Opinion: Co-operatives have a key role to play in the SSE revolution

Co-operating together at the first CTRL Shift Summit

In recent years, our world seems to have gone crazy. First Brexit: whatever your opinion of the EU, the way this decision was taken was a shambles with unforeseen consequences that we are only just becoming aware of. And then the election of Donald Trump as president of the United States, arguably an even greater comedy of errors, accidents and naked self-interest by cabals and cliques who intend to get rich at everyone else’s expense, while the Donald fiddles.

We cannot afford to run our world in this childish way. We and our children are facing some of the biggest challenges in our human history – population pressure, corporate takeover, gross inequality, climate change, resource depletion, land degradation, water shortages and more.

You know the story. We don’t need the depressing litany. But we do need to tackle these challenges together as co-operating grown ups. The adolescence of the human species is over. It is time to be responsible adults.

All over the world people are rising to this challenge. Usually external to governments and coming together in networks of co-operative solidarity, linking up community and citizen groups who are developing the new ways we must use to live within our global means and preserve human civilisation.

The name for these initiatives and their global networks is the Social Solidarity Economy.

Co-operatives have a key role to play in the SSE revolution because they offer a means of enterprise that is under community control (in contrast to rapacious corporate capitalism). But co-operatives alone are not enough to stop the bully boy madness of capitalism.

The global SSE network is the Intercontinental Network for the Promotion of Social Solidarity Economy (RIPESS). So far we have no RIPESS representation in the UK. The RIPESS charter says: “The Social Solidarity Economy is an alternative to capitalism and other authoritarian economic systems. In SSE, ordinary people shape all of the dimensions of human life; economic, social, cultural, political and environmental. SSE exists in all sectors of the economy.”

At the end of March, representatives of some 400 organisations who identify with the Social and Solidarity Economy are coming together in Wigan at the first UK SSE activists conference at CTRL Shift: an emergency summit for change.

Our objective is to network all those organisations, and many more that are currently striving in isolation, to create a national movement for Social and Solidarity Economy and join the European and global networks. Then we can hope to provide a coherent and co-operating alternative for normal people, like you and I.

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