Ask Prof Wolff: Consumer Co-ops vs. Worker Co-ops

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Patron of Democracy at Work asks: "You're known as an advocate of worker cooperatives. However, back in the 19th century, Friedrich Engels (as well as Eduard Bernstein, the father of Democratic Socialism) was very skeptical of worker cooperatives because of the power the workers at a company could still have over the general public to whom they were not responsible to, meaning they could still, for example, create a monopoly, jack up prices, and engage in protectionist tactics. Instead, Engels and Bernstein preferred consumer cooperatives, in which the public that patronized the business would be the ones to own it and the business would be responsible to them, thereby giving the public a say in the running of the company as well as the workers. What do you think about the advantages and disadvantages of the two systems and why do you think worker cooperatives are the superior arrangement?"

This is Professor Richard Wolff's video response.

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