They are on an exciting track. If we are going to create an economy of justice, we need not just new popular pressure and new politicians; we need new models of production, distribution, marketing and ownership.I'm not as excited about this development as this liberal author is. Worker coops are at best a defensive action to save jobs. They can also act as laboratories for workers to learn how to manage their own enterprises democratically. However, even the best run such enterprises must function within an economic system that treats them with actions ranging from benign neglect to hostility. The laws governing enterprises are founded on private enterprise models that emphasize hierarchical systems of authority. Thus, the real solution is to reorganize the entire economic system so that democratically run enterprises can flourish.
We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up