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Original article, by ANRED, via In Defence of Marxism:

It would seem that the force of the wind, which was blowing at more than 60 km/hr in the Neuquén capital, was an omen of what was to come. 26 deputies supported the definitive expropriation and this sealed the declaration that the factory was of public interest and the transfer of Cerámica Zanon to the Fasinpat cooperative.

A victory for workers who occupied a factory when the bosses tried to sack them. Amazing. Of course, we'll be told that there's no way something would work in a country such as the US. On the other hand, we really haven't tried it yet.

"This is amazing. We are happy. The expropriation is an act of justice. We will not forget the people who supported us during the most difficult times, nor the 100 thousand signatures that supported our project," said an emotional Alejandro López, General Secretary of the Sindicato Ceramista de Neuquén (Neuquen Ceramic Workers Union - SOECN) and part of the political leadership of Zanon.

Keep in mind that the capitalist ideal can't allow for worker ownership. Indeed, the good of the people who work for a company comes far down the totem pole: Profits are the bread and butter of the capitalist, damn the workers who actually produce the goods.

Since Cerámica Zanon was taken over by the workers, 470 families live directly on the work produced by the factory which is estimated to have generated 5000 jobs indirectly. The symbolic struggle of the workers and the great support from the local community finally achieved legitimate recognition by the provincial government of the social and productive value that workers’ management has promoted since 2002, the year in which the workers began administrating the factory – without bosses, managers or owners.

In a world that allows for workers to own the means of production, in which production is based upon said workers' labor, the needs of the community can be met as well as keeping the company running. Workers are able to manage companies as well as produce at them. This means no need for the bosses and the middle managers.

I'll let you read the rest of the article. It shows how Ceramica Zanon's workers managed to gain control of their company. It also shows that a government can understand that an ongoing concern is more important that profits for the bosses. This is a lesson which we all can learn. The sooner, the better!

Originally posted to rjones2818 on Sat Aug 22, 2009 at 05:58 PM PDT.


The Ceramica Zanon Victory?

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| 66 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

    •  Celebratory music is required! :) (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Lujane, blueocean

      Don't blame me, I support Dennis!

      by rjones2818 on Sat Aug 22, 2009 at 06:14:57 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'm so glad you posted that. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Neon Mama, Lujane

        Believe it or not, I'd never heard this song before coming to D-Kos.

        I wasn't raised in a politically aware family and never had an opportunity to be exposed to it.

        I now find myself humming this tune from time to time.  It always makes me happy.

        There is something about the awareness I now have regarding the length and effort of this struggle.  

        The knowledge that these ideas aren't new but have stood through generations of people working to change inequality and lack of opportunity wherever it is found.

        Nobody held a wake for America's manufacturing industry, and now we are supposed to give a fuck about these assholes in the insurance business? - Playon

        by blueocean on Sat Aug 22, 2009 at 08:03:53 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  How can workers own the means of production (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rjones2818, thestructureguy

    in a post-industrial, information-based economy?

  •  Leaving aside whether the factory... (9+ / 0-)

    ...will be a success in what's still very much a capitalist Argentina, it's worth noting that the government facilitated the workers' takeover not out of an ideological hostility to capitalism or an affinity to socialism, but rather out of workaday political clientelism.  Those workers are now expected to turn out for whatever party rules the state of Neuquen.  In Argentina it's all about the votes, which is certainly a happy thing to say about Argentina (that's 27 years of democracy) but it's not something that can reasonably be seen as "defense of Marxism" unless Marx had a weekend job as a theorist of patronage politics.

    Al que no le guste el caldo, le dan dos tazas.

    by Rich in PA on Sat Aug 22, 2009 at 06:11:15 PM PDT

    •  Maybe Argentina's decided that... (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Justina, Wee Mama, Neon Mama, davidseth, Lujane

      a robust public option is needed for their economy!


      Don't blame me, I support Dennis!

      by rjones2818 on Sat Aug 22, 2009 at 06:19:12 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  From the article it sounds like it was the state (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Wee Mama, Lujane

        ...of Neuquen rather than the Argentina government, which to me suggests that it was a pragmatic decision to keep a local industry afloat, and the workers'-control aspect was purely incidental.  Now if it's a rolling success that will be a powerful local statement of the viability of worker ownership, but that's a big if, and in the end it's still capitalism.

        Al que no le guste el caldo, le dan dos tazas.

        by Rich in PA on Sat Aug 22, 2009 at 06:23:05 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I think this is a critical point. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      This is "Marxism" as practiced by Argentina's version of Richard J. Daley.  This is, of course, is better than fascism as practiced by Leopoldo Galtieri, and Cristina Kirchner looks much less like a Mr. Potato Head doll than Mayor Daley.  But that is the dynamic.

      For my money, I would prefer to see management and labor work out their problems than have plant seizures, like outs, fascist elite plots or marxist popular ones and the like than tend to be associated with these times of things when they get popular.

  •  Call me (4+ / 0-)

    Call me in about 10 years and we'll see how well the factory is doing.  I'll bet that either it's closed down and everybody is out of work or it's being supported by huge taxpayer subsidies.  I've seen this movie before.

    •  We see it all the time with regular capitalistic (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      G2geek, Lujane, blueocean


      AiG, Citi, Enron, etc, etc.

      When the corporate mantra is loot and run, 'we're too big to fail', you've either got to close or support with huge taxpayer subsidies.

      So why should it be any more of a negative if it happens to a business run by the workers. (Aka, a co-op, many of which do very well in fields not dominated by huge monopolistic entities.)

      Those who labour in the earth are the chosen people of God. - Thomas Jefferson

      by Ezekial 23 20 on Sat Aug 22, 2009 at 07:56:33 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I saw a documentary including these workers (8+ / 0-)

    either on tv or online last year.  This is real deal survival after the fat cats of their country literally put the cash on airplanes & fled in the middle of the night -- instead of staying to get a bailout.

    Glad these folks won.  They inspired Americans to "occupy" their window factory last year until bosses honored contracts. People power in action.  These folks deserve a huzzah.

    De fund + de bunk = de EXIT--->>>>>

    by Neon Mama on Sat Aug 22, 2009 at 06:38:20 PM PDT

  •  Mondragon (8+ / 0-)

    The Mondragon cooperative started in the Basque Country in 1956 when Spain was ruled by the Fascist dictator Franco. From a 1998 paper

    What started as one firm and roughly 25 people in 1956 is now a major international business with a work force of over 34,000, employed in some 100 worker-owned enterprises and affiliated organizations, all of which are integrated into the Mondragón Cooperative Corporation (MCC). In 1997, MCC had total sales of approximately $5 billion, exported nearly half its industrial sales, and its Financial Group (bank and social security/pension fund) had nearly $7.5 billion of various financial assets under management. MCC firms are the leading producer of domestic appliances and machine tools in Spain, the largest domestically-based supermarket chain in the country, and the third largest supplier of automotive components in Europe. Among its other products and services, one finds automated manufacturing cells, satellite dishes, luxury buses, industrial presses, large metal structures, engineering consulting, and software development, to name a few.

    and how did they react to global recession?

    Here’s how it played out when one of the Mondragón cooperatives fell on hard times. The worker/owners and the managers met to review their options. After three days of meetings, the worker/owners agreed that 20 percent of the workforce would leave their jobs for a year, during which they would continue to receive 80 percent of their pay and, if they wished, free training for other work. This group would be chosen by lottery, and if the company was still in trouble a year later, the first group would return to work and a second would take a year off.

    The result? The solution worked and the company thrives to this day.

    Another classic case of successful worker ownership but with a different model is the John Lewis Partnership, a shop chain in the UK.

    "Israel was born out of Jewish terrorism." Sir Gerald Kaufman, British MP and son of Holocaust survivor.

    by Lib Dem FoP on Sat Aug 22, 2009 at 06:53:51 PM PDT

    •  I like to call it Sufficiency Capitalism (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Wee Mama, G2geek, Neon Mama, blueocean, Lazar

      Sufficiency Capitalism TM - The People's New World Order

      They laughed at the Wright Brothers, too.

      In our new world, where physicists are hired to create Wall Street trading models, where lightly collateralized day traders are allowed to buy huge volumes of equity on a promise, and the internet enables loan officers to scoop as many debtors as time allows and then make small commissions on volume when they whisk their debtor bundles directly into Wall Street’s designer hedge funds, the jaundiced eyes of so-called economists will laugh and jeer at the simplicity and seeming altruism of Sufficiency Capitalism.

      Don’t be fooled, however.  That laughter is really a nervous reaction to the glaring reality on the ground today.  It may have taken a couple of centuries for the world to absorb the misadventures of Greed Capitalism before every nook and cranny of world economies became infected with the pie-in-the-sky philosophy that growth and expansion are somehow infinite.

      My eight (8) year old grandson could see the fallacy of this philosophy after a brief overview.  He said “Nothing can grow forever if it has no where to grow to.”  Out of the mouths of babes.

      You can read the whole diary here:

      Every business need not strive to become a behemoth.  Manageable, sustainable models SUFFICIENT to the needs of all involved provides more security in the long run.  The Mondragon example most likely consists of many, smaller components with the same management philosophy.  Sufficient to provide for all, stable growth, conservative spending, and NO huge skimming at the top.

      Poverty does not mean powerless. Unite!

      by War on Error on Sat Aug 22, 2009 at 07:09:05 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I don't understand the fetish (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        G2geek, Lujane

        that neoliberals have for growth.

        I wanna quote another British poet.

        by Lazar on Sat Aug 22, 2009 at 07:50:35 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I don't understand why progressives have decided (0+ / 0-)

          they hate growth.  Is it so hard to say "Growth is good, and helping balance the good of equality and the good of growth is a legitimate function of government?"  

          •  same reason as we oppose creationism. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Neon Mama, Lazar

            Creationism is false.  It describes a past that did not happen.

            Growthism is false.  It describes a future that cannot happen.

            Unlimited growth on a finite planet is simply not possible.  Or if you can find a way to map an infinity onto the surface of a Euclidean solid, I'll get you nominated for a Nobel.  

            On a finite planet, growth reaches a limit and must stop, or nature will crash the system.  Wishing for growth beyond that point is like wishing for a magic antigravity machine, to take a trip to the moon on gossamer wings.  

            •  You need to get real. (0+ / 0-)

              Growth, of the sort we are speaking, is a necessary thing.  Simply recycling broken tools and equipment is growth.  Even when humanity mines, ores, and uses every resource on the planet growth, in the form of finding the ways to reuse and re purpose those resources which, thanks to our good buddy Newton won't be going anywhere, into new useful things.  And even more growth will be derived from making those things more efficient through technological change and or making them better suite the current cultural or societal circumstances....
              People who talk about the "limits of growth" don't know anything about what growth is or what the ramifications of living on a finite planet are.  It is a symptom of how deep the sickness of deep ecology has infiltrated the left in general and environmentalism specifically with its neoludditism.

              "Unlimited growth on a finite planet is simply not possible.  Or if you can find a way to map an infinity onto the surface of a Euclidean solid, I'll get you nominated for a Nobel."

              •  The discussion is not finite (0+ / 0-)

                as demonstrated here.

                I am going to just rattle off a few ideas here.  Not so much to argue, but to point out what I see as a flaw in the Growth At All Costs Model.

                If growth/expansion remains the foundational principle of a business model without an eye to sufficiently paying all workers within the business, the low wage worker will drop off as a consumer for too many products, thus hampering growth.

                The argument for recycling finite commodities, in my opinion, is based on providing consumers with new and better.  In today's model where profit/growth is the growth median, and much of that profit is skimmed at the top and by shareholders, I would argue that this model undercuts its ability to grow because growth requires investment at all levels of the model, including a commitment to retain the lowest wage earner in the model as a potential consumer.

                The reduction in disposable capital in the USA, a large component of growth potential, reduces the ability of growth regardless how you define it.  Unless, of course, the models are looking towards Asia as the new, improved market base to replace USA consumers.

                I will argue that growing the disposable capital of workers FIRST, before profits trickle up to be skimmed off at the top, is a more sustainable and stable model.  Yes, growth as defined by expansion may take longer; however, what is created is not at the risk of meltdown any/every time the general economy ticks down for whatever reason.  Why, because the lowest common denominators in the equation (the lowest ranked wage earner) will be able to have a cushion of savings and assets, instead of living paycheck to paycheck and assuming debt when they need new tires or a root canal.  The acquired security cushion can carry both the individual and the overall economy through the hiccups.

                Conversely, the decline in wages over the past 30 years for the average American worker has left the majority of Americans with only one choice:  Debt.  In order to survive, they have had to assume debt as the cost of housing, food, health care, and necessity consumable good have skyrocketed.  

                And here we are.  Disposable income is gone for too many Americans as their credit is frozen, their indebtedness unmanageable, and prospects for innovation frozen due to lack of investment capital.

                On the other hand, if the goal of the policies over the past 30 years was to create a society of debt slaves, then the policy succeeded.

                For those looking overseas to fulfill their expansion/growth dreams, the increased risk of violence and social unrest has to be factored into the cost of doing business.  Again, undercutting wages to an insufficient living wage, will decrease profit/expansion over the long haul.

                It is the myopic short-sightedness and lack of looking at the whole picture in pursuit of next quarters growth/profit that has brought the world to its economic knees.

                Greed's need for immediate gratification is a poor, long-term planner.

                Poverty does not mean powerless. Unite!

                by War on Error on Sun Aug 23, 2009 at 10:42:49 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

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