len krimerman's blog

This is my response to Michael Johnson's recent blog post, Movements Moving Together, Part 1.
Some thoughts on MJ's Culture trumping Structure: I like the garden analogy, but I also think that some “structures” are culture builders, much as some plants are soil builders. E.g., part of Mondragon’s “structure” is that cooperative membership is more than having an equal say in one’s co-op. It also involves being an “empresario”, a labor entrepreneur. (See Ana Gutierrez Johnson, in Changing Work, #1, p. 40.) That is, it involves building a cooperative culture. As Ana put it, “This entrepreneurial orientation is the factor which explains the expansion of the [Mondragon] cooperative network and its level of technological and organizational development.” Think as well of P6, where the line between structure and culture also appears to fade away. (This is also true of the democracy building work of groups like Everyday Democracy, which rely on trained community-based facilitators of a carefully constructed democratic process.) So it looks to me that getting the structure right is not just replacing hierarchy with non-hierarchical, one person, one vote, governance. It involves, or can involve, learning new norms, changing old habits, inventing new processes for making group decisions. Like listening to other voices as much or more than expressing one’s own views; or seeing leadership as developing the leadership potential in others rather than leading/directing them towards goals they did not shape. Still, I’d agree “transformative tilling” of our own cultural soil is essential. (But do we have solid evidence for this?} In any case, perhaps it too can best emerge from deeply democratic structures (e.g., like that of Highlander) and deeply democratic processes, like those of Everyday Democracy. At the least, I think, those structures/processes can play a crucial supportive role in keeping that personal tilling work an ongoing common priority – and in ensuring that it is harmonious with cooperative development and community building missions. Here again, the relationship is between structure/process and culture seems, to me, more symbiotic than you appear to allow. P.S. And what are we to understand by a "strong democratic culture"? Examples?
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