Co-ops change lives by what they do
Co-ops are often handicapped by the fact that many claiming to support co-ops insist that they form part of their utopian vision or are merely tools to be used for social engineering in pursuit of a partisan political dogma. Authentic co-ops should be helping ordinary people cope with the new reality because they use an economic system that includes the mutual ownership of resources and they are driven by resource optimisation, which is the alternative to the profit maximization that drives commercial businesses. Change will not be triggered by preaching a utopian vision, it will only come when people resolve to take practical action together with others.
Co-ops do have the power to radically change their members’ lives, but they only do this when they are genuine co-ops, and when they act honestly and fairly on behalf of their members. They should build the capacity and resilience of their members and help them to make better decisions about their lives. Whereas most commercial businesses maximise profits when they exploit the weaknesses of their customers, employees, and suppliers.
Movements for social change
Many people actively engaged in co-ops believe that our overall economic system must change if it is to respond to the threats presented by climate change, the worldwide challenge to democratic systems of government and to more fairly distribute resources between the haves and the have not’s. Change will only be brought about by an independent movement for social change, it cannot be a function tacked-on to co-ops or be funded from surpluses that rightfully belong to all their members.