workers councils and democracy?

Michael Perelman michael at
Sat Aug 19 09:10:43 MDT 2000

I tried to address this sort of question in a new book:

Transcending the Economy: On the Potential of Passionate Labor and the
Wastes of the Market (NY: St. Martin's Press).

Louis Proyect wrote:

> I want to remind Norman and other subscribers that the question of human
> nature is dealt with on the faq. I encourage him and others to
> review it.
> ====
> What about human nature?
> The people who argue that "you can’t change human nature" make the mistake
> of assuming that because man behaves in a certain way in capitalist
> society, therefore that’s the nature of human beings, and no other behavior
> is possible. They see that in capitalist society man is acquisitive, his
> motive is one of selfish greed and of getting ahead by any means, fair or
> foul. They conclude therefrom, that this is "natural" behavior for all
> human beings and that it is impossible to establish a society based on
> anything except a competitive struggle for private profit.
> The anthropologists say, however, that this is nonsense—and prove it by
> citing this, that, and the other society now in existence where man’s
> behavior isn’t anything like what it is under capitalism. And they are
> joined by the historians who say also that the argument is nonsense—and
> prove it by citing slave society and feudalism where man’s behavior wasn’t
> anything like what it is under capitalism.
> It is probably true that all human beings are born with the instinct of
> self-preservation and reproduction. Their need for food, clothing, shelter,
> and sexual love is basic. That much, it may be admitted, is "human nature."
> But the way they go about satisfying these desires is not necessarily the
> way that is common in capitalist society—it depends, rather, on the way
> suited to the particular culture they are born into. If the basic needs of
> man can be satisfied only by knocking the other fellow down, then we can
> assume that human beings will knock each other down; but if the basic needs
> of man can be better satisfied by cooperation, then it is also safe to
> assume that human beings will cooperate.
> Man’s self-interest is expressed in his desire for more and better food,
> clothing, and shelter, in his passion for security. When he learns that
> these needs cannot be satisfied for all under capitalism as well as they
> can under socialism, he will make the change.
> Huberman and Sweezy, "Introduction to Socialism," Monthly Review
> Louis Proyect
> Marxism mailing list:

Michael Perelman
Economics Department
California State University
Chico, CA 95929

Tel. 530-898-5321
E-Mail michael at

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