I just signed up for this free #MOOC on #coops, run by Univeristy of #edinburgh, starts 8th Jan: https://www.edx.org/course/economic-democracy-cooperative-edinburghx-coopsx-0
"Economic Democracy: The Cooperative Alternative
Could a cooperative market economy, in which firms are owned and controlled by their workers, be a viable and efficient alternative to capitalism?"
Unfortunately cooperativism is an economic project without any associated political project, so history has already borne out that the answer to this question is clearly NO.
As far as I have seen, there is no distinct political project associated with Mondragon. This is a good read about their recent failures and system flaws http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/19704-mondragon-and-the-system-problem
Interesting article. Alperovitz++. The authors seem to include coops as *part* of a potential solution.
"There is nothing inherently wrong with [new system based on cooperative ownership]; far from it, the principle is one to be advanced and supported. The question of interest, however [...] is whether trusting in open market competition is a sufficient answer to the problem of longer-term systemic design."
Overall I agree, coops alone not sufficient. My feeling:
- "The Corporation" (book/film) had an insight: institutional designs shape the world, and trumps morals of (replaceable) individuals within.
- Top-down joint-stock (IT) companies toxic as designed, both on personal and global level.
- Our financial/economic system also riddled with systemic badness. (Money accumulates, etc.)
Hence I am searching for more benign institutional replacements/economic tools to belive in.
Motiviated not just by questions of fairness or idealism, but also that, whether politically left or right, our systemic growth imperative leads to ecocide, collapse. Thresholds are being crossed as of now, and may accelerate out of control soon.
These are not easy questions. I suspect, ironically, they are questions of ecosystem design - our own human ecosystem.
Butterfly effect makes revolution or technological fixes like ecological change: inherently dangerous, due to unforseen consequences.
A rock and a hard place. My fear is this century is on track to be much worse than the last, once our ecosystems start to go tits-up and people start to panic and pull up their drawbridges.
One-person-one-vote on fundamental issues is intrinsically political in my opinion, and epitomizes the principle of equivalence.
@kavbojka @wu_lee @fabianhjr Fair enough. I know a lot of housing coops and workers coops that seem to have figured things out for themselves and the founders—presumably exhausted—decided to live comfortably in their walled gardens.
Coop federation is tricky. The Mietshäuser Syndikat in Germany is a successful example IMO: they lock coop housing from being re-sold and require occupants to pay solidarity payments in perpetuity to fund other coops. https://www.syndikat.org/en/
@kavbojka @fabianhjr @wu_lee Alperowitz seems interesting yes but his 'Next System' isn't what pops up first when accessing Democracy Collaborative. That seems much more compromised, with 'progressive business' quite prominent? And to a Brit, it seems Alperowitz is constantly needing to seem 'American', pussyfooting around the faith in 'business'? That's the name of the game, maybe? P2P Federation, for example, also accepts the DC notion of 'generative' vs 'extractive' business - as a tactic?
"... If 'the system question' is not addressed in theory and in practice, and in sophisticated longer-term design, many of the hopes generated by even so brilliant an experiment as Mondragón may be thwarted by forces more powerful than any one element in a system can handle alone."
@kavbojka @wu_lee Camille wrote
cooperativism is an economic project without any associated political project
Not always so. In C19 (in Britain) there were several distinct politics among cooperators. Around turn of C20, statism and collectivism (professionalised elitism) kicked associationism into touch. But threads are still there, to pick up. Present eg in solidarity economy and especially P2P-commons movement. Coops have no *given* politics. But 'politics in command' can animate coop forms?
@kavbojka @wu_lee It's a broad church! Or a sloppy label? Seems to me, RIPESS folks know what the score is?
Interesting thread, thanks for including me. Lots of terms to unpack: radical politics, solidarity economy, cooperativism.
Cooperation Jackson, for example, can't be accused of avoiding radical politics nor of a business as usual cooperativism, but then their project is unusual. The separation of the social and political from the economic and commercial is an old problem in cooperativism & solidarity economy. I like Jean Louis Laville's "associationist" approach
@Matt_Noyes @kavbojka @wu_lee Laville
The solidarity economy has brought to public attention notions of social utility and collective interest, and raised the question of the aim of activities, something that had been sidestepped in the social economy, which centred on the relations between activity and actors. On this point, the solidarity economy goes further than the social economy.
In these terms, seems to me Democ Collab is social rather than solidarity econ?
@Matt_Noyes @kavbojka @wu_lee
Bruno Frere in "The solidarity economy: emancipatory action to challenge politics"
although the middle classes participate in the solidarity economy, it is largely initiated by and for a new disaffiliated class . . its utopian outlook is that of the overthrow of capitalism
But I suppose the fact we're now talking about politicised economic movements, not coops, reinforces the original point, that coops per se are not political?
@mike_hales @kavbojka @wu_lee
Very interesting article, thanks! It reminds me of the concept of "social movement unionism" coined by Peter Waterman to describe the new workers movements of the 1980s and 90s in South Africa, Brazil, North Korea, and other countries.
The "old model of political parties plus trade unions" should be abandoned, he said, in favor of a new social movement unionism in which political organizing is embedded in worker organizing.
@mike_hales @kavbojka @wu_lee
So, the idea of solidarity economy as a "fourth sector" alongside the existing capitalist, state, and non-profit sectors should be abandoned in favor of a notion of solidarity economy as a movement of transformation that finds footholds in every sector and seeks to displace capitalism as the dominant mode of production.
(This is where Polanyi is not as interesting as Marx, I think.)
Coops are an organizational form, like unions. Cooperativism is more complex.
@Matt_Noyes @kavbojka @wu_lee Sector maps are hard to agree? I've thinking in process around an article by economist Robin Murray
His map has four blobs - not the same ones Matt noted - plus a fifth emergent blob overlapping the four. This 5th =? Matt's 4th - transformative, footholds in the others. Is this the P2P-commons? The nature of Robin's 4th ('grant-funded') is a puzzle but I suspect it's key. As I get to grips I plan to put up work here
The problem with blobs ;-) is that they are not conceptual. The Market, for example, is not a very useful conceptual term, I think. They can be useful as illustrations of certain arguments (e.g., solidarity economy is not just in the so-called fourth sector, or third, or fifth). Kate Raworth defends the use of pictures as a means of communicating goals and assumptions, which is good, but we still need critical analysis, which is hard to put in pictures.
@Matt_Noyes @kavbojka @wu_lee In praise of blobs . . Diagrams & schemas aren't substitutes for explicit wordy conceptualisation. But I never feel I have a clear conceptual frame on stuff, until I can also draw a blob schema of it - or several schemas, bcos real stuff is layered and facetted?
Not everyone 'reads' visual schemas - different minds work with different tools? Some folks need live speech or narrative for example - whereas, me, I'll walk a mile before watch a 10min video ;-)
@Matt_Noyes @kavbojka @mike_hales @wu_lee Great discussion. If I can chip in, I'd say that Cooperatives is a term that is new to me, despite practising co-operation for over 30 years. To me co-operation is not an ism, but a process. I find this process to be deeply political, but I can see that other practitioners may view the process as purely practical. I think solidarity economy folks (of which I'm one) play down the political in order to be inclusive. This doesn't mean it isn't political.
@Graham_Mitchell @Matt_Noyes @kavbojka @wu_lee My sense is, 'cooperativism' is used in the combination 'platform cooperativism', with the emphasis maybe more on the p-word than the c-word. So IMHO it's a notion of economic & cultural formations (including coops) that are truly distributed and 'well tooled', mediated by certain emerging technologies, as distinct from an advocacy of coops as a specific organisational form. Could be coops . . anarcho federations . . value chains/domains. Etc.
@Graham_Mitchell @Matt_Noyes @kavbojka @wu_lee 'Platforms' is far from the end of the story. There's a whole lot of post-platform tech in the pipeline founded on open-apps architectures, open-value ledgers, hashchains, federated devices, linked data. The platform is just (?) the currently dominant network form . . not least bcos tech corporations have found it possible to create centralist value-extracting enclosures (gossip farms) in this kind of location-dependent client-server network-space?
@mike_hales @Matt_Noyes @kavbojka @wu_lee Agreed. It's likely to be a relatively short-lived phenomenon if these emerging technologies live up to their promise. From platforms to agent-centric protocols, which have the potential to further empower the individual, and potentially improve the odds for cooperative models.
I'm going to go have a look (and likely some eyerolls and grumbles) at Nathan Schneider talking about his new book down the road from me. My biggest nitpick aside from what I've already mentioned is that the platform coop model (and the supporting community) dont seem to grow out of a deep analysis of race, gender, and work.
@Graham_Mitchell @Matt_Noyes @wu_lee
For that reason, I'm much more excited I'm much more excited by Autonomy Institute and eager to read Graeber and Komlosy's new ones. Also Federici forever! The platform coop space seems to often be a funhouse mirror version of the tech industry just with a heavier sprinkling of nonprofit industrial complex #work #platformcoop #Federici @mike_hales @Graham_Mitchell @Matt_Noyes @wu_lee
@kavbojka @mike_hales @Matt_Noyes @wu_lee I guess it depends to a degree on what you are looking at. I see only small handful of projects that I would call platform co-ops. I also see a whole lot of experimentation going in.
I enjoy think tanks and the ideas they come up with. It's interesting and sometimes even useful. Making things that work for real, in my experience, is only about a billion times harder than having an idea.
@Graham_Mitchell I wouldn't think for a moment in terms of think tanks Graham.I'm thinking about the kind of deep analysis that folks do, who really make things REALLY work as deep shifts in the tide of history. I don't really want to trust to luck, which is the other option? That's wearing! And we're fast running out of time on the main fronts? Deep analysis, practical skill. And luck! All rolled into the one collective. Not a think tank in sight!
@kavbojka @Matt_Noyes @wu_lee
I'm from Finland where the biggest bank and grocery store chain (also the largest private employer) are both coops, the difference is not radical.
They make things better, but their benefits are hard to appreciate since they prevent bad stuff from happening more than make good stuff happen.
For example, coop banks are less likely to go bust and cause crisis, but you don't notice something not happening, so it's hard to appreciate.
@kavbojka @mike_hales @Matt_Noyes @wu_lee
As I read it the "platform coop model" has grown as an attempted response to the increasing destructive power and dominance of highly extractive capitalist platforms. As such it has many flaws, and it remains to be seen whether it can have significant impact. I see well intentioned people motivated by the ideas, and willing to get involved, so that's got to be worthwhile. I don't think there was ever any deep analysis, and don't see this as essential.
Yep. Each of us lives in a history of being bought sold stepped on and slapped in the face (not all as literal but all doing harm). We need each to aim to rewrite that history of damage that looks us in the mirror each morning - it's the way to get our dander up and pull focus? I assume I'm not speaking here to any of the 1% 😉
@Graham_Mitchell @Matt_Noyes @wu_lee
1) Mike, each of us has experience of exploitation and abuse of power and the solidarity and justice we desire involves overcoming it all, at the same time, the specific experience that Camille is talking about has a distinct character and a kind of power -- both the power wielded against human beings and the power of resilience and rebellion -- that must be recognized.
@Matt_Noyes Yep. Not saying at all that all suffering is the same. But am saying that the suffering in each history is where the fight comes from? Also, the 'in-here' skill, courage, resilience? Otherwise, I think 'solidarity' may be empty? And there is damage to be repaired at all levels, work for all to do in liberration?
I should look up Dave Roediger, new to me, thanks
@kavbojka @Graham_Mitchell @wu_lee
@mike_hales @kavbojka @Graham_Mitchell @wu_lee
2) Dave Roediger's great little book Seizing Freedom, on the failure of women's suffrage, black liberation, labor and indigenous struggles to find solidarity in the wake of the Civil War speaks to the need to understand and deeply feel the specific history and experience, the inherited trauma and the inherited genius for struggle and survival.
Does this make sense?
@Graham_Mitchell "well intentioned people motivated by . . ideas, and willing to get involved"
That's cool. We get nowhere without that. But
"deep analysis . . don't see this as essential"??
Oh, Graham! How are we to find our way? The routes haven't been waymarked! ;-) Good intention not equal to vision and maps?
@kavbojka @Matt_Noyes @wu_lee
Apologies for non-response. Life getting in the way. My point was that #platformcoop was/is a response to the situation rather than the outcome of deep analysis. Which is not to say that isn't standing on the shoulders of giants - it clearly is. And we find our way by looking behind us.
"dont seem to grow out of a deep analysis of race, gender, and work"
Not many communities do ! :-( Eyerolls & grumbles are the order of the day? "Deep analysis" doesn't have a lot of adherents? Fair enough . . just getting from one end of the week to the other is sometimes as much as we can manage? And every action that's not in opposition is an action in support!
@Graham_Mitchell @Matt_Noyes @wu_lee
@Matt_Noyes @mike_hales YES! There are others too. I'm very rooted in Bookchin and #socialecology. "Despite their poor record as a force for social change, cooperatives still hold an appeal for many well intentioned people, who continue to look to them as a viable alternative to capitalism. Although cooperation is unquestionably a necessary part of the solution, cooperatives by themselves are insufficient to challenge the capitalist system.” – Murray Bookchin @wu_lee
So one interesting question is what type of political evolution is necessary to produce the type of ideological coherence that characterizes Cooperation Jackson? If you don't start where they started, historically, politically, culturally, then how to do you cultivate a process that can generate that type of coherence? I see solidarity economy as, in part, a conceptual greenhouse for sprouting the necessary dialogue, education, and organization.
A Fediverse instance for people interested in cooperative and collective projects.