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Coordinatorism is an economic system in which control is held neither by people who own capital, nor by ordinary workers, but instead is held by an intervening class of coordinators, typically in the roles of managers, administrators, engineers, university intellectuals, doctors, lawyers. The coordinators carry out conceptual, administrative, and creative tasks, while ordinary workers carry out rote (uncreative, repetitive) tasks and do not participate in deciding what tasks they should carry out.

Although coordinatorism is commonly associated with socialism as was practised in Eastern European Communist states during the second half of the twentieth century, where the allocation of production and consumption tasks was highly centralised, it may also occur where allocation happens through the market. Some Western European states could be seen as having economies closer to coordinatorist economies - with markets - rather than truly capitalist economies, since those who own the capital depend on powerful networks of (elite) coordinators.

The use of the term coordinatorism helps clarify the fact that in implementations of socialism, which claims to give power to "the workers", only those few workers who become coordinators (if any) gained decision-making power. It separates the issue of real control from that of nominal ownership.

An economic vision which claims to genuinely give power to "the workers" to fully participate in conceptual, administrative, and creative tasks, in contrast to both capitalism and coordinatorism, is the participatory economics model.

criticisms of coordinatorism

From a capitalist perspective, coordinatorism violates private property rights, i.e. the rights of those who own vast amounts of capital to control production, consumption and allocation of goods, services and roles.

Moreover, economists of the Austrian school assert that, lacking a market pricing mechanism to inform their decisions, coordinators will invariably be unable to allocate resources efficiently. This claim is the foundation of the Austrian or neoclassical position in the economic calculation debate.

From a human rights perspective, coordinatorism can be considered to violate Article 21.1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights declared by the United Nations in 1948, since coordinatorist government violates the right of ordinary workers to participate in government, and also Article 23.1 of the same declaration, since free choice of employment is not possible if employees cannot participate in decisions about what work should be carried out, how it should be carried out and coordinated, etc.

groups opposed to coordinatorism (and capitalism)

Groups in the social justice, environmental rights and peace movements mostly consist of volunteers. Although many of these groups reject capitalism, either partially or totally, their attitude to coordinatorism is much more ambiguous. The NGO side of the spectrum tends to accept coordinatorism, with salaried coordinators who work on behalf of others rather than transferring their skills; while the more radical, anarchist side of the spectrum tends to reject any form of coordinatorism, at least in its rhetoric; most groups lie somewhere in between.

Practical methods for minimising coordinatorism include consensus decision making, radical transparency, rotation of facilitation roles and day-to-day work roles among individuals, and giving the least experienced in coordination skills full encouragement and time to learn these skills.

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