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 LappĂ©, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up

Friday, August 19, 2016

Cooperatives in Socialist Construction: Commoners and Cooperators Key to Cuba's 21st Century Socialism

Click here to access article by Cliff DuRand from Grassroots Economic Organizing.

As Cuba re-establishes relations with the North American giant capitalist society, it is also undergoing social experiments to create a socialist society that is sustainable in the present century. Because the two are incompatible, Cubans must be on their guard to protect what they love about living in a socialist society no matter how imperfect it presently is. I wish them luck because they are going to need it with the North American giant doing everything it can to transform it back into a gambling casino and brothel for rich North Americans to play in.

Whereas capitalism focuses on the benefits to individual families, socialism attempts to create a social consciousness based on a commitment to society as a whole. Thus I believe the following reasoning is not valid logically, nor empirically on the basis of the Yugoslavian experience.
...commoners must identify themselves as a community sharing the common resource and thus feel a commitment to its proper governance, i.e. for the common good.  This is the foundation of a democratic governance of the commons. 

These are precisely the conditions that obtain in a worker cooperative.
To construct a society using cooperatives competing according to market principles will only result in people merely identifying with their cooperatives, not with society as a whole. This is the crucial dilemma, that is, to get ordinary people to "...identify themselves as a community sharing the common resource and thus feel a commitment to its proper governance, i.e. for the common good". As I see it, only by solving this problem is there any hope that humans can survive. 

There cannot be groups of people who have significantly more power than others because this is a condition fertile for exploitation of the powerful over the powerless. Kinship ties have predominated among humans since they settled into agricultural communities and capitalism has even weakened these ties by its emphasis on the nuclear family and their "ownership" of a society's economy. As a result we have families like the Rockefellers and Bill Gates running the world to promote their interests while the great mass of humans experience poverty, ill health, ignorance, and shortened life spans.

Still, I recommend this article because it encourages discussions about these important issues.

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