In the western world, and especially in the United States, we pride ourselves on our transition from monarchies and dictatorships to “democracy” and oligarchy. However, this transition has only occurred in the political sphere, and in some cases only marginally. In order for our society to complete the transition to democracy, changes must be made in our economic systems as well. Consider the common corporate system. A corporation is frequently comprised of a board and a number of chief officers. Under this system, these people who place themselves at the top of this hierarchical system are akin to the monarchs, dukes, viceroys, etc of the old feudal and monastic systems. They live in wealth on the backs of their workers simply by making “key” decisions here and there. This system is not democratic. The workers are the people who have the largest amount of information about the way a corporation is functioning. They have far more information than a CEO or CIO ever could. Granted they do have the disability of bringing all their varied information together under the current system. Thus it is time to democratize the work place.
A system exists to make this change possible. It evolved on small estates and family farms, where a small group of people collectively made decisions about what would be best for the farm or the family business. The system evolved into the cooperative, or the co-op. I’ve discussed this idea before in this blog. You can also read about co-ops here and here. The transition to democracy is incomplete. The economic collapse of 2008 should more than serve to show the dictatorships of the economy are not practical and do not have the interests of the people or the country in mind. For example, would local and regional banks have had the monetary power to bully politicians into supporting the deregulation of their practices? It is far less likely that they would have that ability. We were told some institutions were too big to fail when actually they failed because they were too big.
The cooperative model is the most promising way to transition back to a national economy with local and regional focuses. The cooperative is also the best way of taking control of our businesses and communities back from corporate boards and greedy banks. 2012 is the year of the cooperative. It is time for us to get organized and begin the next push for democracy in the world by finding ways to support this transition. What will you do?