Workers in Chicago’s New Era Windows and Thessaloniki’s Vio.Met, are soon to begin production under worker control!
Workers in both U.S. and Greek workplaces had heard about the process of the recuperation of workplaces in Argentina. Later they met with workers from Argentina who had successfully taken back their workplaces, and when faced with the closure of their shops—decided to follow a similar path.
Hundreds of workplaces around the world have begun following the lead of the recuperated workplace movement in Argentina. These are workplaces “recuperated,” taken back through occupation, to be run horizontally in the hands of the workers, without bosses or hierarchy.
After almost a decade of recuperations, many in Argentina began to speak of living sin patron. Literally meaning without a boss, this phrase has now come to mean a new form of value production, not just living without hierarchy. It is about creating a new way of living and producing. It refers to a more general way of life that is horizontal, where people look to one another and decide together, creating new social relationships, while also directly taking on the question of production. This production can be in a workplace, but also can mean various forms of autonomous productive projects, such as taking over land to build farms and schools.
These new values and forms of value production are breaking with (and creating something different from) capitalist market relations, yet they simultaneously exist within the overall framework of capitalism and are pushing (and moving) the boundaries of the limits of capitalist production value—not merely residing within it. What is being created and put forward is not a small group dropping out of society so as to have a “better” factory or grow crops on the land; rather it is thinking beyond the traditional concept of work and together creating new relationships, sustaining themselves, while under capitalism, but often with the agenda of going against and beyond capitalism.
Now imagine this happening everywhere, that together, with those around us, we rethink what work and production could mean, questioning not only how we work together in a given workplace, but whether this is the appropriate form or work at all. What if we rethink all of our productive capacities together, based on these principles of solidarity, horizontalism and then together create a truly alternative value with the alternative values?
MARINA SITRIN is the author of Everyday Revolutions: Horizontalism and Autonomy in Argentina (Zed), and the forthcoming They Can't Represent Us! Reinventing Democracy from Greece to Occupy (Verso).