Co-op essay

I think it is essential to be very careful and clear in our analysis of what takes place in such situations. There are clearly important strands of genuine racism and genuine xenophobia (though I’m not sure that the two are always the same thing) informing British political culture, as Stuart showed us with such extraordinary acuity. But I think that these strands are often quite latent and are often activated by other, more immediate grievances. And in this case I think the grievance is one which is simply barely registered by a broader political culture within which the very idea of democracy has suffered a degree of degradation, as liberal individualist norms have become so hegemonic as to be almost invisible. That grievance is simply this: nobody asked them. Nobody asked these people if they wanted a significant cultural recomposition of their communities and nobody talked to them about why it might be happening and why it might be beneficial or necessary and on what terms it might be managed so as to make it feel like less of an immediate threat.

This is a response to Paul Lebow: Thanks for your comment. Yes, the article is focused on electric co-ops, but it's worth noting that electric co-ops are a vastly larger portion of the . economy than worker co-ops, so the focus you suggest would be far more limited than mine. Also, I would not characterize Wolff's book as especially "broad"; he offers a rather idiosyncratic vision of worker cooperation that is in many respects not cooperation at all, since he doesn't insist on shared ownership, but rather worker management and profit-sharing. And the distinction he proposes between productive workers (the makers of widgets) and others (from the marketers and the janitors) is more akin to the guild model still used by doctors and lawyers.

The left's instinctive focus on labor has often made us blind to some of the most successful examples of economic cooperation, in which workers are not the chief stakeholders (but often find excellent conditions, such as at consumer co-ops like REI). This article was an effort to highlight one aspect of the radical economics in plain sight that our labor-centeredness may cause us to miss.

Co-op essay

co-op essay


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