Sunday, April 19, 2009

Coorperatives taking over multinationals

About a month ago, I was listening to a local radio interview with an Otago University professor of the study of Marx and he was trying to explain that Marx believed communal systems would be brought about by capitalism. The professor was trying to say that 20th Century Communism was premature and organised on counter productive assumptions - such as the need for bureaucratic control and political party leadeship. Marx, according to this professor, believed a real communal economy would be the peak of capitalism, and that capitalists would enable it...

Naomi Klein and Avi Lewis produced The Take in 2004 for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, and I'm left wondering why it hasn't done the rounds in my network sooner! Its a 1hr 24min doco about workers in Argentina who are taking over closed factories and turning them into cooperatives.

In suburban Buenos Aires, thirty unemployed auto-parts workers walk into their idle factory, roll out sleeping mats, and refuse to leave. All they want is to re-start the silent machines. With The Take, director Avi Lewis, one of Canada's most outspoken journalists, and writer Naomi Klein, author of the international bestseller No Logo, champion a radical economic manifesto for the 21st century. But what shines through in the film is the simple drama of workers' lives and their struggle: the demand for dignity and the searing injustice of dignity denied.


Helen said...

Yes I have heard this argument before too Leigh. Unfortunately, Russia's attempt at communism was a failure for a number of reasons, but it doesn't mean it can't work ever. Growing from Capitalism is how it should evolve and as you say that is how Marx saw it. Workers owning the means of production just makes so much sense!

sparkered said...

'Marx, according to this professor, believed a real communal economy would be the peak of capitalism, and that capitalists would enable it...'

Did he mention Marx was trained in the City of London?

The 'Capitalists' (A misonmer) over some time have most certainly looked to bring about communial (Centrally Controlled) local economy (Google Norman Dodd if you're interested in the background).

It's an ideal system of control, in that is based on a top down control bottom up community networking structure (With Hyper surveillance technolgy to be a KEY a lynch pin - 'Ubersurveillance' of the economic system).

The third way, a synthesis of Capitalism and Communism? This is known as 'Commutarianism' it's the new (old) idea. Have you heard of it? Maybe people will love it! Self determination is so much hard work.

This guy gives a good overview of Commutarianism (8 mins in)

UNLIKE THE ARGENTINIAN WORKERS ACTIONS in 'thetake' doco this ideal communual economy won't be based on individual self determination i.e. choosing what YOU want to work at and who YOU want to work with but instead dictating to the individual his predetermined function within the community

The catchcry will be don't be anti social 'Fullfill your function'. The ideal utopia (For the few), very 1984.

Society as a well oiled efficient (Sustainable) machine, a bee hive or ant farm if you will. I think education will play a big part in achieving a commutarianism model for example with 'School to work' and poltically correct humanities studies to set the moral (or lack off) standards with international curriculum to hold it all together. Will we even blink?

Don't (do) laugh but if you want two good references watch the animated movies ANTZ and A bugs life for some pointers on managing a 'Commutarianism' economy (ANTZ even has an eugenics key plot point).



Leigh Blackall said...

SParks, I agree the film carried too much of that problematic.. and did you detect the seeds of the flaws.. when the union guy with silver hair was giving advice to the guys trying to form a factory cooperative? He told them to get militant on free loaders.. and there it begins. Animal Farm all over again I guess.

I think the challenge is to keep thinking about coopertives and networks, which is why we need a clearer understanding of how they work so we don't get lazy and start group thinking. I think Downe's over view of groups vs networks on Google video is helpful in this regard. We also need to be awae of the flaws of individualism.

sparkered said...

It certainly is a challenge with regards to groups and networks I've posted this in the past in relation to the financial situation:

My thinking hasn't changed. I'll have to expand further following Stephen's recent presentation in Wollongong.

With regards to your individualism point I was interested to see the reference to a comment in 'The Good guys lost' post i.e.

The Credit union and Triple bottom line idea is important.

'What does green banking mean? The founders of e3bank, just chartered in Pennsylvania, say that its guiding principle will be a "triple bottom line": "What's the impact of our decisions on profitability for the bank? What's the impact of our decisions on the environment? And what's the impact of our decisions on the people involved?"

The Triple Bottom Line concept has been around for a while. In 2002, I wrote a column about the growing number of companies that had decided that "corporations need to pay attention to both their stockholders and their stakeholders -- those who may not have invested money in the company but clearly have a de facto investment in the air they breath, the food they eat, and the communities they live in." But the economic meltdown has given it renewed momentum.'

I remember the hoo ha around the book 'Natural Capitalism' which came out in 1999 from which I first learnt of the triple bottom line. If only people percieved the sustainability movement from an anthropocentric (Societal sustainability) angle as apposed to being biocentric (Climate sustainability) things might not to be so bleak in that individual action in the economy would be framed by the triple bottom line accounting concept is just not being promoted in the mainstream as an option. Why is that?

stevenparker said...

Natural Capitalism - 'Creating the next Industrial Revolution'

"While traditional Industrial Capitalism primarily recognizes the value of money and goods as capital, Natural Capitalism extends recognition to natural capital and human capital. Problems such as pollution and social injustice may then be seen as failures to properly account for capital, rather than as inherent features of Capitalism itself."

Good book.

Minhaaj said...

I hope you've seen The Corporation too. Naomi Klein is really an influential writer and i've read her all books, although shes on way left like you. Great post.

sparkered said...

I don't think the doco and this post is a left wing right wing paradigm thing, other than pointing

out exploitation of ordinary people, people doing what they can do to survive, maintain their

dignity and look after their family after an economic collapse. I see the doco and this post as

refreshingly apolitical.

Did you see the footage of the cavalcade of armoured cars taking all of the voters (Both sides)

money out of the country before going public to all of the voters (Both sides) on the collapse of

the banking system? The doco does point out extreme economic fraud by a political few (Both sides?)

Did you see the older people who still believed in the Argentina political system, sold by the

media, remembering the good old days justify voting the smiling Memmen back in? Soon Memmen

resigned when people realised it was no different, the other party took over then guess what? No

different. It seemed in the doco both left and right Argentinian parties just as always ended up

looking after the money interests of the few before and after Argentina was looted and collapsed.

The educated regular Argentinian people in the doco knew about this, they talk about this in the

doco and in the end just get on with making their own work opportunities. That's where the real

interest of their story is. It's not a left, right doco, it's a good human story, people working


On another note, Leigh made a good point, there is heglian dialectic link between Marxism (Theisis)

and Capitalism (antithesis). We're now moving into the Green biocentric Commutarianism another paradigm, (Synthesis of the two). Worth looking into.

Recommend Terry Gilliams black comedy Brazil movie for an insight.

Minhaaj said...

I Never said this 'Post' or 'documentary' is left winged Sparkered. Read again :)

sparkered said...

Minhaaj my misundertstanding. Made me think (rant) about the whole left right thing we have to endure in western democracy.

Minhaaj said...

No problem sparkered, although i can talk at length to prove that there is no such thing as 'western democracy'. I had references ready from Naomi's books to prove her leftists tendencies but i think i can leave it with you to discover :) Its not necessarily a bad thing to be on a little left given the exploitation and absurdities of neoclassical catastrophy on earth. It just goes beyond that and hits under the belt, which is the worst part in leftist endeavors :)

sparkered said...,20797,24973890-952,00.html

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Anything like this in NZ?