Just when you think there’s absolutely no hope and you feel like giving in to the false frenemies who want you to validate their own messed-up worldview by topping yourself, something like this comes along into your field of vision:
The MONDRAGON Corporation is a corporation and federation of worker cooperatives based in the Basque region of Spain. Founded in the town of Mondragón in 1956, its origin is linked to the activity of a modest technical college and a small workshop producing paraffin heaters. Currently it is the seventh largest Spanish company in terms of asset turnover and the leading business group in the Basque Country. 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. The MONDRAGON Co-operatives operate in accordance with a business model based on People and the Sovereignty of Labour, which has made it possible to develop highly participative companies rooted in solidarity, with a strong social dimension but without neglecting business excellence. The Co-operatives are owned by their worker-members and power is based on the principle of one person, one vote.
Does this sound too good to be true? Guess again:
MONDRAGON Corporation is the embodiment of the co-operative movement that began in 1956, the year that witnessed the creation of the first industrial cooperative in Mondragón in the province of Gipuzkoa; its business philosophy is contained in its Corporate Values:
The Corporation’s Mission combines the core goals of a business organisation competing on international markets with the use of democratic methods in its business organisation, the creation of jobs, the human and professional development of its workers and a pledge to development with its social environment.
In terms of organisation, it is divided into four areas: Finance, Industry, Distribution and Knowledge, and is today the foremost Basque business group and the seventh largest in Spain.
If you’re at all familiar with Spain, you likely know that the Basque region of Spain had for centuries been one of the poorest parts of that country. That’s started to change in the past fifty years, and Mondragon’s been a key factor — probably the most important factor — in the growing prosperity of the Basque Country. And that’s all come about by rejecting conventional capitalism in favor of economic democracy.
And guess what? The United Steelworkers union in the US is working with Mondragon on creating democratically-run, employee-owned enterprises in our own country.