Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Anarchist Argentina Today

Anarchist Argentina After 2001
(excerpt below is from the Wikipedia article on historical examples of anarchist communities. Wikipedia is at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_Page )

After the non-violent collapse of the Argentinean government in 2001/2002, the social and economic organization of Argentina has undergone major changes, though how important these changes are remains to be seen. Argentina was once a shining example of a country undergoing free market reforms, and structural adjustment programs. However, after the economy crashed in 2001, the IMF responded by demanding that more social programs (health care, schools, etc) be cut, and more things be privatized. Massive popular rebellion erupted.

Out of the uprisings, came many popular organs of self-management and direct democracy. Worker occupations of factories and popular assemblies have both been seen functioning in Argentina, and both are the kind of action endorsed by anarchists: the first is a case of direct action and the latter a case of direct democracy. Approximately 200 "recovered" factories (fábricas recuperadas) are now self-managed and collectively owned by workers. Over 10,000 people are working in factories with little or no management or hierarchy. In the large majority of them, pay is completely egalitarian; generally no professional managers are employed, or managers are collectively controlled in the other cases. Decisions are made by all workers, in general assembly type structures. These co-operatives have organised themselves into networks. Solidarity and support from external groups, such as neighborhood assemblies and unemployed (piquetero) groups, have often been important for the survival of these factories. Unemployed workers elsewhere have also organized takeovers of plots of vacant land, and taken them back for housing and growing food. Similar developments have taken place in Brazil and Uruguay.

In a survey by an Argentina newspaper in the capital, it was found that around 1/3 of the population had participated in general assemblies. The assemblies take place in street corners and public spaces, and generally gather to discuss ways of helping each other in the face of eviction, or organizing around issues like health care, collective food buying, or conducting free food distribution programs. Some assemblies have started to create new structures of health care and schooling, to replace the old ones that aren't working. Neighborhood assemblies meet once a week in a large assembly to discuss issues affecting the larger community.

[1] http://www.americaspolicy.org/citizen-action/series/12-factories.html

In 2004, Avi Lewis and Naomi Klein (author of No Logo) released the documentary The Take (http://www.nfb.ca/thetake/), which is about these events.

2 Comments:

At 6:29 PM, Blogger Publius Americanus said...

The tragedy of industrial society starts with the enclosure of the commons. Worker-owned factories, small family farms, mutually-owned insurance companies are not new ideas. At least the second two used to exist before plutocrats destroyed them. I don't know if worker-owned factories were ever a big force beyond cottage industry, which is a little too small-scale to fit my usage of the word "factory."

Anyway, these old ideas, if they can find a foothold, could demonstrate that capitalism can be owned by the people who actually do the work. This might not entirely undo the enclosure of the commons -- issues like rent for land still need to be worked out -- but these old ideas have a lot of power for the folks who can actually make them happen.

 
At 6:49 PM, Blogger Publius Americanus said...

I forgot to mention in my earlier comment that whatever comes after capitalism may very well resemble the current right wing more than the left. We may get Islamic theocracy with anarchist collective property, for example, or fanatically Catholic anti-capitalist countries in South America.

 

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