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Catalyzing worker co-ops & the solidarity economy

Why Citizens and not Workers

By challenging the oppressive role that the system has predetermined for the working class, a path is open for the “humanization” of the latter, to use a phrase by Bookchin. He insisted that this crucially depends upon the ability of workers to undo their “workerness” and advance themselves beyond class consciousness and class interest to a community consciousness — as free citizens who alone can establish a future ethical, rational, and ecological society. [8]

In the end, you cannot envision a radically different world if your thinking remains entrapped in the categories of the old one. As Castoriadis suggests, labouring people clearly cannot reach the point of ‘taking power’ in the factory if they are not already envisaging in a certain fashion – be it obscure, half-conscious, ambiguous – the question of power on the scale of society as a whole. [9]

In a setting of radical social emancipation all people will undertake collectively the management of all aspects of their life in common. Workers of different occupations, as Bookchin suggests [10], would take their seats in popular assemblies not as workers— printers, plumbers, foundry workers, and the like, with special occupational interests to advance—but as citizens, whose overriding concern should be the general interest of the society in which they live. Citizens would have to move beyond their current bureaucratically-enforced particularistic identity as workers, specialists, and individuals concerned primarily with their own particularistic interests. The project of direct democracy reshapes the content of municipal life as a school for the formation of citizens, with popular assemblies themselves functioning not only as permanent decision-making institutions but as arenas for educating the people in handling complex civic and regional affairs.

Read the rest at Towards Autonomy


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