Comparing Capitalism and Parecon

Comparing Capitalism & ParEcon Regarding Job Offerings

What kinds of jobs are available for people to hold? Many factors affect job offerings in an economy. This page compares Capitalism and Parecon for their job offerings.

Next Entry: Comparing Regarding Work Duration


From “Vendedora de Alcatraces”
by Diego Rivera


“From The Lake”
by Georgia O’Keeffe

Introducing Capitalist Job Offerings

In capitalism, in large firms (and eventually even in many smaller ones as well) a relative few jobs (correlated in number to the size and complexity of the workplace) have high quality of life and high empowerment implications for whoever does them. These jobs combine tasks which have better conditions and pace, and more engaging and safer responsibilities. The act of doing the tasks in these jobs accrues to the worker various skills, social connections, or knowledge that is critical to exerting influence over decisions, and, as well, affords them access to and responsibility for making decisions. People in these type jobs determine their own work options, largely, and often those of other folks as well. Examples are high level doctors and lawyers, managers, top engineers, and generally people who largely define the character of their own labors and also contour or even define the work lives or the economic situations and prospects of many people below. These are people doing mostly conceptual and often decision-oriented or design and policy determining work. There are also jobs that are very rote, boring, debilitating, deadening, and disempowering in the capitalist division of labor. Folks doing these jobs generally do what they are told. Think of assembly workers, cleaning people, waiters, those who in their work mostly dig, tunnel, carry, pull, push, combine, take apart, and most importantly, obey,

There are in the capitalist division of labor therefore broadly order givers with jobs that empower them and order takers with jobs that disempower them, though there is variation in each group as well, of course.

The order-giving class within the division of labor, or coordinator class, gains its legitimacy, generally, from educational credentials, and gains its power and authority from a monopoly of skills, knowledge, disposition, and access to decision-making levers, all essential to even having opinions, much less making decisions. (Of course, still higher in power and status are the owners, who need to no work.)

The order-taking class is the typical working class, doing its job but unable to influence outcomes for itself or certainly for anyone below, other than by banding together and winning gains through organized struggle. 

Introducing ParEcon Job Offerings

In a parecon, all jobs in the economy are balanced for empowerment effects, at the very least, and possibly also for quality of life implications. Tasks, in a parecon as in any economy, many of which go into any job, are diverse. Some are more empowering, some less, covering a wide range.

What differentiates parecon’s balanced job complexes from capitalism’s corporate division of labor is that in a parecon the array of tasks that compose any job have, in total, an average empowerment and quality of life impact on those doing them.

You do a job, I do another, and so and so does a third. We don’t the same thing. We each do a job that suits our training and inclinations. But each of us does, in our job, a mix of tasks, and the mix that you do, like the mix that I do, like the mix so and so does, has an average implication vis a vis empowerment and quality of life effects.

Moreover, this equilibrating is not just within firms. Yes, in any firm jobs are balanced so that everyone in that firm has equal empowerment conditions as everyone else for the work done in the firm. This is not only just, even more importantly it ensures that we all enter decision making sessions in the firm comparably equipped to participate. It is never the case that some who work in the firm consistently bring more knowledge and confidence and social skills induced by their labors, while others bring only exhaustion and debiliation induced by theirs. But the balancing crosses firms too. If you work in a place whose average job complex is better than the social average, or is worse than the social average, you offset this difference by labors outside your firm. This prevents there from being 20% conceptual firms whose employees administrate and rule 80% firms where there are only rote positions.

Evaluating Capitalist Job Offerings

Each large capitalist workplace inevitably has a large number of jobs people have responsibility for. Each job in turn combines a large number of tasks. To understand job offerings, we can ask about each such job its overall implications for quality of life and for empowerment of a worker doing it. What is the overall or combined impact of all the tasks each worker is responsible for? Capitalists claim that the coordinator/worker class division is desirable due to increasing economic output for any given level of input. This distinction is supposed to be efficient in utilizing the higher skills of some while not overtaxing the lower capacities of others. It is also supposed to provide incentives to self improvement — to get better work. In fact, of course, the capitalist division of labor ensures that the capabilities of about 80% of the workforce will be grossly underutilized, never even developed. The other 20% will have to orient much of its capacity to maintaining its dominant position against resistance.

Capitalists also claim/admit that the division is critical to eliciting work from the work force…the higher level workers — the coordinator class — are needed to oversee, administer, coerce, and punish deviations by those below, all on behalf of the owning class. Of course all this control, noted above, is required only because there are owners, and coordinators, seeking to retain domination — not because production entails it intrinsically.

In fact…the division of labor exists for control and aggrandisement purposes only. The outcome is a reduction in utilization of human capacities, on the one hand, and grotesque diminution in justice and dignity and enlargement of inequality, on the other hand.

Evaluating ParEcon Job Offerings

Parecon’s balanced job complexes ensure and create the necessary conditions for self management. They remove the prime cause of a coordinator working class distinction, with the former ruling the latter. They ensure that everyone entering the economy has every interest in developing their potentials in all directions they desire, and that society has an interest in facilitating such self development rather than dumbing down 80% of the population. Parecon’s balanced job complexes permit appropriate incentives (remuneration for effort/sacrifice) to operate effectively. They foster and permit solidarity and self management, are consistent with diversity in job offerings and in circumstances provided by any one job. They remove the loss in productivity that arises from worker reclacitrance and misdirection of energies to maintenance of unjust hierarchies.

If we value output of desirable products efficiently, equitable circumstances and conditions, self managed decision making, and classlessness, balanced job complexes make very good sense. If we don’t care about or even dislike these features and desire, instead, elite rule of any sort, balanced job complexes will strike us as horribly destructive.

 Next Entry: Comparing Regarding Work Duration  


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