Can we do it ourselves?

Excellent Swedish film looking at economic democracy.

We do not have political democracy, we have fake democracy.  Political parties who do not represent us, different factions of the Establishment, who  impose their candidates on us every few years and we be allowed to tick a box on a ballot paper, is not democracy.

Democracy is citizen participation in all aspects of life that effects us.

Simplistic understanding of capitalism. It is more than who controls the means of production. It is a complex adaptive system that adapts to external circumstances.  It adapts and mutates. Mercantile capitalism, industrial capitalism, finance capitalism. What happens when it can no longer adapt? What comes after? How do we move to a PostCapitalist world?

State controlled capitalism, is no better, and is not democratic.

Capitalism relies upon the market to function.  The market should self-correct. The market failed to self-correct during the banking crisis of 2008. The market relies on price to determine behaviour. What happens when the price falls to zero and there are no signals in the market?

Interesting that there are more worker co-ops in the US than Sweden.

If you work in a a worker-owned coop, it changes the mindset.

If you have a say in the workplace, why not wider society, why not the local Town Hall?

I think it was In Business (BBC Radio 4) that last year looked at worker-owned co-ops. They found these businesses to be more efficient than comparable businesses in their sector. The workers, once they got used to this way of working, were more satisfied (though it does not work for all workers).

Titsa guagua

Titsa worker-owned island bus company in Tenerife

Infinity Foods worker co-op in Brighton

Infinity Foods worker co-op in Brighton

In Tenerife, Titsa, the island bus company, is a worker co-op.

Infinity Foods in Brighton is a worker co-op. They support Seedy Sunday, grant pensioners a 10% discount.

The Phone Co-op is a subscriber owned co-op.

Robin Hood Hedge Fund, is a co-operative hedge fund.

Faircoin, a crypto-currency back by FairCoop, which addresses many of the problems associated with bitcoin, supports co-ops that accept payments in faircoin.

faircoin donations If you like what you are reading or wish to support this site, then please feel free to make a donation in faircoins. Also of course feel free to share. It is through sharing the collaborate commons functions.

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The State taking over companies is not democratic. It simply replaces one owner with another, leads to unaccountable bureaucrats, worthless jobsworths and inefficiency.

We must though move beyond worker or consumer owned co-ops. The ownership must be all those who interact with and are effected by the business have  a stake, have a say. And that the business contributes to the collaborative commons, the local community. In other words we need Open Co-ops.

A traditional businesses hires wage slaves. These wage slaves have no or very little say in how the business is run. The situation of the wage slave has become ever more precarious. Since 1971, the peak of the last Kondratieff Wave, wages have flat-lined, working conditions have deteriorated, now have a low wage, part time, zero hours work force.

Neither is it true that wage slaves do not share the risk. If the company is not performing well, hours are cut (or lengthened with no extra pay), wages are cut, and the ultimate risk is being fired.

The market economy is not efficient. Nor is it true, worker-owned co-operatives are not efficient.

When Argentina defaulted on its debt and the currency collapsed, and factory owners fled the country taking with them what they could loot from the factories, the workers scaled the gates and took over the factories. They ran the factories as a network of co-ops. The factories were more efficiently run. So efficient were they, that the absentee factory owners returned and demanded their abandoned factories  back.

In Catalonia, there is a network of worker co-ops, all co-operating with each other. If there is a need not being met, either an existing businesses will be persuaded to change to become a co-op, or a new co-op will be formed to address that need.

Jeremy Corbyn has suggested Living Wage be paid by companies if they are in profit, if they refuse, they will not be permitted to pay a dividend to shareholders.

A step in the right direct, but open to abuse and manipulation. Pay ever more obscene executive bonuses, fiddle the books, or simply refuse to pay and  accumulate a cash mountain. Corporations are already sitting on a £650 billion cash pile due to tax dodging and lax  tax regime.

If a company is in profit, distribute 10% of that profit each year as shares in the company to be held collectively by the workforce.

Jeremy Corbyn needs to look at setting up co-ops, granting the legislation and other support needed.

A network of co-ops, that co-operate, not compete, share information, all benefit from wealth creation.

Big Business strives to create monopolies, cartels, price fixing. TTIP which is being negotiated in secret by the EU is an extreme example.

But it does not have to be. The Big Six control  the energy market in the UK. Replace with community owned and controlled local area networks into which feed renewables guaranteed a fair price, consumers pay a fair price, surplus generation is fed to other local grids via a publicly owned National Grid, any profit either ploughed back into the local network or used to fund local community projects.

The railways could be taken back into public ownership. Not the old state-owned British Rail, a co-operative structure of rail workers and passengers

The market works at the level of a market stall, near equal players, availability of information. It does not work for the labour market, it does not work for the capital market. The employer dominates the labour market and the banks dominate the capital market.

The modern workplace is increasingly that of precarious workers in low paid, temporary employment performing soul destroying jobs that contribute nothing to the well being of society or the environment, with below them hungry unemployed and immigrants only too happy to take their jobs for even lower pay or atomised workers in reality serfs for death star apps working at well below the legal minimum wage.  Coupled with parasitical marketing and finance industry, one cons us to buy the consumer junk we do not need, the other hires us expensive money to buy the junk.

Workers are engaged not only in low paid degrading soul destroying jobs, but what they are doing is also meaningless, has no purpose, other than generating a return for capital.

Workers who are a step above the precarious worker, are tethered to the workplace 24/7 via a smartphone.

Harvard Business School churns out identikit clones, lacking in creativity, innovation, who have not a clue how to run a business, but can read a spread sheet, give a power point presentation.

A network enables collaboration, co-operation.

With a network of co-ops, the currency is social capital, not money.

The market could not produce Wikipedia (whatever we may think of the content). If the market tried, how could it compete with free?

Top story Collaboration & Coordination (Sunday 24 January 2016).

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One Response to “Can we do it ourselves?”

  1. keithpp Says:

     Worker Cooperatives Are More Productive Than Normal Companies
    http://www.thenation.com/article/worker-cooperatives-are-more-productive-than-normal-companies/

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