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“BCBM”-Building Our Own Positive Alternative
“BCBM”-Building Our Own Positive Alternative

Tired but happy GEO writer Bob Stone (below) on April 16, 2000, peak of the Washington pro-tests, having launched a new movement: “BUY CO-OP, BOYCOTT MULTI-NATIONALS” (BCBM). After a day publicizing GEO's forthcoming Resource Directory, and of handing out order forms for it, Bob filed this report:

Order forms and sample GEO´s were sucked up in the first 4 hours by the estimated 10,000 protesters demanding the International Monetary Fund and World Bank be shut down. After running out I took down names and addresses. Protesters received BCBM warmly. By imposing austerity on borrowers, the IMF/World Bank eases penetration of their economies by exploitative multi-national corporations. “This is great!” One marcher said, “Boycotters like me can now have a positive alternative.” Some folks called out: “I´m already in a food co-op.” I replied: “How about your clothing, books, electricity, telephone, and banking needs -co-ops can get your consumer dollar out of the exploitative economy there too.” That stopped many, who took order forms. Of course the shift to the non-exploitative cooperative economy is in its infancy, but hey, so was the anti-chattel slavery movement in 1800. An older gentleman, pondering BCBM, remarked: “That would take a moral commitment.” True. But if, given real alternatives, conscientious consumers actually do Buy Co-op, they´ll also get lower prices.

Fair Trade, a natural BCBM partner, links North American consumers to enterprises in the developing world that protect labor rights and the environment. The Fair Trade Resource Network had a big booth. A board member, enthusiastic about BCBM, referred me to their director.

Should we build a BCBM movement? How? The Washington and Seattle demos uncovered pent-up “demand” for goods produced non-exploitatively. Co-operatives, the alternative, could directly benefit. Are we ready to expand to a cooperative “sector,” to a cooperative “economy”? GEO´s resource directory, An Economics of Hope, points out the path. With this start we can make history.

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