I'm of two minds about the name of this idea. First, I have to say I really love the name. A name with that much cognitive dissonance wrapped up in just two words brings joy to my heart. "Yeah, I'm a venture communist," you can tell your friends, and enjoy their slack-mouthed gawping. Describe in detail how you have acquired capital and land for the people's revolution, how your wealth has increased based on your labour-currency, how sharp business practices will lead to the worker's paradise.
On the other hand, there are existing groups that could be described as venture communists. The first one that comes to mind are party officials in the People's Republic of China. You know, People's Army officers who run karaoke bars or munitions plants for their own personal aggrandizement and profit. Nasty bastards, in other words. Perhaps a new name could be found to distinguish venture communism from Chinese free-market dictatorship.
On to a quick analysis! Here's venture communism in the words of Dmytri Kleiner, who apparently invented it:
Venture Communism is an investment model designed to be a form of revolutionary worker's struggle. The Venture Commune is a type of voluntary worker's association, designed to enclose the productivity of labour and enable the possibility of the collective accumulation of Land and Capital, which, in the endgame, will eventually allow the workers to buy the entire world from the Capitalists.
I have to give him points right off the bat for not calling for a violent revolution. That has never been particularly successful for leftists, at least as far as avoiding horrible tyranny is concerned. Here's how he sees it working.
A Venture Commune is a joint stock corporation, much like the Venture Capital Funds of the Capitalist class, however it has four distinct properties which transform it into an effective vehicle for revolutionary worker's struggle.
1 — A Share In The Venture Commune Can Only Be Acquired By Contributions Of Labour, and Not Property.
In other words only by working is ownership earned, not by contributing Land, Capital or even Money. Only Labour.
It is this contributed labour which represents the initial Investment capacity of the Commune.
The Commune Issues its own currency, based on the value of the labour pledges it has.
It then invests this currency into the private enterprises which it intends to purchase or fund, these Enterprises thus become owned by the Commune, in the same way that Enterprises which receive Venture Capital become owned by a Venture Capital Fund.
I assume that, at least in the early going, this new currency will have to be in the form of stock, or otherwise translated into "real world" dollars. After all, it's unlikely that the commune will be self-sufficient right off the bat. Workers will still need national currencies to pay rent, buy food and gas, etc. Indeed, Kleiner seems to acknowledge that a bond issue will be necessary in his second point.
2 — The Venture Commune's Return On Investment From Its Enterprises Is Derived From Rent and Not Income.
As condition of investment, the Enterprise agrees to not own its own
property, neither Land nor Capital, but rather to rent Land and Capital from the Commune.
The Commune, unlike a Venture Capital Fund, never takes a share of the income of the Enterprise nor of any of its workers.[But isn't rent a share of income?]
The Commune finances the acquisition of Land and Capital by issuing Bonds, and then Rents the Land and Capital to its Enterprises, or an Enterprise can sell whatever Land and Capital it acquires through other means to the Commune, and in turn Rent it.
In this way Property is always owned Mutually by all the members of the Commune, however all workers and the Enterprises that employ them retain the entire product of their labour.
The last two points of Kleiner's strategy involve rules for keeping communes from exploiting workers: anyone who works for a commune must be offered membership (although he says nothing about whether people could refuse, I assume so, and thereby freelance) and notes that members get one share and one vote each in the running of the commune.
Will it work? Hell if I know.
Let me say that there are fewer obvious flaws with this system than with many socialist schemes. Through the fact that there can be multiple enterprises under a commune, and presumably multiple communes as well, the system has some elements of decentralization. That's good, because a heavily centralized system has problems determining prices accurately. But is there a danger of this if one enterprise within a commune is set up to support another enterprise? Possibly.
The bigger problem is: who would invest their starting capital in something based only on labour? Where do you start accumulating the capital, both physical and human, you need to make something like this work? Starting very small, with existing co-operatives of half a dozen workers or so would probably be the way to go. But that would result in a very small amount of "labour pledges" and a correspondingly small amount of investment power. And I doubt Warren Buffet is going to shift any of his money towards venture communism any time soon.
Another problem is the fact that the current capitalist system does provide some security for workers at newly-formed ventures. The capitalist's borrowed money is on the line, and if the business fails, the workers are unemployed, but at least they have the money they were paid. (Unless they're, say, Russian miners, and haven't been paid in months.) If a venture commune fails, the labour-based currency its members have accumulated is worthless, and can't be exchanged for national currencies.
Still, I'd like to see someone try it. It might crash and burn spectacularly, or it might actually work, at least a little bit.
There seems to be no one currently trying this system out. There's little info on Kleiner available on the net, except for the fact that he appears to be something of a troll.