The idea for this post was originally to be about land rights, worked around the recent Diggers 2012 issue as blogged by George Monbiot in The Promised Land, but I got to thinking about co-operation not confrontation, although I am sure there will be more of the latter in the arena of land rights battles. This led me to think on the subject of Co-operatives, so that will now be the emphasis of the post. I will save land rights for another time.
This year (2012) is the UN International Year of Co-operatives. As part of that , Co-operatives have formulated an ethical plan for 2012-2014 and are promoting it with a call to ‘Join the Revolution’.
This is the sort of revolution that we are most in need of, or at least will be the most productive in the long run.
In Australia, this year will also hopefully and finally see the introduction of a new Co-operatives National Law, replacing the current, varied and incompatible State laws: Co-operatives National Law
I have been following the progress of this legislation for a while now, since becoming interested in it as possibly the best framework for Eco-villages, which a couple of years ago I thought was something that I might want to be part of. I still think that the co-operative model is the best framework for such groups but I have mostly given up on the idea now, having found that most groups in formation are made up of well-intentioned, middle-class, well-off individuals who are too ingrained in the consumer-industrial system to take serious steps to effectively get such projects off the ground. Less than 10% of such ventures ever get anywhere in a practical way.
Here is a video of the Co-operative led Green Schools Revolution, preparing kids for the future in the United Kingdom:
And here is one of a successful Co-op from the county where I grew up in the UK:
The message there is to think local product, from local sources, for a local market. This is something that will assume huge importance in future years as the capability to move huge amounts of produce around the world, as is currently the vogue, becomes increasingly difficult and eventually impossible, except perhaps at other than nineteenth century levels.
Sadly, Co-operatives do not form a large part of the community scene here in Australia but perhaps, with a new national legal framework in the pipeline, that will soon change.
Co-operatives, owned by the people for the benefit of the people. A very different business model, emphasising community and local influence. Right on!