Replace Bosses' Economic Dictatorship With a Workers' Economic Democracy


reprinted from the New Unionist, July 1994, pages 1-2.

To Create a Good Society for America and the World:

Replace Bosses' Economic Dictatorship With a Workers' Economic Democracy

By Perry Sanders and Dianna Sitar-Sanders

Have you ever thought that you or someone else could do a fairer and better job than your immediate supervisor? With economic democracy you would have the right to elect your supervisor.

Have you ever thought that top management of the company you work for wasn't running things right for you? With economic democracy you would have the right to elect top management.

Have you ever thought that you weren' t being paid enough and top management was getting too much money? With economic democracy you and other workers would democratically decide on income levels.

Have you ever thought that the owners of the company you work for received too much money in profits? With economic democracy you and all other workers would collectively own the workplaces.

Have you ever thought that you'd like a shorter workweek and more vacation time? Economic democracy will make this, and more, a reality.

Have you ever thought that too much money was being spent on the military? Have you ever thought about a safer and cleaner environment? Have you ever wished for more and affordable mass transportation? Have you ever wished that homelessness could be ended? Have you ever thought that there is something radically wrong with the education system? Have you ever thought that everyone who can and wants to work should have good-paying and decent work available?

You can participate in solving all of these problems and more through national referendums and elected representatives -- with a workers' economic democracy.

With economic democracy, workers will elect management or representatives at all levels within a productive organization, industrial or service.

First, the management of each workplace will be elected by all who work in that workplace. The people elected will not be professional politicians, but workers doing the different jobs in the workplace, who are recognized as the most capable and knowledgeable about the work they do. Representatives will then be elected by the workers of all the workplaces of the same industry for example, transportation, locate in a local area, such as a city. The representatives will meet to plan and coordinate all the transportation services of the city. Representatives will then be elected to regional and national transportation councils to manage the transportation services at those levels.

The same representative system will be in place in each industry, organized by the product or service produced. Workers of each industry will also elect their representatives to the National Workplace Congress to coordinate the economic, social and environmental affairs of all workers throughout the country, in solidarity and harmony with workers worldwide.

In practice, economic democracy means the end of the capitalist market, whose only goal is to realize the highest profit through the maximum exploitation of the working class. Labor power will no longer be a commodity to be bought and sold in the marketplace. Workers will no longer be exploited. Workers will collectively own and run the workplaces. Workers will democratically control all of society.

Production will be based on the needs and wants of all working people, taking into account environmental protection, conservation of resources and the needs of workers of other countries. Goods and services will be distributed on the basis of the number of hours an individual works for the number of hours it takes to produce the product desired. This way the worker receives back in goods and services what he or she gives in labor, after necessary and fair deductions to provide for the young, the retired, the disabled and others who at one time or another will not be working.

Because we will be working and producing to meet our own needs and not for the profit of others, and because we will own and control the technology and use it to meet real human needs, we will be able to provide everyone a comfortable and secure livelihood working far less than we do now. The workweek will be reduced and vacation time increased for all workers.

To achieve this new system of economic democracy, it will be necessary for at least a majority of U.S. workers to be organized in one revolutionary-democratic union nationwide. This new union will enable the workers to take over the workplaces and establish their new elected management in place of the old bosses, once the will of the majority is expressed by the victory of the revolutionary party in the existing capitalist electoral process.

Viewed from the present, it may seem farfetched to call for organizing one big revolutionary-democratic union. After all, the bulk of existing unions are neither revolutionary nor democratic. Not only that, the current unions hardly even engage in militant class struggle the way 'they did during the Great Depression of the 1930s. Suffice to say that, while the standard of living of workers has been steadily declining for over two decades and continues to decline, these are not revolutionary times.

However, once the impending "Greatest" capitalist depression sets in, a revolutionary period will be upon us again. Workers who are now only disgusted about their sliding way of life, disenchanted with the existing union bureaucracy and "leadership," and alienated and cynical about Democrat and Republican politics, will suddenly become open and eager for revolutionary ideas and programs. Then it will be critically important to have a rock-solid, nationwide revolutionary-democratic political party.

This political party will promote the concept of organizing one big union of workers to take over the workplaces. The revolutionary slogan, "The Workplaces to the Workers," will spread like wildfire among workers!

Our workers' party will effect this not only through its regular press and organizing activities, but also by competing with the capitalist political parties in the capitalist electoral process. This will not only draw workers to vote for and elect our candidates but, more importantly, workers will embrace our revolutionary program of economic democracy as their own. Political action will spur workers to actively work to build one big union to take over and manage the workplaces.

Given the extremely violent history of the U.S. ruling class, it is highly unlikely that they will simply accept the democratic will of the majority at the ballot box. They will use whatever anti-democratic means they can to defeat the workers' revolution, including the military and violent fascist organizations.

The revolutionary party will therefore not only do the normal political work previously mentioned, but will also strive to win over the rank-and-file soldiers in the military -- who, after all, are mostly working class themselves -- and to win over the small-scale capitalists, the self-employed, and high-paid professional workers, the people who are the natural recruiting bases of fascist movements.

It may be that the ruling class won't wait for an election they know they will lose and will try to violently smash the workers' movement before the majority has the opportunity to express its will at the ballot box.

If the majority of workers are ready to vote for their revolutionary party, they'd certainly be ready to take over their workplaces and implement economic democracy. When the workers will be sinking into the quicksand of the capitalist depression, when the majority of workers have become revolutionary, when the ruling class is threatening anti-democratic violence-in a word, when the revolutionary time is ripe -- the party will call for "the workplaces to the workers now!"

Of course, we can't know exactly how the revolution will take place. But we do know that without organization -- both political and economic-it can never take place.

Perhaps you're saying, "OK, but what can I do now?" Learn more about the New Union Party -- then join it! The New Union Party represents our best prospect for building a revolutionary-democratic party nationwide. Actively work for this now!

We have tried to explain what the NUP's program of economic democracy is and how we can get it. Now we'd like to hear from you. Send your questions, comments and criticisms to the New Unionist. We'll print them and do our best to respond. This is the ongoing discussion we need to better inform our fellow workers and ourselves about the one program for real, grassroots, democratic change.