RESISTANCE CINEMA Presents “THE MONDRAGON EXPERIMENT” A BBC Production for Horizon, Written and Produced by Dominic Flessati, Narrated by Alexander John, (1980, 50 minutes)
WHEN: Sunday August 14th, 2011 1:15pm
WHERE: Community Church NYC, Gallery Room, 28 East 35th st. betwn Park Ave. & Madison
ADMISSION: Free, donations appreciated
Resistance Cinema wraps up its summer schedule with an historic film that chronicles the development of one of the most successful examples of worker owned and managed enterprises in the modern world which continues to flourish to this day. This inspiring film examines the industrial cooperatives that arose in Mondragon in the Basque region of Spain in the second half of the 20th century. Shows how Mondragon in twenty years was transformed from a small village to one of the most important industrial centers in Spain with cooperative firms unique in history.
The roots of the "Mondragon experiment" start with Father Jose Maria who in the post Spanish Civil War era studied Catholic social doctrine which rejected both capitalism and Marxism. In the 1940's Don Jose Maria was sent to the village of Mondragon where the Basque church was a bulwark against the total dictatorship of the Franco government. In this situation of poverty, few opportunities for employment and limited available education Don Jose Maria started his life's work. Believing that knowledge is power and that people must raise themselves by their own efforts, Don Jose Maria opened a technical school which was open to all local boys. Five of Don Jose Maria's students opened a factory of their own as a worker cooperative. They based the structure on the ideas of Robert Owen, a 19th century English industrialist who wanted to reform the evils of the industrial revolution and create a new society.
While Owen's ideas did not come to fruition in England they have become the basis for a resounding success in Mondragon. The firm opened by Don Jose Maria's students was worker owned and was such a success that by 1979 there were eighty worker owned industrial cooperatives in the Basque country including "second degree" worker cooperatives such as banks, schools, research and development centers, medical care, housing, retail stores and a welfare system.
Not one of the cooperatives has failed. The film gives a detailed review of the management structure of the cooperatives, the system of capital distribution and reinvestment and how the aim of the cooperative structure is for the benefit of all. Good quality of production and excellent quality of information.