Friday, May 09, 2014


Something a little different today.  

Earlier this week on my blog I did a post entitled "JACKSON RISING, BLACK MUTUAL AID, COOPERATIVES, MONDRAGON, AND ALL THAT" which you can read here.  I later posted it on the Solidarity Economy Face Book Page as I felt it related to what that page is all about.  Carl Davidson, whom I presume some of you are familiar with, and some are not, took offense.  Carl is a major proponent of Solidarity Economy and Mondragon. 

We engaged then in some sort of a discussion.  You may find it interesting, you may not, but I am posting the whole thing here (typos, mistakes, blemishes and all).  I think it speaks for itself, but feel free to ask question, make comments, whatever.  Lots of you will think we are both nuts.  Most of you could probably care less with what either of us think.  Anyway here is my original post and the discussion which followed.  By the way, one of the more reasonable comments came not from Carl, or myself, but from Mark Dworkin.


I offer this in a comradely spirit. As I say, at the end of my intro, I am no expert. I respect many who disagree with me.
Are cooperatives an improvement over your run of the mill capitalist enterprises? Sure. Are they an alternative? I suppose they are a capitalist alternative. Are they a communist alternative? I think not. Are they worthwhile in the fight against capitalism? Probably, so in the war of position waged by the multitude.
Do I wish the Jackson Rising Campaign success?
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  • Michael Livesay and Mark Dworkin like this.
  • Mark Dworkin In my opinion whatever we fight for needs to make people's lives better in the here and now, which successful cooperatives certainly do. It needs to give people more power on the job, which coops also do. And it needs to whet people's appetite for more. I would like to see an economy full of cooperation and mutual aid, where working people run things across the board. Cooperatives as a small sector in an economy dominated by large, privately owned corporations are not an end goal for me. But they are a start, They offer a glimpse of an alternative economy that is organized to meet the needs of the broad society, rather than just a few. And they give many more people, working people a wealth of practical experience running the economy which will pay off big time in the long run.
  • Carl Davidson If you want to present the case of Mondragon and the recent failure of one of its coops, FAGOR, at least do it accurately. MCC established a 'solidarity fund' to see the FAGOR workers through the transition, and at this point, have re-integrated most of them into one of the other 119 coops in the network. They are still working to do the same with the rest. This is hardly handing someone a pink slip and dumping them on the street. Even in it's difficulties, it shows it superiority. As for a 'communist alternative', either on the micro or macro level, I have no idea what you mean. Getting to communism requires a long transition through a socialist order on a global scale. Projecting that notion as a critique of coops means you don't have a good understanding of either one. Zoltan Ziglety has an axe to grind here, and I wouldn't take his polemic seriously.
    May 7 at 6:17pm · Edited · Like · 2
  • Randy Gould Carl, you know I disagree with you totally on this long transition through socialism to communism. Since I have explained this to you numerous times I won't bother with that here. As to my mistaken presentation of what happened, as I said I claim no expertise. I merely reprinted the Ziglety comment. As to axes to grind and all that, gee, kinda sounds like most everyone on the left. As to the rest of your comments, they are off base. I didn't compare communism to coops, since it can't be done. You neglect to mention the article from black agenda reports that I posted with my intro in its entirety which certainly presented a completely different view, a very positive one, or any of the other comments I quoted or said myself which pointed out the positive side of cooperatives. I have no dog in this hunt. Cooperatives, some anyway, Mondragon probably (again I haven't spent hardly any time looking at it) are not bad things at all. Some are better than others. I simply personally do not believe they are a goal or a way to what is, as an autonomous Marxist, my goal. That's all. Further, I made it clear many people whom I respect differ with my opinion. I advised people if they wanted a better deeper analysis of the whole cooperative/Mondragon shebang, I couldn't give it to them, that they should research it on their own. I can't figure out why you seem so upset. I know Solidarity Economy and Mondragon is your thing. Fine, it is not mine. That said, it is interesting and I have no big negative thoughts about it. It beats So come on, Carl, calm down. Seriously, if you would like to contribute something to me that I can print at SCISSION, I would be more than happy to do so. I won't even do my normal intro except to say that I asked and you contributed and I will leave it at that.
  • Randy Gould PS: i think I understand communism just fine, thank you. Just because one doesn't agree with you doesn't mean they don't understand something. I realize you are not a novice. The deal is neither am I. The autonomous Marxist view (or views) of communism certainly differs from the orthodox one, but so what.
  • Carl Davidson So, give me one living example today of a 'communist alternative' to a worker coop?
    17 hours ago · Like · 1
  • Randy Gould There are none that I know of, so what again. Your question makes no sense to me. Perhaps, you are reading something g I wrote differently then I meant it, Carl, I can't even figure out what your point is. Communism has not happened (as a global society)...personally, if we are just going to talk about current alternatives...I will take the Zapatista model over Mondragon. There is a future to the Zapatista model, there is not for Mondragon. Your hang up with Mondragon is a bit much. If you want examples of moments of communism, sort of, there are or have been some. Hungary, 1956, for example, far exceeds my vision of the future than Mondragon. Again, Chiapas comes to mind. What a true communist society of the future will be I can't say, but it won't be anything that still includes surplus value and commodity exchange,for example. It won't be anything that working people themselves are not in control of. It won't include a hierarchy, it won't include engineers and "experts" and managers in command. It will not be a regime which thinks central planning equals anything much. It won't be socialism (state capitalism). There is no way we get there through some stage of cooperatives. It won't be so e place where some cooperative CEO (whatever term you would like to use) decides who gets laid off with no support and who doesn't. It won't be something that simply is a friendlier form of capital where workers are not producing for themselves. But again would I rather work for so e Mondragon corporation or General Motors, duh, I would pick Momdragon. However, unlike you I am not essentially basing my entire strategy, future, hope, in building cooperatives. I have no problem with you and others doing just that...probably environmental degradation will overcome us before we get where I would like to go anyway. This is all I think I have to say here. This debate just isn't all that important to me. I am not interested because I don't see Mondragon as some sort of awful thing, or a total waste, or a capitalist or fascist trick (as some do). Consequently, I am also not interested in wasting time digging up things wrong with it. You, Mondragon, cooperatives, are hardly the enemy and I don't want to engage in some either or battle about you, it, them.
  • Randy Gould The other reason I am little interested in continuing this discussion is that Carl is simply ignoring 90% of what I have written (both in my original blog and in these comments). He has not answered any questions I have asked. I have tried to answer all of his. I have tried to conduct this in a friendly manner. I can see this whole thing is going nowhere unless I just announce Carl is correct about everything he thinks, says, does...alas, that I just can't do, but again, so what. Good night all...
  • Carl Davidson Randy, you are not responsible for ZZ's distortions, only for passing them on. But your final point was this: "Are cooperatives an improvement over your run of the mill capitalist enterprises? Sure. Are they an alternative? I suppose they are a capitalist alternative. Are they a communist alternative? I think not. Are they worthwhile in the fight against capitalism? Probably, so in the war of position waged by the multitude." This is fine, save for two points. One, Marx himself, who was of two minds about coops, saw them as a bit more than a 'capitalist alternative.' Two, you are the one who raises a 'communist alternative' in this context. If nothing of the sort exists, why bring it up? Seems to me it's a fair question.
    8 hrs · Like · 1
  • Randy Gould Carl, Carl, Carl...first off, you say ZZs comments are a distortion. I checked back and my conclusion is you are partially correct. Others agree with him and others with you. Whatever. As for what Marx thought. That seems contradictory, anyway, i am not Marx. I consider myself a Marxist and a communist. This doesn't mean I believe Marx himself to be some infallible God. A communist alternative to me in this context was supposed to mean a communist alternative, huh, you say. You see, for me communism is not just a future goal it is something being created in flashes all the time by workers in struggle., sometimes just in their daily lives, something that displays and portends communism. For example as someone else wrote, " Hardt and Negri rely on the capacities and potentials of the multitude, the power and promise of the proletariat’s praxes to dismantle capitalism and to construct a classless society. Following Marx and Engel’s advice that “Communism is for us not a state of affairs which is to be established. We call communism the real movement which abolishes the present state of things”, Hardt and Negri consider communism an active force in the present. They explain that this means that communism is “not only a destruction of the present values, but also a creation of new values; not only a negation of what exists, but also an affirmation of what springs forth”'. This is sort of what I mean. Let me put it another way, Communism is not some kind of end state, but “the struggle for the liberation of work,” “the movement which abolishes the present state of things.” Some one said recovering communism in this way is taking up a radical theory of revolution. I come from the tradition that believes “everything must be reinvented,” work, social life, freedom etc. This reinvention is the political practice of communism. I said this before and like much of what I said you have ignored, I see what the Zapatistas, the indigenous, residents, the multitude in Chiapas, etc. have done as closer to what I am talking about then Mondragon. I see similar flashes in other places, in the Landless movements, in Syntagma Square, in worker takeovers, in worker councils, in struggle. I do not see Mondragon or other cooperatives doing this. They are still emersed in capitalism, in the capitalist value system, in my view. Mondragon does not carve out a space, even temporarily, it operates within capital. This may not make sense to you, so be it. That however is what I meant. If it was unclear, I am sorry. I presume in any case you disagree. I could explain this in more detail, but you would just say I am wrong, I have an axe to grind, or I am distorting reality, or I don't know what I am talking about. Fine, whatever, it isn't the end of the world. We, aren't, afterall creating communism here. I hope that ends this. It does for me.
    27 mins · Edited · Like
  • Carl Davidson It doesn't make sense to me. H&N talk about communism like Hegel talks about geist, or my Christian friends talks to me about the Kingdom, which they assure me is manifesting itself daily in this world. I prefer it as a goal, a state of affairs where the working day has shrunk toward zero and the among of living labor time in any given commodity approaches zero. Then we can speak of classes, states and markets 'withering away.' Until then, I treat it like the North Star. It gives me a direction and keeps me on track.
    26 mins · Like · 1
  • Randy Gould I do have one question. I will look into this myself further, but Carl, has there been any relation between Mondragon and the assembly movement in Spain.
  • Carl Davidson MCC itself is nonpartisan. But its workers run the gamut of Spanish politics, from center to far left. Since one of their core values is 'open admission,' you don't have to profess a political loyalty to join. As a practical matter, however, you won't find any fascists.
    14 mins · Edited · Like · 1