A workers co-operative from within a housing co-operative – something to think about?

Hello – I'm a late-twenty-something who, along with many friends and aquantainces, has become disillusioned by the market giving way to a sense of economic nihilism. I am currently in serious conversation with a few close friends concerning the collective investment in and formation of a housing co-operative. I am personally interested in the viability of taking the housing co-operative a step further into the realm of urban agriculture or some other possible economic endeavor that could come about in such a setting. So, really I'd like to know if the idea of forming a co-operative housing arrangement with the intent to form a co-operative business model from within could come about through the D@W model and, if so does this mean that democracy can root itself not only in the workplace but also in society at-large? Any answers, suggestions or thoughts would be much appreciated. Thank you!

Official response from submitted

As I read history. it teaches me that no one can or ever does know in advance how social change happens. A democratization of workplaces (transitions from the hierarchical, top-down capitalist organization of enterprises) can start within existing profit-driven private enterprises or it could start in not-for-profit private enterprises or in public enterprises.....or, to take your example, it might start with cooperatives formed among consumers or land-owners or housing or urban agriculture. We cannot know. Moreover, how it starts and grows will likely depend on the specifics of time and place. My guess is that however and whereever starts are made, an alerted, interested public will be watching to see what works how well and then replicate successful pathways. By all means gather your associates and work on cooperative housing. Just keep in mind that a truly democratic and cooperative society requires, at some point, to reorganize its production of the goods and services upon which life depends in a democratic, cooperative way; that has to be attended to sooner or later. That is the lesson of the past's efforts to go beyond capitalism; they changed much but not the microlevel organization of production. Thats why worker coop formation has to be added to the agenda for social changes for them to be secure and not undone as those past efforts have been.

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  • Richard Wolff
    responded with submitted 2017-02-11 20:41:54 -0500
  • Mitch Anderson
    published this page in Ask Prof. Wolff 2017-02-11 14:34:20 -0500