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Coordinatorism

From Academic Kids

fr:coordonnateurismepl:koordynatoryzm Coordinatorism is an economic system in which control is held neither by people who own capital, nor by the workers, but instead is held by an intervening class of coordinators, typically in the roles of managers, administrators, engineers, university intellectuals, doctors, lawyers. The coordinators carry out conceptual and administrative tasks, and they also decide what tasks the ordinary workers should carry out.

Although coordinatorism is commonly associated with the economic practices of communist states during the twentieth century, where the allocation of production and consumption was highly centralised, it may also occur where allocation happens through the market.

The use of the term coordinatorism helps clarify the difference between several distinct economic systems that are sometimes described using the term "socialism". The name "socialism" can be set aside for systems which give control over the means of production to the workers themselves, while "coordinatorism" can be used for systems which give control over the means of production to managers and administrators, despite the fact that the workers (or someone else) nominally "own" those means of production. Thus, the issue of real control is separated from that of nominal ownership.

Contents

Criticisms of coordinatorism

From a capitalist perspective, coordinatorism violates private property rights, i.e. the rights of those who own vast amounts of capital to control production, consumption and allocation of goods, services and roles. This is of course not the case when the coordinators are employed inside a capitalist organisation by the (in capitalist terms) rightful owner of that organisation.

From a human rights perspective, coordinatorism can be considered to violate Article 21.1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the United Nations in 1948, since coordinatorist systems have typically violated the right of ordinary workers to participate in government, and also Article 23.1 of the same declaration, since free choice of employment is not possible if employees cannot participate in decisions about what work should be carried out, how it should be carried out and coordinated, etc.

From a socialist perspective, coordinatorism suffers from the same problems as capitalism, and fosters the same injustice, since a small group of powerful individuals controls the means of production and the allocation of resources, while the vast majority of the population (the workers) is not involved in the economic decision-making process. Coordinatorism may also lead to severe inequalities (for example, the special treatment and superior products received by Party members in the Soviet Union and elsewhere), which socialists strongly oppose.

From a Marxist and communist perspective, coordinatorism replaces one ruling class with another, by placing the coordinators in the same positions that were once occupied by the capitalists, and thus the exploitation of the workers remains the same and coordinatorism is viewed as being essentially identical to capitalism.

Groups opposed to coordinatorism (as well as capitalism)

Groups in the social justice, environmental rights and peace movements mostly consist of volunteers. Although many of these groups reject capitalism, either partially or totally, their attitude to coordinatorism is much more ambiguous. The NGO side of the spectrum tends to accept coordinatorism, with salaried coordinators who work on behalf of others rather than transferring their skills; while the more radical, anarchist side of the spectrum tends to reject any form of coordinatorism, at least in its rhetoric; most groups lie somewhere in between.

Practical methods for minimising coordinatorism include consensus decision making, radical transparency, rotation of facilitation roles and day-to-day work roles among individuals, and giving the least experienced in coordination skills full encouragement and time to learn these skills.

The radical economist Robin Hahnel and a co-founder of Z-Magazine, Michael Albert, have recently developed a new economic system which rejects both coordinatism and capitalism, and tries to give every person as much say in decisions as they are affected by them. They call it Participatory economics.

See also

Economic theories of the composition of the soviet-style societies: new class, state socialism, state capitalism, bureaucratic collectivism, degenerated workers state and deformed workers state.

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