Dmytri Kleiner’s Venture Communism

Dmytri Kleiner‘s “venture communism” is a recent proposal for getting from here to there. You can download Dmytri’s manifesto here.

A key idea is a new kind of institution — the “venture commune” — an association of co-operatives that is the sole owner of all the assets of all constituent worker-owned firms.

All land, buildings, capital etc. are rented by the co-ops from the venture commune. All members of co-ops are automatically members of the commune. Hence, the means of production are communally owned.

In theory this institution solves the problem of the highly unequal distribution of capital between worker-owned firms in a market economy.

In addition, the venture commune democratically allocates funds to new worker-owned start-ups. The idea here is that the institutions of the venture commune will compete with the institutions of venture capitalism, and eventually crowd-out the latter.

I gave a half-hour talk on Dymtri’s ideas in Oxford, UK, which provides more details. You can listen to the audio here:

In that talk I refer to the input/output relations of the venture commune with the surrounding capitalist sector. This diagram summarises the main monetary flows:

venturecommunism

Venture communism is precisely the kind of institutional proposal that satisfies the requirement of a political economy of socialism that is immediately a new kind of political practice. For me, it is an highly instructive reference and starting point.

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5 comments

  1. Where do we begin? Could we detail that the instirute that it should be run by workers from the co-ops, selected by lottery, working democratically. Or is that too skeptical. A great big l bureaucracy is harsh. And pitch this to co-ops? Pitch the cooperative ways to anyone who is trying to go self employed, likely landing themselves In the current only option
    clear before, capitalist and investors. The dragon’s den.

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  2. Sorry that needs editing. It’s for people trying to start new productions landing themselves in the one option clearly in front of them. The dragon’s den. So we have to provide a better option. We have to do industry and endeavour better, still in a free not centrally planned way where when you hit on a winner you get the bounty of that. Not the busywork of capitalism

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  3. Hi William,

    Thanks for your comments!

    One of the appealing properties of Kleiner’s Venture Communism is that it directly attacks the reproduction process of capitalist social relations. The intent is to create new ventures that abolish class relations, and eventually crowd out the capitalist sector. In contrast, most traditional forms of working class organisation, both theoretically and empirically, fail to achieve this. For example, even the most militant forms of trade unionism only strike for higher wages, which may temporarily raise the living standards of a section of the working class, but gets not one inch closer to abolishing the wage system.

    Individuals who have new ideas, and found new enterprises, should definitely get their rewards. Since the co-ops are profit-sharing then they will. But founders should not have any claims upon the value created by the labour of others. Ideas are good. But execution of those ideas needs others’ help. (More could be said here, of course.)

    How precisely would the venture commune organise itself democratically? What forms of planning, if any, should it pursue? These are open questions.

    Best wishes,
    Ian.

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  4. Hi John

    Thanks for bringing the paper to my attention!

    I’d find it hard to use the term “exilic spaces” in my own writing, but I get the intent. Perhaps I am missing something, but the authors make an obvious point — that ordinary people continually experiment to escape capitalist social relations in different ways.

    I like the metaphor of “virtual machines” from software engineering practice in this context. For example, I can run Windows on Linux, or Linux on Windows (as virtual machines). At a certain level of complexity, a system may “implement” any other system “on top” of it. For example, modern computers can run all kinds of different programs. We can implement Turing Machines in the “physical” substrate of the computer game, Minecraft, and then run programs on that. Levels within levels.

    In theory, Kleiner’s venture commune is embedded within, and implemented upon, capitalist social relations, including its property and ownership relations. E.g., the commune will own buildings and other assets, and that ownership will ultimately be cashed out in the legal jurisdiction of a capitalist nation state. Within the commune, however, the ownership rules may be quite different, and completely transcend national boundaries. In this sense, the property relations of the venture commune would supervene “on top” of capitalism.

    If such a communal system finally crowded-out capitalist property relations, then the underlying capitalist system could be thrown away, since it would be superfluous.

    What’s my point? I think there’s lots of wiggle room for thinking about, and building, new kinds of institutions in the here and now. So, in that sense, there’s probably a lot more “exilic space” than people realise.

    Best wishes,
    -Ian.

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