The ownership I am referring to relates to the means of production, the physical assets of businesses. A system where such a form of ownership dominates ought I think be called socialism, although this does require wresting the word back from the right and pseudo left for whom it means government meddling with capitalism. There are two main take home messages from the talk.
The first is that the conditions of advanced capitalism in places like Australia, USA and western Europe are vastly more conducive to the success of socialism than the backward conditions that prevailed in places where it had previously been attempted and failed. Transforming Czarist Russia, Manchu China and agrarian fascist eastern Europe into socialist societies was a big ask.
What makes the advanced conditions more conducive? I flag a number of things that make a big difference. (1) Work is generally approaching something people would want to do for its own sake and less like something you need to be forced to do. (2) Workers are more competent and better educated. (3) Democracy and individual liberty are fairly well entrenched.
These conditions will mean that eliminating private ownership and the profit motive will not lead to rule by bungling, corrupt and unaccountable bureaucrats. Instead they will allow us to transform the relations of production which is what socialism has to be about if it is to work. So workers will have the ability to take on increasingly interesting work; and the removal of existing ownership and authority barriers will enable an extensive system of formal and informal scrutiny that will keep workers and organizations on their toes.
The second message is that socialism would be more efficient. In the talk I only mention two of the reasons. Firstly, there is no financial crises or recessions because there is no capital market: investments are funded by grants from tax revenue. Secondly, there is a better decentralized price system with less distortions. Another important one I did not mention, although it was implicit, is the favourable impact on economizing and innovation from having a keen and committed workforce.
For more on this stuff also see The Economics of Social Ownership.
Fire away with your comments.