Tina is dead , a spell is possibly beginning to break down. The results of thirty years domination of finance and corporate capitalism, as neo liberalism became, clearly has failed a significant section of citizens while also veracious in the use of people and environment. This characteristic is wired in; apologists boast of creative destruction and winners and losers, greed as virtue. This leads to a callous and careless attitude to those on the receiving end. Income and wealth differentials have grown and the less well off put into debt. The need is for substitution in part or whole, to a settlement which is more equitable and which can lead to social and ecological sustainability. Mutual and cooperative solutions based on Economic Democracy, if developed with competence, will be conducive to such ends. These developments have the long-term potential to influence the development of public enterprises directly accountable to the public though, regionalisation, subsidiarity and based on democratic governance by community and workers. Such ideas are in the air. NB : Also see link on blogroll to : The Question of Socialism (and Beyond!) in USA .
A start can begin now, by boosting support for cooperative solutions, which will need the build up of democratic venture capital, education, training, research and centres for the pioneering new democratic enterprises. A supporting culture which animates more of the public and serious cooperation between cooperatives is required . Events in the year of the cooperative in 2012 may have gone some way to starting such a developments. Building up of shared secondary mutual enterprises or facilities such as cooperative colleges or university, social investment societies and cooperative land trusts would advance such an emergence. Land and buildings, capital assets, allow recycling of rents while also acting as stabilizing anchor assets. Some of these developments can begin currently by adapting credit unions and linking them with financial cooperatives and possibly a mutual bank. The associated cooperatives would then have the basic resources to initiate new cooperatives instead of waiting for outsiders to come up with cooperative enterprises, as seems still to be the case. An example is the case of the Midlands Consumer Cooperative who had enough resources to innovate Cooperative Energy, which is becoming succesful. Smaller cooperatives such as worker cooperatives will gain this effect by building up democratic wealth within federative mutual associations which can help support the formation of new cooperatives. Care would be needed to keep these corporate light and democratically alive. Such developments might increase the viability of new cooperatives.
There is still quite a low awareness of what cooperatives are and how to go about starting them. The steps needed are, building up democratic commonwealths, which can be done by means of saving into a mutual fund enterprises, and land trusts, grants can be added . If cooperatives act in mutual association they can bring in newcomers and share know how, to help and support them develop their own jobs by incubating new worker cooperatives. This can also include other cooperative forms such as consumer or community coops.
Today the UK has a very unbalanced economy, increasingly based on usury,rentiersm and speculation, earning as main source of living through gambling with money or from other people’s sweat, and extraction from the environment, by means of ownership, as private property beyond what any signal person can work or use. The result is has been promoting an extractive way of livelihood, privileging private property ownership over commons or commonwealth. These last categories preferably under some form of democratic governance as , mutual, cooperative, municipal and when appropriate public. This needs sufficient support to be sustainable.
Will corporate and financial Capitalism disappear?. Perhaps not but there is a chance that it can be contained and shrunk; while dynamic it leads to pernicious effects, but the a way to begin neutralizing this is by doing different, by direct agency. A transformational process might emerge. The present austerity policy is damaging many people and is designed to restore the casino economy , speculation with others people s hot money. They have been clever by integrating many into their system through home ownership and private pensions based on the stock exchange. The result is an increasing wealth differences with a considerable section of our people shut out. The last weeks has seen a low point in politics with those on benefits been viciously stigmatized with the implication that they are the cause of the economic problems. The debt and deficit mainly growing out of the bank bail outs and following collateral damage has been exaggerated for political ends and used as a reason to make a further grab for wealth and power by the financial and corporate sector and their political representatives. But they are skating on ice for it is not clear that the economy can recover quickly as their policies are deflationary and even if it does, the underlying problems will remain unless there are radical reforms , which is unlikely. They may try to engender another boom on the back of house price raises but that would only be followed by another crash in due course. 1. Meanwhile a considerable section of the population will gain nothing and will remain neglected.
There is a need is to rebalance the economy, to one more based on production rather than speculation and which also distributes wealth and power more fairly. Building up democratic enterprises through direct agency might be an option though probably at first on a modest scale. These ideas need working on and converted to practice but it depends on people making an existential choice, one by one , step by step and eventually together putting TINA (there is no alternative) as an idea into the grave. There are other options, which can only be realized if people do them, and support. The challenge is to create a significant semi detached sector based on economic democratic principles which engages people and works. In so far as this exists it needs boosting and brought together to work in a more mutually supporting way .
1. Added on 20/8/2013. The above remark may have anticipated what is now beginning to happen.