The Occupy movement and the Co-op movement need to start a dialogue – but is the Co-op ready?

John Restakis, Executive Director of the British Columbia Co-operative Association, wrote in the Co-operative news: 

“The Occupy movement and the Co-op movement need to start a dialogue. There must be a conversation about how the present capitalist system can be challenged and ultimately transformed, by democratizing our economies. 

“The Occupy movement needs to grapple with what the alternative to the present system might actually look like, be able to point to examples and be lucid in articulating a new economic model that embodies its values.” 

Can it, as Restakis says,  learn from the experience of democratic decision making in the co-op movement? In London Occupy seems to be doing pretty well and to be working along the democratic lines of most worker co-operatives. But as Restakis continues: 

The co-op movement has some soul searching to do

“For its part, the co-op movement has some soul searching to do. It should look carefully at what the Occupy movement has accomplished in so short a time and why. 

“It should understand that the discontent with our present economic system is deep and wide and that the protesters have unearthed a reservoir of public feeling that is profound. 

“And it should ask itself why, with all its resources and experience, it is not in the vanguard of such a movement.” 

Many concerned co-operators believe that the large societies in Britain are democratic only in the letter – not the spirit and every day practice – and in that lies the lack of a deep dynamism that infuses a successful movement. It needs hearts as well as minds. 

‘Rank and file’ co-operators have this spirit but it is stifled by a management imbued with mainstream values. 

Restakis ends:

The co-op movement can tap into and help to articulate and give direction to the deep discontent and longing for a better future that now animates the Occupiers and their supporters around the globe. There has rarely been a better time. 

But, before this is possible, the co-operative movement must set its own house in order. 

Read John Restakis’ article here.

This entry was posted in Co-operative movement, Co-operative News, Democratic participation, Worker co-operatives and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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