Modular Company, Open Capital, Venture Communism

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Dmytri Kleiner (in dialogue with Jacques Mattheijand chris cook) :

Venture Communism, Open Capital and the Modular Company have several goals in common:


- self-organization as means of class struggle

Although the other two do not use polemic terminology, all three are presented as a means of class struggle; as a way of creating a better, more fair society and overcoming corporate rule by encouraging worker's to dump their job and self-organize.


- addressing the issue of social reproduction.

Each considers and offers a solution for how workers can self-organize, which from an economic point of view has three areas:

1- ownership. Who owns the self-organized enterprise, how are shares distributed.

2- capital formation. How is capital formed, where does it investment come from, how are resources that can only be acquired by money acquired?

3- pay, how is labour compensated? Or more economically, how is the material subsistence of people who provide labour input accounted for. (since many argue that "compensation" is the wrong concept to use).


In short, how do the systems deal with equity, debt and wages.

All three systems agree that capital is acquired by selling some sort of securities. Proceeds from selling these pay for the required capital and labour, so labour is paid either from these proceeds or by receiving these securities directly.

Jacques proposes the securities, called "Stakes" have share like properties, in other words they are equity-base securities.

In Open Capital, Chris proposes that these securities represent a claim on income, as in an "Income Trust" and this claim on income last only so long as their capital remains in use, in other words is not returned, Chris endorses a partnership structure (i.e. the UK LLP) so equity is equally held by all the partners, which include both those contributing labour as well as those contributing money or material assets.

I propose that Bonds are used, that the buyer of the bonds get back nothing more than their money back, plus interest and the that interest itself be set by dutch auction. An that Bond holders get no special claim on equity.

To me, and probably to the others, this is no small mater.

Jacques feels that a strong asset of the Stake model is that it is simple to understand and implement. Open Capital is weaker here, as it harder to understand. It took a very long personal conversation with Chris directly for me to understand it! And Venture Communism, with it's polemic style is obviously the weakest in this regard, challenging people's understanding of history and language, as well as political economics. However, the Bond system on it's own is simpler than Chris's model, with a clear distinction between owners and creditors, but more Complex than Jacques, in that it uses two instruments Bonds and Shares, instead of one, "Stakes."

Another advantage of an equity based model, such as Modular Companies is that it is less bankruptcy prone, since Stake holders own their weighted percentage share of the productive output, not any specific amount or even preset portion of income. Open Capital is somewhat weaker here, since if the profit margin falls to low, the enterprise may find it impossible to pay both the income claims and production costs, although this could be mitigated by agreement. Venture Communism is clearly the weakest here, since the enterprise must produce sufficient income to redeem the Bonds or default.

So the question must be asked: What advantages does separating the equity model from the financing model have in Open Capital and Venture Capitalism that justifies the added complexity, and what further advantage does the Bond model have over the Income Trust model that justifies the added risk."