1 – We shouldn’t complain about capitalism, if we use it
I heard this mean argument recently. Did we choose to be born into that system? That’s like telling the unfortunate living in smog; they shouldn’t complain about the polluted air if they breathe it.
2 – Communism isn’t better than capitalism
Did I say anything about communism? I’m talking about Cooperativism. Co-ops can be for profit. The same business models as today can be run democratically. The only difference would be that profits are not exclusively going to a handful of investors valuing short term profits over long-term employment, but would be re-invested into the company and its people who create the value of the organizations with their daily work. Aren’t many of today’s corporations branding themselves as being cooperating, socially responsible, caring for the community? Why then don’t we get a share and vote then? Because that would be the true meaning of community.
3 – We cannot treat people equal
Yes, and no. Again, I am not talking about a system without performance-based incentives. We all learn in sports how to be fair losers.
Value creation has to be re-defined. Today, helping rich people avoid taxes is rewarded generously while cleaning up a the dirty environment, caring about weak and sick people, and helping a hungry child has to be done largely as unpaid volunteering.
Humans are relatively equal; there is no reason to make racial differences. The differences that matter are made by external circumstances, such as education, support, and fair treatment. Different talents and ambitions are fine though. Co-op members can democratically determine what efforts are incentivized in what way.
4 – Governance by the people ends in chaos
Like in a state democracy with millions of citizens too, a cooperative membership for efficiency reasons can vote for major decisions only, and elects a representation for managing the enterprise. The good thing is, the management would act on behalf of the members (workers, consumers, producers, etc. who are actively involved and interested in the organization in the long-term) rather than on behalf of profit-maximizing outside shareholders.
5 – Cooperative decisions are too slow
Of course, a dictatorship may provide for faster decisions. Have you already campaigned dictatorship? Who would you currently choose? Ah, sorry, we don’t have a saying in that.
Feasibly administering elections and voting is possible. As a Swiss, I know what I’m talking about.
6 – People don’t want to engage
With a balance between responsibilities, accountabilities, and competencies (!) people are willing to assume all of these. Also, a cooperative would educate for active citizenship rather than investing into advertising and luring people into passive consumerism. Cooperative values motivate to engage for individual and collective well-being.
7 – We cannot change it
A couple of dozens of people own the wealth of half of the world population. 1% percent own the same wealth as the rest 99%. The net worth of the world’s billionaires increased from less than $1 trillion in 2000 to over $7 trillion in 2015, so the gap between rich and poor is growing up dramatically.
The rich are worried more and more as their oligarchic power increase becomes more obvious to more people. It looks like they think only a global war will hinder the awakening of the masses and defend their illegitimate privileges.
The current world order is keeping the majority of people poor and uninformed enough, or happy enough so that they don’t take action. War will serve the same end.
We can change it, if we spread the word for workplace democracy and support the cooperative movement. The five firms worth most and extracting most value/profit are all IT/Internet businesses (Google, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft). Maybe it’s not too late to claim back in minimum the virtual world with its increasing real effects on our daily life and the future of our children. (Please see https://mathias-sager.com/category/growth-enablement/initiatives/products/)