Dewey, Economic Democracy, and the Mondragon Cooperatives

European Journal of Pragmatism and American Philosophy 3 (2):186-200 (2011)
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Abstract

This article argues that the Mondragon cooperatives, a network of worker-owned businesses in the Basque region of Spain, offers a concrete example of Deweyan economy, wherein democracy is part of everyday work-life. It first identifies three central features of Deweyan economy: a) its notion of economic growth is rooted in human growth; b) it is organic and evolutionary, not ideological or utopian; and c) it is empirical and experimental. Second, the article sketches some of the important historical and philosophical influences upon and distinct features of the Mondragon cooperatives, and, third, it indicates how the Mondragon cooperatives manifest each of the three central features of Deweyan economy. The article concludes by suggesting that the Mondragon cooperatives have achieved a previously unknown level of economic democracy and that its recent modifications in response to changing economic conditions, far from being retreats from fundamental principles, as some critics maintain, are evidence of Mondragon’s experimental, non-ideological character. Furthermore, it is an economic model that transcends the stale, false capitalist-socialist dichotomy and thereby helps us to imagine creative solutions to current economic problems.

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Ken Stikkers
Southern Illinois University - Carbondale

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