The politics of cooperative movements in three continents: Mesopotomia Coop in Rojava, Mondragon in Basque Country and ASCOOP in Colombia

Thursday, 18 August, 2022 - 12:00

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What kind of transformation does achieving communal peace and social justice account for? Violent experiences to date, if vertical, are keeping us away from the reality of peace, so what about our renewed positionalities and transitional perspectives? Being able to talk about the transition period means the inevitability of flexible geographical borders, the right of movement and cultural transition as well as the uncanny present.  That is exactly why we keep talking about the future of the past, and force ourselves to find ways of dialogue.    Today, rather than dismissing its reality, I would like to think together on the concept of „radical alterity“. Graeber argued that radical alterity concept, borrowed from Deleuze, is a way of speaking from reality and cultural relativity, pointing to the theory of the new political formations and popular movements in their context. It is necessary to see whether it is a part of political imagination within situated knowledges in the local context. Looking at his biographic history, Graeber`s family ties to the Spanish Civil War are not coincidental. Cleared off of colonial prejudice, he eagerly interprets the freedom movements and economic experiences in the geographies where he does fieldwork.   Mesopotamia, part of the Rojava Commune Cooperative in Graeber's political imagination, settles in the last years of his short life as an important factor. By staying in Rojava for about two weeks, he had the chance to witness the establishment phase of the cooperative. This cooperative model, which he sees as the reality of communal life and an igniter for the culture of reconciliation, is not only an example of radical alterity, but also a sine qua non of communal peace. This view, which considers the common welfare as a prerequisite, is essential for all economic change, including land ownership, equity and property relations, to be made by considering the common interests, while protecting both political and material rights. At the same time, the basic principle is to create a horizontal, equitable partnership based on need-oriented production process. In order to achieve social transformation and create a world of meaning in accordance with the philosophy of radical alterity/otherness, it is essential to prioritise the political independence of women, to learn from intellectual differences and to see different value judgments as part of the dialogue. In addition to this mental transformation, understanding the communal model, which also includes self-defense principles, requires questioning the patterns left over from the past and long-term living under the yoke of capitalism.  The Mondragon coop, in this sense, is more of an advanced socio-economic model that is seen as the shining star of the Basque country. The ASCOOP association in Colombia is more of an alternative model of ecological learning and DIY economy and has its respective lessons as an educational coop movement. Mesopotomia coop, in this sense, is more of a work-in-progress political experiment that is shaped by the long-lasting war conditions as well as the economic embargo and border conflict. In this article, I reflect on the leading role of the communal cooperative model in maintaining communal peace and social justice with a comparative lens between Rojava, Basque country and Colombia cooperatives.


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