Formacion is the central principle of the college of conviviality. Here we assemble resources to underpin this unfamiliar term, adopted from the langage of radical economist-venturer, Robin Murray In due course we will rewrite these into a coherent page.

tim crabtree

One of the themes that Robin was exploring was the way in which the economy could **become more “organic”**, mirroring the ecological processes we experience in nature. So, for example, instead of individual enterprises scaling up, the aim would be to connect together firms in mutually supportive networks. We discussed the way in which form in the economy emerges, the way in which these forms get “firmed up” and then how the firm as organism could remain “alive” and generative. Robin would talk of his experience with Latin American cooperatives and how their adoption of the principle of **ongoing “formacion”** was so important – that it is not just about coming up with innovative ideas and starting things up, but continuing to find ways to maintain and develop the culture and spirit of a company.

robin video - fair trade as formacion

- Robin Murray (2009), Presentation from Twin Trading to Fairtrade Foundation Conference, The global food crisis and Fairtrade: Small farmers, big solutions? Video 10min. youTube >10 minutes of brilliant thought-provoking Robin, with great photos (by Robin) of network-gatherings from India to Cumberland. Identifies kinds of networks that have been cultivated in fairtrade - distilling a decade of learning in venturing. In ten minutes, and ten participant-observer photographs, **Robin offers a freeze-frame picture of formacion** as a practice, and cooperativist-activist alternatives to Fordist 'scale'. He calls this 'networking' and says this matters more - needs more attention at this time - than 'economics' (the technics of "doing the business"). But perhaps this is far more than the term 'networking' is easily able to carry?

YOUTUBE L-jbtu8Ja_E Presentation 2009 from Fairtrade Foundation Conference 'The global food crisis and Fairtrade: Small farmers, big solutions?' by Robin Murray, Board Member, Twin Trading.

mh formacion talk early draft

# Formacion I'm addressing 'formacion' in the following way, as . . - Practices of *skilful production* . . - of formations of **radical activist practice**, which . . - have the capability to produce working ‘chunks’ of **forces of production (FoPs)**, which . . - prefigure and build the **living economy**

This chapter is intended for Section 1: Method, alongside chapters by Stephen Yeo (on ‘Robin’s ways of being present at our own making’) and Julie Richardson (on making an ‘economy of wellbeing’); possibly also, something by Tim Crabtree on aesthetics of ‘making’ in radical economic development practice. The argument and vocabulary of this chapter connect closely with that of the chapter, *From economics to organising*, that I'm offering for Section 3: The state, globalisation and social movements. === This chapter addresses *formacion* as a significant version of ‘production’ thinking within Robin’s activist practice. It frames formacion as: - Practices of skilful, *alternative production* . . - of activist *formations*, which . . - have the capability to produce radically alternative, working ‘chunks’ . . - of *forces of production* (FoPs) . . - in three necessarily interweaving but differently inhabited *landscapes of practice*: material, cultural and aesthetic. - slide show and video

Formacion - Activist formations and 'the generative dance of knowing Production was a central orientation in Robin Murray’s practice, and 'formacion' was a significant variant of this - especially in the latter part of his life, with Synergia, Schumacher College & the Coop University. But it's not something he addressed much on the page. This wiki makes an attempt at that. This wiki is the script for a 14 min video - view it here YouTube Also mirrored in surveillance-free hooktube

YOUTUBE ivjCr5_1xHc Formacion. Activist literacy. A dance of knowing : LSE 29noc2019 : 14 min

Production was a central orientation in Robin’s practice, and 'formacion' is a significant variant of this. He was involved in formacion throughout his life - earlier, educating new leadership cadres in post-colonial states, throughout at IDS, in his last decade with **Synergia**, **Schumacher College** & **the Coop University**. But it's not a practice he addressed much on the page. This chapter makes an attempt at that.

storytelling and formacion in Robin's life

- Robin Murray (2016), *Podcast: Late Environmental Economist Robin Murray's Views on Creating a New Economy*, Upstream podcasts podcast >Interview at Schumacher College. Evolutionary, contingent story of “What we can refer to as 'an economy'” and looking at things as Adam Smith did when capital was the new economy. Story of money as a servant. Relational services story. Story of land, rent, enclosure, stewardship and Land Lock. Story of practice-and-theory - even reading groups! And Robin’s own story. Nary a mention of Marxism or socialism, deeply pragmatic and observational, deeply contingent, no hint of dogma! A transcript is here: *Storytelling & **formacion*** pdf

economics to organising

xxx We are concerend here with activism in making the living economy. On one hand, and primarily, this involves the 'formacion' (forming, enculturing, equipping) of activist formations. On the other hand it involves radicalisation of everyday understanding and practice in the direct making of the economy. This is a move from economics (and speaking about economics) to **organising**.

formacion as cultural production

The conception of 'formacion' puts us into a ‘cultural’ frame, which is to say, a frame of *the forces of production of knowing and organising* - which might be thought of as ‘a politics of knowledge’, although the chapter argues that active verb forms (knowing, rather than knowledge) are more powerful, being intrinsically materialist. At the heart of this, the chapter proposes, is a model of a generative ‘dance of knowing’ which deploys skills of choreography across four mutually constituted domains of literacy: skill, genre, conceptualisation and storytelling.

The present chapter displays a tendency of conceptualisation, while much of Robin’s work displays a tendency of storytelling. The relationship between these is considered within an overall perspective on literacies of activist organising in the dance of knowing, and the practical re-producing of (material) forms, (emotional) forces and (cultural, economic and aesthetic) formations. This is all part of basic literacy in what, in ‘From economics to organising’, I call *the mutual sector*.

Throughout, ‘alternative’ and ‘radical’ are interpreted in terms of *relations of production* (RoPs), and the chapter argues that this historical, cultural-materialist, forces/relations framing gives more practical traction - and is more radical - than the commonplace idealist framing of ‘social economy’ and ‘solidarity’ organising, in terms of (‘social’) values. The ’sharing’ implied by ‘shared values’ is central; but it’s the shared *valuing* (the mutual participation in live, self-aware practices of valuing) that warrants attention, rather than an espoused sharing of abstracted and stereotyped, verbalised or intuited ‘values’. Formacion is - among other things - the self-aware conduct of that practice; which, simultaneously, materially constitutes the formation-of-formations which makes the values ’social’.

The chapter explores questions of both ‘infrastructuring’ (tools and extended material organisation) and ‘suprastructuring’ (structures of feeling), considering both in terms of FoPs and RoPs (in all of the three landscapes) which have become dominant in the period of post-Fordist capitalism. In this discussion, illustrative instances of formacion are identified in Robin’s late practice in Synergia, the coop university and Schumacher College, and in his 80s practice ‘in and against the state’, in popular planning at the GLC.

A particular concern of Robin’s was the issue of *scale* in radical economic initiatives, and the chapter shows how formacion can be regarded as a practical means of engaging with this, along with the nature of the ‘DNA’ of an activist formation, which Robin turned to in thinking about the scale question.


Making the landscape of **material means of subsistence and wellbeing** - the Living Economy - can be seen as 'the curriculum' of formacion. Here I'm concerned with the 'hidden curriculum' - how the making is made. That is, I'm concerned with the FoP of *formacion*, as distinct from the FoP of the living economy. We could say this was 'second order'. Or we could say it was *primary*. ---

The terms 'radical' and 'prefiguring' appear here. I address these by talking about relations of production (RoP). **FoP** and **RoP** are the basic terms of analysis here. Altered RoPs are at the heart of this view of formacion, and of making the Living Economy. ---

The practice of formacion must be radical, transformative (prefigurative). The practice of the living economy must be transformative. This means that The FoP of both must be organised under **alternative RoP** (aRoP).

institutional form & locus of formacion

It seems to me, institutional form and locus is basically a function of *what it is that is being commoned* in the activist practice - that is, a function of the **material landscape** which is the 'core curriculum' of formacion for a given activist formation. That's business for another chapter. Assuming that the central 'target' practices of the activist formation, in the material economy, have one zone which is particularly prominent, that would give a strong indication of what kind of institution or institutional location might have the strongest bearing on opportunities or needs for formacion.

Four 'grand sectors' of provision

The balance of participation of the four 'great sectors' will also have a strong bearing on the institutional location of formacion.

dance of knowing - RoPs in the cultural landscape

Here we expand Cook and Brown's basic schema, to consider four kinds of literacy in the dance of formacion. In each dimension there are relations of production - and **altered relations of production**. It's the RoPs that determine what the scope of the practice might be.

formacion and dance/surfing/ocean navigation

This image of dancing and choreographing - or maybe weaving, surfing, aikido - runs through this whole approach to formacion (and indeed, the whole approach to production which it forms part of). It's part of a **theory of practice**, in a fully in-the-body, in-the-material-world sense.