We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore LappĂ©, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Commons and Cooperatives

by Greig de Peuter and Nick Dyer-Witheford from Affinities: A Journal of Radical Theory, Culture, and Action.

The article is from an academic journal and as such is written at a fairly high level of abstraction. Nevertheless, it presents an in-depth review and analysis of cooperative enterprises that can contribute to an understanding by an ordinary educated or well read person of cooperatives located in societies dominated by a capitalist system. I think it is a particularly suitable article as a followup of the series on the tour of the Mondragon facilities as reported by Carl Davidson and carried on this website. 
When worker-owned firms must compete in goods, labour, and financial markets with capitalist firms which adhere to the bottom line there is relentless pressure on worker-owners to abandon prioritizing the quality of work life and fair systems of compensation, and to succumb to exploitative relations with suppliers, customers, external parties, and the environment.  
(For articles such as this I find that they are much easier to read by converting them to a printed hard copy.)