Our second group of guests at the pre-festival event of CommonsFest 2015, which will be held in Heraklion on April 17-18, comes from the Catalan Integral Cooperative (CIC). The following article (originally published here) provides an introduction to the goals and activities of CIC.
The Catalan Integral Cooperative (or CIC) is a political project seeking to unite consumer and labor initiatives.
The CIC’s objective is to generate a self-managed, post-capitalist society based on Integral Revolution and P2P principles and environmental and social realities.
What’s the CIC?
(extracted from the CIC’s website)
An Integral Cooperative is a tool to create a grassroots counterpower departing from self-management, self-organization and direct democracy, and one that would help overcome the actual state of dependency on the structures of the system, towards a scenario of liberty full awareness, free of authority, and in which everyone could flourish under equal conditions and opportunities.
- Cooperative, as a project practicing the economical and political self-management with the equal participation of all its members. Also, because it takes the same legal form.
- Integral, to bring together all the basic elements of an economy such as production, consumption, funding and a local currency. And at the same time, because it wants to integrate all the activity sectors necessary to survive: food, housing, health, education, energy, transport…
- Catalan because it is organized and works mainly in the territorial scope of Catalonia.
The legal frame of the Integral cooperatives. Protecting the self-managment from the effect of the bank and the State.
- Allows the limitation of liability (individual debts of the associates cannot be claimed from the cooperatives and the debts of the cooperative cannot be claimed from the associates).
- The rules and the internal regime help protect the horizontal way of working based on assemblies, from the state control.
- Allows the existence of different kind of associates, according to individual and collective necessities, and depending on the periodicity and the payment of the fees, which are not necessarily monetary.
- Generates social capital with the contribution of the associates, which can be refunded within a period of 5 years from the moment they are requested.
- Helps protect the economical activity between associates.
- Allows external economical activity development as it has a Taxpayer Identification Number (NIF) which can be used to issue bills for external agents outside the cooperative.
- Serves for the legal registration of properties through rental, concession or purchase contracts, to promote self-managed collectives and community life projects, their protection from private property and promotion of collectivization.
- Allows the coexistence of service, consumption, working associates and volunteers at the same time.
We use cooperatives as a collective tool breaking off the model
…a project, a cooperative.
In general, we use the consumer (and user) and service cooperatives, that is to say, mixed cooperatives, in order to realize economic activity, administration of associates and of the general social capital of the integral cooperative. On the other hand, weuse the consumer (and user) cooperatives to manage real estate. The different legislations in effect should be analyzed with attention since, for example, state laws and certain autonomous laws use the term “integral cooperative” besides (or instead of ) “mixed cooperative” (used in the Catalan law, for instance). This type of cooperatives, of multiple activity, serve the very purpose of different classes of cooperatives. One cannot avoid that the constitution and the maintenance of a cooperative is a task that requires interaction with the bureucratic structure of the state, and for that it is quite out of the question to build a cooperative for each of the self-managed iniciatves that emerge. The key is to use the cooperatives as collective tools, minimazing the management and the time invested in all of the meandering bureaucratic process.
To organize ourself under a cooperative can be used for living without banks and without worying about our former debts. Keep in mind, that the seizure of a person includes his/her shares in their companies, but there is one exception: the social contribution to a cooperative is not seizable as stated in the various laws of cooperatives.
This characteristic which passes through being a cooperative whose statutes prevent speculation and profit, is a characteristics that cedes capitalism and the state and becomes a common good.