Institute of Sociology
of the Federal Center of Theoretical and Applied Sociology
of the Russian Academy of Sciences

Chernysh . (2019) Is Workers Democracy a Possibility? Mir Rossii, vol. 28, no 2, pp. 8497 (in Russian). DOI: 10.17323

Chernysh . (2019) Is Workers Democracy a Possibility? Mir Rossii, vol. 28, no 2, pp. 8497 (in Russian). DOI: 10.17323/1811-038X-2019-28-2-84-97
ISSN 1811-038X
DOI 10.17323/1811-038X-2019-28-2-84-97

Posted on site: 23.01.20


Modern social science gave birth to two basic paradigms with different attitudes to worker self-government one elitist and one democratic. The first is based on Aristotles idea of the natural character of production hierarchies, an eternal and insurmountable division of society into the government and the governed. The second paradigm calls for the inclusion of workers into the process of management. Each of the paradigms has a long history and its own ideologists. Experiments in the implementation of democratic principles could not tip the balance in favor of either of the two paradigms. Though most of them failed in the short run, ultimately they provided clues for the industrial elites as to how to optimize production, keep workers employed in industries as citizens capable of participating in the political process, on the one side, and becoming consumers, on the other. The success or failure of these experiments was largely determined by the social and political context in which they were held and the ideological orientations of their architects. The early Russian experiments on worker self-government were held in conditions of the total centralization of production, the dominance of the planning system, which reduced the decision-making process on the shop-floor level to an absolute minimum. However, many of the forms of economic self-organization by workers remained in enterprises in the developed world. Cooperatives fully run by the workers themselves demonstrated a high level of economic effectiveness. The inclusion of workers into the management process is a necessary step to solve key problems of contemporary society, such as the problem of inequality