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Cooperativization as Alternative to Globalizing Capitalism

Betsy Bowman & Bob Stone
Members, GEO Newsletter Editorial Board
An Occasional Paper of Grassroots Economic Organizing (GEO).
November, 2004

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Can we construct a better world than that of globalizing capitalism?
Through cooperativization.

We claim that first-world networks of worker cooperatives - like the one around Mondragón, Spain - if re-oriented so as to solidarize with the alter-globalization movement, could almost fully replace capitalism by a democratic economy.

These leading edge worker cooperatives would need to restore their deteriorating internal democracy and form a new vanguard with third-world "communities in resistance" and the "social and solidarity economy" in a joint non-violent but liberatory transformation of the global economy.

Since the mid-1970s, both public and social property, especially communal land on which much of humanity's rural half depends, has been under attack. But cooperativization - democratizing production, distribution, and investment - can stop this, reversing capitalism's worst advances.

Runaway shops will cease as capital is anchored by workers' homes. Exploitation will yield to profit-sharing. Grow-or-die imperatives that threaten global war and environmental ruin will implode as competition is reduced overall. To stay abreast of the greater productivity of cooperatives, capitalist firms will be compelled to democratize.

Cooperativization cannot end capitalism itself. But the autonomy gained as workers' control replaces labor markets will be lost unless remaining markets are in turn replaced by: restored public goods and control of distribution, minimum universal incomes, democratic planning among cooperative networks, and direct user-producer communication in place of commodity production. Objections derived from Marx, Luxemburg, and others are answered.

The paper is divided into four sections:

1. The Degeneration Problem;

2. How Alter-Globalization Movements Can Unravel Capitalism;

3. Paradigm Shifting Beyond Corporate Globalization;

4. Objections and Replies.


"Our goal is more than simple options for individual improvement. It is more. If the cooperative enterprise does not serve for more, the world of work has the right to spit in our faces."
José María Arizmendiarrieta (Quoted by MacLeod 1997)

Printer friendly version - 174Kb doc




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