Current Debate

Cooperative and common ownership

Company buy-outs and transformation into cooperative enterprises are often presented as a step in the construction of commons, as the various stakeholders – workers and users – are involved in the process of preserving and developing a resource. However, even though the cooperative form departs from the traditional rules of capital, it still remains essentially private in nature, which leads to frequent capitalist drifts when the cooperative is successful. read more »

Self-management, Social Reappropriation and the Commons

I would like to start by examining the latter of these three notions, first exploring its meaning in the singular sense. The ‘common’ should be understood as a political principle whereby there is no shared accountability without co-participation in the same activity: simply being a member of a specific group (be it a family, a nation, a certain ethnicity, etc.) is not enough. It is this very principle that inspired the backlash against representative democracy seen amongst movements in recent history that have occupied squares (the Indignés movement as well as the Gezi Park and Taksim Square protests, to name but a few). read more »

The workers’ self-management alternative

Discussions about workers’ control and self-management which were once at the heart of the labour movement are now once again on the agenda, both among British activists and internationally. The network of communists who produce The Commune are the most determined advocates of self-management among the English and Welsh radical left, and have generally found a positive response.  read more »

Who Needs a Boss?

If you happen to be looking for your morning coffee near Golden Gate Park and the bright red storefront of the Arizmendi Bakery attracts your attention, congratulations. You have found what the readers of The San Francisco Bay Guardian, a local alt-weekly, deem the city’s best bakery. But it has another, less obvious, distinction. read more »

Towards a radical cooperativism against the crisis of imagination: Speech at the Athens Biennale 2015-2017

This session explored four institutions of human economy – alternative currencies, cooperativism, urban welfare and commons – and reflected on how these forms can become permanent and sustainable alternatives. read more »

Own The Change: Building Economic Democracy One Worker Co-op at a Time

The explosion of worker cooperatives in recent years has social justice organizers talking. Transitioning to a people-powered economy will require the work of many different social movements and worker co-ops have come to the center of the conversation due to their ability to address multiple issues at once. read more »

Post-Capitalist Imaginaries: The Case of Workers’ Collectives in Greece

This article focuses on the case of two workers’ collectives in Athens, Greece, and reflects on the transformative potential of entrepreneurial creation. I argue that these social and economic experiments are collective and essentially political. read more »

The Worker-Recovered Enterprises in Argentina: The Political and Socioeconomic Challenges of Self-Management

The worker-recovered enterprises, defined as productive business units abandoneby their owners and put into operation once again btheir workers under self-management, are a relatively new phenomenon i Argentina and, on the whole, in Latin America.  read more »

The Social Innovations of Autogestión in Argentina’s Worker-Recuperated Enterprises: Cooperatively Reorganizing Productive Life in Hard Times

Argentina’s  worker-recuperated enterprises emerged out of the unraveling of the country’s neoliberal experiment circa 1997. With traditional union tactics proving incapable of addressing workers’ immediate needs, some workers took matters into their own hands by occupying and reopening their bankrupted or failing firms as workers’ cooperatives under the auspices of autogestión (self-management).

Occupy, Resist, Produce – Officine Zero

Officine Zero, former RSI (Rail Service Italia) was dedicated to the maintenance and repair of sleeping cars. When in December 2011 Italian train services decided to stop the night train service and invest in fast track trains, RSI closed. Some 20 workers out of the almost 60 employees strong work force did not accept the closing and took up the struggle. They found support among the activists from the nearby social center, “Strike.” In February 2012 they occupied their work place. Together they started a laboratory on reconversion, organizing public assemblies attended by hundreds of people. read more »

Occupy, Resist, Produce – VIOME

VIOME is a building materials factory in Thessaloniki, Greece, which was abandoned by its owners at the peak of the Greek crisis, in 2011. Subsequently it was occupied by its workers, and has been producing natural detergents under workers' control since 2013. Despite being an emblematic and inspiring struggle, today VIOME is under imminent threat of eviction. read more »

When the Workers Become the Owners: Taking the Co-op Movement to the Next Level

There's a revolution taking place in the US workforce - but you may not have heard about it.

Around the country, workers are starting businesses that they democratically control and that financially benefit them. These businesses, called worker cooperatives, are owned and governed by the employees. Every worker is a member of the co-op, which gives them one share and one vote in the company's operations. read more »

A Deeper Look at the Mondragon Principles 2: Participatory Management

The next principle from Mondragon is that of Participatory Management. This seems like a no-brainer for worker co-operatives. What is the point of going through all the work of setting up a worker co-op if the workers don’t actually have a say in how the place is run? They would be better off in a unionized Employee Stock Ownership Program. read more »

Why Unions Are Going Into the Co-op Business

“Too often we have seen Wall Street hollow out companies by draining their cash and assets and hollow out communities by shedding jobs and shuttering plants,” said United Steelworkers (USW) President Leo Gerard in 2009. “We need a new business model that invests in workers and invests in communities.”

Gerard was announcing a formal partnership between his 1.2-million-member union and Mondragon, a cluster of cooperatives in the Basque region of Spain. read more »

Platform Cooperativism vs. the Sharing Economy

The backlash against unethical labor practices in the “collaborative sharing economy” has been overplayed. Recently, mainstream media started to rail against online labor brokerages like Taskrabbit and Uber because of an utter lack of concern for their workers. 

But just for one moment imagine that the algorithmic heart of any of these citadels of anti-unionism could be cloned and brought back to life under a different ownership model, with fair working conditions, as a humane alternative to the free market model. read more »

Sewer Syndicalism: Worker Self-Management in Public Services

In the current US political climate, the prospects of implementing a robust form of public service syndicalism will surely appear remote. Yet, the example of Britain suggests that at least measured steps in that direction might be politically feasible here. Particularly at the state and municipal levels, there may be opportunities to engage in “novel social and economic experiments” with worker-run public services. Through such experimentation, public services under worker control can serve as demonstration projects to promote workplace democracy and worker empowerment more broadly. read more »

The International Gatherings of “The Workers' Economy”

The 3rd and 4th of October, 2014, in the Textiles Pigüé Worker Cooperative, a recovered business in the town of the same name in the interior of the province of Buenos Aires, the First South American Regional Meeting on “The Worker Economy” was held, with the participation of more than two hundred workers, cooperators, and university students from Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Co read more »

The Causes of Alienation

 

Alienation results from a certain form of organisation of society. More concretely, only in a society which is based on commodity production and only under the specific economic and social circumstances of a market economy, can the objects which we project out of us when we produce acquire a socially oppressive existence oftheir own and be integrated in an economic and social mechanism which becomes oppressive and exploitative of human beings.