Gesture politics can give us a dirty thrill, but that’s all they can do. We could insist that a tithe of bankers be sent every year to be publicly spanked with a traditional bristle birch in Hyde Park by a cohort of unemployed, low-waged and disabled people and indignant left-wing bloggers, and I’m sure we’d all feel a bit better about things, but at the end of the day they would still walk away rich and we would walk away poor.
By Laurie Penny
Economists often have a stunning lack of knowledge about the kaleidoscope of different kinds of companies which exist. The neo-liberal, financially focused, manager based, non-family, private business with shares which are traded at some kind of stock exchange seems to be their main frame of reverence, despite the fact that many other kinds of businesses do better and often much better, for one thing because they focus less on short-term shareholder value. One of these non neo-liberal kinds of businesses are Mondragon type of cooperatives (over 80.000 employees). Some data:
“MONDRAGON Corporation is the embodiment of the co-operative movement that began in 1956, the year that witnessed the creation of the first industrial cooperative in Mondragón in the province of Gipuzkoa; its business philosophy is contained in its Corporate Values:
The Corporation’s Mission combines the core goals of a business organisation competing on international markets with the use of democratic methods in its business organisation, the creation of jobs, the human and professional development of its workers and a pledge to development with its social environment. In terms of organisation, it is divided into four areas: Finance, Industry, Distribution and Knowledge, and is today the foremost Basque business group and the seventh largest in Spain.”
Look here for figures
(Back in the eighties I was taught about ‘Mondragon’ by Hans-Jurgen Wagner, by the way. But soon, his ‘economic systems’ course came under attack, in the same period when people like Francis Fukuyama predicted ‘the end of history’ and neo-liberal victory. Believe me, I was present at the meeting of the council of the Groningen faculty of economics time at the time and was flabbergasted by the absence of arguments: “The Soviet-Union has come down, so no need to think about our system anymore, as there is just one system”. Only procedural arguments prevented the meeting from, without prior discussion, abolishing the course.)