Most of the world assumes it works in a democracy. The word has been much used, and abused, over the years. It was never intended to be for ‘all the people’, even the Greeks only allowed Citizens, about 10% of the people, the right to vote.
Today we are being subsumed by a new power. No longer are nation states in charge of their own destinies (if they ever were). Large business corporations dominate, and control how we will all live – and work. That last word needs explanation. With capitalism the worker is engaged to make a profit for the owner. There is no other relevant reason. The owner has obligations, to suppliers, workers and pays taxes to governments. The taxes are vital to keep the political power elite able to exercise control.
This essay could easily become a critique of capitalism, but that’s to be avoided. The assumption must be that this system no longer serves the population properly. One man started a company in 2004, he now is worth billions, perhaps even trillions, and shows no sign modifying his behaviour.
There are other ways, and I’ll start with my favourite – which is a cooperative (often the network insists on using co-operative) organisation started in 1956 in the Basque region of Spain. One of the attributes of this lovely region is that historically there were three distinct groups of people: Varduli, Caristii and Autrigones.
These groups may have some DNA linkages with the Celts of Scotland and Ireland, but that’s an aside that lacks substantive proof. They are likely to be the oldest Europeans
‘On 14th April 1956, whilst many people of Mondragón were discreetly and rather warily celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Second Republic, Father José María Arizmendiarrieta was blessing the foundation stone of Ulgor, a company with a name which drew together the identity of the founders: Luis Usatorre, Jesús Larrañaga, Alfonso Gorroñogoitia, José María Ormaechea and Javier Ortubay.
They had to wait almost three years until May 1959, as Jesús Larrañaga recalls in the introduction, for the first bylaws of Talleres Ulgor to be approved.
Father Arizmendiarrieta and Ormaechea went on foot from the old building of the Escuela Profesional, today Mondragon Eskola Politeknikoa, to the piece of land known as Laxarte, where they had already bought a plot for 27 euro cents (45 pesetas) per square metre. Ormaechea was in charge of methodically measuring out the plot and a fortnight later building work started on the MONDRAGON Experience’s first production plant: a 750m2 two-storey concrete structure.’
Have a look at the Mondragon story – and get excited. Then we will continue.