Italy's Macora Law -- Better Model for Small and Agile Business Co-ops in U.S.?

Prof. Wolff: I must confess to ignorance until recently (via an article on Truthout) about Italy's national "Macora" law (1985). I gather that it provides a framework for laid-off workers who want to invest their unemployment benefits into new business ventures. Prof. Vera Zamagni (U. of Bologna), referred to in the article, observes that this co-op model is more de-centralized and can lead to a "networked ecosystem" of small worker co-ops. Thus it may be far easier to reproduce elsewhere than, e.g., the monolithic Mondragon. My Question: Because the wealth distribution in the U.S. currently is so horrifically unbalanced and overly centralized, does it make sense to advocate in the U.S. for laws or programs similar to "Macora" that may, in practice, promote workplace democracy sooner than waiting for capitalism in the U.S. to implode as a unassailable belief system? I ask because I know so many under- and unemployed people in the U.S. whose talents and energy are being wasted because of the fraud perpetuated on "employees" at all levels by the mendacious promises of capitalist economics.

Official response from submitted

I am no advocate of "waiting" for capitalism to implode; such an approach disarms the very social forces who might otherwise transform such an implosion into a change going beyond capitalism. I much prefer applying some version of the Italian Marcora Law to the US because it is one (and only one of many) way to enable the state to help finance the development of a worker-coop sector better suited to responding to unemployment problems that capitalism has proved inadequate to for most of its history. Jeremy Corbyn of the UK Labour Party has another plan for state subsidies to worker coops so that they can compete on a level playing field with capitalist corporations that have gotten subsidies, tax breaks etc for centuries already.

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  • Richard Wolff
    responded with submitted 2017-04-30 13:07:28 -0400
  • Save Educators
    published this page in Ask Prof. Wolff 2017-04-29 19:15:34 -0400