Thoughts on Argentina's Conjunctures :: Recuperating Work, Recovering Life (2005-2007)

Friday, August 24, 2007

Las empresas recuperadas por sus trabajadores como cooperativas de trabajo

Una breve mirada a las cinco características que distinguen el caso argentino

Ponencia de Marcelo Vieta, basado en un artículo escrito por Andrés Ruggeri y Marcelo Vieta para el PRIMER ENCUENTRO INTERNACIONAL DE DEBATE:
FACULTAD DE FILOSOFÍA Y LETRAS, UNIVERSIDAD DE BUENOS AIRES: “LA ECONOMÍA DE LOS TRABAJADORES: AUTOGESTIÓN Y DISTRIBUCIÓN DE LA RIQUEZA”
(ver también: http://www.recuperadasdoc.com.ar/encuentro/index.htm)

19-21 julio 2007, Facultad de Filosofía y Letras, Universidad de Buenos Aires


Parte 1: Las cinco características de las ERT



Parte 2: Algunas influencias de las cinco características de las ERT en la organización del trabajo autogestivo

[A continuación | Forthcoming]

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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Music rally in support of the Hotel BAUEN workers' latest struggles with eviction


The former owners of the Hotel BAUEN want it back. And this time they just might get it. The last owners of the emblematic, worker-recuperated hotel in the heart of downtown Buenos Aires recently took the case to court and a local judge decided in favour of the returning patrón who abandoned the hotel in 2001, ordering the eviction of all of the "occupying" workers by the middle of next month at the latest. This decision not only puts at risk the jobs of over 150 hotel workers -- jobs that have been recovered since 2003 (see links below for details) -- but also risks setting a new precedence for more than 180 other worker-recovered enterprises that currently exist across Argentina. In this current conjuncture, as the city of Buenos Aires waits for a new right wing mayor to take office in December and as national elections near, not only is Argentina's best known worker-run hotel at risk, but the very movement of worker-recovered enterprises that spans most of Argentina's economic sectors is once again under direct threat from still-powerful capitalist business interests.

Facing the possibility of imminent eviction, the Hotel BAUEN workers are taking their protest to the streets just outside of the hotel on Callao St. near Corrientes. And thousands of people from a vast swath of Argentina's social movements are joining the BAUEN workers as I write this. Workers from dozens of worker-recuperated enterprises from the city and province of Buenos Aires, social movement activists, and hundreds of other people in solidarity with the BAUEN workers have joined the hotel workers en masse and are swaying to the music of some of Argentina's most popular radical bands and musicians, such as Arbol and Leon Gieco. In between the acts, announcers are reading out the messages of support and solidarity from myriad social movements across Argentina, dozens of academics and political activists from across the world, and even from Lula's Worker's Party.

Activist reporter Marie Trigona's recent ZNet article sums up nicely the current struggles of the Hotel BAUEN workers.

Here are some more images I just took of the rally:








A short history of the Hotel BAUEN's workers' struggles:

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Friday, August 17, 2007

List of papers given at “LA ECONOMÍA DE LOS TRABAJADORES: AUTOGESTIÓN Y DISTRIBUCIÓN DE LA RIQUEZA" conference in Buenos Aires

List of papers delivered at "LA ECONOMÍA DE LOS TRABAJADORES: AUTOGESTIÓN Y DISTRIBUCIÓN DE LA RIQUEZA"

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Friday, August 10, 2007

Por la expropiación del Bauen

Página/12: Por la expropiación del Bauen

Por Laura Vales

Quien visite el Hotel Bauen por estos días podrá ver, en el lobby de entrada, una muestra de retratos. Son fotografías que exhiben a los 154 trabajadores de la cooperativa que hace cuatro años recuperó el lugar, abandonado por sus antiguos dueños, y que ahora enfrentan una intimación de desalojo. Los trabajadores terminaron de colgar los retratos ayer, para que sirvieran de marco a la conferencia de prensa en que figuras de organismos de derechos humanos, organizaciones sociales, gremiales y políticas hicieron un llamado de alerta. En el encuentro con los medios, hubo duras críticas a la decisión judicial y se reclamó al Gobierno que “asuma la responsabilidad de dar una solución”. Traducido: que expropie el hotel mediante una ley del Congreso Nacional.

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Monday, August 06, 2007

Hotel BAUEN: Un nuevo fallo en contra de la gestión de la cooperativa. Esta medida peligra la fuente de trabajo de más de 150 familias.

1978: Para en Mundial de Fútbol se construyó el Hotel BAUEN S.A gracias a la estrecha vinculación de su titular Marcelo Ircuvich con miembros de la Dictadura Militar. Accedió a un crédito otorgado por el BANADE, actualmente en manos del Banco Nación. Iurcovich, titular de esta empresa nunca habilitó el hotel, jamás pago el préstamo al Estado, no pagó impuestos y se endeudó por millones de pesos. Bajo esta metodología Iurcovich acumuló grandes ganancias. En 1997 le vendió el Hotel al grupo económico Solari S.A. Su titular, Solari operó de idéntica manera a su predecesor, solo pagó la primer cuota... Gestionó el Hotel hasta diciembre del 2001 cuando se le decretó la quiebra dejando a 80 familias en la calle sin explicación alguna.

2003: Se crea la Cooperativa BAUEN. Los trabajadores lo encontraron absolutamente vaciado y destruido. Los últimos cuatro años tuvieron que reacondicionar todas las instalaciones y pusieron en marcha esta exitosa gestión. Generaron más de 150 puestos de trabajo cuando el país pasaba su peor crisis económica. En 4 años demostraron que la gestión sin patrón es absolutamente viable. Los resultados están a la vista. Tal vez sea este el motivo que más incomode a quienes piensan que una administració n seria y exitosa no puede ser propia de los trabajadores.

20 de julio de 2007: La jueza Paula Hualde dictaminó el desalojo del Hotel y otorga 30 días de plazo para que se retiren inmueble. Este fallo favorece a quienes vaciaron el Hotel, generaron pérdidas al Estado y echaron a los trabajadores y atenta contra uno de los derechos básicos de la constitución argentina: poder trabajar libremente.

Los trabajadores del BAUEN queremos que toda la sociedad se entere de este atropello contra nuestros intereses. Trabajar dignamente, seguir desarrollando nuestras capacidades y generar más puestos de trabajo. Apelaremos la medida de la jueza Hualde. No bajaremos los brazos.

Contamos con el apoyo solidario de organizaciones políticas, movimientos sociales, culturales y de la comunidad. Vamos a resistir esta medida y estamos organizando diversas actividades para que toda la sociedad nos pueda acompañar en esta lucha.

6 de Agosto: Movilización al Juzgado (Callao y Marcelo T. Alvear)
9 de Agosto : Conferencia de prensa en el Hotel.
24 de Agosto: Acto masivo con importantes bandas y personalidades destacadas.

prensatrabajadoresd elbauen@yahoo. com.ar Tel : 43719505
El BAUEN ES DE TODOS. NO AL DESALOJO!!


ACTIVIDADES EN APOYO DEL BAUEN

Viernes 27 y sábado 28 de julio: volanteada en el recital de Ataque 77 en Temperley
Viernes 3 de agosto - 18 hs: Recital de Poder Sikuri y La Covacha en Callao y Corrientes - Organiza la Asamblea de San Telmo.
Lunes 6 de agosto: Movilización y entrega de apelación al juzgado de Callao y M.T. de Alvear. Concentración a las 11 hs en la puerta del hotel. Actividades teatrales y murga. Los que no puedan concurrir a las 11hs pueden hacerlo al juzgado hasta las 13 hs.
Jueves 9 de agosto - 18 hs: Conferencia de prensa en el hotel con la participación de personalidades del ámbito político y social.
Jueves 16 de agosto, 19 hs: obra teatral "Maquinando", la historia de la Gráfica Patricios - Dir Norman Briski - Auditorio del Bauen
Viernes 24 de agosto - 17 hs: Acto masivo y recital en Callao y Corrientes, con la presencia de todas las organizaciones sociales que apoyan al Bauen.

MESAS DE DIFUSION

Mesa en estación Once:
Martes 31 de julio, 17 hs - Responsable Daniel
Miércoles 1 y viernes 3 de agosto, 17 hs - responsable Gabriel

Mesa en estación Constitución
Lunes 30 martes 31 de julio, miércoles 1 de agosto, 17 hs - responsable Alberto
Martes 7 y Miércoles 8, 17 hs - responsable luciano

Mesa en estación Retiro
Miércoles 1 de agosto, 17 hs - responsable Matías

Mesa en Florida y Av de Mayo
Lunes 30 de julio, 17 hs - responsable Juan Carlos y Susana
Martes 31 de julio, miércoles 1 de agosto, jueves 2, 14 hs -

Mesa en Corrientes y Callao
Lunes 30 de julio, 17 hs - responsable Marcos
Miércoles 1 de agosto, 17 hs - responsable Nadia

Mesa en Plaza Dorrego
Sábado 28 y domingo 29 de julio, todo el día - responsable asamblea de San Telmo
El jueves 2 de agosto, 18 hs en el hotel, evaluamos la marcha de las actividades

OTRAS ACTIVIDADES
Difusión: volanteada en la zona norte, hospitales , parque centenario, facultades

Solicitada: en periódicos Pág 12 y Clarín. Se solicita colaboración para financiarlas. Comunicarse con la oficina de prensa del bauen - 4373-9009 y 4371-9505 o cel 1157285920 (Fabio), 1557445208 (Federico), 1564677765 (Jaime)

Cada organización puede realizar actividades de difusión en su ámbito de acción. Pueden retirar volantes en la oficina de prensa o confeccionar e imprimir otros, con su firma.

Con nuestro agradecimiento por su solidaridad - trabajadores del bauen

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Sunday, August 05, 2007

Síntesis del Primer Encuentro internacional “La economía de los trabajadores”

Facultad de Filosofía y Letras-Universidad de Buenos Aires
19,20 y 21 de julio de 2007


Organizado por el Programa de Extensión Universitaria Facultad Abierta (Facultad de Filosofía y Letras de la Universidad de Buenos Aires), se desarrolló en tres intensas jornadas el Primer Encuentro Internacional “La economía de los trabajadores: autogestión y distribución de la riqueza”.

Con más de trescientos participantes de Argentina, Cuba, México, Perú, Colombia, Chile, Brasil, Sudáfrica, Alemania, Croacia, Estados Unidos y Canadá, entre trabajadores, dirigentes y militantes de organizaciones sociales y políticas e investigadores y representantes del mundo académico, el Encuentro debatió en profundidad temas relacionados con el papel de los trabajadores en la gestión de la economía a partir de las experiencias de autogestión, como las empresas recuperadas argentinas, y de las luchas del movimiento obrero en el marco de los cambios en el mundo del trabajo en esta etapa del capitalismo neoliberal global.

En la apertura del encuentro, el jueves 19, hicieron uso de la palabra Andrés Ruggeri, director del Programa Facultad Abierta y responsable general de la organización del evento y Hugo Trinchero, Decano de la Facultad de Filosofía y Letras, junto con representantes de las entidades co-organizadoras: Betsy Bowman (Centro para la Justicia Global, San Miguel de Allende, México), Gabriel Martínez (Federación de Trabajadores de la Energía de la República Argentina), Claudio Lozano (Instituto de Estudios y Formación de la Central de Trabajadores Argentinos), Marcelo Vieta (Centro de Estudios para América Latina y el Caribe, Universidad de York, Toronto, Canadá) y Graciela Monteagudo (Proyecto Argentina Autonomista).
Posteriormente, se desarrollaron paneles sobre los distintos ejes de trabajo de la convocatoria: 1) La economía capitalista hoy: etapa del capitalismo global desde los movimientos populares; 2) La economía autogestionaria: debate sobre las experiencias autogestionarias en la era del capitalismo global (empresas recuperadas, cooperativas rurales, emprendimientos autogestivos solidarios, movimientos cooperativos, redes de intercambio y comercio justo, etc.); 3) Los desafíos de los gobiernos populares en la gestión social de la economía y el Estado; 4) Balance crítico del movimiento cooperativo; y 5) Nuevos desafíos del movimiento sindical: sindicatos, agrupamientos de trabajadores, cogestión y participación en las decisiones.

La riqueza del debate se dio, entre otras cosas, por el hecho de compartir un espacio de discusión trabajadores e investigadores de varios países, intercambiando experiencias y reflexiones sobre los ejes de debate propuestos, con la intención de que generar insumos para la acción política y organizativa de los trabajadores, junto con el enriquecimiento de los análisis teóricos en torno a los problemas de la autogestión obrera y la lucha sindical. Entre los investigadores y académicos, participaron: Hugo Trinchero (antropólogo y Decano de la Facultad de Filosofía y Letras, UBA); Betsy Bowman (Centro para la Justicia Global, EE.UU./México); Marco Gómez y Celia Pacheco (Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana, México); Karin Berlien Araos (Universidad de Chile); Patricia Díaz (CERLAC, Colombia/Canadá); Daniel Maidana (UNGS); Ruth Muñoz (Espacio de economía social, IEF-CTA); Pablo Rodríguez (departamento de Economía Social-CTA Capital); Andrés Ruggeri (Filosofía y Letras, UBA); Carlos Martínez (FFyL-UBA, UNC); Ana M. Fernández (Fac. Psicología, UBA), Graciela Monteagudo (UMASS, EE.UU./Proy. Argentina Autonomista); Sonia Alvarez (UMASS, EEUU); Enrique Zothner (FIUBA); Luis Guerra Chacón (Universidad de La Habana, Cuba); Héctor González (INTI); Bob Stone (Centro para la Justicia Global, EE.UU/México); Julio Gambina (Centro Cultural de la Cooperación); Marcelo Vieta (CERLAC, Canadá); Holm Detlev-Kohler (IIS, Universidad de Oviedo, España/Alemania); Ana Lúcia Marques Camargo (USP, Brasil); Mlodan Jakopovich (Croacia); Peter Ranis (CUNY, Estados Unidos); Flavio Chedid (Brasil, UFRJ); Neville Alexander (Universidad del Cabo, Sudáfrica); Caroline Baillie (Queens University, Canada); Eric Feinblatt (Fashion Institute Technology, NY, USA) y Hernán Harispe (Argentina/Francia), entre otros.

Entre los trabajadores y representantes de organizaciones sociales, expusieron: Carlos Chile (Movimiento Territorial de Liberación); Gustavo Giménez (Coordinador nacional Movimiento Sin Trabajo Teresa Vive; Silvia Díaz (Cooperativa La Cacerola); Cándido González (Cooperativa Chilavert); Fabio Resino (Cooperativa Bauen, FACTA); Derrick Naidoo (IIS, Sudáfrica); Mario Barrios (ANTA-CTA); Avelina Alonso y Ricardo Mascheroni (Área de recursos naturales de la CTA); Javier López (ANTA-CTA); Gabriel Martínez (FETERA-CTA); Sean Smith (Canadian autoworkers, Canadá), Sergio Escobar (cuerpo de delegados del Astillero río Santiago); Rhiannon Edwards (IWW, Canadá); Guillermo Pacagnini (CICOP, Prov. de Bs. As.); y trabajadores representantes de las cooperativas El Petróleo (Neuquén), El Diario de Villa María (Córdoba), Clínica Junín (Córdoba), Unión Saladeña (Corrientes), Cooperativa 16 de diciembre (Jujuy), UST (Buenos Aires), Cogtal, Grácfica Patricios, Gráficos Asociados y Artes Gráficas El Sol (Red Gráfica Cooperativa), Cooperativa 17 de febrero (Córdoba), Mesa de Empresas Recuperadas de Mendoza; y de los Astilleros Río Santiago, Tandanor y Navisupe, , entre otros participantes.

Se presentaron además cerca de 50 ponencias, muchas de las cuales se pueden consultar en el sitio web del Centro de Documentación de Empresas Recuperadas del Programa Facultad Abierta (www.recuperadasdoc.com.ar).

Retomando las cuestiones planteadas en el documento de convocatoria del Encuentro, los debates giraron alrededor de los límites y potencialidades de los procesos de autogestión en el marco de economías capitalistas y la posibilidad de reconstrucción de proyectos político-económicos que tomen en cuenta las experiencias autogestionarias. Otra discusión que atravesó varios de los paneles y exposiciones fue acerca de la caracterización de la llamada economía social, donde se pudieron advertir a grandes rasgos dos posiciones básicas. Una, rescatando el proyecto de la economía social como posibilidad de construcción de alternativa económicas http://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gifrelacionadas con el l fenómeno caracterizado como de exclusión social; la otra, enmarcando estos fenómenos, sin desconocer sus características y potencialidades autogestionarias, como parte de una “economía para pobres” que encubre fenómenos de trabajo precario y subsunción a las nuevas formas de superexplotación que adquiere la economía global. Esta última postura se encadena también con la insistencia, especialmente por parte de representantes de organizaciones de trabajadores, de contextualizar estas experiencias como parte de la reconstrucción de una alternativa político-social de los trabajadores, lo cual, a la postre, quedó como un saldo importante de los debates realizados.

Es de destacar el alto nivel de participación en los espacios de discusión posteriores a las exposiciones de los panelistas, a pesar de que el nutrido programa, que superó las expectativas de los organizadores, obligó a trabajar con márgenes de tiempo muy acotados.

También se destacó el trabajo voluntario de los estudiantes colaboradores del Programa Facultad Abierta (muchos de los cuales también fueron expositores) y del arduo y excelente trabajo realizado por los intérpretes solidarios de Babels, que posibilitó la participación y el debate más allá de las barreras idiomáticas.
Por último, las distintas organizaciones participantes expresaron su voluntad de dar una continuidad en el futuro a este evento.

Programa Facultad Abierta
Secretaría de Extensión Universitaria
Facultad de Filosofía y Letras
Universidad de Buenos Aires

(Ver acá, también)

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Wednesday, July 25, 2007

La Economía de los Trabajadores: Autogestión y Distribución de la Riqueza | The Workers' Economy: Self-Management and the Distribution of Wealth




(Más fotos del Encuentro | More photos of Encuentro)

(See below for version in English)

19-21 de julio, 2007 | Universidad de Buenos Aires

Trabajadores autogestionados y asalariados, militantes sociales y sindicales, dirigentes políticos e investigadores se reunieron durante tres días en la Facultad de Filosofía y Letras de la Universidad de Buenos Aires. Fue en el marco del primer encuentro internacional “La economía de los trabajadores: autogestión y distribución de la riqueza” que terminó el sábado con un plenario de debate y conclusiones. Las actividades comenzaron el jueves con el objetivo de “poner en debate la superación de las experiencias particulares de autogestión y las discusiones que los trabajadores tienen alrededor de sus luchas políticas y gremiales por la distribución de la riqueza”.

Durante las tres jornadas se discutió, entre otros temas, en torno a las formas de trabajo no asalariadas e informales, a la situación y proyecciones de las experiencias autogestivas del trabajo tanto nacionales como internacionales - de las que hubo representantes de Sudáfrica, Canadá, EEUU, Croacia, Brasil, México, Chile y Cuba -, la relación con el movimiento cooperativo y los nuevos desafíos del movimiento obrero.
(Cortesía de ACTA)

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July 19-21, 2007 | University of Buenos Aires

Self-managed and salaried workers, social and union activists, political leaders, and researchers recently met over three days at the Faculty of Philosophy and Letters, University of Buenos Aires. The conference was conceptually framed within the themes of the "workers' economy," "self-management," and the "redistribution of social wealth" and ended this past Saturday with a plenary that debated the new challenges faced by workers' struggles around the world today. The conference began last Thursday with the objective of "debating how particular experiences of self-management and the discussions that workers are engaging in concerning their political and labour struggles can be extended to include the (re)distribution of the wealth" workers themeselves create.

During the three days, the debates pivoted around, amongst other related themes, informal and non-salaried work, the outlook for contemporary labour struggles, the similarities and differences between work and labour struggles in the North and South, and the situation and prospects for the experiences of self-management both in Argentina and around the world.

It was felt by the vast majority of participants that the conference proved to be an extremely fruitful space where unionized and self-managed workers, cooperativists, political activists, and researchers were able to share experiences and debate and discuss the past, present, and future of work, more egalitarian and democratic forms of reconstituting working life, and actual workable alternatives to the contemporary hegemonic neoliberalist model. The conference saw the participation of individuals and organizations from Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Cuba, the United States, Chile, Mexico, South Africa, Croatia, and Germany.

Some of the papers delivered can be accessed at http://www.recuperadasdoc.com.ar/encuentro/index.htm . The team from the Open Faculty Program, Faculty of Philosophy and Letters at the UBA will be making the conference proceedings and recordings of some of the debates available to the public in the coming months (I will be providing ahttp://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gif link to this archive, so check this blog in the next few months).

(Ver acá, también | Go here, as well)

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Links de web relacionados | Related links:

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Friday, March 23, 2007

The Worker-Recovered Enterprises Movement in Argentina:...

... Workers’ Self-Management and Hope within Social-Economic Crisis

The text and accompanying PowerPoint slides for my
March 20, 2006 CERLAC Brown Bag presentation.

This presentation covers the latest key themes in my ongoing in situ PhD research looking into the worker-recovered enterprises (empresas recuperadas por sus trabajadores, or ERT) in the city of Buenos Aires, Argentina.

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Saturday, March 17, 2007

Agora TV - Online films on Argentina's experiments with social resistance

AgoraTV

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Friday, March 16, 2007

THE WORKERS’ ECONOMY: SELF-MANAGEMENT AND THE DISTRIBUTION OF WEALTH

Invitation to participate in…

“THE WORKERS’ ECONOMY:
SELF-MANAGEMENT AND THE DISTRIBUTION OF WEALTH”

FIRST INTERNATIONAL GATHERING TO DEBATE AND DISCUSS SELF-MANAGEMENT (AUTOGESTIÓN)

Faculty of Philosophy and Letters, University of Buenos Aires


Dates:
July 19-21, 2007

Location:
University of Buenos Aires
217 – 25 de Mayo Avenue
Autonomous City of Buenos Aires, Argentina

CALL FOR PAPERS AND PROPOSALS FOR: COMPLETED OR ONGOING PROJECT PRESENTATIONS, PAPERS, ROUNDTABLE THEMES, DEBATE AND DISCUSSION THEMES

Please send a 250-word (max) abstract by July 1, 2007, or any other correspondence to:
Correspondence in Spanish: fabierta@filo.uba.ar
Correspondence in English: UBA.selfmanagement@gmail.com

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The current debates surrounding self-management: A brief overview

Workers’ struggles have reemerged with force in the last decade in numerous forms—union-based struggles, self-managed workspaces, rural movements, unemployed workers’ movements…. These are responses to the hegemony of neoliberal globalization imposing itself throughout the world with absolutist pretensions after the debacle of so-called “real socialism.”

At the same time, the old methods and strategies of struggle—class-based parties and traditional unions, amongst others—have by now shown themselves to be, at minimum, insufficient. Old debates and ideological frameworks are now in crisis. The dominant discourses used to describe the functioning of the capitalist world system can no longer explain quickly enough (never mind predict) the changes in this system that have been occurring over the past few decades, while popular struggles have had to create new paths without having a clear horizon in sight from which to map out a final destiny. And the plethora of means ever available for capitalism to respond to threats against it, as well as the sheer force and relentlessness of its repressive power, amply overcomes the popular sectors’ capacity for change…with tragic consequences.

While the taking of State power has been the driving objective of political forces for more than a century now, more recently there have appeared compelling movements that, on occasion, have questioned such objectives for revolutionary action. At minimum, these movements distance their strategies and tactics from the aims of taking State power, recognizing the difficulties of such a task. But, as evidenced in various Latin American contexts, some popular movements with solid historical roots have ended up allying themselves with national governments swept into power via electoral triumph. And so, when they least expected it, these movements found themselves at times controlling key sectors of the State’s administrative apparatus which, in turn, needed to be profoundly transformed in order to be oriented towards grassroots-based policies.

Of particular importance for many of these grassroots groups are those policies that relate to managing production and the (re)distribution of wealth.

Wavering between these situations and theoretic-ideological debates, workers have been generating—through their actual practices—an alternative course for steering life between inaction and resignation on the one side and the fight for total political power on the other. Subjected to the permanent crisis provoked by neoliberal capitalism, a growing number of workers are playing an increasingly key role in the re-creation and self-management of greater portions of the means of production and the economy as an immediate outcome of their struggles and resistances. And this despite being in the middle of a capitalist ocean. In some countries, workers’ take-over of government and their increased control of the state apparatus (i.e., Venezuela, Bolivia) have, sooner rather than later, positioned grassroots workers’ organizations and their methods of self-management as legitimate vehicles for administrating the economy and as decisively important forces for controlling the strategic economic means of society.

Recovered factories, diverse kinds of self-managed microenterprises, rural cooperative settlements, new types of unionized workers’ movements, networks of fair trade and fair work, and numerous other kinds of organizations and forms of struggle are part of this new landscape. Sometimes they take on autonomous forms. In certain situations they are fragmented. In other situations they form part of powerful and popular political movements, larger social movements, political parties, leftist fronts and coalitions, and even programs that are at times stimulated by the State or, more directly, by a government’s actual public polices.

Regardless of the size and shape of these worker-contoured social-political landmarks, this new alternative landscape puts back on the table the question of the legitimate role of workers in the management of a society’s economy. The working class still does, after all, make up the majority of the world’s population. And workers still depend on their own labour for their sustenance, be they engaged in wage-labour, partaking of the cooperative management of their collective labour, or living in more dire circumstances such as the structurally unemployed, the overexploited, the marginalized, and the poor.

A debate and discussion around these issues, therefore, is needed now more than ever: While the processes and consequences of globalization have been deeply and consistently questioned by numerous social and international movements, the project of actually creating an alternative that can supercede the merely declarative, or intellectual-theoretic reflection, has not advanced much, at least in a form that consistently takes into account both the theoretical and the practical aspects of self-management. (This is not to ignore or lessen the very real, efficacious, and practical outcomes realized in efforts such as the World Social Forum.) Rather, what is increasingly and definitely advancing are the myriad resistances to neoliberal capital that have centred on self-management as a creative force for inventing new experiences and new lives. However partial and nascent these advances might or might not be, they can serve to fruitfully inform and inspire the greater global analyses and debates that are looking for alternatives to capitalist life.

The questions raised by self-management:

What we are proposing for this First International Gathering, however, is not what might be interpreted, at first glance, as a debate on the “social economy” (as fomented, for example, by the World Bank and NGOs focused on “social containment”). Rather, we are proposing the reverse: We would like to engage in discussions centred on the socialization of the economy. Instead of waiting for the fulfillment of the promises set in a far-off utopia grounded in a revolutionary conquest of political power, workers from around the world are presently advancing projects that are giving them back their lives and labour. However fragmentary and limited these projects might currently be, they tend to be rooted in actual practices and concrete experiences rather than in the promissory and the abstract.

What conclusions and lessons can we take from these experiences, then? What connections do these workers’ struggles have with traditional social and political struggles? How do they relate to, or interconnect themselves within, the popular, grassroots-based governments that are increasingly taking hold of power in Latin America? How do these experiences of economic self-management survive in the hostile markets of global capital? How can they generate a new business logic of self-management within the framework of a suffocating system? Can they survive without change to the actual economic system and without transforming those very forms of organizations that they are attempting to overcome? Are they isolated instances of resistance, consequences of the very crisis of global capital, or do they show a path toward a new way of organizing production within a more just social system? Can workers already organized in unions once again come to pressure capital and dispute capital’s power-base, or should the struggle to overcome capital now be engaged from within the actual spaces of production and be about the actual self-management of production by workers? Will these struggles actually be used and appropriated by capital to more efficiently accumulate capital? These are just some of the questions that we feel should be at the centre of the debate amongst workers, intellectuals, and social and political organizations.

This is not just an academic debate, however. It is essentially a political one that should be moved forward with the participation of workers and their organizations. Proceeding in any other way would render the debate an interesting intellectual exercise with little practical consequence. But those who are thinking about these and other issues related to social movements and alternatives to capital from within an intellectual perspective should also of course, out of necessity, participate in these debates. Also at the table should be social and political leaders that encompass views from the perspective of labour organizations and political processes that are disputing State power and that, as in Venezuela or Bolivia, are carrying forward policies that are fostering these experiences of self-management.

From the Faculty of Philosophy and Letters at the University of Buenos Aires, we propose further strides towards this necessary debate. For five years now we have been working in conjunction with workers in Argentina’s recovered factories and workspaces, attempting to support their processes, document their experiences, investigate their practices, and to better comprehend and reflect on the consequences of their experiments. From the Open Faculty Program (Programa Facultad Abierta) and the Interdisciplinary Program in Scientific and Technological Transference with Worker-Recovered Enterprises (Programa Interdisciplinario de Transferencia Científico Tecnológica con Empresas Recuperadas por sus Trabajadores) we have been developing with these workers projects that seek to extend technological capabilities, develop skills, build capacity, and strengthen the viability of these cooperative workplaces, investigating, on a broader level, the self-management of productive unities abandoned by their owners and recovered and reopened by workers. For us, and we hope for many others, the time has come to incorporate the conclusions stemming from these lessons and experiences—both from the perspective of workers and also academics—into the debate that is occupying the world more and more, a debate that is fundamentally about the direction of these struggles and the change needed in the system of social, political, and economic relations.

From this place we convene this First International Gathering to debate and discuss self-management and its possibilities and challenges…

By: Andrés Ruggeri
Translated by: Marcelo Vieta

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“THE WORKERS’ ECONOMY:
SELF-MANAGEMENT AND THE DISTRIBUTION OF WEALTH”


Dates:
July 19-21, 2007

Location:
University of Buenos Aires
217 – 25 de Mayo Avenue
Autonomous City of Buenos Aires, Argentina

Organizers
The Open Faculty Program (Faculty of Philosophy and Letters, University of Buenos Aires)
Co-Organizers:
Center for Global Justice, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico (http://www.globaljusticecenter.org/)
International Institute for Selfmanagement, Frankfurt, Germany (http://www.iism.net/)
Argentina Autonomista Project (http://www.autonomista.org)

Conference format:

Debate Roundtables:
Debate and discussion roundtables based on central themes, interspersed with panels to guide the discussion.

A final synopsis of each roundtable will be realized and made available as conference proceedings.

Opening and closing plenary sessions will be held.

The debates and discussions will be filmed and recorded for archival and educational purposes in order to make available materials and resources for research purposes, consulting purposes, and for assisting current and future self-management projects.

Thematic Roundtables:
More specific roundtables and panels will be convened focusing on particular themes of interest to participants.

Presentations:
Presentations of documents and already completed or ongoing work for discussion.

Those who forward their work to the gathering’s organizers with enough lead-time will have their work published in a CD before the conference to be available at the conference. Please forward materials to include in the CD by April 30, 2007 to: fabierta@filo.uba.ar

Preliminary conference schedule:
Thematic debates and project roundtables (first two days):
• The capitalist economy today: Stages of global capitalism from the perspective of popular movements.
• The self-managed economy: Discussions concerning the experiences of self-management in the era of global capitalism (recovered enterprises, rural cooperatives, self-managed and solidarity microenterprises, cooperative movements, alternative networks of exchange, fair trade and fair work initiatives, etc.)
• The challenges faced by popularly-based, grassroots-supported governments regarding the social management of the economy and the State.
• A critical look at the cooperative movement.
• New challenges faced by union movements; unions; new types of workers’ organizations and collectives; co-management and participatory decision making.
• Plenary sessions (last day)
• The (re)distribution of wealth: The social economy or the socialization of the economy? Suggestions being offered by workers’ movements.
• The limits of self-management: The political possibilities and challenges of a production regime under workers’ control.
• Articulations, expressions, and experiences of the struggle for self-management with regard to other political struggles and other social movements.

Special roundtables:
• The environment and workers’ self-management.
• Experiments in self-management with regard to other social-political struggles and social movements.
• Work from the perspective of gender.
• The role of the university and intellectuals in workers’ struggles.

Free admission, donations accepted:
The gathering is free for participants and audience members. We invite donations for assisting the travel expenses of workers from outside of the Buenos Aires area. For U.S. tax-deductible donations, checks in U.S. dollars should be made payable to: Research Associates Foundation. Please write “Workers' Economy Conference” in the memo, and send it to:
9902 Crystal Court, Suite 107, BC-2323, Laredo, TX 78045. Donations can also be made on-line at www.globaljusticecenter.org Please again note Workers' Economy Conference.

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Thursday, March 15, 2007

My upcoming talk on the worker-recovered enterprises in Argentina

York University
March 20, 2007
2:30-4:30
York Lanes, room 280


"The Worker-Recovered Enterprises in Argentina: Worker Self-Management and Hope Within Socio-Economic Crisis"

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