The Big Idea: Toward a cooperative economy that puts people before profits

The current global economic system has grown into something which does not serve people; it serves capital. The liberal-capitalist model of economics has been unleashed with a fury. More and more people around the world are becoming critical of this global corporatist model, from peace activists, to environmentalists, and most directly those who have raised their voices against corporate globalization, from Seattle to Qu├ębec City to Porto Alegre to Davos. The chants of these courageous groups -- "This is What Democracy Looks Like" and "Another World is Possible" -- ring out across the globe, early sounds of a search for something beyond resistance, for fresh alternatives.

An alternative exists which those of us attending this forum all know: an economic system based on co-operation. The problem which we would like to address is that ….

THE CO-OPERATIVE SOLUTION IS VIRTUALLY UNKNOWN, EVEN THOUGH MORE AND MORE PEOPLE ARE SEARCHING FOR IT. IT IS OUR JOB AS CO-OP MOVEMENT ACTIVISTS TO GET THE IDEA OUT, AND ONCE IT IS, PEOPLE WILL TAKE IT OVER & ADAPT IT TO THEIR CIRCUMSTANCES.

The questions we must pose are: How would a world based on co-operation, looking after all our mutual interests, actually look; & how might it compare to the current world? And more importantly, how do we get the co-operative message out?

Whether or not we can succeed, our goal is to launch a movement, to use the "theory-of-a co-operative-movement" to build a TRUE Co-operative Movement. What is required is getting the co-operative approach into public consciousness.

We need to plant the idea: is there a reason why the entire global economy could not be based on co-operation?

In our vision, the spirit of the Antigonish co-operative movement would be re-kindled and spread across the globe. In order to re-kindle this spirit, popular culture would have to become a central part of the co-operative movement. We feel it is vital to provide a central place for songs, popular theatre, electronic media, underground summits / festivals and other creative expressions. We need songwriters, poets, writers and, eventually organizers. A sample song is available - "THE BIG IDEA" here, by Greg O'Neill. We welcome your contributions.

Some of the questions which we would like you to think about are written below.

  1. Why are there not more co-operatives in your region; in the world?
  2. What can we do to popularize the co-operative concept, so that it can play a much greater role in the economy?
  3. Does anyone know of a song about co-operatives/co-operation?
  4. What is the relationship of the co-operative movement to other social movements?
  5. What is the role of existing co-operatives, credit unions, and support organizations in helping to build a co-operative movement and in building links with other progressive anti-corporate movements?

 

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History

Our history: The Big Idea discussion got started among a group of co-operative movement activists in the aftermath of September 11th. We wanted to help provide an answer to the question "What are we for?" The steering committee is currently made up of co-op activists and academics, who participate on a voluntary basis. The activities of the group so far include: presentations at several conferences, publishing newsletter articles and letters to the editor, and other activities that support our aims. Our aim is to transform the economy from one based on the needs of capital to one based on the needs of people. In the future, as momentum builds, we hope to find resources in order:

  • to create and promote music, documentary films, and other forms of art that share the values of co-operation;
  • to create and promote events that feature popular culture to promote the co-operative movement;
  • to promote and develop co-operatives in all sectors of the economy; and
  • to work with established co-operatives in the pursuit of our joint aims.

Links

Worker Co-op Movement

Co-op Movement - General

Films

Alternative on-line newspaper

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