I am hoping that some of you has the knowledge of history (or contemporary examples) that I need to quell my fears...
In the hypothetical future, after we expropriate the factories and the farms and put them under collective self-management of the workers, will this initially cause a dangerous decline in production? Will it result in shortages of food and other essential commodities? Obviously, as our skills built up overtime, we would regain our productivity, but during the time it took for that to happen, I'm worried that such a level of discontent would spread that we would not be given a chance to get there.
This fear occurred to me recently because I was reading through some old articles I had saved in my files. One of these articles, from 2002, discussed the downside of land reform in Zimbabwe. Although only 5% of the population, white people in Zimbabwe owned most of the land and the best of it. As unjust as this arrangement was, these farms were highly productive. They relied on plenty of capital, advanced technology, and other sophisticated inputs to remain successful. In the 1990s, veterans of the previous decade's independence war began seizing the giant agricultural plantations. Many of the (almost always) white plantation owners fled the country to avoid being assaulted or murdered. The new owners lacked the technical expertise to manage farms, however, and agricultural production dropped way down. As a result, annual agricultural growth shifted from 2% in 1992 to negative 12% in 2002. The number of people in Zimbabwe facing starvation also jumped from 100,000 to 7.2 million.
My fear is that something similar would happen in a revolutionary situation where we collectivized the land and factories and placed them under worker self-management... and that the workers, although experienced in shop-floor production or agricultural techniques, will lack experience and know-how in the big-picture elements of managing (collectively) an entire factory or large farm... and that production will plummet, leading to shortages and disillusionment in the revolution itself, which will then leave us vulnerable to counter-revolution.
Part of me thinks I am being irrational for applying what happened in Zimbabwe to a hypothetical revolutionary future. After all, the people who expropriate the farms in Zimbabwe were not necessarily peasants with agricultural experience, they were veterans from the war of independence. (On the other hand, is is LIKELY that they were peasants, as well as veterans, because most of Zimbabweans are employed in agriculture.) Also, perhaps the decline in productivity wasn't so much due to a lack of knowledge (as the article suggests) as it was due to a lack of access to the capital it took to maintain production (fertilizers, etc.)?
(Note: I realize that the farms expropriated in Zimbabwe were not put under collective self-management by workers, but I still use this as an example, because it is a case of a sudden switch from the management of those with lots of experience to the management of those without any such experience.)
In any case, my fears remain, and I am hoping that some of you will know of other examples from history, or currently, that show that sudden switches to collective self-management do not lead to a drop in productivity?