Is there a co-operative alternative to capitalism?
Ethical Consumer launches Essay Prize
2012 is the International Year of Co-operatives. It is also a year when the clamour of serious questions about capitalism is getting louder. Europe and America are facing their worst economic crises for a generation, 'occupy' movements around the world are calling for sweeping social reforms, and scientists and academics point to increasingly dangerous levels of climate and habitat destruction.
Do co-operatives offer an alternative model of social organisation which could address some of these key issues? Or do they simply offer another way of organising businesses within a predominantly capitalist economy?
What would the world look like if - as some early co-operators aspired to - co-operatives grew to gradually replace private businesses across every economic sector? Would it be much the same? Would it be somehow transformative or utopian?
On Thursday 5th July Ethical Consumer launched a new essay prize at the Mainstreaming Co-operation Conference in Manchester to get people thinking and exchanging ideas on these questions.
Our new sub-site contains more details on the prizes, how to enter, and the plans for published outputs - including a book from New Internationalist's World Changing imprint.
It also contains a forthcoming tool to crowd-source ideas for making co-operatives the dominant business model.
"Democracy and the co-operative form remain keys to re humanising our economies today. It means taking the democratic revolution beyond politics into economics so that it can transform economies as it once transformed political systems."
John Restakis (2011)