Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Participatory economics in Venezuela

As if there weren't already enough reasons for the Pat Robertsons of the world to hate Hugo Chavez, Venezuela has started to introduce 'participatory economics' to its factories (see also here and here). Workers are given a much larger role in making management decisions, a process that makes a lot of sense when you consider that it is the workers who actually see what is going on. I remember comments from assembly line workers making the Chevrolet Caprice, a car so ugly and impractical that the workers knew they would be laid off when no one bought it, obvious to them but apparently not obvious to GM management. Participatory economics scares the hell out of capitalists, as when you remove their supposed special talents at management it is difficult to see what they bring to the table, except for the capital they've stolen or inherited. The Venezuelan experiments appear to follow the Basque initiatives, most famously the Mondragon Cooperatives (an idea that has appeared even in California).