On Cooperative Socialist Perspectives

While I started this blog as a place in which to discuss both religion and politics, it has undergone several metamorphosis. It is now under going another. I joined the very small Social Democrats USA in January 2009. A lot has happened within that party since that time certainly not all positive. However in spite of this, I feel that the Social Democrats USA, which is the one Socialist party  of this nation that  is the direct descendent of the old Socialist Party of America of Eugene Debs, Norman Thomas and others, is my political home. Therefore since I am the representative affiliate member for Ohio within the SD, USA I am volunteering this blog to be the representative voice  of the party within this state. As such the messages posted within “Cooperative Socialist Perspectives” will be reflective of the views of the Ohio Affiliate but not necessarily of the official views of the Social Democrats USA national organization. I will attempt on a regular basis to let readers know if and when the views taken here represent national Social Democrats USA policy.
 
A few words about the new name of the blog. In spite of the fact that the future of this blog will be tied to the fortunes of the Social Democratic cause, as its editor  I have decided to delete very little of its old content. Most of that material in my own humble view is excellent and is still worth reading. This is so even if some may find it unusual for example that articles be posted to defend Islam from the charge of authorizing the abuse of women on a socialist site. I also do not believe that it hurts for readers to know some of the interests and background of this blog’s owner.
 
Some may question why the decision was made to call this blog “Cooperative Socialist Perspectives” as opposed to Ohio Social Democracy, Ohio Democratic Socialism,  or some more social democratic sounding name. The answer is fairly straight forward. Long before I became a member of the Social Democrats USA I believed in the views of the non establishment socialist traditions which advocated a socialism not of state ownership and control but instead of a “Cooperative Commonwealth”  in which the dominant  forms of ownership in  society would be  that of worker owned cooperatives and businesses. Yes privately owned businesses, family farms, and some state forms of regulation and ownership  would play important economic roles in society, however most economic institutions in society would be cooperatively owned and managed by worker owners. This vision is quite compatible with the political economic vision of social democracy. It is true that Social Democracy historically has tended to stress primarily the importance of struggling for reforms in side the system of capitalism to benefit working people ( a good thing). Never the less ideological room also exists within the context of Social Democracy for a vigorous vision of a dynamic socialist future. The importance of a vision of the Cooperative Commonwealth or of Cooperative Socialism thus will be  a recurring theme of many of the posts within this blog.

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2 thoughts on “On Cooperative Socialist Perspectives

  1. Hi Glenn, I’ve struggled over the years with whether to put my time, money and energy into the political process or to try to set up a socialist cooperative. I’ve always done the former, first as an anarchist, then as a socialist, and more recently by supporting progressive Democrats, without much effect. Here’s an idea I had about setting up a cooperative community. It’s on my blog:

    http://yodaami.wordpress.com/2010/05/21/a-cooperative-socialist-community/

    Note: This is just in the “crazy idea” stage and not something I’m planning to do immediately. The only thing stopping me is the small detail of a Japanese wife who has a great job here in Japan and who has no interest in doing this…..

    • Ed, thank you for sharing your ideas regarding the potential for developing a cooperative socialist community overseas, and also for sharing your “Yoda am I’s” blog with me. Let me respond first to your proposed project to develop a worker owned in an undeveloped part of the world. I certainly do not want to discourage any one from an idea in which they feel inspired to pursue. However I do see some problems with the potential project. First it seems to me that in spite of the relative low cost of buying land and perhaps labor in a third world nation, the project would still be extremely expensive costing at a minimal in the tens of thousands of dollars. Most of the people that I know, myself included, do not have that kind of money. If you know those who do perhaps you should pursue the project further but most of the people that I know do not. Another factor of course to be considered is that many such projects already exist in nations such as Argentina, Brazil, and Venezuela. I do not know how effective those attempts at building worker owned and managed companies are, but there is no doubt that thousands of those types of projects already exist. A better project might be simply to invest in already successful projects to aid them along.

      A question. I assume that you are already aware of the Mondragon Cooperative Corporation which is the largest worker owned corporation in the world? Mondragon is the 7th largest corporation in Spain. Mondragon already has international branches in nations such as Brazil and Argentina. Unfortunately while the Mondragon companies of Spain enjoy solid systems of worker self management and ownership though out Spain, until now they have not been able to export those systems of management and ownership to their foreign branches. I believe that ultimately they will succeed in doing this but as now they have not. The point of all of this is that a lot is already being done to develop working models of worker owned and operated firms through out the world. I am not sure what one more project would add to this effort. Unless your project is unique in a way that other projects are not, I am not sure about the effect that one more project would have on the total picture.

      Finally while I have been inspired by the idea of a worker controlled society for over 30 years of my life, I have always known that I am not a businessman myself. I see my self more as a potential political operative who will support a political movement which supports worker control or cooperative commonwealth as a dominant part of its political vision. I think that it would be best for me to leave it to others regarding the concrete development of individual worker owned, self managed cooperatives.

      To end this on a more positive note, however, as a result of your comments; I have read most of the articles on your blog. I enjoyed them, particularly the articles “Many paths,same mountain” and “Socialism and Anarchism as spirituality and religion.” I definitely do plan to respond to both of these excellent posts on your blog. I also plan to refer readers to them in a future posts in this blog if you do not mind. Any way that is enough for right now. Thanks again for your comments.

      Glenn

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