Re: The Co-operative Model: Mondragon, Reagan, and China

From Stephen Philion <>
Date Sun, 22 Aug 2004 23:53:14 -0500
In-reply-to <>
References <>
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alex, do you know of any coops formed when SOEs have failed?


Alex Day wrote:

>Rural coops
>I glad Matt wrote this essay, both because of the
>importance of the topic and personally because it
>deals with the subject I am writing on.  I think,
>Matt, that you bring up the right questions by linking
>a discussion of the (new) coops and market socialism,
>for this is how most of the activists involved in the
>coop movement I have met seem to see it—at least some
>of the biggest promoters see it them as part of market
>socialism.  Jiang Bolin (whom Dong Xulin, Robert Weil
>and I visited in Siping this summer after going to
>Dingzhou) is one of the biggest promoters of New
>Cooperatives.  He started several coops outside of
>Siping and helped start the one in Zaicheng (where the
>Yan Yangchu Rural Reconstruction School is located);
>he also has spoken at Utopia in Beijing on New Coops. 
>His coops grew out of the reform of rural credit
>coops, to which they are strongly tied.  He stresses
>that these coops are fully part of the market and they
>should be.  I don’t think he really sees them as part
>of a process of struggle or of breaking with markets
>or even capitalism at all.  They are a way for
>peasants to improve their “weak” position within the
>market.  It is telling that the primary way they are
>effective for peasants is through purchasing and
>sales.  Grouped together, peasants can lose less money
>to middle men—it is portrayed as a way to be in a
>better competitive position vis-à-vis the middle men
>in the market.  Others, a little more critical, point
>out that this understanding of market competition is
>flawed; they note that the coops aren’t really
>improving their competitive position against the
>middle men so much as against other, non-coop-member
>peasants, who in turn get a worse price or have a
>harder time selling their goods.  If all peasants were
>in such coops, the benefits would end up mostly being
>wiped out within the market.  
>	All this doesn’t mean they don’t have value and
>shouldn’t be supported.  But I think it shows the
>limits to how they are being understood in China by
>some of their promoters at the moment.  I think their
>value lies elsewhere: in the increased active
>participation of peasants and workers in the social
>sphere.  It is as part of a process of social
>transformation that these coops begin to really have
>value—as Matt was also pointing out.  Jiang Bolin
>stressed active participation of peasants in the coops
>and their control; this is much stronger than places
>like Nanjiecun.  The question is, whether these coops
>will increase or decrease the combativeness of
>peasants and workers.  I think it is still hard to say
>and they have the potential to work either way.  It
>depends more, I guess, on outside factors, such as the
>extent to which there is a communist social movement
>or not.  Another factor to think about is the role of
>intellectuals in these coops.  Jiang Bolin made it
>clear that the peasants wouldn’t have joined into his
>coops if they had to bare any of the start-up costs—in
>the end he and his family have born much of the
>start-up costs.  
>	People here have also suggested the Ollman (which
>must be translated), so I will be definitely reading
>it when I get back.  
>There is a web site that focuses on these new rural
>coops.  It is put up by a young peasant that now hangs
>out at the YanYangchu school.  
>  Alex 
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