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Call for Proposals: First International Gathering on Self-Management

"The Workers’ Economy: Self-Management and the Distribution of Wealth"
International Institute for Self-Management, Frankfurt, Germany

Argentina Autonomista Project

Federation of Energy Workers of Argentina (FeTERA)

Please distribute widely...

Invitation to participate in…

“The Workers’ Economy:
Self-Management and the Distribution of Wealth”

First international gathering to debate and discuss self-management

Faculty of Philosophy and Letters, University of Buenos Aires

July 19-21, 2007

University of Buenos Aires
217 – 25 de Mayo Avenue
Autonomous City of Buenos Aires, Argentina


Please send a 250-word (max) abstract by May 15, 2007, or any other
correspondence to:
Correspondence in Spanish: fabierta@filo.uba.ar
Correspondence in English: UBA.selfmanagement@gmail.com


Workers’ struggles have reemerged with force in the last decade in
numerous forms—union-based grassroots struggles, self-managed
workspaces, rural movements, unemployed workers’ movements…. These
are all responses to the hegemony of neoliberal globalization
imposing itself throughout the world with absolutist pretensions
after the debacle of so-called “real socialism.”

At the same time, the old methods and strategies of struggle—class-
based parties and traditional unions, amongst others—have by now
shown themselves to be, at minimum, insufficient. Old debates and
ideological frameworks are now in crisis. The dominant discourses
used to describe the functioning of the capitalist world system can
no longer explain quickly enough (never mind predict) the changes
that have been occurring within this system over the past few
decades. At the same time, popular struggles have had to create new
paths without having a clear horizon in sight from which to map out a
final destiny. And the plethora of means ever available for
capitalism to respond to threats against it, as well as the sheer
force and relentlessness of its repressive power, can in myriad ways
overcome the popular sectors’ capacity for change…with tragic
consequences for these sectors.

Wavering between these situations and the theoretic-ideological
debates that attempt to define them, thousands of workers throughout
the world have been generating—through their actual practices—an
alternative course for steering life between inaction and resignation
on the one side and the fight for total political power on the other.
Subjected to the permanent crisis provoked by neoliberal capitalism,
a growing number of workers are playing an increasingly key role in
the re-creation and self-management of greater portions of the means
of production and the economy; this role is an immediate outcome of
their struggles and resistances.

Thus, worker recovered factories, diverse kinds of self-managed
microenterprises, rural cooperative settlements, new types of
unionized workers’ movements, networks of fair trade and fair work,
and numerous other kinds of self-managed organizations and forms of
struggle are part of a new, emerging, and alternative social
landscape. At core, these struggles are not only about managing
production from below, they are also about the (re)distribution of
wealth and the liberation of life itself from the clutches of global
capital. Sometimes they take on autonomous forms. In certain
situations they are fragmented. In other situations they form part of
powerful and popular political movements, larger social movements,
political parties, leftist fronts and coalitions, and even programs
that are at times stimulated by the State or, more directly, by a
government’s actual public polices. But regardless of the size and
shape of these worker-contoured social-political expressions, there
is no doubt that the alternative landscape they are creating is
putting back on the table the question of the legitimate role of
workers in the management of a society’s economy.

>From the Faculty of Philosophy and Letters at the University of
Buenos Aires and its Open Faculty Program (Programa Facultad Abierta)
and the Interdisciplinary Program in Scientific and Technological
Transference with Worker-Recovered Enterprises (Programa
Interdisciplinario de Transferencia Científico Tecnológica con
Empresas Recuperadas por sus Trabajadores), we invite workers,
activists, academics, the labour movement, and any other interested
individuals to this First International Gathering to engage in
discussions centred on the socialization of the economy through self-
management. We envision the gathering as a space to move beyond mere
academic debate, however. The discussion, after all, is essentially a
political one that should be moved forward only with the
participation of workers and their organizations.

Following are some of the questions that will most likely frame this
First International Gathering: What conclusions and lessons can we
take from these experiences of self-management? What connections do
these workers’ struggles have with more traditional social and
political struggles? How do they relate to, or weave themselves
within, the popular, grassroots-based governments that are
increasingly taking hold of power in Latin America? How can these
experiences of economic self-management survive within the hostile
markets of global capital? How can they generate a new business logic
of self-management within the framework of a suffocating system? Can
they survive without change to the actual economic system and without
transforming those very forms of organizations that they are
attempting to overcome? Are they isolated instances of resistance,
consequences of the very crisis of global capital, or do they show a
path toward a new way of organizing production within a more just
social system? Can workers already organized in unions once again
come to pressure capital and dispute capital’s power-base, or should
the struggle to overcome capital now be engaged from within the
actual spaces of production and be about the actual self-management
of production by workers? Will these struggles actually be used and
appropriated by capital in order to more efficiently accumulate capital?

>From Buenos Aires, Argentina, then, the co-organizers convene this
First International Gathering to debate and discuss self-management,
its possibilities and challenges.


“The Workers’ Economy: Self-Management and the Distribution of

The Open Faculty Program, Faculty of Philosophy and Letters,
University of Buenos Aires.
Center for Global Justice, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico (http://
International Institute for Self-Management, Frankfurt, Germany
Argentina Autonomista Project (http://www.autonomista.org)
Federation of Energy Workers of Argentina (FeTERA) (http://

Conference format:

Debate Roundtables:
Debate and discussion roundtables based on central themes,
interspersed with panels to guide the discussion.

A final synopsis of each roundtable will be realized and made
available as conference proceedings.

Opening and closing plenary sessions will be held.

The debates and discussions will be filmed and recorded for archival
and educational purposes in order to make available materials and
resources for research purposes, consulting purposes, and for
assisting current and future self-management projects.

Thematic Roundtables:
More specific roundtables and panels will be convened focusing on
particular themes of interest to participants.

Presentations of documents and already completed or ongoing work for

Those who forward their work to the gathering’s organizers with
enough lead-time will have their work published in a CD before the
conference to be available at the conference. Please forward
materials to include in the CD by April 30, 2007 to:

Preliminary conference schedule:
Thematic debates and project roundtables (first two days):
The capitalist economy today: Stages of global capitalism from the
perspective of popular movements.
The self-managed economy: Discussions concerning the experiences of
self-management in the era of global capitalism (recovered
enterprises, rural cooperatives, self-managed and solidarity
microenterprises, cooperative movements, alternative networks of
exchange, fair trade and fair work initiatives, etc.)
The challenges faced by popularly-based, grassroots-supported
governments regarding the social management of the economy and the
A critical look at the cooperative movement.
New challenges faced by union movements; unions; new types of
workers’ organizations and collectives; co-management and
participatory decision making.

Plenary sessions (last day)
The (re)distribution of wealth: The social economy or the
socialization of the economy? Suggestions being offered by workers’
The limits of self-management: The political possibilities and
challenges of a production regime under workers’ control.
Articulations, expressions, and experiences of the struggle for self-
management with regard to other political struggles and other social

Special roundtables:
The environment and workers’ self-management.
Experiments in self-management with regard to other social-political
struggles and social movements.
Work from the perspective of gender.
The role of the university and intellectuals in workers’ struggles.

Free admission, donations accepted:
The gathering is free for participants and audience members. We
invite donations for assisting the travel expenses of workers from
outside of the Buenos Aires area. For U.S. tax-deductible donations,
checks in U.S. dollars should be made payable to: Research Associates
Foundation. Please write “Workers' Economy Conference” in the
memo, and send it to:
9902 Crystal Court, Suite 107, BC-2323, Laredo, TX 78045. Donations
can also be made on-line at www.globaljusticecenter.org Please again
note Workers' Economy Conference.?

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