Would we still need managers in a Communist society? Probably, but it would be goodbye to workplace stress, bullying and people picking over your work for the sake of having something to do.

I have three managers at work – one is horrible, one is really nice and one is temperamental. When they are shouting because fruit has been wrongly arranged in a bowl, I like to imagine the world as envisaged in Communism and its Tactics by Sylvia Pankhurst:

“When wages have disappeared, when all are upon a basis of economic equality, when the position of manager, director, organiser, etc. brings no material advantage, the desire for it will be less widespread and less keen, and the danger of oppressive action by the management will be largely nullified.”

What a liberation that would be, when everyone is paid the same amount and no one is oppressed by managers who are trying to wring every last penny of profit out of people for the sake of their personal advancement. Its a messed-up world where the only way to get ahead is over the bodies of your fellow workers. Especially when you are all working for a company that doesn’t care about those it makes managers any more than it does the rest of us. They can be disposed of as easily as we can, especially in this time of economic crisis when profits are going down.

Sylvia Pankhurst’s analysis of the role of managers in a Communist society and the view for subordinates gets even better:

“Management imposed on unwilling subordinates will not be tolerated; where the organiser has chosen the assistants, the assistants will be free to leave, or change him; where the assistants choose the organiser, they will be free to change him.”

My workplace would be transformed! Imagine dismissing all the horrible managers and replacing them with intelligent, caring ones that we have chosen. It would be goodbye to workplace stress, bullying and people picking over your work for the sake of having something to do.

This does raise the question, however, of whether there would even be managers in a Communist society – isn’t the point that we are all equal under Communism? Maybe we wouldn’t call them managers, but in the face of all the work that would need doing we would need organisation and structure to get everything done. As Sylvia Pankhurst states: “Cooperation for the common good is necessary, but freedom, not domination is the goal.”

Personally, I don’t have a problem with following a ‘team-leader’ or whatever you want to call it, I like things to be done efficiently and for expertise to be used correctly. If no one was paid extra to be the team-leader or gained privileges or status from it, it would be a position people took up for the good of society.

For a glimpse at the scale of the work that would need to be done after a revolution, Louise Bryant’s Mirrors of Moscow is a good place to start:

“That dull beast, the public, will move only when life has become unbearable, only when the established order has been broken down so completely that ruins alone remain. Revolution does not come before ruin. And to build on ruins a new and fairer life is a task almost beyond the powers of men. So much of the exhausted energy of the nation must be consumed in re-establishing the mere fundamentals of life – food, shelter, clothing and security from fear – that little remains to attack the task of remoulding life in a shape that is closer to the hearts desire.”

Its not easy but it would be a million times better than what exists now. Anyway, it’s not like we aren’t used to work, and this would be work for ourselves rather than for mean managers and meagre wages. It would be purposeful work that we could take pride in, rebuilding a beautiful new world rather than rearranging bits of fruit in a smudged glass bowl.