"By and large the characteristic of traditional peasants is a much higher degree of formal and informal (mostly localised) collectivity … perhaps the need for co-operation in the process of labour or the management of resources for common use … it is difficult to conceive of a ‘traditional’ peasantry, outside certain very special situations, without this collective element."

Eric Hobsbawm, Uncommon People: Resistance, Rebellion and Jazz

Interesting to see the significant role that cooperation and collective management have played in the livelihood of peasants through history - probably the livelihood for the majority of people in the world for the last eight centuries.

"I do claim that what is sold to us today as freedom is something from which this more radical dimension of freedom and democracy has been removed — in other words, the belief that basic decisions about social development are discussed or brought about involving as many as possible, a majority. In this sense, we do not have an actual experience of freedom today. Our freedoms are increasingly reduced to the freedom to choose your lifestyle."

— Zizek (via palewidow)

(Source: tigerway)

If Vodafone was a mutual

What would happen if Vodafone was a mutual, owned by everyday people rather than shareholder investors?

Vodaphone announced recently that it was selling its 45% stake in the US mobile company, Verizon Wireless, for over £80 billion. With much praise in the press, Vodaphone said that £66 billion of the sale will go to its shareholders. With nearly 50%of its shareholders in the UK, this will give a much-needed boost to the UK economy, equivalent to around 2% of GDP and some in the press said, akin to quantitative easing.

That’s a lot of money, no doubt, and it shows the ability of businesses to generate and distribute wealth.

The thing is, though, over 75% of Vodafone’s shares are held by ten investment institutions. So only a small amount of money will go into the pockets of real people or into the economy in any meaningful sense. Most of the pay-out will be re-invested in the markets with little tangible impact for economic wellbeing and the wider economy.

If it was a mutual things would be different.

If Vodafone were owned by its 19.3 million UK customers, rather than shareholders, each customer owner would get around £3,500, giving them a significant chunk of money. If Vodafone were owned by its 84,000 staff, the share each would receive would be considerably larger.

Not only would a mutually owned Vodafone put money in people’s pockets and boost the economy, it would share the wealth generated by the business amongst around 40% of the UK adult population.

And that’s without even mentioning tax. Which, it turns out, Vodafone will pay very little of because of its clever tax arrangements. But that’s a different story.

nevver:

Happy Labor Day

(Source: warzonetourism)

Capitalism and mutualism beyond borders

Listening again to one of Zizek’s lectures, he makes a great point - that the Occupy movement’s major insight and motivation was that national democratic institutions are insufficient for controlling global finance and capital because the latter go, by definition, beyond borders.

It takes a prod like this to remind you why economic democracy is a good thing - it means that democratic control is structured around business and economies not around historically constituted geographic units.

So, one way to give the people some control of global finance is through co-operative and mutual structures that give people a democratic say and control over the businesses that affect their daily lives.

It’s not everything, it’s not sufficient on its own and there are big questions about size, scale, how it’s organised, local control …

But it’s a reminder of why economic democracy is a key element response to the control of capital that ignores borders.

futurefutures:

We have had [in England], ever since 1876, a chronic state of stagnation in all dominant branches of industry. Neither will the full crash come; nor will the period of longed-for prosperity to which we used to be entitled before and after it. A dull depression, a chronic glut of all markets for all trades, that is what we have been living in for nearly ten years. How is this?

—Frederick Engels

radicalarchive:

‘Workers’ Opposition’, Chicago, first issue, early 1970’s. Not an official publication of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), ‘Workers’ Opposition’ was published by members of the IWW’s Metal and Machinery Workers Local 440 and Furniture Workers Local 420 to further understanding of the IWW’s ideas and principles.

radicalarchive:

‘Workers’ Opposition’, Chicago, first issue, early 1970’s. Not an official publication of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), ‘Workers’ Opposition’ was published by members of the IWW’s Metal and Machinery Workers Local 440 and Furniture Workers Local 420 to further understanding of the IWW’s ideas and principles.

(via unpoliceyourmind)

Formal and radical democracy at work

There are so many ways of looking at democracy, but here are two (connected) ones in the workplace:

Formal democracy in the workplace provides employees with a way of expressing their ideas and passions, and venting their frustrations. They range from staff surveys and techniques of engagement right through to non-hierarchical decision making in worker co-operatives.

Without (and, in fact, with) formal democracy, you find an emergent or radical democracy where employees not given a say or any channels for expression make themselves heard and counted. This ranges from tiny acts or resistance like spending work time on Facebook to making collective demands of management.

In a way, democracy is inevitable. The question is whether it’s mainly through formal channels or through acts of democratic resistance.

"We do not get to vote on who owns what, or on relations in factory and so on, for all this is deemed beyond the sphere of the political, and it is illusory to expect that one can actually change things by “extending” democracy to ple’s control. Radical changes in this domain should be made outside the sphere of legal “rights”, etcetera: no matter how radical our anti-capitalism, unless this is understood, the solution sought will involve applying democratic mechanisms (which, of course, can have a positive role to play)- mechanisms, one should never forget, which are themselves part of the apparatus of the “bourgeois” state that guarantees the undisturbed functioning of capitalist reproduction. In this precise sense, Badiou hit the mark with his apparently wired claim that “Today, the enemy is not called Empire or Capital. It’s called Democracy.” it is the “democratic illusion” the acceptance of democratic procedures as the sole framework for any possible change, that blocks any radical transformation of capitalist relations."

— Slavoj Žižek, The Year of Dreaming Dangerously (via choicewords)

"A society which organises itself without authority is always in existence, like a seed beneath the snow buried under the weight of the state and its beaurucracy, capitalism and its waste, privilege and its injustice."

— Colin Ward, Anarchy in Action, 1973

unbornchild:

“[I]f one is interested in doing historical work that has political meaning, utility and effectiveness, then this is possible only if one has some kind of involvement with the struggles taking place in the area in question. I tried first to do a genealogy of psychiatry because I had had a certain amount of practical experience in psychiatric hospitals and was aware of the combats, the lines of force, tensions and points of collision which existed there. My historical work was undertaken only as a function of those conflicts. The problem and the stake there was the possibility of a historical truth which could have a political effect.”
- Michel Foucault, Power/Knowledge p. 64 (quoted in Treatments by Lisa Diedrich).

unbornchild:

“[I]f one is interested in doing historical work that has political meaning, utility and effectiveness, then this is possible only if one has some kind of involvement with the struggles taking place in the area in question. I tried first to do a genealogy of psychiatry because I had had a certain amount of practical experience in psychiatric hospitals and was aware of the combats, the lines of force, tensions and points of collision which existed there. My historical work was undertaken only as a function of those conflicts. The problem and the stake there was the possibility of a historical truth which could have a political effect.”

- Michel Foucault, Power/Knowledge p. 64 (quoted in Treatments by Lisa Diedrich).

(Source: shrinkrants)

A short propaganda animation for co-operatives from 1920s Soviet Union. Who knew? Amazing.

"In other words, who dares to strike today,when having the security of a permanent job is itself becoming a privilege?"

Slavoj ŽižekThe Year of Dreaming Dangerously

- spot on

(via suspendedindusk)

(via suspendedindusk-deactivated2013)