Wolff, author of Democracy at Work: A Cure for Capitalism, suggests that the modes of production and consumption need to be democratized. Democracy needs to be extended into the place of labor, in the place of work, where most people spend the most of their time. Decisions in the workplace are made by a few, in a non-democratic way, and these decisions only work for those few people. Instead, work should be democratized such that decisions are made collectively. This would fix income disparities, environmental degradation, and enhance our achievement of the societal democratic ideal. The Mondragon model is a cooperative style of work, and Gar Alperovitz suggests, like Wolff, that cooperatives are the future and the solution. They produce growth, create jobs, and create a more even structure of work. Does this correct the class divide and stop exploitation of labor? Supposedly it would. Cooperatives are based on shared ownership, such that all workers are stakeholders. They are reattached to their labor, to production, not alienated. But is labor power still not a commodity and tied to an exchange value of “socially necessary labor time”? Do cooperative structures cure capitalism, heal it, instead of replace it? Does the structure of corporations reflect onto society at large? Is this not just a market-based solution? Are we not still capitalist? Are we still focused on growth? What does the role of the state become?
I am really supportive of cooperatives, and I think Wolff and Aperovitz are on the right track, yet they do not address all the political components and leave more radical critical thought behind for more pragmatic solutions appealing to contemporary economic struggles.