Friday, June 24, 2016

A Proposal for the Evolution of Co-operative Socialism in Europe

A Proposal for the Evolution of Co-operative Socialism in Europe:
a European Co-operative Commonweal,
as a European contribution to the creation of a Global Commonweal of Local, National and Regional Commonweaths.

A Fair World Project – >> For equality and ecology, peace, justice and co-operation >>

The immensely important book, 'The Spirit Level' (and associated web-site for The Equality Trust, gives the evidence that greater income equality is good for everybody and everything.

As a vision for a better Europe, I'm outlining, here, a plan – Co-operative Socialism – to help bring about greater income equality - and economic equity as well: not only among humans, but as regards humans and the rest of Gaia, too.


Accordingly, I am suggesting that the time has come to help create a 'European Co-operative Commonweal': as a contribution to the creation of a Global Commonweal of Local Commonweals.

Through this, I propose that Europe - and wider world – be based on the evolving Co-operative, Values and Principles and Definition as outlined in the Statement on the Co-operative Identity from The International Co-operative Alliance (the ICA Statement - as attached – which is an evolving document, periodically updated by co-operators, world-wide).

Now, in terms of 'where Co-operative Socialism is' – a values and political mapping, suggests that this not-imposed, creative-maximising, nonhierarchical, experiential and progressive option is found on the following map (* see footnote):

* It is possible to map your own personal/social/political positions at the following web-sites: Link to ‘Fire and Ice’ and ‘3SC Social Values’ and Note: the horizontal ‘left/right’ axis is reversed in the Political Compass map as compared the map above

Now, in order to help create, nonviolently, the greater income equality and greater income and economic equity that 'The Spirit Level' evidence illuminates – and that Co-operative Socialism is designed to help achieve - the concept of 'Co-operative Commonweal' (ie, of collective, co-operative wellness) is key.

This idea requires that, democratically, we act co-operatively – to convert our economy into appropriate co-operative enterprises and work-places – a mixture of co-operative social enterprises and co-operative solidarity entities - so that every person, and every organisation, has respectful, time-limited 'co-operative care-ship' of appropriate land and knowledge resources.

So that, as a result, true equality and equity is socially-, sustainably- and transparently-created.

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

o Each population, co-operatively together, is in control of their economic life,
And that,
o 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 – rather than for short-term, selfish gain.

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

o The ownership of land and natural resources, workplaces and knowledge used for profit;
o The practices of money- and credit-creation for profit and of money-lending as interest-bearing, debt-for-profit;
o The consequential inequity of income (in terms of the division for working-age adults as incomes earned by some through paid work and unearned by others through privately-taken rent, interest and profits);
o The consequential inequality, insecurity and (often) immorality of individual incomes and;
o The consequently-created culture of rampant crime, fear, debt, ill-health and insecurity: all as a result of increasing income equality (for which, see the evidence in 'the book, 'The Spirit Level').

Thus, the Co-operative Socialist vision is that each community, locally and nationally, 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, and that,
o All collective human activities are consistent with the Co-operative Values and Principles, and that,
o Friendship, care and co-operative care-ship/co-operative stewardship of and with the planet is our central task.

Accordingly, in terms of the evolution of a social and co-operative Europe, this 'Co-operative Socialism' becomes a model and beacon of hope for the rest of the world.
In detail, this suggests a Seven Point Action Plan for Co-operative Socialism, to help create 'A European Co-operative Commonweal', as a Co-operative Association of National Co-operative Commonwealths

  1. Co-operatives and peace, not corporations and coercion
Convert (at present) competitive, market-based activities into creative workplace/worker/producer co-operatives and remodel monopoly activities as community and/or consumer co-operatives: each co-op demonstrably operating according to the Co-operative Values and Principles of the International Co-operative Alliance (see below), and with each co-op having respectful time-limited co-operative careship**/co-operative co-stewardship from the national commonwealth of appropriate land and knowledge resources;
(See points two and five for the funding mechanism to achieve this.);
(** 'Co-operative careship' as the opportunity to care.)

  1. Not-for-profit banking and financial structures as appropriate co-operatives
Distribute the added-value from the created wealth produced in these workplace co-operatives through nationally collected, co-operative corporate taxation, distributed into local, democratically-controlled, Community Banks and, so, make money and credit available for ecologically- and socially-responsible wealth creation, community development and global care: the economic conversions referred to above;

  1. Abolition of for-profit money - An end to usury/riba, and of banking as global warfare
Abolish money-lending and credit-creation for profit, and, so, operate banking as a community-controlled co-operative public service;
(See point two above);

  1. Step-wise abolition of money as access to needs – 'co-operative communities' for needs and care, not private resources for profit
Maximise necessary service provision (health, education, libraries, transport, and so on) on a co-operative, free-at-the-point-of-use basis: retaining money only as a mechanism for access to discretionary purchases;

  1. Fair, Guaranteed Incomes – Greater Equality of income for all– 'Predistribution, not Redistribution'
Introduce a guaranteed, as of right, fair income for all – with, a non-withdrawable, Citizen's Income - a 'Living Income for Everybody, a LIFE' – as the base-line to a set of socially-determined upper and lower limits and, so, do away with the need for direct and indirect personal taxation (VAT, income tax, user fees and so on;

  1. Co-operative regulated inter-national relations: a) An end to global exploitation through financial speculation
Reintroduce international exchange controls, a Tobin Tax, etc, as necessary
  1. Co-operative regulated inter-national relations: b)An ethic that 'All our sisters our brothers, and all our brothers our sisters – One in all, one for all, all as one, all in one – we exist to give not get'
Make capital grants (not loans!) to developing countries, upon their request.
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:
-----------------------------------Version 2 - 2nd August 2013

The Fair World Project
Campaign contact:
John Courtneidge
10 Coleridge House, 79 Bromley Road, Beckenham, Kent BR3 5PA
0795 099 6418

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