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Abolishing Human Rentals in Favor of Workplace Democracy

  • Book
  • © 2021


  • Presents a modern version of neo-abolitionism which would also abolish the renting, hiring, employing, or leasing of other people
  • Escapes the one and a half centuries old dichotomy of private employment versus public employment
  • Explains through the intellectual history of three theories why the employer-employee relationship should be replaced by the system of workplace

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Table of contents (5 chapters)


About this book

This book argues for the abolition of the employment system in favor of workplace democracy and thus escapes the usual capitalism-versus-socialism binary choice by reframing the basic issue as the employment contract, not private property or a market economy. 

The author repositions the political and economic debate in the lineage of abolitionism - against the owning of other people - which in its modern version of neo-abolitionism would also abolish the renting, or hiring, employing, or leasing of other people.

The overall argument is based on three recovered theories, each one of which is sufficient to yield the neo-abolitionist conclusion. These three rights-based theories are developed throughout the book. The three theories are 1) inalienable rights theory, 2) the natural rights or labor theory of property, and 3) democratic theory as based on a democratic constitution that only delegates governance rights versus a non-democratic constitution that alienates governance rights. 

The book, therefore, is a must-read for everybody interested in a better understanding of the political economy, workplace democracy, rights-based theories, and the employment system. 

Authors and Affiliations

  • School of Social Sciences, University of Ljubljana, Ljubljana, Slovenia

    David Ellerman

About the author

David P. Ellerman is an Associate Researcher at the School of Social Science, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia, and a Gordon Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study, Stellenbosch, South Africa. In 2003 he retired to academia after 10 years at the World Bank where he was the economic advisor and speech-writer for the Chief Economist Joseph Stiglitz.  In his prior university teaching, Ellerman taught over a twenty-year period in the Boston area in five disciplines: economics, mathematics, computer science, operations research, and accounting. He was educated at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (USA), and at Boston University where he has two masters degrees, one in philosophy and one in economics, and a doctorate in mathematics. Ellerman has published many articles in scholarly journals, as well as several books in economics, logic, mathematics, physics, philosophy, and law.

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