The following quotations are from:
Kali Akuno and Ajamu Nangwaya, Cooperation Jackson, Jackson Rising: The Struggle for Economic Democracy and Black Self-Determination in Jackson, Mississippi
“The fundamental program and strategy of Cooperation Jackson is intended to accomplish four fundamental ends:
- To place the ownership and control over the primary means of production directly in the hands of the Black working class of Jackson;
- To build and advance the development of the ecologically regenerative forces of production in Jackson, Mississippi;
- To democratically transform the political economy of the city of Jackson, the state of Mississippi, and the southeastern region; and
- To advance the aims and objectives of the Jackson-Kush Plan, which are to attain self-determination for people of African descent and the radical, democratic transformation of the state of Mississippi (which we see as a prelude to the radical decolonization and transformation of the United States itself).
CONTROLLING THE MEANS OF PRODUCTION
We define the means of production as labor power as well as the physical, non-human inputs that enable humans to transform the natural world to provide sustenance for themselves. The inputs in question are arable land, access to water, natural resources (wood, metals, minerals, etc.), and the tools and facilities that enable the cultivation of food and the transformation of raw materials into consumable goods and services, and the production or capturing of energy to power the tools and facilities. We also add control over processes of material exchange and energy transfer to our definition to give it greater clarity and force of meaning in line with our commitment to sustainability and environmental justice. The processes we feel are therefore necessary to control are the processes of distribution, consumption, and recycling and/or reuse. Without assuming some responsibility for these processes, we merely perpetuate the dynamics of externalization, particularly the production of pollution and the stimulation of waste from overproduction, that are inherent in the capitalist mode of production.
A population or people that does not have access to and control over these means and processes cannot be said to possess or exercise self-determination. The Black working class majority in Jackson does not have control or unquestionable ownership over any of these means or processes. Our mission is to aid the Black working class in Jackson, and the working class overall, to attain them.” 3-4
“In many respects, we are positioning ourselves to act as a ‘developer’, which is normally a role that is exclusively played by the bourgeoisie, i.e. the capitalist class, or the state. We are aiming to upend this paradigm on many levels and in several strategic ways. One, we are seeking to negate the role of capital being the primary determinant of the social development of Jackson… by situating this role in the hands of the working class through the agency of its own autonomous organizations and its control over the municipal state apparatus. But, we are not seeking to replicate the dynamics of ‘development’ in the standard capitalist sense. The central dynamic in our quest is to upend the old aims, norms, processes and relationships of capitalist development, which have little to no regard for the preservation of the environment and ecology, and replace them with new norms that are fixed first and foremost on repairing the damage done to our environment and ecosystems, and creating new systems that will ultimately regenerate the bounty of life on our planet, in all its diversity. This will be possible by strategically incorporating, utilizing, and innovating upon the technologies of the third and (emerging) fourth waves of the industrial revolution, which will enable the elimination of scarcity, but within ecological limits… What we aim to do is to make Jackson a hub of community production, which is anchored by 3D-print manufacturing for community consumption, i.e. direct use-value consumption, and commodity production, to exchange value in consumer markets.” 5
“In order to democratically transform the capitalist world-economy, we have to transform the agent central to this process, the working class, into a democratic subject. This transformation starts with the self-organization of the working class itself. Although not foreign to the working class historically by any means, particularly to the Black working class in the United States (which was often left solely to its own ends for self-defense and survival), worker self-organization is not a common feature of the class at present. This is a dynamic that we must change in Jackson (and beyond).
Now, to be clear on terms, self-organization means first and foremost workers directly organizing themselves through various participatory means (unions, assemblies, etc.) primarily at their places of work or points of production, but also where they live, play, pray, and study. The point of this self-organization is for workers to make collective, democratic decisions about how, when, and to what ends their labor serves, and about how to take action collectively to determine the courwe of their own lives and the animus of their own actions.” 6
“We have to be clear, crystal clear, that self-determination is unattainable without an economic base. And not just your standard economic base, meaning a capitalist oriented one, but a democratic one. Self-determination is not possible within the capitalist social framework, because the endless pursuit of profits that drives this system only empowers private ownership and the individual appropriation of wealth by design. The end result of this system is massive inequality and inequity. We know this from the brutality of our present experience and the nightmares of history demonstrated to us time and time again over the course of the last 500 years.
We strive to build a democratic economy because it is the surest route to equity, equality, and ecological balance. Reproducing capitalism, either in its market oriented or state-dictated forms, will only replicate the inequities and inequalities that have plagued humanity since the dawn of the agricultural revolution. We believe that the participatory, bottom-up democratic route to economic democracy and eco-socialist transformation will be best secured through the anchor of worker self-organization, the guiding structures of cooperatives and systems of mutual aid and communal solidarity, and the democratic ownership, control, and deployment of the ecologically friendly and labor liberating technologies of the fourth industrial revolution.” 7
“Cooperative economics and labor self-management provide the members of the laboring classes who experience class exploitation and domination and non-class forms of oppression with practical economic tools to challenge the economic and political power of the economic and political elite. The oppressed are in a position to build a counterhegemonic practice that mirrors the embryonic values and institutions of the future socialist society, while living within the existing capitalist, patriarchal and racist social order.” 49
“The Jackson-Kush Plan and the emerging cooperative experiment in Jackson are heavily influenced by the Mondragon experiment and its interrelationship with the Basque movement for self-determination and sovereignty. In these movements, we have found many parallels with our struggle for self-determination and economic democracy in Mississippi and throughout the Black Belt region of the US South.
The Basque history of organizing their people for self-reliance, as reflected in the Mondragon experiment, is a compelling reason to embrace cooperative economics in general and labor self-management in particular. Cooperative economics is based on organizing and meeting the needs of your members or community and doing so with the strategic objectives of satisfying self-determined human needs and social bonding, not the generation or pursuit of profits. In the process of the people reflecting on why the institutional context in which they are located has prevented them from being able to adequately meet their need for high quality and affordable goods and services, the revolutionary or progressive organizers have the opportunity to pose questions that encourage the people to think critically and interrogate the structural shortcomings of capitalism. In other words, as a result of posing questions about the basic features of capitalism and the predictable anti-people or anti-working class economic, social and political outcomes that it produces, a critical mass fo people might come to the conclusion that capitalism must become history in order for them to lead decent, just and ecologically sustainable lives.
The revolutionary organizers ought to predicate their organizing intervention among the oppressed around their self-defined needs. By utilizing the critical problem-posing methodology of the late Brazilian educator Paulo Freire, on the basis that the exploited are and can act as the architects of their own emancipation, we increase the likelihood of turning the people on to a radically transformative approach to relating to the world…” 51
“Another compelling reason for cooperative economics and labor self-management is the emphasis that it places on developing the capacities of the members or cooperators to shape the world in their image and interest. When we refer to capacity building, we are highlighting the necessity of equipping the cooperators with the requisite knowledge, skills and attitude to collectively build the economic and social infrastructure of a humanistic, caring and participatory democratic present and future. A key principle of the international cooperative movement affirms the need to educate and train cooperative stakeholders, and the sharing of information with the public…” 53
“Critical education is essential to the process of exorcising the ghosts of conformity within the status quo from the psyche and behaviour of the oppressed to enable the development of a cultural revolution. Cultural revolutions typically precede political revolutions, as the former creates the social conditions for a critical mass of the people to embrace new social values that orient them toward the possibility of another world. Therefore, training and development programs, the constant dissemination of critical information, and mass educational initiatives are central to the goal of preparing the people for self-management and self-determination.” 53
“What exactly are we alluding to when we make reference to ‘enabling structures and supportive organizations’ for cooperative economics and labor self-management? We are going to attempt an answer to the preceding question by illustrating how essential they are to the survival of capitalist firms. The companies that follow the capitalist ownership patterns, method of handling workers, and approach to. Operating and managing a business benefit from the business education and conventional economic programmes that are taught in primary or elementary, secondary and tertiary levels of the education system. The taxes from the laboring classes are used to finance the business regime that exploit the workers and make capitalist business ideas and practices second nature in our consciousness. It ought to be clear to the reader that the public education system is an enabling structure that provides the existing economic system with ideologically prepared and technically trained or educated personnel to function in capitalist firms. Most of the students who take high school economics and business management courses are not normally exposed to consumer, financial and worker cooperatives as viable business forms that promote economic democracy and privilege the needs of their members—not the making of profits for stockholders.
Even at the college and university level of the education system, only a few students are trained to work in cooperatives and worker self-managed firms. The educational programmes that address the need of the cooperatives for cooperators and staff with the knowledge, skills and attitude to effectively and efficiently function in these democratic, member owned and controlled economic enterprises were specifically designed for this purpose. Cooperative economics and labor self-management projects do not have an available pool of prospective cooperators who are trained at taxpayers’ expense or trained at all as is the case with economic initiatives that are. Following the orthodox path of capitalist economic development. The Mondragon cooperatives have created their own educational structures over the years to meet their need for trained cooperators at the shop-floor, technical and administrative levels of the cooperative workforce.” 55