September 2010, Week 4


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Sat, 25 Sep 2010 15:13:49 -0400
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Mondragon Diaries:

Five Days Studying Cutting-Edge People and Tools for

Activist/writer Carl Davidson writes:

"After a short bus ride through the stone cobbled
streets of Arrasate-Mondragon and up the winding roads
of this humanly-scaled industrial town of Spain's
Basque country in a sunny fall morning, taking in the
birch and pine covered mountains, and the higher ones
with magnificent stony peaks, I raised an eyebrow at
the first part of Mikel's statement. The area was
breath-takingly beautiful, and if it wasn't paradise,
it came close enough. "I'm with a group of 25 social
activists on a study tour organized by the Praxis Peace
Project. Our focus is the Mondragon Cooperative
Corporation, a 50-year-old network of nearly 120
factories and agencies, involving nearly 100,000
workers in one way or another, and centered in the the
Basque Country but now spanning the globe. We're here
to study the history of these unique worker-owned
factories, how they work, why they have been
successful, and how they might be expanded in various
ways as instruments of social change."


"...As we left,many in our group were debating the pros
and cons ofglobal economic justice. I shared their concerns,
but I also saw something else. Here was the beginnings of
some of the most advanced productive forces in the
world, the means of both economies of abundance and the
means of clean and safe renewable energies and far
lighter ecological footprints. In any dynamic socialism
of the 21st century, these young people and their
creative efforts would be invaluable. I would want to
shape their boundaries, but I would not want to stifle
them or just send them off to work for the neoliberal
globalists. We needed them with us. As is the custom in
this part of the world, our main meal was a long mid-
day 'lunch', really a dinner. We were driven higher up
into the mountains on a winding road to an immense
building that looked like a blockhouse or small
fortress of stone. When was it built?, someone asked.
We checked the carvings, and translated. Around 1400 to
1500, before the time of Columbus. But now it was
updated into long stone-walled dining rooms, with a
conference center on the upper floors. Needless to say,
lunch was exquisite and Basque cuisine deserves its
reputation. In our last session for the afternoon,
Mikel gives us all a detailed technical talk about
cooperative structures, how they can vary, and
especially, how they are financed and governed. "People
are the core, not the capital. This is the main point,"
he starts off. "If capital has the power, then labor is
simply its tool. But if labor has the power, then
capital is subordinate. It becomes our tool."

Davidson recently returned from a tour and seminar
related to the the Mondragon Cooperative Corporation.
His five part report is available at:

Solidarity Net



Davidson lives in Raccoon Township, Aliquippa,
Pennsylvania. He is a public speaker, writer, political
activist, Solidarity Economy Field Organizer,
Webmaster, founder of the 3rd Wave Study Group and Co-
Chair of the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy
and Socialism.

Davidson is available to speak to labor, political and
political groups on his experience and observations.


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to people on the left that will help them to
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