15 October 2013

Words of hope from Gar Alperovitz

Members of Ohio Solar Co-Operative, image courtesy Axiom News

Writing in The Nation, co-op proponent Dr Gar Alperovitz outlines some of the ways in which a distinctly American form of economic democracy might come about - and indeed, some of the ways in which it already is. A broad alliance between the petit-bourgeois of the public service sector and the traditional proletariat - of the new NGO sector and the unions - for the sake of placing greater productive power in the hands of ordinary citizens, seems to be already underway. Dr Alperovitz takes care to stress that this effort will be ecumenical in terms of ideas and institutions as well as classes: the resources (particularly real estate and credit resources) and purchasing power of various instruments of the state, particularly at the local (city, county, state) levels, will have to be marshalled to the task, as will private and non-profit resources. Of course, the instruments of civil society will have to take the active role: traditional credit unions and trade unions are already mobilising in the wake of the credit and jobs crises, respectively. Dr Alperovitz turns to the examples of Youngstown and Cleveland, Ohio, to show how even in the wake of big steel and big automotive leaving their American workers out in the cold, church and labour leaders were able to build up enough grassroots support to open the mills again, now run by around 500,000 worker-owners. (His reference to the collaboration between the big traditional American unions and the Basque Mondragon Corporation for establishing worker co-ops is particularly interesting!)

Do read the whole thing, gentle readers. It is incredibly heartening to see!

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