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Forum Post: If Corporate Capitalism is a virus, then Cooperative Socialism is the antivirus

Posted 2 years ago on Nov. 15, 2012, 11:03 a.m. EST by Underdog (2971) from Clermont, FL
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A great deal of discussion on this forum has gone into the pros and cons of Capitalism and it's foot-soldier, the Corporation. Many have likewise attempted to offer support or denigration of Socialism and it's well-known manifestation, the Cooperative. Obviously, those in support of the status quo argue in favor of Corporate Capitalism (CC), and those of a more progressive nature argue for Cooperative Socialism (CS), or sometimes the Cooperative operating within the Capitalistic framework.

Ignoring for the moment the arguments of whether or not CC is superior to CS (or vice versa), I would like to pose the question as to which proposed system is the most democratic? Obviously, the Cooperative wins hands-down in that regard. Corporations are business dictatorships operating within the larger framework of winner-take-all Capitalism. Capitalism itself was "born" from a Darwinian Survival of the Fittest view of economics. As such, it is animalistic and predatory in it's actions and conduct. It thus appeals to those of a Dominant nature who view the world as brutally competitive and aggressively warlike, even adopting such books as "The Art of War" by Sun Tzu, as well as similar business texts, as the "bibles of business".

One cannot argue that Survival of the Fittest does not operate in the biological realm, but it is the insanity of a certain segment of the human population that chooses to apply that concept to economics. It originally occurred because there is a portion of the human population that seeks to dominate, to subjugate, to rule dictatorially over the rest of humanity. That basic desire on the part of a relatively small minority, coupled to the equally dangerous and psychologically sick desire to acquire enormous wealth (for greed is infinite), has now manifested itself on a path of global destruction with no apparent end in sight.

But getting back to the general subject of democracy, does it make any sense whatsoever that "freedom-loving Americans" would engage in the democratic process of voting for their elected officials to represent them in local, state, and federal government and yet work in business environments that are almost completely dictatorial and designed to benefit the few and not the many? Such a juxtaposition of Public choice against Private dictatorship creates a psychological schism in the collective American psyche.  Corporations, especially large ones. exist to benefit those at the top and (if they are publicly owned/traded) the stockholders, the most substantial of which are frequently founding members/families of the corporation. Those that actually do the real work of producing the goods and/or services of the corporation have little (usually NO) vote as to how the business conducts its affairs. They have no input into their own financial fate, no say in how the ship is steered through the hazardous waters of capitalism, no voice as to whether or not they will be thrown overboard like excess baggage to keep that ship from sinking during the hurricanes of recessions and other capitalistic storms. They are viewed by the "captains of industry" as cattle to be used to achieve a goal; a means to an end; fodder for useful expedience to be dispensed with as required...nothing more. Such is the corporate model.

Contrast this with the cooperative. It too is a business ship that must navigate sometimes dangerous economic waters. But this ship is manned with sailors who have a say in their destiny; who provide input as to the course navigated and manner in which the ship is operated. Typically cooperatives allow for, and indeed require, input from each worker no matter how lowly (who are frequently equal owners of the business) as to the daily running of the business. They are kept abreast of all aspects of the business at all levels, and participate in voting decisions that determine many, and sometimes all, courses of action that the business undertakes, including executive compensation. Cooperatives are typically private, and thus immune to the travails associated with publicly traded/owned corporations by strangers who have no "sweat equity", no interest in the success or failure of any given business beyond that of personal profit. In short, cooperatives are a democratic model that stands in stark contrast to the dictatorial corporate one.

The good news is that cooperatives are slowly gaining ground in the U$A. If there ever will be a true antidote to the capitalistic disease of Corporatism, it will be the antivirus of Cooperatives. This, in fact, may be the only true chance to snare the corporate beast...to beat it at its own game. Corporations own and rule the playing field, but they are like large behemoths. Their achilles heel lies in their size, arrogance, and wealth. But they have no defense against the cooperative, because cooperatives can't be bought if they are not public property and the workers combine together to determine their own fate and refuse to be bought. If they do not wish to be bought, then they will not be bought. They alone decide if they will be sold, unlike some back-room shady deal. The Rise of Cooperatives would be one of the best things that could ever happen to this country, because they are democratic by design, and could thus unite the American psyche both Publicly and Privately. Try to imagine the business landscape in this country (even the world) if the cooperative were the dominant business model instead of the corporation...just try to imagine what true democracy would look like in the business world. It is an awesome dream. 

Do everything possible to encourage the rise of cooperatives to become the dominant business entity over corporations. In a global community seeking the spread of democratic principles, why should the corporate business model dominate the landscape? It is dictatorial, not democratic. Encourage ways to seek its destruction and seek instead the rise of worker-owned democratically-operated cooperatives.

The below link has much to say about cooperatives (and Occupy Wall Street is mentioned several times in the article), but here is a short excerpt:

"If you include all forms of worker-owned coops, you’ll see that they come in various flavors: some not so good, some wonderful, some changing. Even Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs) are changing, by the way—many are becoming unionized and participatory. There are in America today something like 11,000 worker-owned firms involving five to six million more people than are involved in the labor movement. Nobody is covering them; they are not being talked about. I opened the morning news and saw that credit unions are all of a sudden becoming very popular as the place to shift your money to. There are 130 million Americans involved in one or another form of coop, including credit unions."

http://neweconomicsinstitute.org/publications/lectures/alperovitz/gar/if-you-dont-like-capitalism-or-state-socialism

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