Scaling up the Cooperative Movement
Edited by, Grassroot Economic Organizing and Democracy Collaborative, December 2014
This is the introduction to the e-book « Scaling Up the Cooperative Movement » published in partnership with the Grassroots Economic Organizing. The Democracy Collaborative’s senior research associate Thomas Hanna is a contributing editor of the e-book and the author of this introduction. The e-book is available for free here.
In the years since the financial crisis and Great Recession of the late 2000s, growing numbers of people in the United States have come to the realization that the current economic and political system is profoundly dysfunctional. Public concern continues to grow over increasing disparities of wealth and income, deteriorating social and environmental outcomes, and the dangers of vesting power in large hierarchical organizations – whether private corporations or government agencies. Moreover, with stalemate in the political process continuing unabated and traditional solutions seemingly blocked at every turn, new approaches are becoming increasingly attractive.
But while public sentiment may be more amenable to contemplating fundamental political economic changes than in the recent past, the fact remains that this opportunity has yet to be fully seized. Specifically, the cooperative sector, which forms a basis for many visions of a more just, egalitarian, and sustainable society, remains quite small – vanishingly so when considered in relation to the corporate-dominated economy as a whole. Despite the boost that economic inequality issues received as a result of the Occupy movement and its offspring, that energy has seemingly not, as of yet, been translated into the widespread creation or strengthening of co-operative enterprises.