Cooperation Jackson Community Production Cooperative
By Kali Akuno and Gyasi William:
"Cooperation Jackson is embarking upon with the launch of our Community Production Center and Community Production Cooperative. Our aim is to make Jackson, Mississippi the “city of the future”, a Transition City anchored in part in the practices of a “Fab City” that would transform our city into an international center of advanced, sustainable manufacturing utilizing 3D printing and other innovative tools of the Third Digital Revolution. The only way we are going to come anywhere close to attaining anything like the utopia these technologies promise is by democratizing them and subjecting them to social use and production for the benefit of all, rather than the control and appropriation by the few.
The democratization of the technologies of the Third Digital Revolution, both in their ownership and use, is one of the primary aims of Cooperation Jackson. To realize this aim we struggle for Tech Democracy and Tech Justice first and foremost by educating our members and the general public about the promises and perils of the technology so that people can make informed decisions. We suggest this as a general framework of struggle. The next course of action we suggest is the pursuit of self-finance to acquire as much of this technology as we can, with the explicit intention of controlling these means of production and utilizing them for the direct benefit of our organization and our community.
Another course of action we suggest and are embarking upon is organizing our community for political and economic power to expand and reinforce our Community Production efforts. Our aim is to gradually make Community Production ubiquitous in our community, with the explicit intent of gradually replacing the exploitative and environmentally destructive methods of production in use at present. A related course of action is to utilize our political power to make demands on the government, the capitalist class, and the transnational corporations to remove the controls they have on the technology, like exclusive patents, in order to make these technologies publicly accessible. Another essential demand on the government is to make massive investments in these technologies to make them public utilities and/or commons and to ensure that the corporations make restorative investments in these utilities for the public good.
We also think that public/community partnerships should be pursued on a municipal level to establish direct community ownership over these technologies to help ensure that vulnerable populations and historically oppressed communities gain direct access, with the prerequisite being where these communities are sufficiently organized and possess a degree of political power within the municipality. Public/community partnerships could also be essential towards capitalizing these democratic pursuits, by enabling the community to use both its tax wealth and various vehicles of self-finance to build out the necessary infrastructure in a manner that will ensure that it remains in the community commons or public domain. It is essential that these types of pursuits be public/community partnerships, with the community being organized in collective institutions like cooperatives, credit unions, community development corporations, etc., and not your typical public/private partnerships that will only remove this infrastructure from the commons or public domain as soon as possible in our neoliberal dominated world.
Further, given the steady decline in union membership, density, and overall social and political power, coupled with the ever-growing threats of automation, mechanization, big data, and artificial intelligence to the working class as a whole, we want to appeal to the various unions, in and out of the AFL-CIO, as the most organized sector of the working class in the US, to take the challenges of the Third Digital Revolution head on. In fact, we think organized labor should be leading the charge on the question of Community Production, as it is in the best position given its resources, skills and strategic location in society to steer the Third Digital Revolution in a democratic manner. In this vein, we want to encourage organized labor to utilize the tremendous investment resources it has at its disposal to start creating or investing in Community Production Cooperatives throughout the US to further the ubiquitous development and utilization of the technology to help us all realize the benefits of a “zero-marginal-cost society” to combat climate change and eliminate the exploitation of the working class and the lingering social and material effects of racism, patriarchy, heterosexism, ableism, etc. It is time for the cooperative and union movements, as vehicles of working-class self-organization, to reunite again, and Community Production units could and should be a strategic means towards this end.
Finally, we have to keep pushing forward-thinking universities, particularly public colleges and universities, and philanthropists to also provide support to community production development efforts seeking to democratize control of this technology early on.
These are the core elements of what we think is a transformative program to utilize and participate in the development of the Third Digital Revolution for the benefit of our community and the liberation of the working class and all of humanity. We want and encourage other historically oppressed communities throughout the United States to follow this path, Jackson cannot and should not follow this path alone." (http://www.cooperationjackson.org/blog/2018/1/7/countering-the-fabrication-divide-4?)