|Democracy at Work is a project, begun in 2010, that aims to build a social movement. The movement’s goal is transition to a new society whose productive enterprises (offices, factories, and stores) will mostly be WSDE’s, a true economic democracy. The WSDEs would partner equally with similarly organized residential communities they interact with at the local, regional, and national levels (and hopefully international as well). That partnership would form the basis of genuine participatory democracy.
Utilizing media, from short video clips that go viral to our already well-established weekly and increasingly syndicated “Economic Update” radio program (WBAI, 99.5 FM, New York) and from podcasts to articles to blogs, this interactive website reaches and engages a fast growing audience.
Open to and interested in democracy at work, that audience also wants to move actively with beyond today’s dysfunctional economic and political systems while mindful of mistakes made by earlier efforts to go beyond capitalism. This interactive website will serve as the central location for these forms of media, a database of research and resources that support and strengthen the movement, and the open discussions shaping that movement as it grows. We begin with a definition of workers’ self-directed enterprises. In some ways, they are similar to co-ops, worker owned enterprises, and other organizations of production that reject the old, top-down, hierarchical capitalist model. Yet in crucial ways, workers’ self-directed enterprises are also unique.
Workers’ Self-Directed Enterprises (WSDE’s): WSDE’s are enterprises in which all the workers who collaborate to produce its outputs also serve together, collectively as its board of directors. Each worker in any WSDE thus has two job descriptions: (1) a particular task in the enterprise’s division of labor, and (2) full participation in the directorial decisions governing what, how and where to produce and how to use the enterprise’s surplus or profits.
Simply put, in place of a hierarchical, undemocratic, capitalist production organization giving those decisions exclusively to a small minority – major shareholders and the board of directors – WSDE’s institutionalize democracy at work as the economy’s central principle and society’s new foundation.
We believe that now is the time for a comprehensive new strategy and new movement for social change. We invite you to join with Democracy at Work to work toward those goals.
Dr. Richard Wolff