Tune-in to WOL 1450 AM on Thursday, August 15, for Everything Co-op,hosted by Vernon Oakes. This week Vernon covers the Federation of Southern Cooperatives‘ 52nd Annual Meeting. Vernon will report live from Birmingham, Alabama.
To learn more about the Federation of Southern Cooperatives or its 52nd Annual Meeting Click Here!
I’m doing research on memorials to/of socialism in Washington, DC. I’m thinking about such memorials very broadly, even memorials that don’t seem like memorials, as well as memorials that are either positive or negative toward a variety of socialisms. Any suggestions are welcome!
“We’ve meticulously plotted every single Worker Cooperative, Small Business Development Center, Community Land Trust, and Dual Power Project within the United States that you can support right now, and will be updating as time goes on.”
Zooming in on DC in the map shows how much work is needed to rebuild the growing cooperative economy DC had in the 1970s. Today’s cooperative economy is being created in new ways along with past experiences. The Black Socialists of America vision builds on the example of Cooperation Jackson in Mississippi and Symbiosis, as well as what we have heard at the National Gentrification Summit about similar work in Newark and East New York. You can find more discussion about this vision at the excellent BSA website and in this Vice article.
Zooming in on DC, however, highlights some issues that must be engaged with, issues beyond the map. At the very end of the suggested resources page, the website states:
“The readings below mesh with and tie into our praxis and/or strategy as an organization. If you’ve made it through many of the readings listed before these, then processing what’s below will not be very difficult for you!”
In this bottom-of-the-page section they list work by Ajowa Nzinga Ifateyo and Jessica Gordon Nembhard, who both have worked in DC. My discomfort with this comes from the worlds of DC, where I write histories of DC cooperatives and was brought into DC’s cooperative movement organized by women and especially by African American women. From them, I gained an education about what radical democratic practice might be. In meetings around town, I see lots of men taking charge, seemingly not aware of the centrality (and generative nature) of the radical democratic tradition of African American women and other people of color in DC and elsewhere. This is reflected in the choices made on the resource page, putting GEO‘s Ajowa Nzinga Ifateyo and Jessica Gordon Nembhard in what might be called the extra reading list, those external to, though supportive of, “our praxis.”
I make this critique as a call to strengthen the cooperative and alternative economy movements by truly engaging with radical grassroots organizing and democratic practice already around us.
Here is a really helpful post by Ajowa Nzinga Ifateyo on her visit to Cuban worker cooperatives:
A mix of grey- and pastel-toned buildings on San Rafael Street in central Habana stand in stark testimony to part of the effects of a cruel U.S. embargo on life in Cuba. I was standing on the street looking for a textile co-op.
I was part of a 28-member tour organized by the Center for Global Justice to Cuba to study worker cooperatives and socialism… [continue]
Ajowa Nzinga Ifateyo (2017). Visiting Worker Cooperatives in Cuba: Muy Complicado. Grassroots Economic Organizing (GEO) http://geo.coop/story/visiting-worker-cooperatives-cuba-muy-complicado
The Capitalism Nature Socialism journal has a review of the Catalan Integral Cooperative that might interest those seeking to create a cooperative system in DC:
…the Catalan Integral Cooperative (CIC) provides us with what I think is the most surprising and inspiring demonstration of what can be done and what we need to do.
In George Dafermos’ recent report, “The Catalan Integral Cooperative: an organizational study of a post-capitalist cooperative” (2017), we learn that while only begun in 2010, the cooperative now involves many hundreds of people and many productive ventures, 400 of them involving growing food or making goods. Although there are far more activities than those within the CIC, its annual budget is now $480,000.
…These people have not waited for the government to save them, they are taking control over their own fate, setting up their own productive arrangements, food supply systems, warehouses and shops, basic income schemes, information and education functions, legal and tax advice, technical research and development, and even an investment bank. Best of all is the collectivist worldview and spirit, the determination to prevent the market and profit from driving the economy, and to establish cooperative arrangements that benefit all people, not just co-op members.
…Among the principles stated in Dafermos’ report are:
*A focus on social justice, equity, diversity, mutual support, cooperation, inclusion and solidarity, and the common good
*Focusing on the transformation of the whole of society, not just on securing benefits for members of the participating cooperatives
*People contribute according to their capacity to do so
*Getting rid of materialism; and aiming at satisfaction with “non-material living standards” and toward a sufficiency that does not seek accumulation as an end
*Applying resources directly to meeting the needs of people in the region
*Above all, getting rid of capitalism, where the long-term objective is “to be an organizational platform for the development of a self-sufficient economy that is autonomous from the State and the capitalist market”
In celebration of 2019, I am going to update the CoopDC Directory! Please let me know about any new or planned cooperatives of any type. Or feel free to let me know any updates about cooperatives in the DMV.
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Happy New Year!