Workers' Self-Management in Argentina
Contesting Neo-liberalism by Occupying Companies, Creating Cooperatives, and
Available October 24, 2019 with a 2020 publication date, soft-cover to follow in 2020
ISBN: 978-90-04-26895-1 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1163/9789004268951
In Workers’ Self-Management in Argentina, Marcelo Vieta homes in on the emergence and consolidation of Argentina’s empresas recuperadas por sus trabajadores (worker-recuperated enterprises or ERTs, also known as worker-recovered companies or WRCs in English), a workers’ occupy and recuperation movement that surged at the turn-of-the-millennium in the thick of the country’s neo-liberal crisis. Since then, around 400 companies have been taken over and converted to cooperatives by almost 16,000 workers. Grounded in class-struggle Marxism and a critical sociology of work, the book situates the ERT/WRC movement in Argentina’s long tradition of working-class activism and the broader history of workers’ responses to capitalist crisis. Beginning with the voices of the movement’s protagonists, Vieta ultimately develops a compelling social theory of autogestión – a politically prefigurative and ethically infused notion of workers’ self-management that unleashes radical social change for work organisations, surrounding communities, and beyond.
Cooperative enterprises, workers’ self-management and new forms of industrial democracy— these are the stirring themes animating Marcelo Vieta’s original and exciting book. Using a stunning set of interviews, buttressed by historical investigation and deep theoretical inquiry, Workers’ Self-Management in Argentina illuminates movements of occupation, recuperation and autogestión in Argentina in recent years. There is virtually nothing like this book when it comes to the study of lived practices of workers’ control today. Everyone searching for alternatives to neoliberalism and the domination of labor will relish this powerful and important work.
~ David McNally is Cullen Distinguished Professor of History and Business, University of Houston. He is the author of Against the Market: Political Economy, Market Socialism, and the Marxist Critique (Verso, 1992) and Global Slump: The Economics and Politics of Crisis and Resistance (PM Press, 2010).
Marcelo Vieta’s Workers' Self-Management in Argentina is one of the most important books on contemporary labour and democracy. The volume masterfully revisits and extends theory on autogestión (loosely translated as self-management in English) and places it in richly detailed historical, economic, and social contexts. The book employs three in-depth case studies of “worker recuperated” firms in today's Argentina and at the same time beautifully integrates those with an analysis of work and economy in Argentina especially over the past two decades. The comparisons of lessons from the experiences of workers in those firms for other national contexts gives the analysis an expansiveness seldom found in case-based studies of worklife and labour arrangements. Vieta’s longitudinal study and insightful commentary provide must reading for anyone interested in the intricacies of and possibilities for democratic revival from the shop floor and board rooms to communities and the global economy.
~ George Cheney is Professor of Communication, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. He is the author of Values at Work:Employee Participation Meets Market Pressure at Mondragon (Cornell University Press, 2002) and co-editor of The Routledge Companion to Alternative Organization (Routledge, 2014).
Marcelo Vieta’s book ranges far beyond the bounds of its Argentine analysis. It is thoroughly researched and grounded in “class-struggle Marxist” theory and reflects a prolonged and deep understanding of and commitment to global working-class enterprise autonomy struggles. In this Vieta provides a powerful and meaningful critique and alternative to neo-liberal capitalism.
~ Peter Ranis is Professor Emeritus in Political Science, Graduate Center, City University of New York. He is the author of Cooperatives Confronting Capitalism: Challenging the Neo-liberal Economy (Zed Books, 2016) and Argentine Workers: Peronism and Contemporary Class Consciousness (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1992).
I was consistently impressed by Vieta’s impeccable scholarship and deeply-thought argumentation. Theoretically, it this work is oriented around the perspective of class-struggle Marxism, but is also informed by a deep knowledge of the history and practices of trades unionism, cooperativism, and social and solidarity economics in Argentina, Latin America and internationally. The work situates empresas recuperadas (ERTs) within the history of the Argentine class-composition and workers movements. It shows how the ERT practice of “occupy, resist, produce” generated a series of “radical social innovations” affecting economic activities, political formations and trans-individual subject formation. From this study Vieta draws important conclusions about the circumstances in which the potential for self-directed worker activities is actualized in ways that point beyond the existing system of production relations. I want to reiterate how impressed I am by this work. It is a major contribution to scholarship on the global worker of the twenty first century.
~ Nick Dyer-Witheford is Associate Professor in the Faculty of Information and Media Studies at University of Western Ontario. He is the author of Cyber-Marx: Cycles and Circuits of Struggle in High Technology Capitalism (University of Illinois, 1999) and Cyber-Proletariat: Global Labour in the Digital Vortex (Pluto Press, 2015).
This book is a tremendous gift. A must read for scholars, activists and all who want to learn how to retake our lives and create something new. Within these pages Vieta has detailed the history of class struggle in Argentina, bringing us to this historical moment, grounded in a new conceptualization of autogestión. Workers taking back – recuperating – their sense of worth and dignity though directly democratic workplace recuperations. Distinct from occupations, making demands on bosses and states, in recuperations workers re-claim what is theirs/ours. Vieta’s lens offers a unique insider/outsider perspective, as an Argentine scholar based in Canada. His methodological approach, also innovative, combines global ethnography, history, political science, economics and sociology. Most of all, in Workers’ Self-Management in Argentina, Vieta shows, by way of extended examples, that people can self-organize their work and life, in ways that are horizontal, effective and affective.
~ Marina Sitrin is Assistant Professor of Sociology at the State University of New York at Binghamton. She is the author of Everyday Revolutions: Horizontalism and Autonomy in Argentina (Zed Books, 2012) and They Can’t Represent Us! Reinventing Democracy from Greece to Occupy, co-authored with Dario Azzellini (Verso Press, 2014).