What on earth is the Catalan Integral Cooperative?

To understand the CIC and what supposedly makes it a “post-capitalist” cooperative in more than ambition, Dafermos says that the “revolutionary activist” character of the cooperative is essential, as is an understanding of its “Open Cooperativism” philosophy, which distinguishes it from both conventional businesses and mainstream cooperatives. According to Dafermos, “the main objective of the CIC is nothing less than to build an alternative economy in Catalonia capable of satisfying the needs of the local community more effectively than the existing system, thereby creating the conditions for the transition to a post-capitalist mode of organization of social and economic life.”(Dafermos, 2017). This mission is what, in my opinion, has lead to the complex organizational structure of various committees, self-employed members, exchange networks and autonomous initiatives, as members experiment with different facets of the economic and social transition from capitalism.

A traditional business-oriented worker cooperative would look at a market, search for a good or service that they could provide and build their business up from there, eventually expanding into other markets if possible. This is the “lean-startup” approach which currently dominates entrepreneurial circles in North America and elsewhere. The CIC takes this supposedly conventional wisdom, and does something entirely different, instead rapidly prototyping and supporting multiple, often wildly dissimilar business models (from hackerspaces to organic farms) and projects at the same time, with the goal of experimenting with and disrupting as many industries as possible and promoting open cooperativism within their sphere of influence.

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