Resistance to democracy at work
I have been listening to Economic Update for several years and appreciate the viewpoints this has given me. I have raised the issue of our small software company of 35 years becoming a coop, but nobody I have talked to here believes it is a remote possibility. I have also discussed it with others in my life as well, who reject it out of hand. The common feeling is that the workers don't want to and aren't capable of making business decisions. Unfortunately, I have strong reason to agree. I am also part of a 12 step program, a network of thousands of meetings around the world engaged in mutual aid among the members. Established on the basis of representative democracy, we have become dominated by the corporate office and they are influenced by corporate entities diametrically opposed to our goals. For instance, we have a strong policy of complete abstinence from all mind and mood altering drugs, but the drug treatment industry is moving to a drug replacement or medically assisted recovery model. Our corporate office is diluting our message of complete abstinence with these treatment modalities to sell our literature and promote our program thru these treatment facilities. As I said, we have been based on representative democracy from the start, but the lack of participation in that democracy has encouraged this corporate corruption of our program. In the average meeting of 30 members, less than 5 are likely to attend the 'group conscience' (business meeting) of that group. Less than half the groups send representatives to our Area Service Committees. These committee then send a representative to a Regional Service Committee, who then send a representative to the World Service Committee, which is dominated by The World Service Board, which includes strong representation from the World Service Office. Each level of service acts as a filter for more competitive egos, making each tier of service more challenging for the un-selfish people who really want to serve the individual and the greater whole. I believe this is the reason for the lack of participation at the grass roots. When the newcomer hears of the conflicts at service committees, they start building a resistance to contributing to this dysfunction. So, my questions are; do coops find that democracy is hard to establish and maintain? Do competitive individuals tend to rise to the top and defeat the good of the many? Are there procedures for preventing this? How can we push this movement forward when there is a general understanding (often unconscious) that democracy doesn't work? Finally, there is the koan from Robert Heinlein to contemplate; The proposal that one person is wiser than a million is as preposterous as the proposal that a million people are wiser than one person.