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Catalyzing worker co-ops & the solidarity economy

Worker Cooperatives - Islands in a Sea of Capitalism

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June 18, 2018
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[Editor's note: You can download the first chapter of the English translation of The Cooperative Man: Arizmendiarrieta's Thought here. Make a donation with your download to show your appreciation to Steve Herrick for providing the translation and making it freely available to cooperators everywhere.]

In the second episode of the series on worker cooperatives, we build on the conversation that we began in episode one, which explored how cooperatives can serve as a force to widen the spheres of democracy in our society. This second episode shifts the focus outward, exploring how cooperatives confront global capitalism.

"Islands within a Sea of Capitalism" takes a deep dive into the Mondragon Cooperative Corporation—the largest network of federated cooperatives in the world. We take listeners on a journey through the Basque region of northern Spain where Mondragon is located, and explore Mondragon's successes and challenges through candid conversations with several worker-members at Mondragon headquarters and at various cooperatives within the federation.

After presenting an in-depth exploration of the recent and mixed history of Mondragon from multiple perspectives—including a Marxist analysis—we travel across the Atlantic to Jackson, Mississippi, where an ambitious initiative is just getting underway. Cooperation Jackson is part of the same trans-local organizing movement that inspired Cooperation Richmond, which was featured in Episode one. Cooperation Jackson aims to be the Mondragon of North America.


Kali Akuno — Co-founder and co-director of Cooperation Jackson
Gorka Espiau —Senior Fellow at the Agirre Lehendakaria Center at the University of the Basque Country
Sam Gindin — Writer, director of research at the Canadian Auto Workers (retired) Professor of Political Science at York University (retired)
Ander Exteberria — Cooperative dissemination at Mondragon Corporation
Izaksun Ezpeleta — Worker/member at Fagor Electronics
Andoni — Worker/member at Fagor Ederland.

Music by:

Chris Zabriskie
Will Stratton
Mississippi Sheiks

Many thanks to Phil Wrigglesworth for the cover art, as well as to Ellie Llewelyn, Kenneth Rosales, and Neda Raymond for assistance with translation and voice over.

Upstream is a labor of love — we couldn't keep this project going without the generosity of our listeners and fans. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to Upstream. Thank you!

Support for this episode of Upstream was provided by The New Economy Coalition, a network of organizations imagining and building a future where people, communities, and ecosystems thrive. To get information about their upcoming CommonBound conference being held this June in St. Louis, visit

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