Monday, November 28, 2011

Anarchist-Inspired Socialist Experimentation in Richmond, California

Along with “middle class radicalism” in Santa Monica (Mark E. Kamm), “progressive politics” in San Francisco (Richard L. DeLeon), and “the leftmost city” in Santa Cruz (Richard Gendron and G. William Domhoff), we now have an anarchist-inspired experiment in socialist cooperation in Richmond, California. Yet another reason for why I love my home state!

As the Los Angeles Times article explains, “The flurry of democratic enterprise has been guided by Mayor Gayle McLaughlin, a former schoolteacher who visited Mondragon, Spain, and recognized a possible path out of the poverty and unemployment that plague her city.”

By way of background, I proffer the following readings:
  • Cheney, George. Values at Work: Employee Participation Meets Market Pressures at Mondragon (Ithaca, NY: ILR Press, 1999).
  • Dolgoff, Sam, ed. The Anarchist Collectives: Workers’ Self-Management in the Spanish Revolution, 1936-1939 (New York: Free Life Editions, 1974).
  • MacLeod, Greg. From Mondragon to America: Experiments in Community Economic Development (Sydney, Nova Scotia: University College of Cape Breton Press, 1997).
  • Morrison, Roy. We Build the Road as We Travel (Philadelphia, PA: New Society Publishers, 1991).
  • Thomas H. and C. Logan. Mondragon: An Economic Analysis (London: Allen and Unwin, 1982).
  • Whyte, William Foote and Kathleen King Whyte. Making Mondragon: The Growth and Dynamics of the Worker Cooperative Complex (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1988).
On some of the difficulties involved in assessing such experiments, please see the introductory essay by Jon Elster and Karl Ove Moene to their edited volume, Alternatives to Capitalism (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1989): 1-35.

Addendum—I decided to add a few more titles by way of further (broader and deeper) historical and theoretical context:
  • Case, John and Rosemary C.R. Taylor, eds. Co-ops, Communes, and Collectives: Experiments in Social Change in the 1960s and 1970s (New York: Pantheon Books, 1979).
  • Clave, Pierre. The Progressive City: Planning and Participation, 1969-1984 (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1986).
  • Hine, Robert V. California’s Utopian Colonies (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1983 ed. [1953]).
  • Logan, John R. and Harvey L. Molotch. Urban Fortunes: The Political Economy of Place (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1987).
  • Nichols, John. The “S” Word: A Short History of an American Tradition…Socialism (London: Verso, 2011).
  • Santos, Boaventura de Sousa Santos, ed. Democratizing Democracy: Beyond the Liberal Democratic Canon—Vol. 1 of Reinventing Social Emancipation: Toward New Manifestos (London: Verso, 2007).
  • Santos, Boaventura de Sousa Santos, ed. Another Production is Possible: Beyond the Capitalist Canon—Vol. 2 of Reinventing Social Emancipation: Toward New Manifestos (London: Verso, 2007).
  • Schweickart, David. Against Capitalism (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1996).


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