An Integral Cooperative is a tool to create a grassroots counterpower departing from self-management, self-organization and direct democracy, and one that would help overcome the actual state of dependency on the structures of the system, towards a scenario of liberty full awareness, free of authority, and in which everyone could flourish under equal conditions and opportunities.
It is a constructive proposal for disobedience and widespread self-managment to rebuild our society in a bottom-up maner (in every field and in an integral way) and recover the affective human relationships of proximity based on trust.
- Cooperative, as a project practicing the economical and political self-management with the equal participation of all its members. Also, because it takes the same legal form
- Integral, to bring together all the basic elements of an economy such as production, consumption, funding and a local currency. And at the same time, because it wants to integrate all the activity sectors necessary to survive: food, housing, health, education, energy, transport…
2) The Integral Revolution
The call for integral revolution
It is a call to all of you who resist being dominated and enslaved, to get together under one conscious personal and collective action for the improvement and recovery of the qualities and values that enable us to live a life together, as well as the construction of new organizational forms and structures in all aspects of life to ensure equality and equity in the coverage of vital needs.
The Integral Revolution is not just an exit for a few or a partial solution: it is a constructive proposal for disobedience and self-management to rebuild society from below (in all areas and holistically) recovering the human and emotional relationships, proximity and based on the trust. The key is to use cooperative and collective tools, minimizing management time and investment in the tortuous bureaucratic process.
Equitable relationships based on freedom:
- We reject any form of domination or discrimination between people, based on any reason, like sex, gender, sexual orientation, culture or ethnicity, age, inheritance, class, etc.
- We promote mutual aid, solidarity, trust, respect and fellowship. In general, love between human beings.
- We want to revert the degradation of the human beings, which occurs in the majority of places around the world, which we see as consciously cultivated by the dominant elites. Because the more empowered people are, the more insecure the current system is.
- We need a desire for improvement, based on active listening and constant reflection, as well as on the habit to accept criticism from others and from ourselves to enable this improvement.
- We want to extend good practices in interpersonal relationship across humanity.
Self-organization and sovereign popular assemblies:
- The popular assembly, as a way to decision making with equality of voice and vote, is the legitimate form of organization of any collective, community or peoples, as it is a necessary condition for freedom.
- Sovereign popular assemblies: the self-determination of peoples through this form of horizontal social organization, free commitment of individuals and peoples to communities and federations.
- Relationships between peoples and communities based on solidarity, freedom and decentralisation: equitable and horizontal interdependence; a willingness to coordinate and interact, from the most local and regional level to the wider geographical scale, deciding on a small scale whenever possible and only on a wider scale when absolutely necessary (principle of subsidiarity, confederation, fractality, etc.)
- Building-in diversity, respecting human and personal differences, including minorities in all assembly-based decisions.
- Therefore, contesting the State, in all its forms.
Public and commons:
a) Recover common ownership for the benefit of all, with popular possession and control
- We have to recover control of land and means of production for the common good, granting its availability through collectivization (communal ownership) for the public good.
- We reject private property as a tool of the powerful classes to accumulate capital and establish control over the ownership and use of land and the means of production, perpetuating the regime of domination by wage labor, accumulation, exploitation and speculation.
- Self-interest brings to us alienation and disaffection, destroys communal ownership and communal goods.
b) Build a cooperative system that is public and self-managed, based upon mutual aid
- We work for the common good, to ensure that all of our vital necessities (food, health, housing, education, energy, transportation, etc.) are covered through a truly public system, built by ourselves and based on self-management, cooperating with one another and promoting the values and abilities that are essentially human.
- We reject the State as a system of control based in exploitation of humans by humans. So we also reject the paternalistic social services provided by the State, which support individualism and undermine self-empowerment. We reject the control of public services by powerful minorities (either the State or the markets). And therefore we also reject the private corporate-elitist network controlled by those minorities.
c) Liberate access to information and knowledge
- We reclaim free access to information and free creativity.
- We foster our natural disposition to experimentation and investigation as sources of knowledge.
- We share knowledge among us all to build a greater common good.
A new economy based on cooperation and close relationships:
- We denounce capitalism as a means of production and trade based on competition, exploitation of the weak and limitless growth.
- We denounce the current financial system, dominated by centralized and private banks, and we reject charging interest on money.
- We embrace the maxim “from each according to their abilities, to each according to their needs.”
- We commit to horizontal cooperation as the basis for economic relationships.
- We intensely promote cooperative work and consumption. We are for the eradication of wage labor and in general against the exploitation of labor.
- We propose alternative currencies, direct barter, gift economies and community economies as practical tools for a new economic system.
- An economy as local as possible and avoiding the need for intermediaries. Equitable relations between producers and consumers.
- When necessary, a public-communal financial system, without interest.
Cooperate with life and nature:
- We apply the principles of cooperation, conservation and respect in our relationship with the natural world, of which we are part, and we ensure good shared lives with the rest of living beings. What’s more, local popular sovereignty allows and fosters these principles.
- We take into account the cycles of natural life, to ensure the sustainability of human activity, from generation to generation.
- We denounce the values and dynamics of the current system that destroy or put at risk many forms of life, including ours, and at the same time exhausts non-renewable resources.
- We must take advantage of renewable resources in a decentralised way, promoting the self-sufficiency of human communities, reducing the scale of large cities, eager for vast amounts of resources.
How can we do this?
- Coherence between means and ends: the process of the Integral Revolution is a transition from the current system towards a new society and humanity. The path to go from one to the other is one of learning and must reflect where we are going. It matters, then, that the means to effect this transformation be in agreement with the ends that we desire.
- Dialectical and simultaneous relationship between values and structures: a change in values is necessary to change the structures, but achieving a deep and broad change of values requires new structures that foster and enable their practice.
- In coherence with our ends, we have to realize the Integral Revolution from a base of local groups, standing for decentralization and local actions, but with a global vision and thinking. If this simultaneously progresses in several territories and regions, it will be much stronger and unstoppable.
- The peoples, and the communities that comprise them, have an inalienable and legitimate right to organize themselves, and to defend their life, their security, their culture and their lands and territories in the way that they consider most convenient, as long as they aim for the maxim “to minimize violence against human beings and maximize respect for freedom and life of others.”
- In order to be able to achieve this revolution, we consider general disobedience legitimate and necessary in order to extract the maximum of resources, work and legitimacy from the current system and dedicate them to the new society in construction. We think we each have to use disobedience in our own context in whatever way that maximizes our transformative action.
3) Background History
In Catalonia the reasons for the latest economic and financial crisis were identified quickly and some alternatives to the capitalistic system were already under development at that time. In the End of 2008 local groups and individual activists in Catalonia gathered together to develop concepts for an alternative to the crisis and for society. Some were outlined in the publication “We can live without capitalism”, a book published in March 17th 2009 of which about 350.000 copies were distributed in all Catalonia. It was then that the new model of concept of Integral Cooperatives was officially mentioned for the first time.
Since then there has been an intensive development of this model and its dissemination until the first initiative of this kind was founded legaly in May 2010: The Cooperativa Integral Catalana (CIC). From its practical example of self-organization, today several initiatives are already underway to develop a network of Integral Cooperatives, mainly in the Iberian Peninsula until now. Now, with the dissemination in Greece, the integral revolution is getting more and more a global face.
Detailed information about the historical background you can find here:
[here maybe a link for background history of the development of Integral Revolution?!]
4) General Principles of an Integral Cooperative
The basic principles are the minimum agreements to be assumed to all those processes that interact within the framework of the integral cooperative, as a tool to create networks of self-affinity, mutual support and equality, based on self-management and assembly.
Subsequently you can read the general principles we propose to join, in order to concentrate the power of the integral revolution.This doesn’t mean that these need to be your only principles. If you feel that others also fit to the spirit of your integral cooperative, go for it.
- Concern for common good and for one’s own good
- Getting rid of materialism
- Cooperation and solidarity in social transformation
- Day-to-day social transformation and getting closer to making utopia a reality.
- Direct relation between practical action and theorization
- Inclusive cooperativeand encompassing the whole society
- Social justice and equity
- Equality in diversity
- Self-realization and mutual support
- Commitment and self-evaluation
- Sharing our practices throughout society
- Addressing the needs of people above any other interest, everyone contributing according to their means.
- Money as a measure of the trading system between the people of a community, but without seeking accumulation as an end.
- Encouraging other non-monetary forms of exchange: free economy, direct exchange, communal economy.
- Establishing economic relations between producers and consumers: the cooperative regulates the estimation of fair prices based on their costs, its own needs and those of the consumers.
- The cooperative informs the producers of consumer needs to regulate production.
- The ECOcoops can never be converted into euros and we do not agree on any form of interest on your loan.
- Ecology and permaculture
- Degrowth and sustainability
- Democracy: direct, deliberative, participative
- Self-management and decentralization
- Subsidiarity: form local to global
- Based on assemblies
In addition to our general principles, we also embrace the idealogical bases of the call for integral revolution