A goal for 2014: economic democracy

Democracy is a word of immense prestige and power. In the modern context it shapes the actions of even the most hardened autocrats. The Nazis held elections, as did the Soviets, and as do the North Koreans. Even those with complete contempt for popular rule see the rituals of democracy as important and helpful.

However, democracy presently has a very narrow scope in many countries. Voting every year or two is the tiny tip of a much large apparatus, most of which is controlled by individuals or powerful groups. Think about the things that depend on your regular vote. Then think of all the things that you do not influence in any way.

Political democracy seems absurd without economic democracy. Professor Richard Wolff in recent years has pushed for workers’ self-directed enterprises, stating the obvious fact that people spend more time at work than any other aspect of their lives. Voting for a senator is all well and good, but the most relevant decisions in people’s lives are made by bosses and executives.

So the goal should be for greater worker influence- going beyond collective bargaining and into collective management. Even well-organized sectors are being attacked by employers- with threats to move to another country, to lay off vast numbers of people. People’s jobs should not be used as a weapon in an economic war. The workers have a vested interest in successful business, and successful in their own communities.

A vast majority of people feel alienated because of the breadth and scale of manipulation and control that powerful people and groups have. It makes even the political rights that exist now feel meaningless, as politics is in a sea of rich people’s money. The more aspects of life where the common person’s voice is important and matters, the better. And the workplace is where the greatest change will come from.

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