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This is the disconnect I wish I could show a lot of people. If it were a "Good owner" under Capitalism, then why wouldn't people democratically and voluntarily work with you as a cooperative? Conversely, if you're a bad owner of an otherwise viable enterprise, why can't we fire you, and keep the business operating for the benefit of everyone? Capitalism makes it hard to be like this small startup. It demands growth, and creates monopolies by buying up any competition that doesn't fold. When people are nostalgic for the "small businesses" that used to exist, they often don't realize that under Capitalism small businesses are subject to forces that push them towards either growth or bankruptcy. You can be nice or you can be a faceless corporation, but not both.


Owned a small business for some time and know other socialist small business owners. Cannot confirm this take. Yes Capitalism does push you to have growth and multiply but you don’t have to do that! You can make enough to happily live and that’s enough.


I've also owned and run a business, then later tried running as a co-op. It's a brutal way to make a living. I really truly wouldn't recommend for the faint of heart. I guess I'm glad that your experience hasn't been as rough, but I don't think the idea that "no one forced me to grow" isn't really the point. We're not saying here that individuals are coerced by other individuals. If you're well capitalized your business is less likely to fail, but still be more than half of business close in the first year or two. I'd call that a market force, regardless of what your individual experience was. The fate of most business is to fail. Of those that don't, the most common end is to be sold. And of the business sold, again a majority will be bought by their competitor. You can see it happen to whole industries. The end result of competition is monopoly. Again, it doesn't matter if no one comes to your house at night to extort you into doing so. This is simply the "trends and forces" model at work. Your mileage may vary.


I’m not saying anyone is individually forcing small businesses owners too but that people feel the capitalist pressure for growth. I just watched a ton a YouTubers burn out the past two years because they play the numbers and algorithm game. Constantly feeling like they aren’t doing enough. The system is set up to make you feel like a ‘failure’ if your not ‘succeeding’ at capitalism. I’ve been called a failure by capitalist locals just because I closed, after 13 years of business and choosing to close. I’ve been called a failure by other CEO type but still small business owners because I wasn’t making large enough profits in their opinion. Yes most do close in the first two years. I agree the system is set up for ultra capitalism so the goal is crush or consume. I’ve watched many people fail or quit at it for other reasons. It’s a hard thing to do. But the point is, you can be a socialist/leftist and have a small business! No matter what you do you will be participating in capitalism because that is the society we live in. I don’t see how small business wouldn’t be a thing under socialism. In fact I feel like they would thrive better.


I think we agree here. My comments are really about characterizing how people are subject to economic (and cultural) pressure under the current system. Regardless of what an individual chooses or believes they are unable to overcome the influence of the system as a whole. It doesn't mean you don't believe in socialism, or can't be a good person. It just means that you will face constant headwinds. Edit to add: closing down the co-op after a year and a half certainly FELT like a failure, although I have tried very hard to keep it in perspective.


I feel ya on the edit! But I think that is how we are trained to think and don’t allow for other terminology. Maybe we should change that 🤔


Both work completely fine under capitalism. The workers can buy out a company and make it a coop, choosing to keep the previous owner as a manager or not. In fact this is one of the ways that coops get formed.


"completely fine" is a pretty loaded description


I can change the sentence to "you can do both under capitalism" if you want.




Capitalism doesn't "work". If you feel it does, I invite you to reconsider your definition of what it means for a system to "work". The failure of more than half of all enterprises, the trend towards monopoly, and the emmiseration of workers do not appear in my definition.


To be a good manager you need to be a good person and treat them properly while balancing the responsibility of leading, supporting, guiding and developing others as necessary. Socialism is an economic theory that doesn't apply to human interactions. If you need a project done, you can do it by abusing your colleague to do it or motivating them in a kinder way. Socialism implies nice behaviour (putting people over profit) but it can also be abused (putting socialism over people). Just focus on being a good person in your relations with employees because to be a socialist manager would mean you'd probably need a socialist business/system to operate in.


This isn't really socialist related, but just being a good leader. A good leader will support their team, and involve them as equals in decisions, since oftentimes workers have extremely good input on how things should be run. I'm a boss myself at work, and I try to always involve people in the decision making process, since the more input I get before making a decision, the better decisions I can make. I just have the final responsibility if shit hits the fan.


I was a manager of an engineering department before I got a new job for multiple reasons (I now work as an engineer in the public sector and it feels much more natural for a socialist such as myself). I think there's some reasons it's possible to be a good manager with socialist principles, and there's some reasons it's not. ***Good*** A good manager is not one who tells their subordinates what to do. They should be there to give the team direction and explain priorities, and they should be there to uplift the team and get them the resources they need to do their job effectively. The team should democratically decide how best to get there (the best ideas would almost always come from the bottom of the "hierarchy", in my experience). A good manager is a spokeperson for their team, and is effectively a representative of them to get more resources for them. This requires a huge degree of communication and democracy, in order to know what the needs of the team are. The manager then needs to fight with upper management in order to get those resources. ***Bad*** Unfortunately, there's always a financial push from the top to do more work, while cutting costs. This is almost always going to be true. This was the part that I hated. My team members who reported to me were more valuable than I was, and provided far more value to the company than I did, but made far less money. This really bothered me, and I fought for them to make more but it was like yelling into the void. It made absolutely no difference, and was very defeating. There's an argument to be made that a "good" manager is one who exploits their employees the most effectively, in order to make the company more profits. That was something I could never be ok with and for that reason, I think there's always going to be some cognitive dissonance for a socialist in this position. The push and pull is pretty brutal to deal with, and I worked for a pretty great company, relatively speaking.


The systematic pressures of capitalism encourage terrible behaviour. For example, acting nice and using emotional manipulation while still being willing to use the workers as human shields when economic turmoil hits. Acting nice while sacrificing the workers to protect yourself is essential for the success of any small business. To be clear - I am not saying that is what is happening in your situation. I am saying that small business that does not do that is more likely to fail. The Owner actually being nice and considerate is a danger to small business.


I’ve been a manager and I can say it’s an extremely complicated question, but unfortunately my belief is that the answer is no. The best you could hope to be as a manager and a socialist is essentially a double agent, someone actively betraying their peers/superiors in the hierarchy and their own self interest to do what’s best for the working level. Relationally that is a very lonely and very difficult position to be in, and eventually I left to start being an regular worker again. I say it’s complex because when times are good, company is thriving, and the rest of your leadership above you is being somewhat reasonable, it can be a great thing; you were hopefully picked to manage because you are a natural leader, and now you can actually control some of the resources and bureaucracy for the better of your people. If you actually care about the work, the *potential* to do great things in this role is intoxicating. There’s this saying about shit shields vs shit funnels and a good manager shields their reports from bureaucratic shit falling from above. That’s how they sell it and that part is fine. But what will you do when things go bad structurally? Layoffs? Powerful people misbehaving? Stupid orders coming from above? Depending on your role now your JOB to carry their water, to force compliance from your reports with a smile, to assure them leadership is “doing their best”. Resist too much and you put not just yourself but all your reports at risk. Tell your reports the truth and you’ll get mixed reactions of respect (“thank you for your honesty”) but also disillusionment and depression. It’s one thing to complain to a peer that you hate the company, but to tell a subordinate can be extremely demoralizing to them and at the same time make your life hell. So you learn to keep quiet and do your job at the expense of your own mental health. It’s not fun. I burned out and had to take some time off before returning. Note that this is totally different from being a leader. Your friend sounds like a leader, not a manager. I try to occupy the same role in my current job, and have found it far more fulfilling, even if it pays a little less. I do have some FOMO, watching my peers climb the ladder to greater pay and recognition, but now as we enter the season of layoffs and difficult decisions, the reasons why I refused to take a management position are all the more clear. That said my experiences are in a big companies. I imagine it will be very different in a smaller, flatter hierarchy, especially if the owners of the company are reasonably good people and you are close with them. There perhaps you could start to operate more as a leader in a co-op, truly working side by side for the better of the business amongst a sea of other companies that don’t treat their people as well. I think that’s rare :) but it could happen and last long enough to lead a happy life as a socialist.


A manager/boss is like a cop, they can be good people or bad people but at the end of the day they have absolute authority with very little reprocussions, and they make money exploiting and oppressing you.


No. Dialectical Materialist historical materialist yes use the science of socialism as much as you can. but as for principles you'd be lucky to find any under capitalism let alone socialist principles. Here checkout [the cost of doing business](https://youtu.be/wCl33v5969M) under the market "ethics are a luxury" btw the video is also about conservative provocators its about half way threw that innuendo gets to how ethics and the market interact.


Two things worth considering here: 1. Whilst not applicable here, someone being a "manager" and not an owner is a worker just like yourself. Some managers are shitty, some are good. Some back their staff, some protect their employer. There isn't really one rule for this, and even a worker with no authority whatsoever can still kiss corporate ass. 2. The dichotomy between owners and workers kind of breaks apart at the lower levels. Realistically a small business owner is much closer to your average worker than they are to Elon Musk, even if they do both own businesses.


I work and manage a farm co-op. So yeah it’s totally possible


It sounds like you're asking how to be a good boss. That's good, but it's not socialist. If you ever own a business and employ people (i.e. pay them a wage for work done), then you're not following socialist principles. If at the end of the day you're still extracting value from their work, that's not socialist. Owning a company while following socialist values would mean co-owning the company with the workers. Or, start a company, but put a plan in place that after a certain amount of time ownership with transfer to all workers.


> If you ever own a business and employ people (i.e. pay them a wage for work done), then you're not following socialist principles This doesn't make any sense. The idea of socialist principles has nothing to do whatsoever with whether or not you own a business. Working for a capitalist does not follow socialist principles. Being unemployed does not follow socialist principles. Socialism is not an individualist moral framework - socialism is one of many different organizational forms of society. If you live in a capitalist society, you can only "be a socialist" in the sense of supporting the revolution. You cannot change how you make money to be "more socialist". It doesn't even make sense. The only things that intersect with "being a socialist" while also being a "capitalist subject" are being counter-revolutionary - meaning police, military industrial complex, or political operative for the bourgeoisie. > Owning a company while following socialist values would mean co-owning the company with the workers No, this is untrue. OWNING the company is a form of private property. Co-owning the company is a form of private property. One is no closer to "socialist values" through cooperative forms of ownership. There are plenty of a cooperatives under capitalism. They are capitalist corporations with capitalist incentives working in a capitalist society and subject to the logic of capitalism. > Or, start a company, but put a plan in place that after a certain amount of time ownership with transfer to all workers. That's called an ESOP, and it's still not socialism. "Socialist values", in so far as they exist, are: 1) bring about the revolution 2) solidarity with the working class 3) meeting the needs of all people If you look at these, you'll see something really uncomfortable - if you try to apply your logic of what it means to live like a socialist, then you have to come to the conclusion that being a worker in the West is ALSO not living socialist values because being a worker in the West means living off of the genocide of indigenous people and constantly exploiting the global majority. Don't fall for the moralizing trap. There is no way to "live like a socialist" under capitalism. You are a capitalist subject, you must exist within its logic. You have no responsibility to forgo profits, you only have a responsibility to bring about the revolution and meet the needs of those around you.


Such a great reply, thank you for taking the time to succinctly correct them.


Yes! I noticed in this group a lot of people ask these types of questions and of much of responses make people individually responsible therefore guilt shaming.


Correct, but you have to be careful to not phrase that as to make it seem a small business owner is guilty if they employ others. Even Marx considered in his texts the difference between the small burgeoiasie and the actual burgeoiasie. In a perfect system, or at least better system, in which everyone is given property of production, we should not condone exploitation of others work. However, in our current system, it is inevitable to employ others if you want to run a business. Cooperative system is good, but it only works in certain circumstances (within our system). Therefore, it is important to share knowledge with others, like you did, but also emphasize that the concept of "if you hire, you are exploiting" is a theoretical concept when applied to small business owners, but only actually practical when you apply it to large business owners. Does that make sense? Edit: autocorrect changed Marx to Mark. Damn Zuckerberg lizard is onto me lol


So it’s ok to be a capitalist now? It’s the same with landlords then? You just sound like a liberal




Not at all true. You can have socialist ideals while being in the exploiter class. You can exploit your workers while giving a portion of your revenue to socialist parties and the movement. Your class placement doesn't really matter if that was the case Friedrich Engels wouldn't be a socialist.


Reread what I said. The \*act\* of owning a business and employing people isn't socialist. That act doesn't preclude you having socialist ideals.


Yes. Because although we could go into the theory about how your role works in this system, at the end of the day having a boss/manager on the side of the workers is a blessing. You may not be able to do much, but every little thing helps. Of course, also consider other things. It's your life after all.


I'm a manager and a socialist. I'm not a business owner. I encourage socialist thought in my workers I train, and have a hammer and sickle in my email signature to encourage discourse along with my pronouns. I'm openly a union member and encourage it. Managers are workers, unless they decide to act as Where's for their boss, but I do not betray my principles, it's very easy to do.


You can't be a good boss/manager WITHOUT socialist principles.


It sounds like they're very accommodating to you because you're the one that actually runs the place. Welcome to capitalism! You run the place? Keep running the place! Try to make it the best place for your coworkers.


I am one. A manager and a socialist at heart. I treat everyone working in my teams with respect. They are the people who keep the company running and that deserves recognition. All I want and have to achieve is that they give their best. If that means 120% on a particular day, fine. if it means 50% on other days, fine. We are all humans trying to get by. No reason to be anything but kind. I can elaborate here, but yes, you can be a socialist and a manager.


The manager in questions doesn’t necessarily fit socialism as I understand the definition. But socialism is often predicated as a more humanistic form of economic relationships and many forms are less hierarchical which is what this manager/owner seems to subscribe to. There are many theories of management. The one I am familiar with posits two styles, theory x and theory y. Theory x is more hierarchical and is less humanistic, more of a punishment oriented approach to motivation. And theory y is less hierarchical, more democratically inclusive, humanistic, and encouraging approach to motivation. You can have socialism with theory x or theory y management styles. The manager in question seems to be a good theory y manager at least in the ways described.


Just going to throw this out there. Actually working towards building worker power and being part of a socialist/communist organization is more important than structuring your personal life according to your values. How you treat people in your daily life should absolutely reflect your values, and there are lines you shouldn’t cross/institutions you shouldn’t work for. You also have an obligation to be aware of and conscientious about any power you have over oppressed/marginalized people in your communities. Also be aware that if you end up well off financially you may be tempted to backslide on your values because you could then be acting against your own class interests by agitating for socialism. But lifestylism doesn’t make you a more effective socialist organizer. You don’t need to reject a promotion just to push away a little guilt, that accomplishes nothing. We will not achieve liberation by all forming worker coops, making off grid eco communes, and buying free trade clothes. Feel free to get solar panels, drive an electric car, or make shopping/eating decisions in line with your conscience, or even join a worker cooperative. You have to make a living somehow. On the Flip-side you are allowed to accept a promotion at work and live relatively comfortably. Just realize these are all personal choices and exist independently of any political work you are doing. Again, if your conscience tells you to refuse a promotion or whatever, then you can do it as long as you aren’t individualizing your responsibilities in place of collective action. I would much rather someone have a job that wouldn’t exist under socialist but puts in collective work, than someone who live in an individually ethical way that reduces their personal harm but performs no other political work.


You can be a good boss and manager for sure and you should always strive to be one. Because all human beings deserve to be equal. That’s the bottom line. But to apply socialist principles to a company now that’s an enormous challenge and a totally different issue. I am not saying it’s impossible but enormous challenge. First and foremost, what is a company for in our current capitalistic system? I guess even an elementary school kid can answer, “profit”. To produce anything, it will require a certain amount of “exploitation” of time. Be it you exploit others’ time or your own. (I am using the word “exploitation” very un-academically here). But the bottom line is, you need to extract a certain amount of labour and labour time in order to produce things of value then selling these “things” to make money(profit). This is where the contradiction happens. After you used the labour of your own and your employees and then now you sell the final product. After getting the money, how do you distribute it? On what principle do you share this money between every who has put in the work? The definition of “what’s fair” here become the guiding principle of distribution. Is it base on the amount of hour? Or the skill required? Or who took the most risk? Any one of these that you use as the “standard” will yield vastly different distribution method and will result in a very different income for every individual that are involved. In one standard the workers might be getting a lot more. In another, it is the “risk taker” that gets the lion’s share. So now, let’s apply socialist principle, would you be a boss that distribute your profit very differently than other bosses in our capitalist system?


I'm a small business owner and I'm trying to balance my socialist principles with that fact. Unfortunately I agree with most people on this sub, owning a business basically makes it impossible to be a real deal socialist. I just try my best to keep the business healthy so me and my colleagues can earn a living wage. I've got a chronic disease (like $7000 a month for just one of my medications if I didn't have insurance) so I'm too afraid to change the business to a co-op as there's no safety net for me if things go wrong. I've only owned the business for just over a year so it's definitely a possibility that I turn it into a co op in the future if it seems viable. The sad reality is sometimes you just can't afford to make that kind of sacrifice when living in a capitalist hellscape.


I think you can, not everyone thinks that. I don't like rigid hierarchies in my operating structures as it is very inefficient and leads to stupid decisions and unaccountability at the leadership level. Owning more stock or having a bigger title does not make a stupid decision less stupid once committed. Having a dollop of "socialist" in your approach just makes you a better leader, I think the problem happens more when people get a one size fits all approach to leadership and their working with employees is where stuff really goes off the rails.


Do you get paid equally? Do you have equal rights and net worth in relation to the business you build together? In a way are you not participating in a different take on exploitation, in which you work as hard as a co-owner business partner while only earning the living of an underling?


> I'm trying to figure out myself, if I ever have my own business, how to treat the people I'm working with. The only ethical way to do this is to arrange it as a co-op. Doing so now, and it's not easy, especially in areas that require large amounts of capital. Ironically being a socialist often makes me a better capitalist manager - since you understand what exploitation is, you often realize it's better for the profits to let workers think they're free, and that power drama and temper tantrums can hurt the profits you're exploiting from workers.


Sure you can. If you allow your employees to own the business. But then at that point I don’t think anyone would consider you special or “the boss” because you would be just as much in control of the business as they are. You would also need to allow them to keep every cent they take from a customer (i.e. none of the profits made would be taken from them). Of course they would all need to contribute part of that towards running the business, but none of it would go to a “boss” figure in the first place. Now there’s that; workers owning the business they give their labor to, and there’s being a decent human being in a capitalist system. If your workers are paid enough to thrive, not just survive, and are given adequate health coverage, sick leave, and paid vacation time, while you don’t make a huge amount of money more than they do, that would be about the closest to “socialist principles” as you can get being a capitalist business owner. It’s really all about stealing the capital workers produce. If you’re doing that, then you are in the wrong. If you are profiting off of others labor, that’s just plain capitalism.