In a previous message I introduced an article about the agreement between the United Steel Workers and Mondragon Cooperative Corporation to work to together to support the development of worker owned companies and firms. I want to follow that article up with another more detailed article by Carl Davidson of Solidarity Economy which presents his own analysis of the United Steelworkers Union and the Mondragon Cooperative Corporation agreement. The link to the article is
Some may wonder why I am so insistent on the importance of this subject. The answer is both ideological and existential. Economic democracy or cooperative socialism as I prefer to call it, lays at the very heart of socialism. And the Mondragon Corporation is by far the most developed example of economic democracy in the modern world or in human history as a whole for that matter. Socialism without an emphasis on a concrete economic democracy in which workers own and manage their own businesses and ultimately the economy themselves is hardly worthy of the name. A statist Socialism in which a small elite in the name of the dictatorship of the proletariat or inspired by a Fabian dream of a planned centralized economy by economic experts or scientists suppossedly for the benefit of a passive working class is anathema. Such dreams will not work as the communist experiment in the Soviet Union proved nor are they worthy of the respect of those who believe in human freedom and autonomy. Enough for now. I suggest that you read the article.
by Jeff Ballinger, Director of Press for Change and SDUSA member
The recent soccer ball report by ILRF made me angry – at myself. Some of us have been very fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with groups of workers resisting corporate-dominated globalization and challenging the neo-lib/free trade orthodoxy; sometimes, it must be admitted, we mess up and a promising opportunity goes off the rails. In cases like the soccer ball controversy in Pakistan, the workers may actually have ended up worse off after a well-intentioned intervention; we were too trusting and the unique circumstances of the case made it appear winnable.
Most rich-country consumers have a myopic view of ethical consumption; part of this mindset is that goods produced with child labor are far and away the chief wrong to be avoided. But this classic form of exploitation has only a few manifestations in the modern, globalized production-for-export field. What consumers must tune in to, rather, is the fact that millions of children are working in poor countries because the adults who are making our shoes, toys, apparel and electronics do not earn enough to pay modest school fees or provide a decent standard of living without the kids’ meager earnings from the informal sector – from hawking newspapers, delivering tea, domestic work and the like. The urgent challenge of our young century is to popularize campaigns such as the new effort led by pro-worker groups for an Asia Floor Wage. The most bitter and intense struggle today is in Bangladesh where a new minimum wage is long overdue and the greedy apparel buyers – big brands from the U.S. and Europe – are refusing to support the workers, even rhetorically (what they were shamed into doing in 2006). Cambodian apparel workers, likewise, are trying to get beyond half-way to a living wage while encountering fierce opposition from industry executives and repressive tactics deployed by the Hun Sen regime.
This article by Jeff Ballinger is reprinted from the Huffington Post with Jeff’s permission.
On the Media with Brooke Gladstone in the anchor chair is always a good deal more than a diversion while cleaning the garage or running weekend errands; she explores many topics that are otherwise not covered, or didn’t even appear as problems, opportunities, &c. But, when you do an interview with someone like Nick Kristof — whose audience dwarfs your own — you ought to be especially prepared to “afflict the comfortable.” She needn’t have searched too long to find controversy in this man’s last decade of columns and, no, it is not because he practices “advocacy journalism” unless — and here’s the point — he’s advocating for sweatshops. Continue reading