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Marxism and Workers' Self-Management

The Essential Tension

by David L. Prychitko

 

Prychitko offers a reinterpretation of Marx's vision of socialism by arguing that Marx's understanding of humankind led him to a utopian goal of decentralized socialism based on the total abolition of market exchange.

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Cover image for Marxism and Workers' Self-Management

June 1991

Praeger

Pages 176
Volumes 1
Size 6 1/8x9 1/4
Topics Economics/General
  • Hardcover

    978-0-313-27854-9

    $114.00

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    978-1-4408-1216-3

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This book comes to terms with Marxism and its relationship to workers' self-management. David L. Prychitko offers a reinterpretation of Marx's vision of socialism by arguing that Marx's understanding of the praxis-nature of humankind led him to a utopian goal of decentralized socialism based on the total abolition of market exchange. The full development of workers' self-management of industry was to be accompanied by comprehensive planning of the socially owned means of production. Prychitko takes modern economists to task for paying too little attention to the implications of Marx's praxis philosophy and to the organizational consequences of abolishing private ownership and the market process. This abolition leads inevitably, he argues, to the development of hierarchical structures of state domination and power. This tension between democratic decentralization--workers' self-management--and central economic planning--which tends to destroy meaningful self-management--can be traced back to Marx himself. The failure of state socialism in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union has not dissuaded those who wish to keep Marx alive from pushing workers' self-management as a feasible enterprise in a free market system.

Prychitko's volume does more than simply interpret the meaning of Marxism. It analyzes the tension between centralization and decentralization in contemporary theory and practice. The contemporary theory of self-managed socialism, put to much use in Yugoslavia, is critically assessed by Prychitko. After focusing on a case study of American barrel-making cooperatives that managed to compete well with traditional capitalist firms and survive an extraordinary degree of market competition, Prychitko concludes the book by speculating over the feasibility of worker-managed firms in a truly dynamic, rivalrous market setting. Marxism and Workers' Self-Management will be of great interest to scholars of Marx, political economy, social theory, and labor studies.

Table of Contents

PrefaceIntroductionMarx, Utopia, and the Radical Milieu of the Nineteenth CenturyThe Essential Tension: Praxis, Cooperation, and Comprehensive Planning in Marxian SocialismCooperation, Calculation, and Centralization: The Critique of Comprehensive PlanningThe Neoclassical Debate Over Incentives in the Self-Managed EnterpriseSelf-Management and the Knowledge Problem: Tensions in the Theory and Practice of Yugoslav SocialismWorker Cooperatives within a Market Process: Lessons from the Cooperage Cooperatives of Minneapolis, 1864-1929ConclusionBibliographyIndex

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