The Global Cooperative Commonwealth:
Toward a Moral Economy

By Betsy Bowman

We are everywhere: worker owned and managed cooperatives are world-wide. We at GEO call our vision of a completely cooperativized global economy the global cooperative commonwealth. Commonwealth means that the wealth is common or shared. There are other names such as the alternative economy which includes local currencies, fair trade, all kinds of co-ops, barter networks, etc. In Europe, this is called the –social and solidarity economy.” In parts of Latin Americaăour other focusăits called –economia solidaria.” We think of it simply as a movement towards a moral economy.

In this issue, we report on the solidarity economy in Argentina and on statist vs. solidarity strategies in Latin America for building a new world. We also report on CICOPAăthe producer cooperative branch of the International Cooperative Alliance, a UN affiliated organization that dates back to the end of World War I. CICOPA has been helping organize co-ops and federations of co-ops in all parts of the world, and is ready to help a US group form.

The world-wide movement for a more just and equitable economyăof which the worker co-op movement is a partăis increasingly aligned with the anti-globalization or alter-globalization movement. In this issue we report on this convergence at the European Social Forum, which took place in Florence, Italy, in Nov. 2002. It was a gathering of activists from all over Europe around the claim –another Europe is possible;” it championed the struggle against not only globalization but against racism and war. In France an organization called ESCO)P, The Solidarity Economy and Cooperatives, promotes cooperatives as an alternative to the mainstream economy. Branches in most European countries of an organization called ATTAC, Association for the Taxation of Financial Transactions for Aid to the Citizens, are, in many different ways, working to make the economy serve people and not the other way around.

The European Social Forum culminated with a million person march against war on Iraq. These numbers bespoke a new kind of globalizationăglobal opposition to end wars. It seems simpleăjust as we seek to substitute human relations for money exchange in economic affairs, so we seek to substitute human relations for armed threats in international affairs.

As the Bush administration prepares for war on Iraq, it is high time for progressive activists to join together to halt this madness. See John W. Lawrenceęs analysis of the impending war in this issue.

On the positive side, Len Krimerman proposes creative insurgency, and underground summits to celebrate, showcase and educate participants about cooperatives and other democratic enterprises as the alternative to global corporate capitalism. 

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