A new article, subtitled “Building the right kind of autonomy,” provides an excellent overview of what cooperatives can offer a world that is in economic crisis. “The Cooperative Turn,” written by Robin Murray, was posted at www.opendemocracy.net and originally at www.resurgence.org.
Murray was co-founder of Twin Trading, a fair trade company, and is a senior visiting fellow at London School of Economics. His analysis covers a lot of ground, including specific examples of financial, consumer, and other cooperatives in the U.K., Japan, and Germany. From his concluding section, this passage:
“In the 20th century, the joint stock company drove the revolution in mass production. Scale ruled and clubs were trumps. But the zeitgeist is now moving back towards human-scale and cooperation. The 21st century has seen a return to the micro, to self-governing units networked together as part of larger, complex systems.
“Cooperatives have been experimenting with such collaborative systems for some 150 years. There is a wealth of experience of what does and doesn’t work, of the pitfalls but also the extraordinary economic and human value they generate when they get it right. They have been able to reconnect that which has become separated: the personal and the social, the consumer and the producer, finance and industry, the enterprise and its community, and at their best, in the spirit of William Morris, the head, the heart and the hand.”
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