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Catalyzing worker co-ops & the solidarity economy

Third International Encuentro: "The Workers' Economy"

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November 14, 2010
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Analyzing & Debating a New Economy from the Perspective of Workers & Self-management

Mexico City, June 9-11, 2011

In recent decades the global economy's management has been in the hands of the capitalists and their neo-liberal institutions. Where has it led? It has led first to an extreme polarization of resources and wealth between a handful of enriched countries and the majority of impoverished ones and within countries between a shrinking handful of capitalists and the immense majority of workers - who are made ever more insecure. Second, it has led to the greatest ecological disaster ever produced by humans in history. And third, it has led to the worst economic crisis of the capitalist system since the crash of 1929. Today, hovering over the chaos and conflict in which their management has plunged the world, the capitalists try to salvage their privileges and wealth while making the workers pay the consequences. Thus while governments and international institutions bail out capitalists in crisis, they also increase costs to and decrease income of, the workers - precisely in order to pay for those bailouts. And all this is on top of the "normal costs" of the exploitation of work.

Clearly the workers are not sitting idly by in the face of this economic leadership, which is irrational for the workers and for humankind but--rational for the capitalists! On the one hand, the workers are resisting paying for the mess due to this leadership and crisis, and, on the other, they are re-thinking and challenging the capitalists' conduct of the economy while forging their own practices and institutions.

The fragmentation of the workers' struggles in each country and in the world is nevertheless also one of the principle characteristics of our time. Countless conflicts between capital and labor unfold in isolation from each other. But there are many examples of self-management and self-organized economic forms spreading throughout the world, while millions of workers who reject their status as workers are coming to recognize themselves in new and old forms of exploitation and resistance. This new condition of the working class, interwoven with other movements and forms of struggle, is still far from producing a new project for workers as such. Yet in all their diverse situations at this stage of globalized capitalism, the workers, recovering and recreating their historical struggles, are beginning to outline and reconstruct their own alternative economic, political and social management.

This Third International Encuentro "The Workers' Economy" comes after Encuentros in 2007 and 2009 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. It will contribute to the debate on the same themes, bringing academic and intellectual contributions together with the practices and ideas of the workers and other social and political activists. This Third International Encuentro "The Workers' Economy" proposes to continue examining and systematizing workers' experiences. It will study both their critical resistance to the capitalists' management of the economy, and the shaping of their own forms of leadership.

This Third Encuentro is in Mexico rather than Argentina. This challenges the organizers to consolidate the space generated by the debate and to accentuate its international character. Mexico is one of the countries in which neo-liberalism has shown itself with most savagery and impunity, in turn provoking important workers' struggles and social movements of protest. They need support. Organizing the Encuentro in Mexico aims to help reinforce and draw attention to these struggles.

The Third Encuentro will take place June 9, 10 and 11, 2011 in Mexico City.

Topics of debate:

  1. Analysis of the capitalist management of the economy and proposals for global self-management.
  2. The new crisis of global capitalism: analysis and responses from the perspective of the workers' economy.
  3. Self-management: the historical assessment.
  4. Self-management in its present stage: its problems and potential. Recuperated factories, co-ops, and attempts at self-management by social movements.
  5. The socialist experience, analysis of its past and future.
  6. The challenges of trade union experience within neoliberal global capitalism.
  7. Informal, precarious and demeaning work: social exclusion or reconfiguration of work in global capitalism?
  8. The universities, the workers and the movements: debates about methodologies and practices of mutual construction.


The Third Encuentro "The Workers' Economy" will take place over three days with morning and afternoon sessions and will be open to the public. There will be plenary sessions and workshops with paper presentation, videoconferencing, and a final plenary with discussion and conclusions.

Organizing Committee: Area Work Studies of the Department of Social Relations of the Autonomous Metropolitan University at Xochimilco and the Open Faculty Program of the Faculty of Philosophy and Letters of the University of Buenos Aires.

Co-organizers of the Encuentro (currently confirmed) are:

  • Center for Global Justice, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.
  • Institute of Philosophy, Havana, Cuba.
  • Faculty of Philosophy and History of the University of Havana.
  • Autonomist Argentina Project (
  • Unidad Ecutora de CONICET, Argentina.
  • Program of Anthropology and the History of the Capital-Work Relation in the Contemporary Context, Center for Advanced Studies, National University of Cordoba.


Deadline for sending summaries of papers: March 31, 2011

Deadline for sending complete presentations: April 29, 2011.

Contact regarding the Third Encuentro: (Centro de Documentación de Empresas Recuperadas, Programa Facultad Abierta, UBA, Argentina). (Andrés Ruggeri, Director, Programa Facultad Abierta) (Marco Augusto Gómez Solórzano, Director del Área de Estudios del Trabajo de la UAM-Xochimilco, México) (Celia Pacheco, Directora Departamento de Relaciones Sociales, UAM-X, México).

For more information on the Encuentro International "La economía de los trabajadores" and editions of selected papers from the 2007 y 2009 sessions, visit


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