Building the Future: Worker-Owned Cooperatives and Radical Municipalism

In this paper, Rob Persons examines worker co-ops from a radical municipalist perspective. Worker-owned cooperatives, as part of a solidarity economy framework, offer a way to meet people’s immediate material needs while marshaling the productive forces toward a values-oriented democratic reconfiguration. However, since worker co-ops are structured around capitalist markets with the demand for efficiency and profitability, they can struggle to succeed in both their social and material goals. That is why advocates of worker co-ops who seek economic transformation argue that worker ownership must be linked to a community-building strategy as well as “political struggle to wrest power from the ruling class” if they are to achieve their potential. Radical municipalism offers the method for this political struggle which can help worker-owned cooperatives overcome their limitations by embedding them in a radical movement seeking to democratize all aspects of life, in the workplace and beyond.

An abridged version of this paper appeared in Nonprofit Quarterly.