The Mondragon Cooperatives, Basque Country, Spain

I’m interested in alternative economic systems.  I drive through Orderville, Utah, several times a year, and as I do, I’m reminded of the Mormon’s United Order.  I’ve spent quite a bit of time studying Clarion–the Jewish agricultural colony that existed briefly in central Utah.  Last year, I visited the successful environmental cooperative at Gaviotas, Colombia.  What I’ve always wanted are improvements in the world’s safety net.

Last week I discovered another place I would like to visit . . .  the cooperatives of Mondragon, Spain.  According to the Praxis Peace Institute literature:

Many of us know that the highly stressful and competitive business model that is foremost in America today is not the only way to do business.  The importance of learning alternative economic structures will be vital for the 21st century if we are to realistically address the social and economic challenges ahead.

According to Georgia White writing in the Huffington Post, there is an viable alternative to “cutthroat” capitalism:

Founded by a Basque Catholic priest in the 1950, they began with one small worker-owned cooperative that made parts for washing machines.  Today, the 120 businesses and nearly 100,000 workers, the Mondragon Cooperatives comprise the largest consortium of worker-owned businesses in the world.  In 2007, the Mondragon Cooperatives had sales of 24 billion Euros.  In 2009, when twenty-five percent of all businesses in Spain failed, less than one percent of businesses failed in the Mondragon Cooperatives. . .

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