|Title||My Story and the Question it Raises|
|Publication Type||Journal Article|
|Year of Publication||2003|
It was way back in the 1960s, that I first encountered, and began teaching about, the ideas of cooperative and worker-owned enterprises, labor-based economies, and workplace democracy. Shortly afterwards, in the mid-1970s, I joined Frank Adams, George Benello, Steve Dawson and several others to form the Industrial Cooperative Association, now known as the ICA Group. (Why they dropped “cooperative” is perhaps a question worth pursuing, though not here.) Our vision was to begin building a new society in the grim and decaying shell of the old; more concretely, to bring something like Mondragon to the belly of the beast.
To support myself, I taught about these ideas and promoted these initiatives within a tolerant Philosophy department at a large public university. My aim in this was a Socratic one: to “corrupt the youth” by getting them to question the received wisdom “that there is no alternative” and that “what is good for GM is good for the rest of us”, and to lure them into creating their own alternatives through examining what Benello called “working models”.
In 1984, to get the word out, Benello, Frank Lindenfeld, Chuck Turner (then at the ICA Group) and I started to publish a hefty magazine, which we called Changing Work: A Magazine About Liberating Worklife. It usually ran anywhere from 64 to 84 pages, and was more frequently commended than actually read. We downshifted, in 1991, to a 16-20 page newsletter, GEO, the Grassroots Economic Organizing Newsletter, and have never looked back. In 2001, after more than 2 years of research by several staff, GEO published An Economy of Hope, its annotated Directory of Worker Co-ops and Democratic Workplaces in the USA.
So what do I most want to share with you about this four decade journey of mine? Basically, a single persistent question, one that has often kept me from good sleep, and one, I am confident, which is no stranger to anyone in this audience.