A while back, Raul Jimenez sent in a comment about one of my posts referring to cooperatives. He asked about the benefits of this form of organizing work in relation to the development of private businesses.
He asked me to explain the advantages of cooperatives and cooperative associations, which is what I’ll try to do here.
Raul asserted that these entities look good on paper, but that they haven’t worked in our country or anywhere else.
First, my insistence on this method stems from the fact that it’s a way of beginning to eliminate the social problems caused by capitalist and totalitarian regimes.
In companies with which we’re familiar, employees compete against each other for their individual benefit. This promotes piecework and the exploitation of some by others, and therefore social differences.
The profits go into the pockets of the owners of the capital invested or into the coffers of the state, which redistributes it as it desires.
The end results favor the shareholders or administrative elites without them being concerned about the quality of the goods or services.
The major decisions affecting these firms are made by shareholders or they come “from above,” while those who produce have neither a voice nor a real vote, unless those voices side with the interests of their superiors.
In these dynamics, the purchasing power of workers tends to decrease, since this is the only way for the owners to maintain increasing profits. In cases of economic crisis, the numbers of laid-off or “available” workers tend to increase.
Another no less important point is that the objectives of the firm are not related to the objectives of those who work for it. Alienated labor thus becomes a brake on spiritual realization.
On the other hand, workers who associate into cooperatives benefit equally. Each person has only one vote, which has the same value as that of their co-workers. This transforms work into an activity of full participation that enriches life and stimulates the individual.
These associated workers are the ones who manage, have a voice, choose their representatives in cases where this is necessary, and no one benefits by virtue of their position. Pyramidal organization of activity doesn’t exist.
The objectives are determined by everyone and the aim is to increase the number of associates, not to reduce it.
I know that up until now there haven’t been companies like this in Cuba, so the efforts that have failed, as Raul Jimenez commented, were only monstrous copies of Stalinism, efforts that were cooperatives only in name.
In other countries like Spain, Mexico, Argentina and Chile, there exist valid examples of the operation of this system of work that could be a solution for the expected million and a half individuals to be laid off here in Cuba. “Real” cooperatives won’t be organized by the ruling class; it’s our task as workers to take the initiative.