Workplace Democracy implies Economic Democracy
Journal of Social Philosophy
This article mounts a defense of economic democracy that piggybacks on arguments for workplace democracy. It is addressed to those republicans and egalitarians who are committed to workplace democracy. The article argues that those workplace democrats should, first, be opposed to private property, and, second, be committed to economic democracy, or—what amounts to the same thing—socialism. Workplace democracy is the idea that workers ought to possess control rights over the conditions of production in their places of work. Socialism is the idea that workers and citizens ought to possess control rights over the conditions of production in the economy as a whole. To be clear: I am not claiming that all republicans or democrats are socialists. All I am claiming is that republicans, democrats, and co‐travelers who affirm workplace democracy thereby commit themselves to socialism. Those workplace democrats cannot disembark the democratic train at workplace democracy; they must ride it to the very end, and that end is socialism. Call this the piggyback argument. The piggyback argument proceeds as follows. I begin by identifying the fundamental pro tanto normative principles that ground the main contemporary arguments for workplace democracy: republican (Section 1) and political‐egalitarian (Section 2).1 I then argue for two theses. First, that the full realization of these principles is undermined by the existence of private property in the means of production. This is the anti‐property thesis. Second, that avowal of workplace democracy on the basis of these principles commits those who avow them to economic democracy. This is the socialism thesis (Sections 3 and 5). I then rebut two influential objections to the piggyback argument. The first draws on an argument due to David Ellerman and Carole Pateman (Section 4) and the second on a time‐honored Keynesian stratagem in favor of private investment (Section 6). I conclude by considering some institutional implications, including the old model of worker control based on workers’ councils (Section 7).