Main

November 30, 2007

New Artist Book on Alternative Economies

“Alternative Economics, Alternative Societies” book

The exhibition project “Alternative Economics, Alternative Societies” by Oliver Ressler focuses on diverse concepts and models for alternative economies and societies, which all share a rejection of the capitalist system of rule.

The book “Alternative Economics, Alternative Societies” is a collaborative effort of the artist and Wyspa Insitute of Art (www.wyspa.art.pl), following the presentation in the “Health and Safety” exhibition at Wyspa Institute of Art, Gdansk, 2004 and shows the current status of the ongoing project.
It includes an introduction by Aneta Szylak, the new essay “Questions from an Artist Who Speaks (and Reads, Writes, Thinks, and Acts)“ / “Pytania od artysty który przemawia (a także czyta, pisze myśli i działa)“ by Gregory Sholette, and the following texts, which are based on transcriptions of video interviews that were carried out by Oliver Ressler for the project between 2003 and 2007:

Chaia Heller: Libertarian Municipalism / Komunalizm Libertariański
Takis Fotopoulos: Inclusive Democracy / Demokracja inkluzywna
Michael Albert: Participatory Economics / Ekonomia uczestnicząca
Heinz Dieterich: The Socialism of the 21st Century / Socjalizm 21. wieku
Paul Cockshott: Towards a New Socialism / W kierunku Nowego Socjalizmu
p.m.: bolo’bolo
Marge Piercy: Utopian Feminist Visions / Utopijne idee feministyczne
Ralf Burnicki: Anarchist Consensual Democracy / Anarchistyczna Demokracja Konsensualna
Maria Mies: The Subsistence Perspective / Perspektywa naturalna
Nancy Folbre: Caring Labor / Praca opiekuńcza
Christoph Spehr: Free Cooperation / Wolna Współpraca
John Holloway: Change the World Without Taking Power / Zmieniaj świat bez przejmowania władzy
The Zapatista Good Government / Dobry Rząd Zapatystów
Todor Kuljic: Yugoslavia’s Workers Self-Management / Samozarządzanie robotników w Jugosławii
Salomé Moltó: Workers’ Collectives during the Spanish Revolution / Kolektywy robotnicze podczas rewolucji hiszpańskiej
Alain Dalotel: The Paris Commune 1871 / Komuna Paryska 1871 roku


The book is published under Creative Commons license.

Editors: Aneta Szylak (Wyspa Insitute of Art) & Oliver Ressler, 240 pages (20 pages in color), languages: English and Polish, ISBN 978-83-924665-0-5, EUR 18,- (+ EUR 7,35 postage fees)

Purchase inquiries: roma.piotrowska@wyspa.art.pl or oliver.ressler@chello.at (only Euro-zone)

April 6, 2007

Baby Sitting/Child Care Co-operatives

I ran into a friend of mine from college a few weeks ago. She told me about the child care cooperative she belongs to in Brooklyn. It's really simple. There are several families that share in child care. If one member needs a baby sitter, they send out an email to the other families on the list and then someone volunteers. They never have to pay for babysitting and the children in the network get to play together often, it's pretty awesome.

Here are some articles about this idea. It seems there are some formal ways to do it but it seems like the informal way works just as well.
http://web.uvic.ca/bcics/research/social/Child_Care/what.htm
http://parents.berkeley.edu/recommend/groups/coop.html
www.associatedcontent.com/article/160741/how_to_plan_and_start_a_babysitting.html
http://www.babycenter.com/refcap/baby/babychildcare/51.html

April 3, 2007

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
(Autogestión)

Faculty of Philosophy and Letters, University of Buenos Aires

Dates:
July 19-21, 2007

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

CALL FOR PAPERS AND PROPOSALS FOR: COMPLETED OR ONGOING PROJECT
PRESENTATIONS, PAPERS, ROUNDTABLE THEMES, DEBATE AND DISCUSSION THEMES

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
Wealth”

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

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:
Presentations of documents and already completed or ongoing work for
discussion.

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:
fabierta@filo.uba.ar

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
State.
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’
movements.
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
movements.

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.?

September 24, 2006

Worker Owned and Managed

samaras_postcard_rainbow_fr.gif

Rainbow Grocery, San Francisco, CA

February 20, 2006

Worker-owned Co-operatives

Worker owned cooperatives are different than consumer coops (for example many food coops hire employees who work for the member-owners and have less of a say in what happens). In worker owned cooperatives, the work force collectively owns the company and decisions regarding the enterprise including wages and other benefits are decided through a democratic process not through the arbitrary decisions of a boss. Workers at Employee-owned businesses like United Airlines receive more of the share of profit than in traditional business structures but they still have bosses:(

The Sweat Shop Watch website likes to support worker cooperatives because, "we want the goods we buy to be made by people working under democratic and sustainable conditions, and we want to work in enterprises that themselves are democratic and sustainable...we see that such co-ops turn the workforce into owners eliminating "the boss;" they democratize control of the workplace so no one feels like a cog in a wheel. Because the property of the company is owned collectively by the workers and no one else, no absentee owner makes a buck off our labor."

Here are some resources on the Web to know more about worker- owned cooperatives. In the worker-owned links entry, you can find worker-owned coops to support.

Essays on Worker Cooperatives

The Mondragon Cooperative System is a large scale cooperative system in Spain that is often looked to as a model.

Article about worker ownership

A Links Website about Worker Owned and Operated organizations

Article on Design Collectives

Article on Worker Co-ops in The Twin Cities

Forum for Worker Cooperatives

February 19, 2006

Video with Bill Gessner: Food Co-ops!

Here is a video of part of Bill Gessner's talk in Troy, NY on February 17, 2006. He was consulting with a group of people in Troy who want to start a food co-op. Bill is working on a campaign called "500 Food Coops in 10 Years" with his organization Cooperative Development Services. Here is a listing of retail food co-ops in the US.

Co-operatives: Resource Links

History of Co-operatives

A history of co-operatives from Cooperative Life

Another history of cooperatives

The Mondragon Cooperative System is a large scale cooperative system in Spain that is often looked to as a model.

History of Worker Cooperatives

History of Student Housing Cooperatives


General Co-operative Resources

National Cooperative Business Association

The University of Wisconsin Center for Cooperatives

International Co-operative Alliance

Frequently asked questions about coops

Finding Cooperatives Near You! (You can add your cooperative ventures also.)

Co-operatives: Some Basics

Cooperation has certainly been an economic force throughout history, but formal Cooperatives (or Coops) have been around since the 1700's. There are many types of cooperatives. Some are consumer based and some are worker based. The consumer cooperative is traced back to the 1800's in Rochdale, England where a group of 28 weavers working in a cotton mill didn't have enough money to eat. They thought pooling their resources would give them a better chance. The Rochdale Equitable Pioneers Society (you can even visit the museum museum.coop.ac.uk/) was the first cooperative store. Even though Ben Franklin started a cooperative earlier, Rochdale is considered the birthplace of modern cooperatives because the principles and practices of the Pioneers have proven to be a successful model.

The cooperative model has been applied to many different enterprises and activities including agriculture, fisheries, consumer and financial services, housing, transportation, childcare, and production (workers' cooperatives). Many people in the US are familiar with natural food coops and housing coops.

At the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA) website (www.ica.coop/coop) you can find out alot about the current cooperative movement. They claim that over 800 million people are members of cooperatives today and that coops provide 100 million jobs world wide which is 20% more than corporate enterprises. Also the ICA website outlines the basic Coop principals and values which I've quoted below:

"Coop Principles and Values

Definition A cooperative is an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointlyowned and democraticallycontrolled enterprise.

Values Cooperatives are based on the values of selfhelp, selfresponsibility, democracy, equality, equity and solidarity. In the tradition of their founders, cooperative members believe in the ethical values of honesty, openness, social responsibility and caring for others.

Principles
1. Voluntary and Open Membership Cooperatives are voluntary organizations, open to all persons able to use their services and willing to accept the responsibilities of membership, without gender, social, racial, political or religious discrimination.

2. Democratic Member Control Cooperatives are democratic organizations controlled by their members, who actively participate in setting their policies and making decisions. Persons serving as elected representatives are accountable to the membership. In primary cooperatives, members have equal voting rights (one member, one vote) and cooperatives at other levels are organized in a democratic manner.

3. Member Economic Participation Members contribute equitably to, and democratically control, the capital of their cooperative. At least part of that capital is usually the common property of the cooperative. They usually receive limited compensation, if any, on capital subscribed as a condition of membership. Members allocate surpluses for any or all of the following purposes: developing the cooperative, possibly by setting up reserves, part of which at least would be indivisible; benefiting members in proportion to their transactions with the cooperative; and supporting other activities approved by the membership.

4. Autonomy and Independence Cooperatives are autonomous, selfhelp organizations controlled by their members. If they enter into agreements with other organizations, including governments, or raise capital from external sources, they do so on terms that ensure democratic control by their members and maintain their cooperative autonomy.

5. Education, Training and Information Cooperatives provide education and training for their members, elected representatives, managers and employees so they can contribute effectively to the development of their cooperatives. They inform the general public ” particularly young people and opinion leaders ” about the nature and benefits of cooperation.

6. Cooperation among Cooperatives Cooperatives serve their members most effectively and strengthen the cooperative movement by working together through local, national, regional and international structures.

7. Concern for Community While focusing on member needs, cooperatives work for the sustainable development of their communities through policies accepted by their members."