Catalan Integral Cooperative - Governance

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see also: Catalan Integral Cooperative

Introduction

In summary, by Enric Duran:

- Big descentralization at the local and tematic level (only the things that affects all the process comes to the general assembly) - The decisions are done by consensus. (not voting involved) - The decision making spaces are open to everybody (yet first day coming...) - we trust that anyone have the capacity to know when need to be silent or to consent because dont have the knowledge or legitimacy to block a proposal,


How do we organize ourselves?

"Catalan Integral Cooperative is organized through fortnightly open assemblies where decisions about its functioning are taken. In these assemblies which are called ‘permanent assemblies’, among other issues, the tasks carried out by different commisions and working groups are reviewed. Also, if need be, creation of new working groups and commisions can be aggreed upon.

Working commissions are constructed as nodes. These comprise and interrelate various commissions that have a certain relation with one and other.

How we understand a commission is, a stable group of people carrying out a necessary task for the proper functioning of the cooperative. The commission propose actions and fields of work, develop them and present their current states and results during permanent assemblies.

A working group is an ensemble of people who realize a punctual and fairly concrete task or iniciate a new branch inside the cooperative from the moment the premanent assembly finds it necessary. In the cases that a task developed by the working group is time consuming but at the same time important for the collective, the issue is brought up in the permanent assembly and then the commission could become a commission. Both the working groups and the commisions are open to public participation.

A very important tool for the commisions and the working groups is the social network of the cooperative through which those invovled in a group can share information, develop ideas, create debates, upload files. It is a tool to communicate through data transmission. Browsing through the social network one can see the scope of issues that were treated before." (http://cooperativa.cat/en/4390-2/how-do-we-organize-ourselves/)


Decision-making

The assemblies are the decision-making organs.Throughout the process, a minimum agreement on the basic principals should be reached, that should come to terms with all the projects within the framework of Integral Cooperative, as a tool to generate self-sufficient, affinity, mutual help networks and equality, based on self-management and assembly. We support a decentralized decision-making process, fundamental to the autonomy and empowerment of the cooperative through solidarity, ruling out bureaucracy and encouraging confidence and free will. Each cooperative project, working commission, eco-network or local group make their own decisions, always respecting the agreements reached within the framework of the CIC.

The questions that affect the totality of the composing elements of the Catalan Integral Cooperative are discussed in a combined manner in the permanent assemblies and seminars. Participation to the assemblies are totally open (fundamental principal of the assembly) and free (regardless of being an associate or not). The decisions are preferably taken in consensus, to make sure the diversity of the opinions and the cohesion of the group are respected and for the optimal progress of the process. In case of a predicament, the proposal is reformulated until the consensus is reached, thus eliminating the minorities and the majorities. All previous agreements are revocable.

The way to self-organize ourselves and the functioning is open to new proposals for better, that, after being debated and approved in consensus would alter the previous agreements." (http://cooperativa.cat/en/4390-2/decision-making/)


Seminars

The seminars are itinerant, meaning, each one is convened in a different place around Catalonia, to encourage participation of all and to raise conscioussness about the reality that exists in the places that they are realized. The place, date and the draft of the agenda of the assemblies are communicated to associates via mail, the social network and the webpage of CIC. If one cannot be present in the place where the meetings are taking place, according to the technical conditions, it could be possible to participate through Mumble, a video chat software. Any associate can add a point to the agenda of the assembly. The permanent assemblies, though also itinerant like the seminars, normally take place in the Barcelona metropolitan area. The tasks that emerge during a permanent assembly can be taken on by a person, a working group or a commission.


Permanent assembly

The decisions that affect CIC are brought up and debated in the social network and the decision is made in the permanent assembly, to which everyone is called to participate periodically, approximately every 15 days. One of each 2 assemblies coincide with the seminars, carried out in one joint monographic theme, which helps developing different aspects of the CIC." (http://cooperativa.cat/en/4390-2/decision-making/)


Interview

Conducted for and by Shareable magazine:

"MB: What are the peculiarities of the CIC approach in terms of governance and ownership models, and what exactly do you mean by ‘integral’?

In Spanish, “integral” means holistic, complete. That is to say, it concerns every single facet of life, and that’s what it means to us.

The CIC’s objective is to generate a self-managed free society outside law, State control, and the rules of the capitalist market.

In this sense, it’s a model for transition more than a model for society, wherein we progressively construct practices and take decisions that move us away from our starting point within the system, and towards the world we want to live in.

The governance model includes two types of general assembly: a monthly assembly on one topic we’re exploring to further our development, and a permanent assembly with an open agenda in which anyone can contribute. Those are every 15 days, so, one of every two assemblies is held within the framework of the general day of assembly.

The CIC’s objective is to generate a self-managed free society outside law, State control, and the rules of the capitalist market. In this sense, it’s a model for transition more than a model for society, wherein we progressively construct practices and take decisions that move us away from our starting point within the system, and towards the world we want to live in. In our view, what we’re doing is activism, an activism for the construction of alternatives to capitalism.”

Otherwise, our governance model is based on the decentralization of the entire organization, while at the same time striving to reinforce the empowerment of every local node, so that they can develop their own integral self-management. We also fully support the self-governance of each autonomous project (be they community, productive projects, health nodes, etc.), so they can self-organize by assembly and hold internal sovereignty for their projects, within the general common framework of the CIC.

In terms of ownership, the collectivization of resources to generate common goods is one of our lines of action. We encourage developing common properties for the whole CIC, which are managed by a sovereign assembly for every project.

Private property is one of the ways in which you can protect property, but it’s not the only one. We promote forms of communal property and of cooperative property as formulas that, to us, seem to enhance the self-management and self-organization of individuals, and which provide a great deal of strength to overcome the state and the capitalist system, as opposed to if we just defended private property. Our reasons for defending a certain type of property are always directly related to its use. We are against situations like multiple owners making profits from abusive rental contracts, while having no interest in the actual use of their land.

One of our counter-economic strategies is the collectivization of lands by means of cooperative purchase, or by donation from the individual owners. For this, we use what we call a “Patrimonial Cooperative”, which has no economic activity whatsoever, so the state has absolutely no reason to attack it with fines.

John Restakis: The decision making process, while embodying principles of direct democracy, decentralization and egalitarianism, sounds cumbersome and time consuming. How much time is required for people to take part in the permanent assemblies and for how long is it anticipated this process can last? Has participation fallen off over time?

Between the permanent assemblies and the monthly single-topic assemblies, we’d say that we spend around 16 to 20 hours a month in the big groups, while in the small groups it’s usually a lot more.

I think we’re quite satisfied with our decision-making process. Its level of participation has held up rather well over the years and, in fact, there’s even more participation now. Presently there are, on average, 50 in-person participants per assembly, while some of us participate remotely.

At the same time, the quality of the agreements is a great success, and there hasn’t been any major decision-making conflict in all these years.

Given that the majority of participants choose to take part in a project or in one concrete area of the CIC, but not of the whole, the number of participants in the assemblies doesn’t grow as much as the number of participants in some aspects of the CIC, and this number in the thousands. We also use a number of communication tools, like social networks and our mailing lists, which allow many people to contribute to the aspects they’re interested in, even if they themselves may not be physically present at the assemblies." (http://guerrillatranslation.com/2014/03/26/integral-revolution/)