Monday, February 11, 2008

If not neo-liberal or neo-conservative capitalism or centralized 'not-capitalism', - then what?

What really is ‘Co-operative Socialism’?

There are four political alternatives - managed (centralized) capitalism; un-managed (decentralized, 'free'- sic) capitalism; centralized, managed, not-capitalism; and not-centralized, not-capitalism.

It is this last possibility that seems to be the only sustainable political/economic/social form - and is one that I've tentatively called 'Co-operative Socialism' (this name has a lot going for it, but it needs more discussion - at another time!):

There is an essay called 'Co-operative Socialism: Theory and Practice' in the papers section at - it's the paper I gave at the 2005 CAOS conference (the 'Collective for Alternative Organisational Studies') at the U of Leicester Business School.

The key (multi-faceted) point is that:

a) 'Co-operative Socialism' is what the earliest socialists (Robert Owen etc - who invented both the terms 'socialism' and 'socialist' - see GDH Cole's History of Socialist Thought – Volume 1: ‘The Fore-runners') envisaged as 'socialism'.

ie it is local co-operative stewardship within a global-ist 'commonweal of commonweals', where all work and exist for the benefit of all - true democracy.

b) 'Socialism' being synonymous with centralised, 'State ownership and Control' is the invention of the *later* Marxist 'socialist' - including Marx himself who seem to have (deliberately?) derided the earlier (true, 'liberal', co-operative) socialists by 're-branding' them as 'utopian socialists'.

c) Thus the resolution of all this is - hopefully - the Political Map (at and also in the CAOS paper) - which distinguishes between 'authoritarian' and 'liberal' standpoints - for 'pro-capitalists' and 'not-pro-capitalists ('socialists')' alike

(ie it distinguishes between 'Neo-liberals' and 'Neo-conservatives' at the 'pro-capitalism' end of the spectrum and 'Authoritarian 'Marxist' 'socialism/not-pro-capitalism' versus a liberal not-pro-capitalism - 'Co-operative Socialism' - at the other.

Thus, Co-operative Socialism is located in the south-eastern quadrant of the following political map:

And, incidentally - or rather not so:

- If you want to know how where you are on the political map, visit (thanks! Tim) and (follow links to 'Fire and Ice') and do the self-analysis questionnaires there - being aware that the first of these maps inverts the horizontal axis.

Finally, I have a PowerPoint presentation (‘Emotions, Personalities and Politics’) that I have offered for the joint meeting of the Canadian Association of Studies in Co-operation (CASC) / International Co-operative Alliance (ICA)/ Association of Cooperative Educators (ACE) in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan in July 2007. The above and the following are slides from that, and I’d be happy to share the whole thing with any who are interested.

Happy co-operating!

john courtneidge

Initially Posted to co-opnet on 25 August 2006 Slides, etc added 20 February 2007


1) The Campaign for Co-operative Socialism
>> For equality and ecology, peace, justice and co-operation >>

For ** A Fair, Safe and Peaceful world **

Including - Co-operative Socialism - A Seven Point Action Plan

2) The International Co-operative Alliance Statement on the Co-operative Identity
(Manchester, UK 1995)

The Campaign for Co-operative Socialism
>> For equality and ecology, peace, justice and co-operation >>
** A Fair, Safe and Peaceful world **

The Campaign for Co-operative Socialism
Campaign contact: John Courtneidge

(September 2003) revised October 2007

We are suggesting that the time has come to help create the Global Co-operative Commonweal: a Global Commonweal of Local Commonweals. A world, in other words, based upon the Values and Principles of The International Co-operative Alliance (see attached). Centrally, we also suggest that The Co-operative Commonweal requires that we convert all workplaces into appropriate co-operative enterprises, so that every person, and every organisation, has respectful stewardship of land and knowledge resources, and that true equality is, sustainably, created.

To do so, it is clear that we have to transform the economic system in which we live, so that

o All people, co-operatively and together, are in control of their lives,
o Where all work is for the long-lived benefit of all: caring for the long-lived benefit of the whole global ecology - and all its inhabitants.

This requires changes to the central features of present-day economics:

o The ownership of workplaces and knowledge used for profit,
o The ownership of land and natural resources, and their use for profit,
o The practices of money-lending and debt- and credit-creation for profit,
o Inequality and insecurity of individual incomes,
o The created culture of rampant crime, fear, debt, and insecurity.

Accordingly, we work for each community to be in full, open, co-operative control of its economic resources, ensuring that they are used for the benefit of the whole of humanity, and for the benefit of the whole global ecology, so that:

o Everyone has the security of a fair, guaranteed income,
o And that proper stewardship of the planet is our central task

>>This suggests the following Seven Point Action Plan >>

Co-operative Socialism - A Seven Point Action Plan

1) ‘Co-operation not Coercion’
Convert competitive, market-based businesses into workplace co-operatives, and remodel monopoly activities as stakeholder co-operatives: each one having responsible, time-limited stewardship of land and knowledge resources, with each co-op demonstrably working according to the Seven Co-operative Principles of The International Co-operative Alliance (see attached). See points 2) and 5), below, for the funding mechanism for this;

2) ‘Predistribution not Redistribution’
Distribute the created wealth from these workplace co-ops through nationally collected, co-operative corporate taxation, distributed into local, democratically-controlled, Community Banks and, so, make money and credit available for responsible wealth creation and community development,

3) ‘Global stewardship for needs not private resources for profits’
Maximise public service provision (health, life-long education, libraries, transport and so on) on a co-operative, free-at-the-point-of-use basis, thus only retaining money as a mechanism for access to discretionary purchases,

4) ‘Fair, guaranteed incomes for all’
Introduce guaranteed fair income for all, within upper and lower limits, and with elements of automatic Citizens’ Income, and, so, do away with the need for direct and indirect personal taxation,

5) ‘Banking as public service - not as global warfare’
Abolish money-lending and credit-creation for profit: operate banking as a community co-operative public service (see point two above),

6) ‘End global exploitation through financial speculation’
Reintroduce international exchange controls, a Tobin Tax, etc, as necessary,

7) ‘All our sisters are our brothers: and all our brothers are our sisters’
Make capital grants (not loans) to developing countries.We hope this action plan gives us, all, a good, evolving basis: >> for a practical, moral, sustainable, and co-operative economics.

Please share and discuss this plan with family and friends
(and let us know people’s reaction?). Thanks!

The International Co-operative Alliance
Statement on the Co-operative Identity
(Manchester, UK 1995)

A co-operative is an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly-owned and democratically-controlled enterprise.

Co-operatives are based on the values of self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity and solidarity. In the tradition of their founders, co-operative members believe in the ethical values of honesty, openness, social responsibility and caring for others.

The co-operative principles are guidelines by which co-operatives put their values into practice.

1st Principle: Voluntary and Open Membership
Co-operatives are voluntary organisations, open to all persons able to use their services and willing to accept the responsibilities of membership, without gender, social, racial, political or religious discrimination.

2nd Principle: Democratic Member Control
Co-operatives are democratic organisations controlled by their members, who actively participate in setting their policies and making decisions. Men and women serving as elected representatives are accountable to the membership. In primary co-operatives members have equal voting rights (one member, one vote) and co-operatives at other levels are also organised in a democratic manner.

3rd Principle: Member Economic Participation
Members contribute equitably to, and democratically control, the capital of their co-operative. At least part of that capital is usually the common property of the co-operative. Members usually receive limited compensation, if any, on capital subscribed as a condition of membership. Members allocate surpluses for any or all of the following purposes: developing their co-operative, possibly by setting up reserves, part of which at least would be indivisible; benefiting members in proportion to their transactions with the co-operative; and supporting other activities approved by the membership.

4th Principle: Autonomy and Independence
Co-operatives are autonomous, self-help organisations controlled by their members. If they enter to agreements with other organisations, including governments, or raise capital from external sources, they do so on terms that ensure democratic control by their members and maintain their co-operative autonomy.

5th Principle: Education, Training and Information
Co-operatives provide education and training for their members, elected representatives, managers, and employees so they can contribute effectively to the development of their co-operatives. They inform the general public - particularly young people and opinion leaders - about the nature and benefits of co-operation.

6th Principle: Co-operation among Co-operatives
Co-operatives serve their members most effectively and strengthen the co-operative movement by working together through local, national, regional and international structures.

7th Principle: Concern for Community
Co-operatives work for the sustainable development of their communities through policies approved by their members.


International Co-operative Alliance
15, route des Morillons, 1218 Grand-Saconnex, Geneva, Switzerland
Tel: (+41) 022 929 88 88 Fax: (+41) 022 798 41 22
E-mail: Web:


Reproduced by:

The Fair World Project

Campaign contact: John Courtneidge


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