Crisis and self-management in the twenty-first century

I. Challenges of self-management in a world in crisis

Crisis and self-management in the twenty-first century

Andrés Ruggeri
Open Faculty Program
University of Buenos Aires

In December 2001, when the explosion of the neoliberal model in Argentina brought the world’s attention to the large social movements arising from or empowered by the context of the enormous crisis the country was going through, activists and academics from the central countries, generally connected to the anti-globalization movement, took an interest in one of the most striking and encouraging of those movements, the factories occupied by their workers or, more properly, businesses recovered by their workers (BRWs).

While we know that the cases of worker self-management in the framework of businesses and factories that were bankrupt, stripped, or abandoned by their bosses did not lack for historical precedent, either in Argentina or in other parts of the world, this was the first time, at least in recent decades, that they became a movement with characteristics and an identity of its own.

The emergence of the BRWs happened in a Latin American country that, during the ’90s, had been the IMF and World Bank’s best student, following the plans of the Washington Consensus to the letter—and which also exemplified the high social price of submission to the absolute hegemony of neoliberalism at the global level. The existence of the BRWs also showed the hope and the possibility of creating alternatives to globalization, which had seemed incontestable after the collapse of Soviet socialism and its economic model of centralized and authoritarian planning. Critical intellectuals from the so-called "developed" countries, like the producers of the film “The Take,” Avi Lewis and Naomi Klein1, thought that the cases of worker self-management in a country like Argentina were able to show the feasibility of a path that was an alternative to neoliberal globalization.

How many of those activists coming to the south of the world to see the strange phenomenon of worker self-management in action seriously thought that the very center of capitalism would fall into a deep crisis less than 10 years later, while Argentina and, more broadly, South America, was beginning to take a heterodox path of development that, without aiming to improve the capitalist system3, made it possible for the most important social indicators to recover and for the people to look to the future with hope? The cases of worker self-management, which were viewed almost as a desirable exoticism, but only possible in the framework of the crisis of a weak State and the fragile economy of a Third-World country, became a potential reality in countries of the prosperous European Union or in the United States itself, and the example of the recovered businesses began to be studied with another view. The initial curiosity became replaced by attention to something that can occur in any society.

Crisis and self-management in Latin America

In Argentina and other countries of Latin America, the recovery of businesses by the workers is a process that has gained fame in spite of their numbers, which are still small. Recovered businesses exist in almost all South American countries and Mexico, although they have only become a movement of relative importance in Uruguay, Brazil, and Argentina. In Venezuela, instead, the processes of occupation and self-management have been moving towards a sort of co-management guided by policies of the Bolivarian government, which, recently, have expanded the horizon of popular participation to the communities where the factories are, through the coordination of worker and communal councils.2 In countries like Mexico3, the phenomenon is far from unknown, but in spite of the existence of large cooperatives that emerged from union conflicts, they have not acquired an identity of their own, differentiated from traditional cooperatives, which is why the process is diluted within cooperativism or the solidarity economy in general. In Brazil, the first cases occurred in the ’80s and ’90s, and decreased in later years. Although associations like ANTEAG and UNISOL4 were formed, the panorama shows dispersion and assimilation into the rest of solidarity and cooperative enterprises, as Chedid, Novaes, and Sardá explain in this very book.5 Uruguay and Argentina, for their part, share a more homogeneous reality, and it is in Argentina where the crisis of 2001 provided the necessary mix for a set of businesses and factories that had been occupied and transformed into self-managed businesses to create a particular identity and movement that gained global attention for its symbolic power to question private property and capitalist management of economic units.

Without elaborating on the Argentine case, which we have detailed in various works—even in this very book6—we can point out, as a particular characteristic, the development of processes of worker self-management in very difficult and purely defensive conditions, which is resistance to the loss of jobs in a widespread crisis, without being supported or defended to any significant extent by political parties, unions, or State programs. These are processes of self-management that did not arise, on principle, out of revolutionary or anticapitalist feelings, but out of the situation of need and abandonment in which the workers found themselves. This situation, which led to conflicts over the occupation of the businesses, gave rise—in the absence of a response—to the formation of worker cooperatives that, defying all predictions, succeeded not only in overcoming the first and decisive obstacle of reactivating plants and businesses in ruinous conditions and without capital, but also in carrying out collective management processes, without bosses or state guardianship and, most significantly, without any prior theory of how to take this path. That is to say, this is an authentic worker experience carried out in the difficult conditions of an overwhelming crisis, but at the same time, subject to the creativity of its leaders to overcome a structural dead end. Also, it must be said that this self-managed path was made possible through the sustenance of powerful networks of social solidarity, which provided not only classic activist support, but innovative ideas and initiatives for opening industrial spaces to activities that were not strictly economic, or at least distinct from, and confrontational towards, the capitalist conception of business. At the same time, these cases are faced with the limitation of not being able to overcome something that is, without a doubt, beyond their scope, which is the capitalist exchange relationships to which they continue to be subject as productive units that, like it or not, continue to operate as formal businesses in the bosom of the capitalist market. This, of course, leads to a whole series of constraints and pressures that put conditions on the logic of self-management and internal solidarity of these processes.

Within these conditions, the BRWs have been growing in number, in number of workers, and in economic activity over the last twelve years, as the surveys by the team of the Open Faculty program have documented (adding up to around 310 cases and 15,000 workers currently).7 However, if we keep in mind that the large majority of BRWs are incorporated as cooperatives, why make an effort to identify these cases in a differentiated way, and what political and economic significance does it have or might it have?

We will insist on the differences between the process of the BRWs and the cooperative movement in general and the very diverse phenomena of the so-called social and solidarity economy on certain fundamental issues. The first is, as we already noted, the process itself, in which a capitalist economic unit, with the hierarchical and vertical functioning that characterizes it and its primary objective of accumulation of capital through the exploitation of wage labor (whatever its activity, goods or services), comes to be collectively managed by its workers. While this process can be identified in the origin of many historical cooperatives, even in the very beginnings of cooperativism, it is different from the formation of cooperative businesses without a prior origin under private management, not just in the transfer from vertical to collective management, but rather in the very fact of the socialization of the ownership of the means of production. Even without this process of socialization or collectivization becoming widespread, it carries in itself a profound questioning of the basics of capitalist management of the economy and society.

The second important reason to differentiate the BRWs from other cooperative cases is that they clearly belong to the experience and the struggle of the working class.

We can argue that in all or most cooperatives and enterprises of the solidarity economy there is leadership by workers, but we find a substantial difference between the majority of these and a conflictive process with its origins in the contradictions between the capital and labor (employer abandonment and the occupation or conflict unleashed by that abandonment or forced closure). On the other hand, that difference is part of the very self-perception of recovery leaders as workers, before they are cooperators or the “excluded,” a diffused identity that loses the notion of belonging to the class that lives by its labor.8 The recovery of businesses and factories by the workers as an extreme method of defense of employment, and then as self-affirmation of their very identity as workers without a boss, also questions the traditional organizing practices and tools for struggle of the workers’ movement, it should be said, the role of unions, class-based political parties and, also, of cooperatives themselves, which today are mostly distant from the old common origin in proletarian movements.

This also leads us to re-open the discussion of cooperativism itself. Over two centuries of history, cooperativism was able become institutionalized (in the middle of the nineteenth century, with the Rochdale cooperative, a process began that was consolidated at the end of the same century in Europe and somewhat later in Latin America and other regions of the world9) and become a business model that was not antagonistic to the functioning of the relations of capitalist production. The simplistic identification of the processes of self-management with cooperativism can be misleading in the absence of analysis of the effective functioning of the enormous majority of cooperatives established in the framework of official cooperativism, a situation that is quite widespread at the global level. The largest number of cooperative members (according to statistics from the International Cooperative Alliance10) belongs to consumer co-ops, service co-ops, or credit unions, which do not presuppose the participation of the social masses in any way, except as consumers or beneficiaries of their services. The exploitation of wage labor in the cooperatives was an early discussion between the worker movement and cooperative institutions by the second half of the nineteenth century,11 and it is a reality in many established cooperatives in today’s world, even in the most famous examples of cooperative success like the Mondragon corporation or the great cooperative conglomerates of Italy.12 The difficulty in assimilating the Argentine recovered businesses into cooperative institutions (in spite of the efforts of the institutions and of the State) basically lies in class differences, which are perceived clearly by the workers of the recovered businesses, and in the ability of this experience with working-class origins to question traditional cooperatives and their institutions. The new discussion of old cooperativism in terms of self-management, based on the distinct identities of cooperativism and self-management, means going back to debating the ends, objectives, and principles of cooperativism. This is, in other words, a return the original path of the cooperative movement as a movement of worker action towards the formation of a non-capitalist economic logic, in which not only should the principles of solidarity and self-management be respected, but there should be a very clear opposition to the capitalist exploitation of wage labor.

From crisis to crisis

For Argentines or South Americans, living through a crisis just like the ones in the lives of previous generations, the situation in countries like Spain or Greece looks like a movie we’ve already seen. A crisis caused by financial capital is worsened–with the argument that it is the only way to deal with it–by continuing the old and well-known prescriptions of “austerity,” which leave millions of workers unemployed, cut the budget for social protection, force States to privatize public businesses, and cut spending on the framework of the “welfare state” laboriously created decades before. And, on the flip side of the plot, enormous budgets are earmarked to strengthen the means of repression of the inevitable social protest, the extreme mobility of capital is facilitated in its search for better conditions of exploitation and precariousness of labor and the greatest conditions for the accumulation of capital, unprecedented figures are earmarked from public funds for the “bailout” of the banking entities responsible for the crisis, and those who aspire to a different answer are punished. The difference between a crisis with these characteristics at the periphery of the capitalist system and one at the center of global capitalism is, simply, the centrality of the economies that are affected, the strength of the institutions and financial tools in play, the strength of the capitalist ideological and cultural hegemony, the repressive and institutional strength of States, and their capacity to respond as custodians of the most profound interests of capital. The worker and people’s movements in these countries, in turn, seem be in a worse condition to resist, paradoxically, because of the multiple mechanisms of social protection that had achieved in previous decades, which, at the same time, also weakened the antibodies of struggle and worker organizing that would have allowed for a reaction that was quick and costly for capitalist governability. Conformity and resignation about what changes were possible, including among the most reformist versions of the predominant Social Democratic parties of the European Left, which have been reduced to adapting and becoming the “humane” version of global neoliberal capitalism, contributed greatly to that helplessness and the disappointment of their base.

In the last two or three years, labor conflicts and the closures of businesses and other productive establishments have proliferated in the majority of the countries of Europe and also in the United States. The case of the Republic Doors and Windows factory in Chicago was one of the best-known in North America. However, the recovery process of businesses in the countries of southern Europe, those most affected by the crisis, is much more important. Cases like that of Vio.Me, in Thessaloniki, Greece, are playing the role in activism of Zanón or IMPA, to cite the most famous Argentine recovered businesses of the period immediately after December 2001. Other examples are less well-known, even among radical Left activists in their own countries, like several cooperatives than we can catalog as recovered businesses in the Spanish State, especially in Catalonia, or others in different places in France, some of them with several years of functioning. In Italy, for its part, the law facilitates the formation of cooperatives that emerge from bankruptcies. But also there, as is the norm when these bankruptcies are sudden and in many cases fraudulent, the effective difficulties facing workers who want to take charge of the businesses are large and tortuous, and there are different observations about the dimensions and even the identity of the process. Some researchers mention the existence of several dozen BRWs, but the cases that self-describe as being in that category are so far rather scarce, though they do include Rome’s Officine Cero and Milan’s Rimaflow.13 These two cases were factories that closed with very slim possibilities of productive reactivation in their previous activities and, upon being occupied by their former workers and a heterogeneous group of social activists and politicians, tended more towards recreating the Argentine example of the “open factory,” a headquarters of multiple activities and solidarity, cultural, and labor enterprises, without much possibility of recovery as an industrial unit.

Zooming in a bit, we can see several details of these still little-known European cases of businesses recovered by the workers. The first is that, in comparison with Latin Americans, Europeans seem have greater difficulties building solidarity networks of sustenance and support for the experiences (even though cases like those named above owe a large part of their possibilities of survival to the very existence of these networks). The remaining institutions of the social safety net mean that the situation of the workers when the plants close is not terminal, as usually happens in Argentina and in Latin America in general. Unemployment insurance allows workers to have regular income for a certain time, which delays the moment when the former employees face the circumstance of being without any income and, therefore, discourages them from having to resort to radical methods of struggle to keep their jobs.

The perception of the depth of the crisis and the gravity of the situation of chronic structural unemployment also is different, especially early in the crisis, and the idea that economic deterioration will be a passing phenomenon is, consciously or unconsciously, behind the lack of reaction of the workers at the time of the loss of employment. The complicity or lack of vision of the major unions also contributed (in this case, similarly to Latin America) to the passivity of the workers’ movement, which had been on the decline for decades and unable to react, due in part to political loyalties to social-democratic parties in the government in some countries. The lack of reaction at the time of business closure and prolonged survival14 on unemployment insurance, together with widespread ideological hegemony of capital, structured especially around the economic project of the European Union, seems to notably delay the processes of consciousness-raising about the real situation. By the time the payment of provisions reaches its end, not only are the establishments already closed definitively, but the work collectives are also completely dissolved, leaving each worker to his or her fate.

However, there is another characteristic that differentiates the European cases from the South American cases, which is related to the nature of the crisis. In several of the better-known examples, like the French Fralib, a tea factory in the vicinity of Marseilles, or in the Italian Rimaflow, the business closure was not due to a genuine bankruptcy, but a business decision to take advantage of lower the labor costs in other regions of the world, in particular in countries of eastern Europe. The closure of both plants was not due, as in most Argentine or Brazilian cases, to a decision to put an end to the productive activity of the business because of an inability to carry on the business or the convenience of moving the assets into the financial market, but to transfer to (in this case) Poland, where the same type of production means a lower tax burden and, especially, labor costs, that more than compensates for the increase in distribution costs of production itself in the same markets. The case of Fralib, a plant belonging to the multinational Unilever, is especially revealing of this dynamic, in which we can see that “the crisis” is not necessarily the problem, but a good pretext to increase the extreme mobility of capital in search of conditions of greater profitability and accumulation at the cost of workers’ rights and to evade the old national regulations. The transnationalization of the regulatory framework guts and leaves behind a number of important laws achieved by the worker movement in past decades, replaced by European or international laws that leave them obsolete and without a framework for the working class to react, because it has lost all ability to act at the international level, while capital, in contrast, has gained mobility and the ability to legislate in its favor at the global level, a sign of the times of globalization.

This kind of problem, which in countries like Argentina is still usually expressed in terms of the center-periphery contradiction (through which national production is replaced by products imported from transnationals that operate in countries with very low labor costs, and the imposition of policies by global financial bodies through mechanisms of international deregulation/regulation and the management of external credit and debt), at the European level show how the formation of a supergovernment of financial capital, expressed by the Troika (the Central European Bank, the IMF, and the European Commission), which imposes adjustment plans, salary cuts that would have been unthinkable not long ago, public divestment, the dismantling of social security, and the deterioration of working conditions, is the cause of a scheduled closure of production based on the search for greater profitability and not on the impossibility of competing or producing that could be blamed on the crisis. On the contrary, the crisis is the ideal context for transnational businesses that do not have production or financial problems, or difficulty getting their products into the local market (the case of Fralib is exemplary, the same product continues to be sold in France, but now brought from Poland) to close plants in countries with not only more labor regulations, but better salaries and unions with a certain degree of power, and relocate them in regions that offer better conditions for capitalist accumulation at the expense of the workers. The crisis is, thus, an opportunity for the European high bourgeoisie, under the command of financial interests embodied by the central banks of the great economic powers, to quickly begin to disassemble the mechanisms, regulations and the very framework of the Welfare State that once had to make concessions to the powerful unions and workers’ parties that emerged forcefully after the Second World War, fearful of the danger of the expansion of Soviet-style communism.

The recovery of businesses by the workers in these countries, is, then, perhaps more arduous a process than in South American economies or in countries of the Third World in general, since governments, for the moment, do not have much interest in–nor do they see the need for–ceding to workers in circumstances where it has been demonstrated that they have not yet reached the point where they care very much about the social cost of their policies. Also, the fragile state of support networks and the predominant incomprehension in their unions, added to the still nonexistent movement for self-management (due in part to the simultaneous strength and indifference of traditional cooperative organizations), outlines a framework of important difficulty. On the other hand, the advantage of having a living example from other places in the world and of the existence of broad social sectors that not only are not used to the crisis (which is to say, to living miserably), but that can potentially see very clearly the risks they are exposed to by continuing to dismantle the accomplishments of previous generations, can be an important factor for mobilization and organization. Together with that, a greater possibility of economic response and of reorienting support networks mostly built for external solidarity towards society itself (as long as volunteerism can be turned into activism), can give an organizational framework that can strengthen the experiences and allow for advances in the interaction between the theory and practice of self-management.

The fight against global exploitation

To finish analyzing the situation and the potential of self-management in global capitalism, it is necessary to incorporate into our analysis the distinction made in the second book in this series15, by Marco Gómez Solórzano, between the old and new working classes, understanding the “new” working class as that which is incorporated into precarious and informal labor conditions (even slavery or servitude) in this transnationalized stage of capitalism. This stage is on its way to leaving behind the ability of one or several central nation-States to limit the activity of capital, from which peripheral countries are dominated (by colonial or neocolonial means), and on its way to acting across the whole planet, in a space that does not recognize borders and in which capital seeks to operate with freedom of movement, seeking to integrate its value chains with the best conditions for accumulation and, therefore, for the exploitation of labor. For this objective, it uses supernational institutions such as the WTO16, free-trade treaties, regional blocs that are presented as political integration but which continue to be instruments of guardianship and subordination of nation-States in a regressive sense (as the European Union is showing itself to be), and other more classic international bodies from the Breton Woods agreements.

If we understand that factory closures in the central countries do not necessarily mean a bankruptcy of the businesses that operated them, but are mechanisms to move production itself to countries with low labor costs, we have to see the other side of the issue, which is the situation of the workers in the places in the world that offer those conditions. This also, of course, forms part of the capitalist strategy of being above labor laws and regulations through the hyper-exploitation of migrant labor in the developed countries themselves, a migration phenomenon that moves labor in terrible conditions to attractive areas of these productive enclaves, some of which have also already been displaced to the periphery.

At some point, the growth of the Chinese economy was absorbed into this logic, when the economic development strategy designed by Deng Xiaoping was based on offering advantageous conditions to big multinationals in exchange for the creation of a technological base and infrastructure for industrialization of the Asian giant. Likewise, we see how, once the conditions for the prolonged substitution of exports as an industrializing strategy begin to diminish, the Chinese economy starts to create, little by little, a capable internal market with living, growing economic power, already in a condition to start to endogenously sustain its industrial and technological strength. It is necessary pay attention to this phenomenon to try understand the global dynamic of contemporary capitalism and be able to measure the potential of self-management processes in that framework. Otherwise, we will be condemned to a micro-analysis–and therefore, a micro-strategy–of protest and worker struggle.

What underlies the growth of the Chinese economy, based on overexploitation of their working class, is the increase in the struggles and the insubordination of the workers to the unfair conditions of capital accumulation, both by multinationals and by the Chinese capitalist conglomerates formed in their wake. As numerous works by researchers in China itself show17, labor conflicts and permanent strikes have been forcing wage increases and certain improvements in working conditions, necessary for the development of a new stage of the Chinese economy, which is no longer based on the growth only of exports but of their own internal market.

This has been causing the transfer of capital, which no longer finds Chinese conditions sufficiently attractive, to other peripheral countries with even lower labor costs, like Indonesia or Bangladesh, especially in the industry that, since the Industrial Revolution, has shown the greatest rates of overexploitation: textiles.18 Meanwhile, Chinese workers are beginning not only to engage in struggles over wages and working conditions, but even to pay attention to the possibilities of cooperativism and self-management as possible ways out of the very difficult conditions of exploitation in the Chinese labor market.19 While this is a small and incipient phenomenon (in fact, there are no cooperatives in China outside the rural zones), is a point of attention to analyze conditions and possible lines of development of a new stage of labor struggles against capital.

This description of the dynamics of international capitalist exploitation of labor and of the ever-greater mobility of the transnationalization of capital may seem unrelated to the topic of this article on struggles for self-management. However, it is fundamental to understanding the logic that leads capitalists to decide to abandon efficient, productive establishments, even when they have the latest technology, in places where the market for those products not only has not disappeared, but in some cases, is even growing. That logic will work as long as the workers in the transnationals’ countries of origin do not resist closures, on the one hand (and worker self-management is not only a form of keeping jobs and advancing towards another logic of production, but also a form of resistance to the abuses of capital), and as long as workers in Third-World countries are unable to improve their working conditions and raise their salaries on the other. Or, in a best-case scenario, to also struggle for self-management of their factories, thus restricting capital’s ability to move with impunity.

The Argentine case, in spite of its still-small numbers, shows that when the workers take up self-management of abandoned businesses as a tool for struggle, which is both defensive and offensive at the same time, it improves working conditions for all, the self-managed and wage laborers, and the bosses begin to feel that someone, for once in recent decades, is putting limits on them. And if the State no longer has an interclass commitment, also called the Welfare State, that can set these limits, it is going to have to be the workers themselves.

These matters give the South American experiences–especially in Argentina, because of their number and the fact that they have a specific self-management movement (overlooking the organizational and political fragmentation that keeps them from appearing as an organic whole)–a focus that makes it possible to reinsert the issue of self-management into the debate of the global Left. The hegemony on economic thought and political practice of the communist and social-democratic tendencies in the twentieth century, especially after the Russian Revolution and the defeat of the Spanish anarchists in the ’30s, essentially left the option of self-management out of the political debate and economics generally, with several notable exceptions.20 The catastrophic failure of Soviet-style socialism (even in those countries where the Communist Parties retained power after the fall of the USSR21), especially in the economic aspect, where (according to the theory and beliefs of the 19th and early 20th centuries) it should have proven its superiority over capitalism, which is to say, its ability to provide more or less satisfactorily and equally for the needs of the whole of society, opened the way to a stage where those hegemonic theories of the Left came up against their own limits. This new stage led to the social movements of working class of the last two decades beginning to propose, generally through action, the alternative of self-management. And just as this happened first in practice and then in theory, the experiences of recovered businesses, autonomous communes, non-monetary or alternative exchange networks, begin to have weight in the reconstitution of the new anti-capitalist thought. It is in the economic area where capitalism shows its strength and at the same time its weakness, and it is in this area where we still lack theory, which is unforgivable, since concrete experiences with a certain development already exist to study, analyze, and draw conclusions from.

This way, the recovered and self-managed businesses play a role that goes far beyond the valuable defense and recovery of jobs: it kicks off the reformulation, reconstruction, or entirely new constitution of a theory and economic praxis of workers, which manages to improve on traditional plans (or those imposed as a more or less exclusive path throughout the 20th century) and bring back the question of self-management in a dimension that had not been carried out so far, or at best, marginally. In that regard, to the extent that business recovery and self-management are no longer phenomena that are particular to certain countries and historical situations, but have come to be a strategy for the international struggle of the working class (as international as the predatory movement of capital), the possibility of rebuilding the project of a post-capitalist society and economy, which reinvents the old socialist project, and which recognizes that the diverse traditions of the Left and the popular movements of the 19th and 20th centuries in different parts of the world have something to contribute, is going to be real.


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  1. “The Take” is a documentary made in Argentina during 2003, showing the movement of recovered businesses, directed by Avi Lewis and Naomi Klein. It had an important role in spreading the word about the movement on a global scale.

  2. Azzellini, D. (2011).

  3. Mexico has a strong tradition of autonomy and self-management in rural collectives, especially in indigenous areas, though much less so in urban movements.

  4. ANTEAG (The National Association of Workers of Self-Managed Businesses) was the first association of self-managed businesses in Brazil, emerging in the first half of the ’90s. UNISOL, which is affiliated with the Workers’ Unified Central (CUT), was formed during Lula’s government.

  5. Chedid Henriques et al. (2013). A summary of this work forms the eighth chapter of this book. Sardá de Faria (2011) and Novaes (2011), also work on this topic and collaborated on chapter 6 of this compilation.

  6. Ruggeri (2005; 2009; 2011). See chapter 7 of this book (Ruggeri and Polti).

  7. Ruggeri (2005; 2011; 2013b). In our opinion, the interesting thing about the recovered business is not only the process of self-management that, through various circumstances, ends up being expressed as a cooperative, but the whole process in which a privately-owned and capitalist-managed business, which exploits wage labor, comes to be collectively managed by the former employees, and the problems and conclusions derived from this. These problems, in some cases, are similar to those of other cooperatives, but in many others, like those periods and historical processes where what the Marxism of the twentieth century called “worker control,” and anarcho-syndicalist tendencies preferred to call collectivizations or socializations[^10], was developed.

  8. A critique of this view of the concept of exclusion can be seen in Trinchero (2009).

  9. Ruggeri (2012; 2013a).


  11. For example, in the Brussels Congress of the First International (1865) and that of Copenhagen of the Second (1910). Cole (1957; 1959); AA.VV, Congresses of the Socialist Internationals (1969).

  12. For the Mondragon case, see among others Bowman and Stone (2009), and Sacchetto and Semenzin (2013) for the Italian cooperatives.

  13. While research has not yet been published on the issue, we can quote communications with researchers like Vieta, who talks about nearly a hundred BRWs in Italy, and Carrano, who mentions around 30. On the Rimaflow case, see Semanzin and Magnani’s article:

  14. It varies by country, between six months and two years.

  15. Gómez Solórzano (2014).

  16. World Trade Organization.

  17. Pun Ngai et al. (2013).

  18. The use by the textile industry of chains of outsourcing of workshops using slave or precarious labor in subhuman conditions is common in many places in the world, including Argentina. The case of the catastrophes with hundreds or thousands of workers dead in Bangladesh is is the most extreme example of that condition.

  19. The author of these lines had the opportunity to participate in a conference in Beijing entitled “Rethinking the Economy,” together with a large number of worker-activists interested in the formation of cooperatives and the Argentine experience of the BRWs, in May of 2013.

  20. The world in the post-WWII period, the strikes of the French May, the Italian worker autonomy movement, the Yugoslav experience and the industrial corridors of Allende’s Chile are the most important moments in which the debate on self-management and worker control was revived.

  21. With the relative exception of Cuba, where the economic model inherited from the alliance with the USSR has been been debated fairly deeply on numerous occasions (during the ’60s, in the middle of ’80s, and in the ’90s) and, currently, we live in a process of change in which cooperatives appear as an option for the renewal of productive organization. See Piñeiro Harnecker (2011).

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