Wednesday, January 17, 2007

This is a response to a comment posted on my previous post:


I posted a response to your comment earlier but the computer got shut off before I could save it.

I am not necessarily in a position to give too much advice on this subject at this point in a very concrete sense.

However I will say this: Your question is one that probably many people who look at MCC from outside and want to apply the model also make. I think nevertheless that is not the right approach. Certainly, there are bits and pieces that would be useful for someone thinking about starting a coop or working in one now. But from my point of view, what is really necessary to look at when studying the coops is looking at the basis of the coops, that is their founding and the development of their values and early institutions.

Many people will tell you that replicating Mondragón is impossible because of the unique cultural of Basques, historic and political situation under Franco and the industrial history of the region etc. I believe thinking about these issues is basically a waste of time when considering applying lessons from the coops. What is significant is that a small group of individuals lead by one dynamic leader (Fr. Jose Maria) founded a school, where they trained scores of young people in the same values and vision and created a community around those ideas. This school was founded 12 or 13 years BEFORE the first coop was started. In addition during this time, students went abroad learned practical skills and engineering, studied other social economic models and businesses. One MCC founder described it as a period of party preparation or formation, in which leaders were developed, values shared and a vision for development clarified.
In my opinion this is by far the most significant lesson of MCC. I am not suggesting that to start a coop it is necessary to found a school for 12 years, but rather that the approach to economic development of this kind starts with a core group of people who have a shared vision and a way of inculcating those values into young people or new comers to the group. The structures that were subsequently created by MCC are a result of the education of the early students and other founders in that school and the leadership of one priest. The subsequent trajectory of MCC is best understood in terms of that period. This is certainly a subject I will be returning to.

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