Creating a Cooperative World
Cooperatives around the world generally operate according to the same core principles and values, adopted by the International Co-operative Alliance in Cooperatives trace the roots of these principles to the first modern cooperative founded in Rochdale, England in All co-op members invest in their cooperative. When making business deals or raising money, co-ops never compromise their autonomy or democratic member control.
Worldwide: International Cooperative Research Group
Co-ops provide education, training and information so their members can contribute effectively to the success of their co-op. Everyone will be held accountable to the public good; competition will be about providing for the common good and solving problems in ways that benefit the most people in the best ways. With the profit motive mitigated or geared toward the common good, and without advertising and commercialization, traditional competition will decrease, if not disappear. Further development, and stewardship, of the commons will be essential.
Community land trusts will be needed to diffuse speculative real estate. And again, a not-for-profit economy based on use and equity, with laws to support these principles, will be built. There is no room for commercialization or commodification, human need and concern for the common good will rule this economy.
Collective ownership, common lands, and community land trusts will be the preferred ownership models; stewardship of land will be the predominant value. Collective investment, as mentioned above, will be the preferred way to handle investment if there is still need for it. Community land trusts will be run by democratic non-profit community boards that own the land and the development rights of land.
They will help to end real estate speculation and keep land affordable for renters and homeowners and in the hands of the community. Housing cooperatives and worker cooperatives will also be mechanisms for property ownership, and they will give communities access to public spaces. The notion of the commons and stewardship of the land, as well as democratic decision making about land, will gradually predominate. Small enterprises with employees or less, owned cooperatively, will populate the economy. Most will be small in size, with employees, or even fewer than employees.
To start, there will still be a mix of capitalist corporations, but these will decrease and eventually become unwanted and unnecessary and perhaps illegal , as the cooperatives and solidarity economy develop more and become stronger. Large corporations will be eliminated, as it will become illegal for small groups of people to own very large corporations especially those with budgets larger than a medium-size municipality or state budget.
The ratio of employees to board of directors will increase, as many corporations convert to worker cooperatives, decentralize, and operate more closely with their local communities. Instead of large corporations, federations and regional and national associations representing cooperative solidarity enterprises will develop.
Exciting and innovative forms will coexist or be part of this new system. There will be room for lots of new forms of economic activity and business ownership, but the system will be based on solidarity economy values and on cooperative ownership. All forms will operate with similar values and principles of democratic ownership, including: shared voice, democratic decision making, grassroots ownership, antioppression, nonhierarchy, prosperity for all, and support for invisible work.
The workweek will move from thirty-two to forty hours per week to twenty hours per week as the full-time standard that comes with living wages and full benefits. This system will employ more people and guarantee that everyone has a decent income. Work will include public works, community organizing, and labor that is currently invisible, such as childcare and in-home care of the elderly, so there will be enough work for all. And with profit sharing there will be enough money to pay everyone a living wage. Organized labor will operate together with cooperative ownership as it did back in the s with the Knights of Labor.
The Union Cooperative model will be expanded and unions will support worker-owners, helping worker-owners to focus on their needs and issues as workers, and balancing those with their needs as owners.
What is the priority of growth at the national and company levels? Growth will not be a priority, but need will be. Cooperative enterprises will grow and expand to address additional needs and some opportunity. But instead of increasing the size of any one enterprise, there will be planned growth that includes increasing the number of worker-owned and community-owned enterprises rather than any one enterprise growing bigger. This will maintain wage solidarity and democratic governance among smaller units. Big will not necessarily be good. The Gini coefficient will be a more important measurement.
Money will be created and allocated by credit unions, cooperative banks, and public banks—these financial institutions will use tax revenues to fund the development of the cooperative solidarity economy and thus expand the money system by enabling and expanding economic activity. They will practice non-extractive lending. What factors affect these results? How do you envision the future course of economic poverty? As mentioned above, with living wages, joint ownership, wage solidarity, and strong anti-oppression practices, poverty and inequality will be eliminated.
To advance the underprivileged? To promote care-giving and mutual responsibility? Yes, these are included in the principles discussed above.
Social cooperatives will also address these issues. Affirmative antioppression, and antiracism actions and policies, and non-hierarchical practices as mentioned in the description at the beginning of this piece, will be essential. So working on oppression, discrimination, and hierarchy within the economic democracy framework will be an imperative. It will also be part of the principles and purpose of the cooperative solidarity economy to eliminate oppression, racism, sexism, and hierarchy.
Gender inequality, sexism, patriarchy, and privileging certain sexual orientations are also oppressions this model addresses and will eliminate. We will not achieve economic democracy unless we address these oppressions and discriminations—and eliminate them. I consider myself a womanist, with a human rights framework for addressing sexism, patriarchy, and gender inequality. Community will be central. This is a community-centric model, based on grassroots economic organizing, grassroots agency, and the assumption of power by grassroots community members, especially those who have usually been marginal, voiceless, and impoverished.
All action and practice will start at the grassroots, from the bottom up. Its purpose will be to create community-level prosperity and wealth that is democratically controlled and distributed. If so, how do these changes occur? We must make this knowledge, these values and these practices more universal. With the new model, the aspiration will no longer be to be an elite. Thus, in the final version of this model there are no ruling elites.
We will need more public education to expose people to this model and these values; and to teach people a new way of thinking and acting.
The change in values, culture and consciousness will occur most, and best, through practicing economic democracy. Sharing, renting, and bartering? Public education about caring community, cooperation, and solidarity will be necessary. The solidarity economy includes bartering, gifting, and sharing in nonexploitative ways. The system will work for the common good, to cover all needs. So, consumerism and advertising will not be necessary and will be a waste of resources. Local control, people-based, community-owned goods, services, and enterprises will address consumer needs.
Consumers are owners, workers, and community decision-makers as well. There will be no major difference or distinction between these groups, and therefore, no need to attract or engage consumers as a separate class, to be duped. The point of the work will be to have time for caregiving, volunteering, and continuous learning. And participating in a democratic solidarity system will require continuous learning. The cooperative solidarity commonwealth will depend on volunteering, social energy, caregiving, and continuous learning; and the system will not prosper without these values and activities.
It will be based on them to provide for the common good in ways that also produce economic outcomes. In other words, to create economic activity out of addressing the common good and common needs. So, the system will be about creating a society that gives back to the community, while continuously learning so it can do things better, and providing for all its members.
The shortened workday twenty hours per week and democratic ownership and decision making will also increase time available for leisure, productive leisure, and community activities. Do you envision the economy as nested in and dependent on the world of nature and its systems of life? Yes, the cooperative solidarity commonwealth will require a healthy natural environment and assumes that the economy is nested in, and dependent on, the natural world and its systems of life. Economic democracy, as explained here, will be sustainable for humanity and the ecology. Built into the system is an understanding that sustainability must include Mother Earth and all meanings of community.
Environmental sustainability is in the definition and principles of a solidarity economy, as previously described. Do we have duties to other species and living systems? Are any of your goals non-anthropocentric? This model does not specifically address rights-based environmentalism, but rights-based environmentalism is understood in the triple bottom line goals of solidarity economies, and my notion of a cooperative solidarity commonwealth. The health of Mother Earth is implicitly necessary to this model, and the local community focus of economic activity is in part to help address, and ensure, environmental health and ecological sustainability.
There will not have to be trade-offs once the system is in full swing. Both will be mutually pursued. If the economy is people- and community-based, then the economy will be dependent on the best interests of the community, and thus of the Earth upon which communities depend. Power will be in the hands of grassroots community residents; equity requires ensuring that voice and power are given to the marginalized. Economic democracy is the basis of this model and democratic economic participation will be essential.
Democracy and economic democracy are not possible without attention to white privilege, racism, sexism, and all kinds of exploitation. How much decentralization does it include for large systems? How would decentralization be structured? Decentralization will be important and supported, but partnered with democratic grassroots planning and federation organizing municipal and regional representative organizations.
Large will not be as revered as good, except where it is natural.
The focus will be on interlocking local small systems, which federate and collaborate to reach or benefit from scale. More pure democracy and consensus building are the necessary political conditions for this model. They grow out of economic democracy and community-level justice. Does any of this figure in your framework? If so, how? But democracy will start in the economic sphere in this model.
Schell writes that "the days when humanity can hope to save itself from force with force are over. None of the structures of violence—not the balance of power, not the balance of terror, not empire—can any longer rescue the world from the use of violence, now grown apocalyptic. Force can lead only to more force, not to peace. Only a turn to structures of cooperative power can offer hope. There is another path, and it leads toward a cooperative world. Among many possible specific plans, Schell selects four, not necessarily because they are comprehensive or the most important, but because "all bear directly on the choice between cooperation and coercion, and seem to me to be timely, realistic," and build "on foundations that already exist.
No tolerable policy can be founded upon the permanent institutionalization of a capacity and intention to kill millions of innocent people. The "root of the nuclear predicament" is not nuclear hardware, Schell argues, but "the knowledge that underlies the hardware. But it must mean a system of rigorous inspection. Elements of it already exist through the International Atomic Energy Agency. Violation of an abolition agreement would be very difficult, even unlikely. Experts agree that "a maximal regime of inspection" would make it hard for anyone to secretly construct a nuclear arsenal—though it does not eliminate the possibility, especially before an agreement takes effect.
The "maintenance of a nuclear arsenal is highly complicated, requiring many hands and minds," says Schell. Such a secret would be "as hard to keep as the secret of the bomb itself. If a violator threatened the world, other nations "would be free to build and threaten to use their own nuclear arsenals in response, in effect deterring the violator.
This was the case for the U. Terrorists might still be able to create them, but "the problem might be 98 percent solved, which is perhaps the most that can be hoped for. International intervention in wars of self-determination to promote shared or limited sovereignty. Popular government in the United States and elsewhere has demonstrated "that when power is cooperative rather than coercive—based on action willingly concerted rather than compelled—then, in the domestic sphere, at least, it does not have to be indivisible.
It can be federated; it can be divided among branches of government and localities. Europe, where national sovereignty was born, has created the European Union. As Helmut Schmidt, former chancellor of Germany commented, it "marks the first time in the history of mankind that nation-states that differ so much from each other nevertheless have voluntarily decided to throw in their lot together. Other places where dual sovereignty might provide solutions for longstanding conflicts include Sri Lanka, where the Tamil Tigers want an independent state in the north; and Jerusalem, where Israelis and Palestinians contend for territory and religious buildings.
Their need for sovereignty, says Schell, might addressed by granting every Kurd "two internationally recognized statuses—one as a citizen of a state, the other as a member of a nation. One nation then could overlap many states, and vice versa. Schell envisions "an international community that fundamentally relies on consent and the cooperative power consent creates, but nevertheless reserves the right to resort to force in certain well-defined, limited circumstances. Ideally, force would play the restricted policing role it does in a democratic state. I say 'ideally,' because if an international police force is to be legitimate there must exist an international order whose legitimacy is generally recognized, and this is just what is largely missing in the world today.
Developing this legitimacy on "a few selected internationally agreed-upon principles" will not end war instantly. But it will move us toward a more peaceful world. One such principle on which there is already widespread agreement is "the obligation to prevent and punish crimes against humanity.
More recently, a special international tribunal tried Slobodan Milosevic, the former president of Yugoslavia, for crimes against humanity. The International Criminal Court defines these crimes "as acts, including murder, torture, rape, forced disappearance, and persecution, when committed" systematically "against a defined group, whether ethnic, religious, racial, or national. When a person kills another person, "the order of the national community is violated.
When a state kills a people, the order of the international community is violated and the state forfeits its claim to represent them and opens itself to international intervention. An appropriate answer to him: "How can you call yourself the sovereign representative of a people that you are seeking to destroy? Your genocide nullifies your sovereignty. In calling for collective rights for peoples, Schell sees them as "increasingly protected by a coherent body of law. The United Nations includes dictatorships.
The NATO alliance consists of democracies, but its sole purpose is military. The European Union is also made up of democracies but focuses on economic concerns. In contrast, a democratic league would be committed to freedom. Says Schell: "The simplest and most obvious direct contribution that such a league could make to international peace would be to pledge to resolve disputes among its members" without going to war.
Associated with this contribution would be a league's support for 1 elimination of weapons of mass destruction; 2 reductions in sales of conventional weapons to other countries; 3 efforts to restrain or end wars of self-determination; 4 anti-imperialism. While only a people can create democracy through their "action and consent," a democratic league would also "give assistance to one another and to peoples already seeking to found or preserve democracy.
Co-operatives can play a key role in development | Working in development | The Guardian
Schell sees the choice for the U. Why does Schell think the continued choice of force and coercion can lead only to catastrophe? Schell asserts that "any sane or workable international system" requires the abolition of nuclear weapons. Do you agree or disagree?
Through the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, most of the nations with nuclear weapons, including the U. Why not? If you have no idea, how might you find out? What do you think Schell means by the "nuclear predicament"? How do you understand his view that it is the "knowledge that underlies the hardware" of nuclear weapons that is at the root of the "nuclear predicament"?
Why does Schell view a violation of nuclear abolition as "unlikely"? Schell sees possible solutions to conflicts in such places as Jerusalem and Canada. What basic principle is involved? Why was it crucial to the formation of the United States? In the suggested solution to the Kurds' desire for self-determination, what is the difference between being a citizen of a state and being a citizen of a nation?
Why might such a solution solve the Kurds' problem? Why does Schell view the use of force, if necessary, by the international community in punishing crimes against humanity as a step toward a more peaceful world? Write a reflective essay in which you discuss your attitude toward a nonviolent strategy for political, economic and social change. Schell is very critical of what he views as a United States movement toward hegemony, toward the attainment of imperial supremacy over all other nations.
Write an essay in which you support or disagree with Schell's view. Cite specific evidence for your own.