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Welcome to the Hotel Bauen (you can check out anytime you want…etc,etc)

Posted by on 10/11/07 (Shite)

Probably the impressive experience on Propagandhi‘s recent trip to Central/ South America was our opportunity to stay at Hotel Bauen in Buenos Aires. Normally staying at a hotel is about as exciting as sleeping in a hospital hallway, but the Hotel Bauen is not your normal hotel.

It is a 19-floor worker-occupied, boss-less hotel. It is part of a worker’s movement in Argentina that explicitly aims to democratize the workplace. It’s not a “project” or an “experiment”. It is part of an emerging real-life struggle against traditional top-down organizational models.

Here’s some background of the struggle courtesy of Marie Trigona, who operates as a journalist for the movement out of an office in the Bauen Hotel.

Wanna see the future? Look South, folks, look South.

34 fragments of dialogue thus far ...

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  • Comment by citizen stefish on October 11th, 2007 at 2:53 pm:

    there’s a good book written about what’s going on in argentina called “sin patron”. haymarket put out an english version of it.

    http://www.haymarketbooks.org/

    it is listed under the “latin america” category…

  • Comment by zeph on October 11th, 2007 at 7:59 pm:

    Sounds awesome, this kind of stuff gets me excited to hear about, I guess because its not so often I hear encouraging news.

    So what do you guys think of all the ‘New Socialism’ stuff going down, particularly Venezuela?

  • Comment by Yaniv on October 11th, 2007 at 9:31 pm:

    By far the best book I’ve read on the topic is Horizontalism, an assorted collection of essays highlighting the possibility of a genuinely democratic alternative to global capital.

    Also, If you haven’t yet seen it, check Naomi Klein’s excellent documentary, The Take. The film chronicles the story of a worker’s collective that occupies a factory after the 2001 economic meltdown. They struggle to gain legitimacy and autonomy while living and experiencing bona-fide workplace democracy.

    Chris: Besides the hotel, were you able to visit any other occupied factories or worker collectives? I read from Michael Albert’s report when he went down there that there is even an ice-cream factory that has been converted into a non-hierachical, self-managed and participatory worker cooperative. Unbelievable.

  • Comment by citizen stefish on October 11th, 2007 at 11:39 pm:

    thanks for the name horizontalism because i couldn’t remember it a while back when i was trying to get ahold of it.

    you know what is interesting about all of this…is where it is happening. when i think of latin america, i (unfortunately) still think of names like stroessner and pinochet, and corporate police states and thousands of people disappearing off the face of the earth. but can you imagine anything like this happening in the united states? or canada? or england? you know, the “free” peoples. no chance in hell! SWAT teams would bash down the door and machine gun everyone down. and they’d be doing their jobs, protecting private property rights. and this stuff is happening, in some places like argentina, less than a quarter century after the horror (kind of) ended.

  • Comment by maxpaps on October 12th, 2007 at 5:33 am:

    Amazing article!

    On one side you have people passionately fighting, putting egos aside and creating new grounds for a better system without leaders and “heroes”.

    And then you have Al Gore winning the Nobel peace prize, finally reaching his destination after a long painful journey of megalomania. I feel like eating my puke.

  • Comment by tom on October 13th, 2007 at 12:49 am:

    wow so bored lately

    http://www.youtube.c...the%20motor%20league
    http://www.youtube.c...the%20motor%20league
    http://www.youtube.c...the%20motor%20league

    not as bored as that last guy obviously

  • Comment by tom on October 13th, 2007 at 12:56 am:

    heres one of chris alone

    http://www.youtube.c...the%20motor%20league

  • Comment by Dude Incredible on October 13th, 2007 at 12:19 pm:

    Same thing is going on in Germany at a bike manufacturer..
    http://www.strike-bi...x.php?&hl=en_US

    Never before in the FRG (Federal Republic of Germany) self-managed production in an occupied factory took place.

    Go forth and spread the word.

  • Comment by Yaniv on October 13th, 2007 at 6:59 pm:

    Tom: I can see the resemblance. Here is one of Todd.

  • Comment by muva2003 on October 13th, 2007 at 9:53 pm:

    Great article. Aside from seemingly earning more money without upper-privelege salaries, the sense of being an actual worker and equal part to the working whole must feel great for these people. Finding folks who feel alienated or detached from their work must be fewer and far between.

    I’m still a skeptic with this whole parecon thing, I feel as though the incentives aren’t enough for even a small-scale economic system. It also begs the question: If it’s such a viable system, why aren’t parecon-model businesses popping up around here (I’m in New Jersey). I think Chris linked to something about Parecon awhile back, I’ll take a look at that… If anyone can shoot me some literature, I love reading about this stuff.

    What the hell is Todd singing? I can’t hardly tell over the background snorting.

  • Comment by muva2003 on October 13th, 2007 at 10:01 pm:

    maxpaps: If you take a look at the history of the Nobel Peace prize, you’ll see it’s got a track record of bullshit. Yasar Arafat and Henry Kissinger are among some receivers.

  • Comment by jacksunn on October 15th, 2007 at 4:56 pm:

    I was in San Jose, CR the night before Propaghandi played there. I was flying back to my home in Portland the next day. I had been there for a few weeks and had just days before been talking with a friend about how I wanted to see them play. Then, I picked up the paper and saw an article on Propaghandi! I thought, FUCK, they are here! Then, I realized I was going to miss it and thought that it was strange that I could be so far from home where it seems a lot more likely they would play nearby and that they had come all this way too. Hope you guys had a good time. Sorry I missed it. Hope to see you in Oregon at some point.

  • Comment by killerkowalski on October 16th, 2007 at 2:36 pm:

    the future is south? it may very well be.
    you know what, i have to admit that as a “financially comfortable” white middle class canadian, i wasn’t educated about the south.

    i just believed that fascism and communism where rampant down there. not to be a racist.. i just didn’t know any better, because i didnt think i had to. but my eyes have been opened after seeing this, and recently, Jon Stewart had a guest ( a prime minister, i believe ) from somewhere down there, and he proved me wrong. he proved to be more efficient than our leaders up here, and he wasn’t fucking corrupted either. i wish i could offer more on that, but my memory is just… what was i saying? but, i encourage you to do research on south america.. you will be surprised.

  • Comment by killerkowalski on October 16th, 2007 at 2:37 pm:

    Ah, Evo Morales of Bolivia it was. http://www.cbc.ca/ne...ly-show-morales.html

  • Comment by tinamodotti on October 16th, 2007 at 7:53 pm:

    Cool post Propagandhi! I posted some photos of your Buenos Aires show as well as Chris and Todd in the basement of the BAUEN.

    http://mujereslibres...hi-in-argentina.html

    Punk rock gurus Propaghandhi played in Buenos Aires this week. I had the opportunity to interview the band and watch the show.Check out the interview in November’s issue of Z Magazine, soon forthcoming.

    The band embarked on their first tour through Latin America in October. While in Buenos Aires, Propagandhi stayed at the BAUEN Hotel, which has been under worker control for the past four years in the heart of the city. Enthusiastic about staying at the 19 story hotel with no boss or owner, they asked all kinds of questions about how the cooperative is organized: from how do they make decisions, how has the police reacted, how many patrons stay at the hotel because it functions as a cooperative. Many of the questions were rooted in their own experience self-managing a punk rock band and record label, G-7 welcoming committee.

    Marie

  • Comment by antistatecommie on October 17th, 2007 at 4:06 am:

    While it might be tempting to glorify instances of workers self-management such as that appearing in Argentina, we can’t actually believe that this is a viable alternative to capitalism.

    On only need to look back at LIP in France during the seventies to understand that self-management is merely self-exploitation and to liberate ourselves from capital completely we have to destroy wages, exchange and the State.

  • Comment by Chris on October 17th, 2007 at 7:11 am:

    antistatecommie: it’s great that you want to part of the dialogue. it’s also great that you have a different perspective (apparently).

    what is not particularly great is the fact that despite the fact that you have strung together words that indeed imply the form of a criticism, they contain none of the content of an actual criticism. let me help you clarify your position:

    WHY are instances of worker self-management (like recuperated factories and hotels in Argentina for example) not worth our consideration?

    WHAT is the LIP in France and WHAT are the events that make it suggest that self-management is actually self-exploitation?

    it would also be helpful to outline any projects you’re involved in (or aware of) that reflect the goals you describe.

    much appreciated!

  • Comment by Sebast on October 17th, 2007 at 8:20 am:

    I belive that the State is the least of our worries in a world where Corporativism has taken the lead in the capitalist market. The State merely allows it to happen, but they shall also soon feel the avarice of capital moneymongers in the form of cold steel slicing their way through their necks (wow, what an 80′s cliché… 1780′s that is).

    Basically, self-administered corporations can not exclude themselves from capital cuz they’re still forced to buy other goods from the capitalist structured market system. But imagine a small town where all businesses are self-managed and that the exchange system is in the form of goods and not vulgar money (like Mondragón in France, Chiapas in Mexico or Lleida and Tarragona sin Spain)*.
    The only difference it would make is the impossibility of franchising and cross-border exploitation.

    Doesn’t sound so bad now does it?
    Alas, say goobye to your gameboys and inflatagirls…

    *Information may not be up to date

  • Comment by elputomikea on October 17th, 2007 at 9:24 am:

    C.J. : here’s what ‘LIP’ is. Too bad for the world the nice documentary on the events does not have an english version–to my knowledge.

    http://en.wikipedia....clockwork_company%29

    Sebast: Mondragon actually is in Spain. Or rather, in the the part of Euskadi where this – http://www.guardian.co.uk/france/story/0,,2169068,00.html – will not be implemented.

    http://en.wikipedia..../wiki/Mondrag%C3%B3n

  • Comment by antistatecommie on October 17th, 2007 at 6:51 pm:

    Chris: Yes my post was extremely devoid of content and was so because I sought a response from none other but you – as I have wondered for some time how far your analysis of capitalism really went – without wasting too much time. Mind you, I don’t really consider the condecending tone of your reply very conducive to fruitfull discussion.

    I’m not suggesting that instance of workers self-management aren’t worth our consideration. I don’t doubt for one second that it is a more humane way of selling ones labour power. But it remains exactly that. Capitalism isn’t just the extraction of surplus value from one class by another. It is the domination of the economy over exploiter and exploited alike. In other words, capitalism can and has existed without the capitalists. To abolish capitalism, the working class must not simply usurp the bourgeoise and insert its self as the dominant class, but negate itself; destory class society and all classes, including itself. To take over the production, reorganise work along socialist, anarchist or parecon lines and continue to allow one aspect of social life to remain seperate from the rest is leaving the economy and thus capitalism intact.

    If we look at the history of working class struggles, instances of self-management have typically indicated a defensive position on the part of the proletariat (often to avoid unemployment or to merely survive). Why take over production if we could successfully destory the economy all together and live a qualitatively different life?

  • Comment by Chris on October 18th, 2007 at 7:15 am:

    To abolish capitalism, the working class must not simply usurp the bourgeoise and insert its self as the dominant class, but negate itself; destory class society and all classes, including itself.

    So what does this actually mean? What does this negation look like? How do we proceed? Can you describe where we end up looks like?

    Why take over production if we could successfully destory the economy all together and live a qualitatively different life?

    how do we destroy economy? what does that mean to you? is there a rough description of the possible qualitatively different lives you could outline? what are the ulitmate goals? what are the underlying values?

    are there any examples of this proposal for re-organization in action that we can have a look at?

  • Comment by elputomikea on October 18th, 2007 at 7:32 am:

    Yeah!! Let’s destroy the economy! Let’s abolish classes right now! Counnt me in!….Hummm….when/where/with what do we start? When’s the lunch break?

    Dude, i’ll skip the criticism of some of the rather intellectually-suspect
    assumptions you made about capitalism and history – i have a weight watchers meeting right now and i’m late – and will just ask you a couple of questions: have you ever worked for more than…humm…let’s say at least 2 month in a row in the same place? (a place that wouldn’t be owned by a relative/friend, obviously, and that wouldn’t be a record store–that would be cheating too) If it’s the case, did you actually need the job, or rather, did the money earned constitute your means of survival?

  • Comment by Sebast on October 18th, 2007 at 11:53 am:

    Jumpn’ Yehova’s Witness!

    Mondragon IS in Spain! Oops, no. It’s in Guipúzkoa, which means that the borders are not formally defined. Think Kashmir. No, forget the indian/pakistan conflict and think Euskadi and how the basques would feel if we said Mondragón is under spain’s rule.
    But hey, i must admit i got confused between the french comune and the basque workers collective. But both examples work fine as an example of what I was trying to say.

    ‘Bout the cock-fight argument between commies and anarcos I believe Adhesive put it best when they sang “before we smash the state, we’ve got to smash the barriers in our heads”.
    There’s no way a society can be devoid of class and capital exchange when our most primordial instincts dictate otherwise (a squirrel steals the nuts of another squirrel if by doing so he can survive the winter). So we either take up heavy meditation techniques and repress our primitive selves (yes, in a negative sense) and become second to vulcans or we start genetic engineering on a massive scale and erase the basic building blocks than become our instincts.

    Dunno, just my 0.02$

  • Comment by diddee on October 18th, 2007 at 12:19 pm:

    Look at the Rod, getting all fancy with the HTML coding and making his text bold… Show off.

    You think yer better than me?

    ;)

  • Comment by antistatecommie on October 18th, 2007 at 6:47 pm:

    Chris: Simply put, the proletariats negation of its self implies not only riding its self of wage labour and thus as the exploited class, but ceasing its existence as the class of labour. Therefore we would still engage in productive acts, but such production would be in the service of direct human need and not dictated by the mechinations of any economy – be it one managed by workers or not.
    What would this look like? I don’t pretend to be able to tell you and I don’t have a blueprint for revolution. New social relations and means of organising will arise during the struggle against capital.

    As for concrete examples, considering that capital reigns suprmeme accross pretty much every corner of globe and that to achieve what I’m describing would imply a complete rupture with capitalism, examples are few and far between. But they are there. Take a look at Spain in ”36. Both the CNT and UGT implored the Spanish proletariat to increase productivity and increase discipline during the labor process, collectivise factories but stop short of complete communisation (the abolition of all monetary relations) but certain elements (Friends of Durruti and parts of POUM) strove to carry the revolution all the way.

    I don’t have much time right now Chris as I am at work, but there is an abundance of material arguing the a similar to position to me. I would really enjoy continuing this discussion with you through email perhaps, as to avoid banality and ad hominem attacks from the likes Sebast and elputomikea. For now, check out some of the following:

    http://libcom.org/aufheben

    http://libcom.org/tags/gilles-dauve – particularly “When Insurrections Die”

    http://libcom.org/ta...ionist-international

  • Comment by Sebast on October 19th, 2007 at 7:34 am:

    Everybody is questionable, therefore, everyTHING is questionable.
    Denying this basic principle of human conduct is pretending to be on God’s lap.

  • Comment by troll on October 19th, 2007 at 9:34 am:

    Tu quoque.

  • Comment by Chris on October 19th, 2007 at 11:08 am:

    i think this forum is fine, actually preferable. that’s what it’s here for! you can simply ignore any posts that you feel aren’t constructive. that’s what i do.

    Simply put, the proletariats negation of its self implies not only riding its self of wage labour and thus as the exploited class, but ceasing its existence as the class of labour. Therefore we would still engage in productive acts, but such production would be in the service of direct human need and not dictated by the mechinations of any economy – be it one managed by workers or not.
    What would this look like? I don’t pretend to be able to tell you and I don’t have a blueprint for revolution. New social relations and means of organising will arise during the struggle against capital.

    i’m not sure how to respond without sounding condescending so i want to stress that’s not my intention. i mean, without a single suggestion as to where to begin this nebulous “negation of the proletariat” (what is that exactly?) or exactly how social relations that reflect your values will spontaneously re-organize and define the center in a political struggle (so as to become the norm), you’re basically recounting a daydream that we all have: i wish the world was a better place.

    so how do we get there? what sort of work needs to be done? what might be some underpinnings of these new social relationships that you claim will spontaneously arise in your favor?

    As for concrete examples, considering that capital reigns suprmeme accross pretty much every corner of globe and that to achieve what I’m describing would imply a complete rupture with capitalism, examples are few and far between. But they are there. Take a look at Spain in ”36. Both the CNT and UGT implored the Spanish proletariat to increase productivity and increase discipline during the labor process, collectivise factories but stop short of complete communisation (the abolition of all monetary relations) but certain elements (Friends of Durruti and parts of POUM) strove to carry the revolution all the way.

    so what does this mean for us here on earth today? what lessons are we to draw from this example? what direction do these lessons point us in? if you want to achieve what you are describing, and what you describe demands “a complete rupture with capitalism”, how do we make that happen? in fact, what do you mean by “a complete rupture with capitalism”? will there still be cities? will there be health care systems? will most people on earth (or in a single society) survive the “rupture”? is it a gradual operation? is it cataclysmic? i need to get a picture of what you intend.

    For now, check out some of the following:

    http://libcom.org/aufheben

    http://libcom.org/tags/gilles-dauve – particularly “When Insurrections Die”

    http://libcom.org/ta…ionist-international

    were there some specific things i should be checking out on the pages (aside from the “when insurrections die” piece)? there are many, many links on them. am i supposed to read them all? is there a way you can distill them into your own words?

    and as a final thought: keep in mind that parecon and the worker’s recuperation movement (as just two examples) *are* in fact newly evolving social relationships in a struggle against concentrations of wealth and power. they do not necessarily not fit into what you seem to be describing as a “final state” of human relations. the night is young, as they say.

  • Comment by elputomikea on October 19th, 2007 at 11:39 am:

    My fellow anti-commie,

    While you might only care about our host’s point of view, here’s the short version of this serious counterpart to my apparently ridiculous previous post i’ve just accidentally erased, for your reading pleasure.

    As suggested by that previous post, i regard any instance of workers self-management as priceless. I’m not saying that you don’t, but it seems to me you overlook a couple of crucial elements: first, the insiders’ perspective.
    Hence my previous questions. Due to my young age, I have a relatively limited experience of working but have nevertheless waged enough time to know that hierarchy at work is very often illegitimate, useless, unefficient and always psychologically damaging. Not even talking about justice. You hinted at the fact that you were “at work” in your previous post, so i assume you know about this and would incidentally certainly agree with me on this. Otherwise you’re very lucky with your job and bosses. Workers self-management in a hotel in Argentina might indeed not lead to global revolution, but i’m pretty much sure that people who work there find the experience priceless, despite all the trouble.

    From a strategic point of view, my belief is that these instances of anticapitalism-in-practice are just as important ideologically as they are for the workers. We’re fighting an ideological war, and while, to be honnest, i’m not as technically at ease with all the theories of revolution as you seem to be, it appears to me that any instance of self-management actually working -and apparently here, quiet efficiently- is a stone to be added to our edifice. Most people in the first world share the belief engraved in stone that capitalism is far from perfect, but that it’s the only system that more or less works; i think it thus of crucial importance to be able to tell people that alternatives exist, and do work. No need to lecture you about propaganda by the deed….

    Now from this point, you would probably counter-argue that this is still capitalism anyways (debatable), but what is to be done while waiting for the Great Eve? And, most importantly, how d’you bring about the Great Eve? While i totally agree with you on the ends, given the the societal and ideological contexts of the time, i can’t think of any tactic that matches the strategical efficiency in the struggle to bring about large-scale radical social change than to try to put things in practice and tell the world about it. You suggest general strike maybe? i don’t know where you’re from, but here in france i don’t see it happen in the 21rst century. Can only fantasize about a global one. What else…avant-garde direct action? Fine with me, but not so popular among my fellow citizens, and probably a bit counter-productive given the global ideological context of instrumentalized fear of any kind of terrorism.

    Whadyathink?

  • Comment by elputomikea on October 19th, 2007 at 11:47 am:

    shit! i meant “my fellow anti-state commie”! the “unconscious” speaks!probably spent too much time with anarchist spaniards!…or heard too many Taaang! bands!…

  • Comment by antistatecommie on October 20th, 2007 at 1:36 am:

    Chris: I don’t have enough time at the moment for an extended response, but for now, why don’t you read “To Work Or Not To Work. Is That The Question” by Dauve at http://libcom.org/li...or-not-to-work-dauve

    I will say this though. Just because the class struggle is at a low point does not mean one should abandon a total critique of capitalism in favor of one that appears more possible. This has always been the foundation of reformism.

    elputomikea: as I’ve said above to Chris, take a look at Dauve’s article To Work Or Not To Work. Its is essentially what I am arguing here. It is partly an implicit rejoinder to Theorie Communiste (a revolutionary group based in France), but it’s central theoretical tenants apply to this discussion non the less.

  • Comment by elputomikea on October 20th, 2007 at 8:38 am:

    To be honest, i’ve only just skimmed through the text by Dauvé (i didn’t know this guy before, so thanx for mentioning him by the way, it’s always good to read something new), and i realize the fact that i haven’t read it too carefully is symptomatic of my point: all these theories are very interesting but people are trying to live/survive in the meanwhile. It would seem to me a bourgeois luxury to lecture someone whith a low-paid shitty job and a family to feed about wage-labouring being counter-revolutionary, or self-managed work being self-exploitation. People are just trying to live, they strive for having it better, and most people don’t have the luxury to think about neo-marxism. Most of us here are lucky enough to live in priviledged parts of the world where in many cases minimum social security pensions subsist, but you merely survive with it. Ordinary people NEED to work.
    Besides, people do get alienated by capitalism and some eventually of them end up finding satisaction in their alienating jobs, but glorification of work is something not many have advocated here on this blog, as far as i can remember. Very few people i’ve met were enthusiastic about having to slave for 40 or 45 years of their life. Latin idleness? Catholics’ poor work ethic? Dunno!
    Now, it seems to me the question isn’t ‘to work or not to work’ (i assume most of us would prefer not having to), given the low level of consciousness of the exploitation that work indeed is among our fellow human earthlings, and the necessity for a majority of us to have a paid job, but what kind of means-providing occupation shall we wannabe ‘anticapitalists’ favour? I cringe at the idea of working for the state, and would rather not be be exploited by someone else but myself. What does Dauvé advice? Texas hold’em poker tournements?

  • Comment by Chris on October 20th, 2007 at 8:43 am:

    antistatecommie: you’re going to have to find time to respond in detail if you’re going to make me spend a half hour of my life sifting through something that long and boring again. i made time. now you make time.

    it’s unbelievable to me that the author of an essay entitled “to work or not to work” thinks he can get away without even providing a definition of “work”, let alone doing everything he can to avoid describing how the transition between a world where people work and a world where people don’t work might look.

    i particularly liked how he manages to assess the entire worker’s recuperation experience in argentina (and throw into the garbage) in TWO SENTENCES. hey, i’m convinced!

    every question i asked you previously still applies. this academic history paper answered none of them.

    what are the underlying values of this “critique of capitalism”?

    what is “work”, according to this critique?

    assuming that work is a bad thing (implicit in the critique), what do we begin to do in this real world to put an end to it?

    what happens in its place and what might the consequences be of the change? what might the world (or a society) look like?

    is it possible for you to address even one of these for me? i still have no idea what you’re arguing for.

  • Comment by diddee on October 20th, 2007 at 6:24 pm:

    Hahahaha … OMG, I just watched that vid of Rod’s “interpretive dance.” Dude must have been trippin’ balls! SURREAL. Hahahaha……

    Speaking of surreal, I’m having a hard time myself ferroting out a meaning from Antistatecommie’s posts.

    I *think* he may be talking about the bureaucracy that will could arise from the democratic worker’s councils in Parecon? Or maybe that involvement in any form of organization/society is inherently oppressive?
    It sounds like he almost wants some kind of a inidvidualistic quasi hunter-gatherer society where one only has to work when one has to.
    I don’t know. But i do think that it in any social framework it is reasonable to except that everyone contributes what they can while still being able to live decent lives. I realize even democractic frameworks can be oppressive, but i don’t think there are any better alternatives..

Dialogue has ended on this post.