Jose mar a arizmendiarrieta 1915 1976
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Jose María Arizmendiarrieta, 1915-1976. Founding Father of Mondragon. Classical theories on Mondragon: Religiosity of Basques Basque (rural) tradition Basque nationalism

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Jose María Arizmendiarrieta, 1915-1976

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Jose María Arizmendiarrieta, 1915-1976

FoundingFather of Mondragon

  • Classical theories on Mondragon:

  • Religiosity of Basques

  • Basque (rural) tradition

  • Basque nationalism

  • The religious interpretation emphasizes its original status as social movement and the decisive role of its ‘founding father’



Educated as a ‘Social priest’ in the Vitoria Seminar

Intellectual sources: Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical RerumNovarum (1891), the Social Code by Cardinal Mercier (1920), the papal encyclical Quadragessimo Anno (1931) by Pius XI

Influenced by jesuit J. Azpiazu’s works and 2 key professors: Barandiaran and Thalamas

Introduced by the last one to strategies of Catholic cooperativism all over Europe

Arizmendiarrieta in Mondragón

  • He formed a group of young Catholic workers who participated in social activities and gradually took on leadership and management tasks

  • Arizmendiarrieta taught them classic values from Catholic social doctrine ,which were the ethical bases for the future culture of Mondragon co-operatives: enthusiasm for work, austerity in everyday life, sacrifice for community ideals, faith in social initiatives, self-examination and personal integrity in collective tasks…

  • Professional and technical training became the main pillar of Arizmendiarrieta’s social work : he founded the Technical School of Mondragón on August 1943

  • British Labour Party political thinking had an early impact on the content of Arizmendiarrieta’s discourse, along with French Catholic philosophers like Maritain and Leclercq

Thebeginning of Mondragon

  • He formed an elite of young workers and trusted them with his most cherished goal: the creation of a new Catholic enterprise to promote a social movement which subordinated capital to labour

  • The first company was founded in September 1955, with the trade mark of Fagor

  • The business model of Fagor was followed by many other industrial enterprises stimulated or suggested by Arizmendiarrieta

  • These co-operatives were supported financially by the credit co-operative CajaLaboral, founded in 1959

    The Technical School was rebuilt as a Polytechnic in May 1964

  • In 1969 the institutional pillars of Mondragon were set up:

  • an industrial sector articulated around Fagor;

  • a banking sector, with CajaLaboral and the insurance co-operative Lagun-Aro;

  • a distribution sector, Eroski;

  • An educational sector, with the Polytechnic School (currently the Mondragon University)

  • The Statutes of each co-operative acted as a ‘co-operative constitution’ to which the Regulations inserted ‘amendments’ in response to social change

  • According to both documents, the Mondragon workforce brought labour and capital together through a co-operative contract represented through four principles: equality, solidarity, responsibility and democracy

  • Co-operation was inseparable from spirituality, and the route to it led through deep Christian self-examination

  • An intense secularization process affected the Mondragon co-operatives during the 1960s and 1970s

  • From the late 1960s the Mondragon project begun to attract members who lacked religious concerns applicable to the world of labour

  • Marxism and Basque nationalism filled the gap left by secularization among the new generations of Mondragon workers

  • The collective memory of Mondragon fixed within the co-operatives from the 1980s onwards combined amnesia and idealisation

  • Arizmendiarrieta was repositioned as an iconic presence in all the public spaces of the movement , without any meaning for the new generations more than being the ‘founding Father’ of everything

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