made in rochdale: exported globally

Scumboni offers a radical defence of worker co-operatives

The late development of theory around worker, producer and community co-operatives could be one explanation for the widespread indifference of communists to this part of the working class movement.(1) In the UK, ignorance about its reach, nature and significance contrasts with an apparently inexhaustible, tailending-the-left fascination with party or group politics and rank-and-file trade unionism. Yet people are often ready with an ideological view of co-ops; they are self-exploitation, or bourgeois, or prefigure communism, or impossible, and so on. Continue reading “made in rochdale: exported globally”

local energy and workers’ control

by Brian Rylance

Bio-diesel has presented an unusual opportunity over recent years as various local workers coops have taken a relatively simple technology to make a mostly carbon neutral diesel from local used cooking oil. Food and energy are the most important goods to any community and they are subject both to fluctuations in the global economy and fickle state control. The opportunity to take local worker control of any portion of the energy they consume, however little and however briefly, is important on a scale beyond the actual goods they produce as it trains co-operators in the knowledge of fuel making and fuel makers in the practicalities of cooperating.  Such local control has allowed genuinely ethical decisions to be taken for the community benefit rather than for purely economic reasons; all the coops associated with the Goodfuels Coop have freely chosen to use only waste cooking oil for feedstock rather than any unused food oils including dubious soy or environmentally damaging palm. Driven by profit alone it would have been far better for the balance sheets to import large amounts of palm oil from plantations that have been grown on slashed and burned rainforests. Continue reading “local energy and workers’ control”