From the Basque town of Mondragon, in Northern Spain, over the course of 65 years, there grew a complex of worker owned businesses that now covers nearly every sector of the economy in that region, and employs over 80,000 workers. (In 2015, the total population of Mondragon was just shy of 22,000, just to give you an idea of the scale of this economic happening).
By all standard economic measures, the Mondragon Corporation outperforms the traditional capitalist business model, without creating poverty in the process. It combines the best ideas from the political left and right: Voluntary cooperation, personal incentive to work for the common good, taking care of people while taking care of business. All within a culture of workplace democracy!
The spiritual leader of this project (literally) was a Catholic Priest known simply as Father Arizmendi. Yes, the Arizmendi baking collective in the San Francisco Bay Area is named after him.
There is now a movement to have Father Arizmendi canonized as a Saint, as this page on the website of the San Francisco Archdiocese reveals. If you scroll down to the bottom of the page, after reading the material at the top, you will find an excellent list of resources about the Mondragon miracle. Don’t forget to include Arizmendi’s canonization in your prayers, if, like me, you are a person who prays! If not, no worries.
I got to know my wife in a Mondragon study group here in the USA. One of the results of that experience was this song (which, full disclosure, is linked on the Archdiocese website :-)).
Vocal: James Williams
Instruments and backup vocals: Lloyd Ferris
(c)Lloyd Ferris, Ferrillo Music (ASCAP)