Matt McCarten’s Herald column this week is a call for every working New Zealander to go and see Michael Moore’s Capitalism: A Love Story.
I haven’t managed to catch it yet, but judging by McCarten’s review Moore’s latest will be a must-see:
Some of the points he raises – such as workers having representation on boards of directors, and even workers owning these businesses as co-operatives – might seem a bit out there.
But it makes you think about how the economic system could be challenged and reformed. Why can’t workers, who produce the wealth of any business entity, have a say in management? After all, when bad business decisions are made, the workers have to carry the consequences. Shareholders may lose some of their money, but at least they are able to elect or sack the management team.
Why can’t workers? Corporates are top-down in terms of decision-making and profoundly undemocratic.
It is assumed this is a normal state of affairs and that there is no alternative. Moore offers real alternatives, and capitalists should be very afraid if his ideas catch on. I negotiate contract agreements for workers and am astounded by how afraid some employers are of their workers.
This week, a large employer refused to allow its workers to put up a notice board for union material. When governments try to stifle communication, we call it totalitarianism.
Corporate management, in many ways, is still in the feudal era where shareholders are kings, managers are lords and workers are peasants to be kept down and ignorant.
It’s good to see some public discussion about how profoundly undemocratic and authoritarian the capitalist workplace is, and what we can do to start democratising it.