After Capitalism

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Book by Schweickart ISBN: 0742513009

= Book: After Capitalism (New Critical Theory). By David Schweickart (Rowman & Littlefield, 2002)

review by Gavin Mendel-Gleason [1]:

"After Capitalism is probably the most useful and concrete proposal amongst the books which propose some form of Market Socialism. While many books have been published on the subject, few have the level of prescriptive detail, together with justifications that exists in this book. Further, in its favour, the proposal is nearly “scale free”. One can imagine immediately beginning its implementation starting with only one cooperative. The organs of finance could grow organically as a constellation of cooperatives came into being.

A number of my comrades are very much averse to Market Socialism in all its forms. I share the distrust of market forces taken out of the control of conscious human direction and think there are dangers of “capture” of important organs in such a scheme, especially the organs of finance. I think Yugoslavia has demonstrated well the dangers of relaxation of wage differential controls and the conscious redistribution of surplus in market socialism, which, after they were liberalised, eventually led to powerful centrifugal forces.

However, Schweickart presents his proposal as a “successor system”, that is, a means from which we can get from here, to something else progressive and workable. Whether this system is a cul de sac which will stifle further progress or not is a question that requires more debate. I’m of the opinion that such a system could in fact be a stepping stone, as once capital is in the hands of the public, the question of what would be an even better model of production and distribution is posed."


Pat Conaty:

"Just finished reading David Schweickhart’s book After Capitalism. It has been on my to read list for a couple of years. I think it is very good indeed.

The focus is of course as some of you will know a very detailed and comprehensive argument for economic democracy with a clearly set out case for worker ownership of essentially capital as a commons. He does not use this latter term but capital in this non-capitalist world he set out of work beyond wage labour and capital as we know it is essentially portrayed in a commons way. Workers are socially obliged as citizens to steward circulating and fixed capital as commonwealth.

He takes co-operative economics thinking and co-operative ideals to this level. That is why I find it a fascinating and compelling account of what such a word would look like. He does not eliminate markets and uses a decentralised network of public banks to provide the new banking infrastructure.

He also examines how we would shift from here to there. This analysis in respect to transition is realistic and allows for a continuity of small businesses and service sectors as one finds them at this level of business but for strong incentives for private firms to convert to worker ownerships. He also allows for some larger capitalist firms to continue under license and strict control and also for ongoing public sector services (which he feels could be opened up more to co-op provision but he has no awareness of social co-ops here - generally not on the radar of any thinkers in the USA yet so I would not hold this against him).

He argues so well for public banks to complement economic ownership of firms. He lives and works in Chicago and knows well Dan Swinney your friend who he thanks for reading of drafts of the book and commenting and guiding.

Capital is brought into common ownership in his model so it is very relevant to the commons theory.

The book is also very relevant to the concept of social markets. This is a powerful case for market socialism with lessons drawn from Mondragon, the Yugoslav worker co-ops where workers hired and fired managers for decades including in the public sector. He pushes co-ops towards market socialism in ways Robert Owen, Schumacher, JS Mil, Polanyil and others argued should be done. This is a book about co-op commonwealth and how to strategically secure it. So very relevant to Synergia, Mike G, John and Mike L.

Where it is weak is on the Land Question and the Money Question. He is silent on both topics. But in his arguments on how to take people out of markets and end wage labour he is absolutely sound.

Thus in the case Polanyi makes for taking people, money and land out of the market, his strength is on the first of these. But if you complement this with the Community Land Trust and Co-op Land Bank solutions for the land question, you can plug this gap. Also if the democratic money arguments that Ellen and Mary make so well plug the money question gap, then we could bring together a profound General Theory by utilising this book I think.

He has trained professionally as a mathematician, philosopher and economist (he draws on co-op economics, Marx and Keynes to bring together his model and argument)." (email, May 2017)

Book by Melman ISBN: 0679418598

= Book: After Capitalism: From Managerialism to Workplace Democracy. By Seymour Melman (New York: Knopf, 2001)

"If the future of global warfare promised us by the current “war on terror" is an economic imperative of capitalism, how can we stop it before it brings greater disasters upon us?

Synthesizing a life’s study of militarism, de-industrialization and workplace democracy, Seymour Melman offers some answers. Melman commands attention because his classic of 1974, The Permanent War Economy, has largely come to pass. His new magnum opus places in historical perspective worker self-management as a strong and growing current in workplace relations worldwide. Those sharing his enthusiasm for this trend will find ample evidence that their hopes for cooperative commonwealth are not pipe dreams.

This hard-headed book musters overlooked information for a powerful argument addressed as much to union workers as to workplace democracy activists. Perhaps most valuable is Melman’s tracing of capitalism’s evolution from a drive for profit into a drive for power over people. The current “warfare state" business/government partnership, with its imperative for world hegemony, culminates this shift. After Capitalism links militarism to the collapse of the industrial sector, marginalizing American workers. This disturbing imitation of the recent Russian experience deepens the basic alienation of workers from control over their lives. An emeritus Professor in Columbia University’s School of Engineering and Applied Science, Melman explains why workplace democracy is the only counter to these trends." (Review by [email protected]