Public Wealth Communism (or Free Enterprise Communism)
What if work was rewarded with increased control over what a community produced and all participants were allowed to consume with equal access? Those who worked would direct the productive forces of society and everyone would be free to consume as they needed. What if this was achieved without the direction of a strong central government? Public Wealth Communism aims to produce a society where production is under the control of those actually doing the work, where everyone’s needs are met, and where power is distributed in a way that resists corruption. It also attempts to do these things while sidestepping the Economic Calculation Problem that has plagued systems based on central planning.
In Public Wealth Communism a kickstarter like system would allow any citizen to propose projects where the asked for amount of Public Wealth would include compensation for those who are to perform the labor. The Public Wealth earned by the workers could only be used for funding productive ventures through the kickstarter system. Public Wealth could not be transferred directly from one worker to another and it could not be earned through investments — only active labor. The kickstarter system could be hosted as a distributed process outside of government to avoid central control and corruption.
Once an enterprise had been funded with sufficient Public Wealth, the Public Wealth could be exchanged amongst enterprises (which could be organized as workplace democracies) to coordinate their activities. This should sidestep the difficulty of the economic calculation problem. Whenever an item reaches its final point of consumption, Public Wealth would be allocated to the enterprise that distributed it. They could then use this Public Wealth to pay rent, utilities, compensation for their work, and purchasing new products and services — which would drive new production. Enterprises that are not able to cover rent, utilities and worker compensation would be forced to scale back, reorganize, go back to the kickstarter for additional funding, or cease operations.
In Public Wealth Communism competition is still present, but it would be a competition by the willing and able to outdo one another at improving the goods and services all participants have access to. To improve one’s material conditions, one would have to improve everyone’s access to goods and services by investing in other people’s projects and launching your own. In this way, participants must advance as a group.
Because each kickstarter campaign would only require a sufficient amount of Public Wealth, instead of a majority of votes from the community, Public Wealth Communism promotes a free enterprise environment where a plurality of visions are likely to flourish simultaneously. Seeing the world change based on one’s own designs seems to be an important part of living a life one feels is free and of consequence. The hope is that those who have proven their willingness and ability to produce for a community will be enabled to do so.
In one incarnation, all participants could receive a UBI of Public Wealth to ensure that everyone has some say in what is produced. Since Public Wealth can not be earned through investment, an explosion of wealth inequality should not occur as it does in a capitalist system. Interestingly, tasks that are considered undesirable could be incentived with large amounts of Public Wealth. This tends to not occur in a capitalist society since the poor, who are required to struggle for basic survival, will accept less than fair wages. Under Public Wealth Communism the trash collector may in some cases make as much Public Wealth as an engineer. These types of jobs might be eagerly taken by creatives and young people who are planning to someday fund their own production through the kickstarter system.
My preference is for Public Wealth Communism to be applied in kibbutzim style communes that are embedded within a marketplace. Interacting with the market should allow communes to access things they can’t make or extract from the land themselves. If they wish, communes could help fund and launch new Public Wealth Communes by offering loans and guidance. Once a new commune was operational all members of both communities could be allowed to consume products and services from each other on an equal access basis and Public Wealth could be exchanged by enterprises in the two groups in order to coordinate production. In this way, the system could grow with no central control and in a peaceful, voluntary-only way.
How do we stop overconsumption? How do we handle monetary policy? You can find more thoughts on Public Wealth Communism here.