Why Millennials Are So Attracted to Mondragon Humanist Principles 

Since the beginnings of the Greek study of philosophy, the west has at least considered – and in very recent times largely accepted – the concept of individual human rights. Modern concepts of classical liberal democracy typically include the necessity of a free market, which probably has increased freedoms overall, but which also has the effect of incentivizing personal wealth accumulation disproportionally over the needs of a local or national community.


Yet there are many concerned individuals and organizations who are dedicated to both ideas; a free market doesn’t have to mean putting profits before people. Today, entrepreneurs are learning that collaboration is often more successful than the competition, and through a combination of ecologically and economically sustainable policies, they are helping develop local living economies sprout up across the globe.

Embracing Community Health and Social Bonds Builds More Profitable Businesses

According to Michael A. Peck MAPA, 60,000 factories have ended operations in the U.S. since 1993, as bean-counters put saving a few cents on the dollar far above the social needs of local communities. Even worse, almost nothing was done to replace these jobs, leaving blue-collar workers who were brought up to have a strong work ethic with no jobs and little self-esteem.

These cost-saving efforts not only devastated entire regional economies, they usually worked against their own long-term fiscal interests. Today, angel investors and venture capitalists often see tangible financial benefits to re-tasking local talent pools and upgrading existing but dormant infrastructure, as well as the less tangible benefits to their brand identities from working closely with local communities.

Applying the 10 Principles of Mondragon Humanism

The basic concepts that create the foundation for Mondragon beliefs are well-established in Enlightenment philosophy and the principles of cooperatives. Mondragon has 10 governing principles which, when combined with their 4 corporate values and other related virtues, can be applied by adhering to this foundation

  1.       Membership in collaboration should be open and voluntary.
  2.       Workers should enjoy the rights and responsibilities of sharing in the organization’s decision-making.
  3.       Workers control and own their labor, while they rent their capital.
  4.       Capital is always subordinate to labor; i.e., the capital has no added value without labor, whereas labor can add value without capital.
  5.       Participatory management requires trust, transparency, and training. All three tend to build on each other.
  6.       Payment provides a living wage and is both fair for the work and equitable compared to the rest of the team and external salaries.
  7.       Solidarity and collaboration should extend beyond the confines of the organization locally, nationally and globally.
  8.       Social transformation begins with tolerance, repudiation of class or category discrimination, and economic and social reconstruction.
  9.       Solidarity with all who strive for economic democracy, peace, justice, and sustainable development.
  10.       Finally, it all begins with education.

Many Millennials Find These Principles Both Worthy and Profitable

The concept of human rights has generally been expanding since the collapse of the authoritarian regimes of the mid-20th century. While some recent developments have strained this expansion – at times perhaps even obscuring them – it’s still happening in many places. As new definitions of marriage and gender rights become widely accepted, some areas in the world have resisted, and autocracy has seen its stock rise.

Millennials largely grew up after the Cold War and have lived through an unprecedented expansion of personal rights. Many are proud to identify themselves with advanced concepts of individual freedom and are very comfortable running organizations that empower workers and embrace these rights.

But they also are savvy about money, having an uncanny knack for finding profits while holding down the bottom line. Michael A. Peck, MAPA Group notes that by using Mondragon principles, employee-owned organizations can see a three-fold increase in their resiliency while overall the organization sees income and retirement benefits increase.

The combination of economic, social, and cultural benefits of these guiding principles have directly influenced the free market by out-competing old-fashioned business ownership models. When working together to share and expand these values, local communities may see a dramatic rebound in their social and physical health.

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