Our little non-profit, Solidarity Hall, is a blog, a podcast, and a publisher of exactly two books so far. Which makes us more like a micro-publisher, I guess. But we hope to bring out more books–especially around the shared economy.
One candidate for our next title is El hombre cooperativo, a spiritual and intellectual biography of Fr. Josemaria Arizmendi, the founder of Mondragon. The translators, currently turning this text into what will be titled in English The Cooperative Man, are the Madison Interpreters Coop (which is fitting, right?) and they’re about half-finished with the book, a bit of a tome at around 500 pages.
I’ve been reading their work thus far and the translation is very good. By which I mean: they make Arizmendi (whose Spanish was his second language) speak clear English. So that’s the goal, after all.
But I’m also struck by the sheer accomplishment of this Basque priest, stuck in a little town during the Spanish Civil War where he is dreaming big dreams of what a small group of motivated students might do.
Inspired by a wide range of writers–from Karl Marx to Jacques Maritain and Paulo Freire–he organizes study circles (an estimated 2,000 of them between 1945-55), including one with a group of young men focused on understanding how the dynamic of cooperativism and worker ownership might change their entire social world.
Beginning amid the desolution of the year 1945 (when he is 30 and World War II has just ended), Arizmendi forms these students and learns with them, eventually launching their first co-op business in 1956, a small paraffin heater manufacturing plant.
Fast forward. Revenues for the Mondragon Cooperative Corporation in 2018 were around $14 billion. Starting from basically nothing.
I hope our little org can publish this rich version of Arizmendi’s story.