Richard Fidler [ht: eo] reports that the Bolivian government recently announced that workers will be permitted
to establish “social enterprises” in businesses that are bankrupt, winding up, or unjustifiably closed or abandoned. These enterprises, while private, will be operated by the workers and qualify for government assistance.
The idea of Bolivian workers taking over and running abandoned factories is not unlike the enormously successful movement of “recuperated enterprises” we saw in Argentina in the early 2000s. With one difference, of course: in Argentina, the workers often had to struggle against the government and the courts to take over the abandoned enterprises; in Bolivia, the president of the country is promoting the idea.*
Now take the idea one step further: what if the government—whether in Argentina, Bolivia, or the United States—actually supported the formation of worker-owned enterprises, not just in the case of closed or abandoned factories and offices but in starting enterprises from scratch and even assuming control over parts of existing corporations? That would be an extension of democracy within the economy worth talking about.
*Here is a link [pdf] to the Supreme Decree 1754 (in Spanish), which was signed on 7 October 2013.