Alternative futures: an economic system based on real democracy, with co-operation at its heart

Edgar Parnell, former Chief Executive of the Plunkett Foundation, has worked in more than forty countries with businesses, charities, NGOs and government institutions at local, national, regional and international level. Alternatives are currently being presented on a sister website and Edgar sent his contribution today: 

Many will share the anger clearly felt by the campaigners, dubbed ‘anti-capitalist protesters’, currently occupying significant spaces in many cities throughout the Western World. Many will also share their view that the existing system and the organizations now controlling the economy, are seriously flawed. 

However, simply highlighting the shortcomings of the current way of doing things without providing a clear and workable alternative is a lot like ‘kicking the dog’ as a means of venting your frustration when there seems to be no escape from your problems . . .

The most important discovery that those seeking change can make, is the fact that there actually is a workable alternative, which is co-operation. Of course, it’s no use pretending that an economic system based upon co-operation will provide truly significant improvement upon what we have now, unless co-operative and mutual enterprises (CMEs) are subject to much more robust systems of democratic control, along with an adequate system of oversight.

So how do we bring about the big changes needed to our economic system and organizations? 

  • First, we need to make sure that the member-controlled enterprise model is properly understood both by all of those involved within all CMEs and by a much wider public.
  • Second, we must come together within a real movement for social change to demand that a set of clear outcomes are adopted, which can strengthen real democracy and put co-operation at the heart of the way in which we organize society. 

Such a social movement must not be allowed to serve only the interests of those simply wanting to join a political elite, or be hidebound by the dogma of the past. Instead, it must be driven by an unfailing commitment to achieving the changes that most of us know will have to be made sooner rather than later, if human progress is to continue. 

Read his article in full here.

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