We don’t need capitalism to have managerial or administrative duties

Christian Patterson
2019-11-27
Underground Mall

One argument I’ve seen against communism online revolves around arguing in favor of “managerial labor” – implying that under a communist system, that type of labor will no longer exist. A pithy expression of this argument is “someone has to write the checks!”.

This argument makes no sense… unless you think of capitalism on a micro-scale, in a hypothetical context. In the real world this argument doesn’t work, and even when put under scrutiny in the hypothetical world, it still doesn’t work.

Managerial labor is different than owning capital. In very small businesses, the owner is the manager, but there’s nothing necessary about owning capital to then do managerial duties, and there’s nothing necessary about being a manager that involves owning capital.

In most workplaces, the managers are wage employees themselves. The capitalists hire someone to hire someone to hire someone else to write the checks. In fact, capitalists want to hire people to do all the labor for them, which is why they became a capitalist to begin with. If a capitalist is doing managerial labor, it’s because they haven’t accumulated enough capital to no longer do it.

Let’s imagine that, by management someone means C-level executives like CEOs, rather than waged managers. CEOs are still doing some labor for a salary. Their salaried wage is compensating them for that labor. However, they do much less necessary labor than rank-and-file workers. They also get paid in stocks, and they’re obedient to the capitalist class, so they’re on the capitalist’s side. But most of them at least do some things for the company.

What communism wants to do is make those CEOs (or someone like them) still do the necessary labor required of a CEO. What would change is the private ownership, and consequent material distribution model that follows private ownership. CEO duties still exist without private ownership.

The point of becoming a capitalist is to profit off of the labor of others, whether you work or not. Just because management is a job duty designated to the capitalist class doesn’t mean that the labor performed managing has to do with the method of distributing wealth.

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