Logistics and crisis: The supply chain system in the Po valley region

Now, let’s turn back to the “liquid metaphor”. Considering what Walter Benjamin asserted: «harbours used to be special places where the rarest and the least probable class combination could happen» (Benjamin, 1983). The logistics places are transforming from non-places of the flows circulation into islands of conflictual organization in which migrant workers, young students, precarious workers and union organizations are developing significant levels of conflict[6].

Moreover, organizational and conflictual experiences are able to read and reinterpret from below the territories drawn by the circuits of commodities mobility. As an example, pickets at Ikea triggered new pickets in other cities, tracing and overturning the panoptical geography of valorisation. This confirm what Saskia Sassen said: «metropolis are the main places for the expression and organization of informal political subjects» (Sassen, 2006). Lastly we can see logistics’ routes ability to trace the new productive organization of space and time. A new geography drawn by struggles[7] is creating new materiality, another usage. They are able to read and reinterpret from below the territories drawn by the circuits of commodity mobility opening the Po valley towards Northern Europe and the Mediterranean, at least creating new geographies.


The organization of labour inside Po valley region: the cooperative business

Until now we focused our attention on the importance of the supply chain in the ongoing capitalism and we located it in the Po Valley Region. It’s the moment to highlight in a better way how these chains are locally organized. Put it differently, what is the organization of labour inside Po Valley Logistics? Generally, we can state that, in the region we took as case-study, the main and prevalent business model adopted in this productive branch is the cooperative. We could approach it on three different levels, each one pointing out a different perspective on the role and the working of cooperatives.

From the theoretical side there are two main features: the mutualistic purpose and the democratic control. On one hand, the mutualistic purpose means that a cooperative is built up in order to guarantee advantages to its members: they have to take benefits from their membership. On the other hand, the democratic control states that every member has the same right of the others in taking decisions about the business: “one head, one vote”. It is not important how many shares someone has of firm’s social capital, everyone is equal to the others in his deciding power. These two basic theoretical features are strictly connected with the second level of analysis, the historical one; in fact, they summarize the original spirit upon whom cooperatives were born. This kind of business isn’t a model of organization of labour arisen from the experiences and needs of upper classes; on the contrary, cooperatives are rather a product of workers’ history: during the Industrial Revolution’s changes many of them found in solidarity and self-organization the best and efficient devices to improve their life’s conditions. We can state that the fundamental idea of cooperatives was staying on the market without exploitation, that is accepting the competition but not the submission of labour-force; putting it differently, the basic idea was holding the capital without being held by it, managing it with good and social purposes. Generally, the first cooperative is indicated in the Rochdale Equitable Pioneers (1844). They opened a market that sold wares at a better price than others to members. This kind of consumer cooperatives were largely diffused in England, while in France we had production’s cooperatives and in Germany credits’ cooperatives. In Italy they had their highest period of expansion in the ’60 of last century, especially in the so-called Red-Regions like Emilia-Romagna where the Italian Communist Party (Pci) and Italian General Confederation of labour (Cgil) were politically dominant: during a period of economic expansion they tried to introduce a better business model than capitalistic ones that could emphasize, at the same time, workers’ abilities and their role in managing profits.

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