Towards a co-operative future?

Source: a message from America’s New Economics Institute, ‘working across the spectrum to realize our vision for a democratic, sustainable economy’

In June 2011 one of their directors, Gar Alperovitz, wrote: ‘as citizen uprisings from Tunisia to Madison remind us, judgments that serious change cannot take place often miss the quiet buildup of potentially explosive underlying currents. There are reasons to think that new economy efforts have the capacity to gather momentum as time goes on.’ 

Alperovitz, professor of political economy at the University of Maryland Historian, political economist, writer and activist is an advocate of the co-operative movement; read hisCoops and community, ecology and economics”.

As Occupy Wall Street enters its fifth week, Alperovitz will be joining a panel of speakers representing Occupy Wall Street and Youth for a New Economy at the Thirty-First Annual E. F.Schumacher Lectures on Saturday, November 5th in New York City. He argued in “The Nation” that new economic institutions are not only possible, but necessary, and in fact already growing out of the grassroots of communities across America.

Alperovitz says that citizens are opting to replace the current economic regime, making the old system obsolete in the process. He calls this third way  ‘evolutionary reconstruction.’
Some examples of ‘evolutionary reconstruction’: 

  • workers’ co-operatives like the Everglade’s Cooperative in Cleveland;
  • alternative ownership structures like Market Creek Plaza in San Diego;
  • enlightened businesses like Gore-Tex and King Arthur Flour, owned partially or wholly by their workers through Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs);
  • benefit Corporations, or ‘B Corps’ whose charters allow them to weigh
    social and environmental goals equally or above profits;
  • lobbying groups like the American Council for Sustainable Business (ACSB), which stood with union organizers, not against them;
  • the New Economy Working Group, which is helping state and local banks transition to a new economy model of development.

Alperovitz draws on a deep knowledge of local activism to paint a picture of a rich network of new economy initiatives: 

‘At the heart of the spectrum of emerging institutional change is the traditional radical principal that ownership of capital should be subject to democratic control.’ 

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