and the jealous owner of labour’s product, replicating capitalist dictatorship over labour in the cause of competing with capitalist power elsewhere and chasing developmental goals. Class in these societies is a very complex subject but we could say that, in personal terms, a new elevated class has grown up within socialist run state economies whom Albert aptly enough calls the “coordinator class”. These are the 20% stratum of planners and managers whose job in the final analysis is to represent the power of centrally planned allocation over workers. As Albert points out,


Even if planners start out honest and are not immediately corrupted by their power, over time they come to view those they administer as subservient. They come to view themselves as worthy and exceptional. They then reward themselves, and also people like themselves, more than workers below.


Admittedly, Marxist Leninist regimes have also had to attend to small details like dealing with budding forms of market allocation imminent in the demise of pre-capitalist landowning classes, conjuring up a decent general standard of life from an launch point of almost no modern industry, rolling out mass literacy, housing and health programmes, fighting horrendous civil wars, stopping apocalyptic foreign invasions, securing vital raw materials from across the globe through blanket blockades, holding planned economies together politically in extremely difficult circumstances, stamping out the creeping political influence of the imperial core and surviving generalised, rolling chaos. Whether the forming of a coordinator class or social hierarchy as such with all its usual casuistry has been predictable under these conditions or something for us to legitimately click our tongues about is perhaps irrelevant anyway; it happened and has come to define us leftists in the public imagination. Ironically, the final great defining moment for Albert’s coordinator class, under socialist “coordinatorism” at least, has been its betrayal of Marxist-Leninism along the path towards becoming new capitalists.


For socialists, in whatever case, the twentieth century has put something nasty at the pit of our stomachs, even, if we are being honest, for us more historically innocent types on the libertarian wing. There are three ways we can explain what the hell happened:

  1. Any unitary allocation system which does away with markets will always go1984 on us because it has to curtail the basic human freedom of buying and selling.

  2. Marxist Leninism as a toxic coordinator class ideology has twisted twentieth century revolutions in an anti-democratic direction on behalf of the new rulers.

  3. Workers have not yet had the wherewithal or historical opening to seize the mechanism of planned allocation and work it in their own name democratically.

If the first option is right, our only course on the left is to look into some type of market socialism and there are many thinkers doing this nowadays. I wish them luck, recognising I should probably reserve some seats on that boat too, just in case. Market socialists hope that democratic worker control over production can somehow tame market allocation whist keeping its market character and, were this possible, there are good reasons to sigh with relief. Nonetheless, with Albert, I am sceptical.


…markets…produce decision-making hierarchy and squash self-management. This occurs not only when market-generated disparities in wealth give different bargaining power to different actors, but also when market competition compels even council-based workplaces to cut costs and seek market share.


This is to say that under market socialism, as we can see empirically in the Yugoslavian example, allocation still rules over workplaces from outside and consequently over workers inside. Thus, market socialism appears to be another opportunity for Albert’s coordinator class, likewise ready in waiting within capitalism as a roughly 20% professional managerial contingent, to take up the helm of social leadership. This in mind, there is also the consideration of what shape genuine worker power over allocation has to take to run a workers’ economy efficiently. Yes, socialist market allocation might seem to hold slightly more democratic potential than central planning because of its greater economic fluidity. Nevertheless, it still represents an alien principle over not just workers but also over production itself, over what we want an economy to make and be. My feeling is that not only can we do better but we also might need to do better.


Moving to the other two slightly awkward excuses above then, aside from the fact that the second could cause some unnecessary unhappiness between ordinary workers who should be on the same side, whether two or three is more on the money is irrelevant. If either or both are true, the great dialectical battle of allocation and production may not be over. If we proceed from two, the question is, well, how can workers run a revolutionary economy without the poison of twentieth century style Marxist-Leninist state ideology; in other words, how can workers make allocation their own and not a not a possession for the likes of red star bureaucrats? If we entertain three instead, the question is as to what would need to be in place for workers to capture allocation democratically. To me, the second of these last two framings is more useful, drawing us into history as dialectical story-telling, not just as an eternal fight between political good and political evil. Either way, though, the puzzle is the same. In Albert’s words,

Our contemporary allocation problem is that (as could be seen in the old Yugoslavia and Soviet Union) even without private ownership of the means of production, markets and central planning each subvert equitable remuneration, each annihilate self-management, each horribly misvalue products, each grossly violate the ecology. They each relentlessly impose antisocial motivations. They each unavoidably impose class division and class rule. This is precisely the kind of dynamic our approach to thinking about economics attunes us to. Particular institutions—in this case markets and central planning—impose role attributes that violate our aims. They are leaky life rafts. A worthy vision must transcend them.



HERE IN THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY


Hopes for socialism of any kind, coordinatorist or otherwise, would take a few very large steps backwards towards the end of last century. Nonetheless, just as it fancied itself smoking a cigar of eternal triumph, capitalism would perform a new unconscious counter-movement of allocation undermining its own power over production. From the late 1960s on and maybe earlier, production as a primary source of capitalist profit was losing compression. Aside from off-shoring to low wage countries and public asset stripping, another way to cope was to focus on streamlining turnover time or Marx’s second moment of capital, circulation. From here, one of the main games toward the end of the old century and into the new would be transforming the means of communication and technologies of information. If capitalism had been so busy revolutionising production up until then such that it threatened to devour its own creator, it now appeared to be doing the same thing to its infrastructure of allocation. Sure, this late capitalist period has gone along with plenty of neoliberal self-celebrating but there may have been some fate hanging in the stars beyond the smoke and fireworks, something aside from financial crisis and climate change.


Visions of the twenty-fist century back in the 1970s involved flying cars and robot butlers. No one imagined that early in the next century there would not be so many flying cars or robot butlers but even street kids would walk around with mega-computers the size of smallish chocolate blocks in their pockets. These pocket mega-computers could furthermore be in touch with each other within at most a few buffering seconds at any distance across the planet. Some of the most profitable corporations, meanwhile, by the second decade of the twenty-first century would not be the manufacturers of spacecraft or teleportation machines but a seller of marketing information coming from a search engine, a social media platform and a gargantuan online market. Always in the background would be that fact of an internet stretching over every planetary latitude and longitude, with over four billion users every day and about 1.7 billion websites all in potential connection with each other. This would be like the single world market which so excited Marx back in the mid nineteenth century as the creator of world history, only with a difference; while much the internet oversees is certainly about buying and selling, unlike the world market, this is not essential to it. Although the internet happens to be largely a huge information market for the moment, it is also an information exchange as such.



ALLOCATION REVOLUTION?


How is this relevant to workers fighting capitalists or to parecon? In a dual power standoff or sometimes even during a serious shrinking of capitalist investment, workers often take over the running of vacated workplaces as a bit of a reflex, if a rational one. Not to say this is always easy but there is plenty of precedent for it and as useful as it might be to have a few left-wing loonies dotted through the operation, this is less about ideology than about class strategy, that is, about people doing what they know they should in their collective interest. Consciousness tends to move with it rather than before it. Really this is a case of capitalist allocation falling into contradiction with social production – which knows it needs to carry on regardless. If the process reaches a revolutionary scale, as it did early last century in many places and might again as the discord between allocation and production continues deepening along its neoliberal path, things could quickly reach an economic, political and probably military crossroads. Between recovered workplaces or whatever we call them at this point will likely be ad hoc, sort of friendly market relations with possibly a central kitty for infrastructure investment and funding new expropriations (like in Spain, 1936 say). However, such a situation is soon liable to demand greater overall coherence because of internal and external pressures (e.g., civil war, everyday struggle fatigue, worrying dips in production, competitive dysfunction, new consequential but stagnating class contradictions, speculative hoarding). Another way of putting this is that, at some point, social production needs a system of social allocation or becomes unstable. Options might be to

  1. Set up a central revolutionary authority to stabilise the situation and extend the revolutionary economic programme on workers’ behalf.

  2. Attempt something more organic and left-field to substitute for but also avoid the coordinatorist pitfalls of the first option.

If folks opt for two, or even a dicey combination of two and one, a critical issue will be what creative uses they can put the fibre optic skeleton capitalism leaves behind. Here in core countries, if the executives of Amazon, Google and Facebook ever had to make good their escape by throwing the keys to their server rooms at us, this could be slightly handy in making sure everyone gets enough to eat and then some in a land without bosses. An allocation system like parecon participatory planning, which flows as I said not from one down to all but from all to all, may not be just imaginable but also reasonably practical in this context. This is not just because the means would be lying around to do something crazy like participatory planning. If an aspirational coordinator class moved itself into place, pushing towards central rather than participatory planning despite the latter being possible, a decisive showdown within the revolution might be on the cards. The usurpers would be denying a vital potential in the matrix through which workers already live and to which they have a social, material and democratic entitlement. If we imagine allocation as a facet of production or, better still, a factor that now wants to be in harmony with it, a coordinator class obstacle here would pose a new revolutionary contradiction between productive force and social relations. Participatory planning for its part would lay out a new social relation to production and between people as an immediate pragmatic need.



EVERYTHING ELSE


In a certain fundamental sense, everything else in Parecon follows from here. Whatever the radical history behind each other parecon element (self-management, balanced job complexes and equitable remuneration) and however useful each may be along the road, participatory planning is the full historical premiss for making all general and keeping them so. Radicals have often framed post-capitalist society by talking about what would happen and the ways people would relate to each other at the point of production but have more been foggy when it comes to the way people would relate to the larger system of allocation. Parecon starts to properly fill out post-capitalist economics in this way. Under the conditions I have guessed at above, all the separate pieces would need to hold together.



SELF-MANAGEMENT


Call:

"People should have a say in decisions to the extent they are affected by those decisions. This proposed decision-making value treats everyone alike. But is it workable? Is it achievable? Is it compatible with other values we favor?"


Response:

Instead of the weapon of alien class interests, allocation is now a weapon against alien class interests. Hence, management at the level of production is no longer a function I sneeringly leave to others because I know the boss will only take whatever extra labour or care I give and use it to screw me over further anyway. Now management of production is something I want to be part of and do as best I can precisely to screw over the boss and bosses generally. On the positive side, bitter historical experience has taught my ancestors and I that self-management has to be hugely more efficient, rational and fulfilling. I need all those adjectives working in the collective interest at this moment.



BALANCED JOB COMPLEXES


Call:

"…even if a workplace wants to be democratic, if it retains a corporate division of labor wherein some people do overwhelmingly empowering work while others do overwhelmingly disempowering work, then the class division between the empowered and the disempowered employees will inevitably subvert everyone’s initially democratic or even self-managing desires. That is, even without owners present, and regardless of contrary hopes, the 20 percent coordinator class will dominate the 80 percent working class. Even with self-managing intentions, the trajectory of change will become out with the old boss and in with the new boss."


Response:

If I allow others or myself to think ‘special talents’ entitle a worker to a more empowering work allotment, I am ignoring that this is and always was a capitalist managerial irrationality denying my own and my fellows’ human potential. Right about now, with socialist allocation fighting desperately for a historical foothold, I need that human potential in full effect all around me. By jacking up about balanced job complexes, I am also undercutting my own status as a worker-self-manager by undermining self-management as a universal principle. This I cannot afford to do at this time, no less so if I work in a peripheral service industry or whatever.



EQUITABLE REMUNERATION


Call:

"We get income…for the duration, intensity, and onerousness of our socially-valued work. If we usefully work longer, harder, or in worse conditions than the social average, we earn more than the social average. If we usefully work less long, less hard, or in better conditions than the social average, we earn less than the social average. Can we implement that norm for remuneration? Would attaining that norm be viable and worthy?"


Response:

If I come at a participatory workers’ economy as another employer with whom I should bargain for the best deal I can get, I am not engaging with the new economy as a whole of which I am part. I am acting as if it is something outside me, despite my entire cause depending on it being strong. Thus, instead of alienated bargaining, I will expect and take remuneration for the duration, effort and onerousness of my socially useful labour, nothing else. If that means, for now, I receive only a slice of apple and half a glass of milk to go with my stockfeed, so be it. This is how I need everyone else to think under these new circumstances so this is how I think.



CONCLUSION


I am in no doubt there will be people who buck up against these principles. What matters are not so much the specific mechanisms within the system to foil such types but the level of hegemony workers can gain as a class and a consciousness over society and the economy. Call this dictatorship of the proletariat if you like. Indeed, honest comrades with State and Revolution tucked under their arms might call parecon a proletarian state (just as right libertarians will bleat that it is big government gone mad). Meanwhile, anarcho-syndicalists may claim it is an organisation without a state. Whatever. No doubt there are many other angles from which to characterise the same thing.


The point is that parecon fills a common hole in many stories. When Marx writes of “production by freely associated men” which is “regulated by them according to a settled plan” or an anarchist runs together a phrase like “a federation of autonomous communes” these are just words welding together the unitary and plural as a notional aspiration. Leaning on this aspiration becomes a kind of necessary fudge, a way of keeping faith with something you believe is imminent but does not yet have substance. We have one branch of the old workers movement with the credentials of having forebears who ran actual planned economies but who did so without any real danger of creating production by freely associated anyone or even self-management. We have another segment frowningly trying to hold on to the fairy tale of these things but without a genuine practical plan yet for implementing them. Then again, if someone actually starts talking in workable terms about how the plurality of self-managed production and the oneness of planned allocation can come together, now we are cooking. Here we have the inner unity of production and allocation striving to assert itself in defiance of but also thanks to a contradiction. Whatever critiques people more sophisticated than me might have of it, No Bosses faces up to the right historical problem. If folks use sophistry to resile from this problem, they are just circling around in a theoretical pool upstream from it. Not to mix my metaphors at all.


Many fellow workers in various industries I have worked in, blue collar and white, find socialism terrifying for one big reason: socialism seems to be a system where unity and conformity crush difference, inner life, randomness, material happiness and deeper human values. The mental reflex is towards a grey dystopia. This is not totally fair and reflects propaganda as well as reality. Few people know, for example, that the average life expectancy in Russia dropped by six years in the decade after the fall of the Soviet Union. As Albert himself points out, “comparing the USSR and Brazil [as a comparable non-socialist country] from 1917 on—the Soviet Union’s outcomes were superior in output, development, and many other indices”. You also think of Kristen Ghodsee’s work on women and sexuality under communist rule. The distinction needs to be clear-cut, though. Socialism has to be the material path of freedom. So far, we cannot affirm this without gulping. I believe the secret to solving the impasse between the fear of socialism and the desperate need for it is in humanising socialist allocation. If allocation is democratic, society can be too. If allocation is under human control, as parecon authentically envisions it, society can likewise be human.


Of course, we have a few immediate nasty rocks to get past (which scare me profoundly as a parent) in reaching such a proposition. There is the whole pre-emptive reaction/neo-fascist alter-ego thing going on in the world nowadays and then we have potential cold war between a US-led alliance and China. In the background, all the while, is the prospect of global ecological and social collapse. Worse, if the first takes hold, so will the second, which could well mean game-over for the third. It might seem a tad self-indulgent then to be fantasising about a world with no bosses at this point in history. On the other hand, our general predicament shouts at a new volume about just how important it could be to, sooner rather than later, start democratically re-orienting both production and allocation whilst squeezing off capitalist allocation boa-constrictor style wherever it withdraws or otherwise proves inadequate to production itself. This could be via a parecon approach or something else if people so choose. It is my strong suspicion, in the meantime, that a large reason too many fellow workers, especially those stuck in make-believe small businesses or amid crumbling steel-age ruins, have been falling right in recent times is that class struggle and its endgame of socialism feel out of reach as viable strategy. So, instead, some folks have been trying out the reactionary economic nationalism track, voting for Trump ‘on trade’ and so on. No good just telling people this way leads to disaster. We all need something else we can do.



FINAL NOTE


None of what I have said above aims to break Albert or Parecon’s stride in any way or even be an influence. I know how easy it is to feel under attack all the time – probably because you are – when trying to tell things as you see them. I am just attempting to integrate parecon with how I already think and, in a larger sense, just struggling to work all this stuff out. Part of the difference between myself and Albert might be that Marxism still has some blue-collar credibility here in Australia in a way it does not in the US. I don’t know enough about the US. Then again, looking through the predecessor texts Albert names, including the by likes of Mark Fisher, Herbert Marcuse and Anton Pannecoek, maybe my nerdy dialectics are not so completely out of place after all (as much as my own, slightly peculiar application might branch away from even these others).


Launching out of parecon and my thoughts here, I have some further themes I want to look into at some stage:

  • The longer history of the production/allocation dialectic

  • Stranded assets: the negative dialectic of production over allocation (just because I cannot resist unpicking everything I have just written).


NOTES


1 Marx, K. (Trans: Tim Delaney & Bob Schwartz), The German Ideology, Moscow, Progress publishers, 1968, p. 14

2 Albert, M., No Bosses, A New Economy for a Better World, Hampshire, UK, John Hunt Publishing, 2021, p. 112

3 Ibid, p. 145

4 Marx, K. (Trans: Martin Nicolaus), The Grundrisse, Penguin Books, 1973, pp. 442-443. Marx still clearly puts production at the centre of his critique but here he is starting to talk about production and circulation as if they are separate moments or forces within capitalism.

5 See Marx, K. (Trans. Samuel Moore & Edward Aveling), Capital, Volume I, Moscow, Progress Publishers, 1974, pp. 541-542

6 Albert, M., No Bosses, A New Economy for a Better World, Hampshire, UK, John Hunt Publishing, 2021,

p. 100

7 Ibid, p. 102

8Ibid, p. 106

9Ibid, p. 109

10 See Harvey, D., The Condition of Postmodernity: An Enquiry into the Origins of Cultural Change, Oxford, Blackwell Publishers, 1989, pp. 285-307.

11 Marx, K. (Trans: Tim Delaney & Bob Schwartz), The German Ideology, Moscow, Progress publishers, 1968, p. 30

12Ibid, p.23

13Ibid, p. 48

14Ibid, p. 27

15Marx, K. (Trans. Samuel Moore & Edward Aveling), Capital, Volume I, Moscow, Progress Publishers, 1974, p. 52.

16Albert, M., No Bosses, A New Economy for a Better World, Hampshire, UK, John Hunt Publishing, 2021, p. 101,

17 See for example Ghodsee, K., Why Women Have Better Sex Under Socialism, London, Vintage, 2019

18 Albert, M., No Bosses, A New Economy for a Better World, Hampshire, UK, John Hunt Publishing, 2021, p. 217