ECONOMIC DEMOCRACY: The Challenge of the 1980s by Martin & Derek Shearer Carnoy

ECONOMIC DEMOCRACY: The Challenge of the 1980s

Email this review


With inflation and unemployment jointly escalating in defiance of Keynesian precepts, there are new moves astir to achieve popular control of corporations. Carnoy (Stanford) and Shearer (UCLA) here present a summary of most of the efforts aiming at ""economic democracy,"" along with a tenative strategy for implementing and extending them. Acknowledging an American bias toward free enterprise, consumerism, and narrow-focused labor organizations, Carnoy and Shearer play down the extension of government ownership of enterprises, restricting that area to little more than public utilities; instead, they stress such tactics as democratizing investment through union pension funds, increasing worker participation in management, subjecting technological changes to considerations of worker control over the workplace, establishing producer cooperatives, etc.--along with limited government planning. In each case, they review the record in America and abroad; and overall they argue that these moves would not hurt productivity--indeed, they envision increases in productivity--though profits might suffer. Assessing the Swedish experience, the authors also argue for a national policy of public job creation instead of welfare payments, since the welfare approach both ignores structural change and provides no impetus to democratization. They also include a long-term strategy for fighting inflation, based on action at all levels of government combined with citizen activity; advocating price controls, for instance, they call for federal controls on the Fortune 500 corporate giants, together with state utility regulation and public interest advertising, city price commissions, and consumer price monitoring. The effort to comprehensively combine disparate movements for economic democracy while taking into consideration the proclivities of the American people is laudable, but the conceptual and political bedding-down of Ralph Nader and insurgent UAW workers is more problematic than the authors allow. Excessive enthusiasm aside, the best overview of this subject to date.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1980
Publisher: Sharpe--dist. by Pantheon