The Success of Spain's Mondragon Co-operative Shows That There are Alternatives to Capitalism

Yes, there is a successful alternative to capitalism thriving around the world - co-operatives - and Mondragon, Spain's amazing co-op is living proof. Given the performance of Spanish capitalism these days – over 25% unemployment, a broken banking system, government-imposed austerity, and rioting in the streets - Mondragon is a welcome oasis in a capitalist desert.

The Mondragon Co-op was founded in 1956 in the Basque region of Spain when 3 metal workers from a small technical college started a decade earlier by a young Catholic priest named José María Arizmendiarrieta co-operatively opened a small workshop producing paraffin heaters in the town of Mondragón . At the end of 2011 it was providing employment for 83,869 people working in 256 companies in four areas of activity: Finance, Industry, Retail and Knowledge. Scholars such as Richard D. Wolff, American professor of economics, have hailed the Mondragon set of enterprises, including the good wages it provides for employees, the empowerment of ordinary workers in decision making, and the measure of equality for female workers, as a major success and have cited it as a working model of an alternative to capitalism.

The Mondragon seed has sprouted in many areas around the world including here in Canada where the thriving Mondragon political bookstore, vegan restaurant and Sacco + Vanzetti’s organic grocery store operates. Located in Winnipeg’s historic exchange district, it's inspired by Mondragon Spain and organized as a workers collective. They have no manager, and all worker members, regardless of starting skill or seniority, earn the same rate of pay. Mondragon has been a focal point of friendly anarchism in the city of Winnipeg since 1996.

Closer to home here in Powell River is the Peninsula Co-op, a Vancouver Island based co-operative, who's core businesses are grocery, petroleum and convenience stores.  Peninsula Co-op is entirely owned by its members who share in the financial success through an annual rebate. In addition they proudly share their profits with their member/owners, their community and their staff.

We are constantly being brainwashed by the corporate owned lamestream media into believing that there are no alternatives to the lifelong slavery of debt generated by interest payments, to the inequities of resource distribution, to the capitalist model - but there are. As the Mondragon website says, "We are not some paradise, but rather a family of co-operative enterprises struggling to build a different kind of life around a different way of working."