There are diverse and sometimes contradictory interpretations of what exactly a democratic economy means. When talking about economic democracy, the interpretations range from the demand for more opportunities for employees or trade unions to participate in capitalist companies. It has the vision of completely overcoming private ownership of the means of production.
Ticket to work program: Why the need for a democratic economy
Several reasons can be given for the need to democratize the economy. Democracy is imperfect and endangered as long as it is limited to institutional politics and excludes the economy. You can save it only by perfecting it by extending it to the economic sphere. How the economy is organized, who owns capital and who makes the key decisions, what is produced and who benefit from it are fundamental to all aspects of your life.
At present, however, the sphere commonly referred to as ‘the economy’ is largely eluded from political scrutiny. It is deemed to be governed by quasi-natural or mechanistic laws, or too complex or sensitive to be organized as ‘the Politics’. The result is that it is mostly a small elite who make economic decisions in their interests. A democratic economy requires democracy not to be limited to elective offices. The disproportionately strong opportunities for influence that arise for the ticket to work program businesses from the concentration of capital and decision-making processes about capital.
Ticket to work program: A matter of justice for economic democracy
Another line of argument for economic democracy expands the concept of justice. In addition to distributive, a democratic economy also strengthens the appropriative or appropriation justice. Appropriation means taking possession of labour and/or the products of one’s own or someone else’s labour. Who has the power to appropriate depends crucially on ownership of the means of production. Appropriate justice demands those who produce the surplus should themselves appropriate it.
For this, the workers themselves must own the means of production, either directly or through communal or other state ownership. Figuratively speaking, it is not enough that the baked bread is distributed fairly, because then the owner of the bakery would still have sole control of the production and the shaping of a large part of the lifetime of her employees. In addition, it is difficult to limit their influence, which in turn is likely to make fair distribution more difficult.
In reality, of course, the economy is not dominated by small businesses, but by large, often multinational corporations. You have to downsize and democratize their structure.