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Mutualist Blog: Free Market Anti-Capitalism

To dissolve, submerge, and cause to disappear the political or governmental system in the economic system by reducing, simplifying, decentralizing and suppressing, one after another, all the wheels of this great machine, which is called the Government or the State. --Proudhon, General Idea of the Revolution

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Location: Northwest Arkansas, United States

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Just Things, Volume 2 Issue 2

The new issue of Just Things: The Fair Trade Journal of Applied Counter-Economics is out. This issue's theme, a departure from the journal's usual focus, is the production and manufacturing side of things: namely, the "recovered enterprises" in Argentina. There are several articles about recovered enterprises (including interviews with Jorge Suarez of the Bauen Hotel, Guillermo Sabatello of the Maderera Cordoba lumber and wood products cooperative, Esteban Magnani of the La Base cooperative credit operation), as well as an interviews with Gustavo de la Fuente, the Director of Economic Development for Buenos Aires. There are also some articles on the journal's focus, fair trade coffee--among them an interview with the director of a coffee marketing organization for producer co-ops, and a buyer at the consumer end of things. Siel of Green LA Girl writes on the new European "4C" initiative, which is apparently the fair trade equivalent of greenwashing. There's even an article by yours truly on small-scale production technology, entitled "Putting the 'revolution' back in Industrial Revolution."

10 Comments:

Blogger Steve said...

Thanks for the plug! It's not entirely accurate -- I hope! -- that JT's focus is on fair-trade coffee. OTOH, coffee is far and away the most well-known fair-trade product, and I struggle to steer clear.

This issue really only scratches the surface of all there is to know about the fascinating recovered businesses. Readers of this blog would do well to read up on them, as they are a great example of empowered workers in a competitive environment.

The next edition will take readers still further afield with fair-trade tourism. Also included will be an interview with Fair Indigo, the first retailer of upscale fair-trade clothes. Folks around here (I live 15 minutes from their HQ) have called their fairness into question, and I give them a chance to respond at length.

February 14, 2007 8:27 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

Steve,

Those are great stories of recovered businesses. I would love to see similar stories from the US and Canada if you know of any (though I'm not sure since we don't have the Argentine "loophole"). I'd love to see a bigger picture, demonstrating these kinds of worker cooperatives working together in import replacement to generate really vibrant local economies.

Fantastic magazine, keep it up.

Kevin,

I love that article, one of my favourites.

February 15, 2007 6:00 PM  
Anonymous Steve said...

Thanks, Mike! I hope you'll take the survey on my site to help me decide the future of the magazine.

I don't know of any recovered businesses in North America, though it stands to reason they would exist. They wouldn't go by that name, they would simply be called worker buy-outs. And it's awfully unlikely any of them have dramatic stories of weeks and months spent as squatters, the way the Argentines do. Still, there must be some.

February 16, 2007 12:17 PM  
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February 17, 2007 6:12 AM  
Blogger Mike said...

Steve,

I already took the survey and in fact, I have been a subscriber to the email since the last issue.

I'm looking for ideas and examples of this kind of success in the North American or even European context that doesn't involve "lemon socialism" - workers buying out a plant or business that was doomed to fail anyway (for any number of economic reasons). I'm wondering if there are examples that did not come about due to economic collapse either. Its hard to sell the idea as an alternative to capitalism if it means total collapse.

If I do find something, I'll be sure to let you know.

Kevin, are you aware of anything like this? Possibly as an anarchist replacement for state-run welfare systems?

February 17, 2007 8:17 AM  
Anonymous Steve said...

Mike, I know of several "non-lemon" examples of co-ops. Here in Madison, we have the spectacular example of Just Coffee, as well as the pretty good example of the Willy Street Co-op (a grocery store). And if I could find people with the skills and the time, I'd make JT one, as well.

February 17, 2007 9:12 PM  
Blogger Alex said...

Are you familiar with the RepRap project? If you're into micro-manufacturing you should be.

February 20, 2007 4:45 AM  
Blogger Kevin Carson said...

Thanks to all for the comments.

Mike: Most non-"lemon" co-ops in the U.S., I believe, are in industries with low entry barriers and capitalization: groceries, retail, and the like. The famous plywood co-ops were mostly employee buyouts in the face of impending doom. The Argentine takeovers involved companies in massive default that were pretty much abandoned by their owners. I'd be interested in seeing the same thing done in the U.S. in the context of reformulated Chapter 11 law, with pension defaults being compensated by equity in the firm.

Alex: Thanks for the link. I'm "into" micro- and desktop manufacturing, non-techie that I am, in the sense of being interested in the possibilities for small-scale production. But I mostly appreciate it from afar, when its advocates distill it into Sunday supplements language for me. I like your blog, BTW, esp. that latest post on risk-taking and penalties for failure. Apparently you came here from Stumbling and Mumbling, which is one of my favorites.

February 20, 2007 10:42 AM  
Blogger Laurent GUERBY said...

(off-topic of this post)

Interesting news in the co-op world by New Economist

February 24, 2007 4:40 AM  
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March 20, 2007 12:15 PM  

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