This book identifies political currents that underlie the organization and practices of contemporary co-ops. The politics of co-ops and cooperation generate distinctive, important insights into the characteristics of co-ops and the reasons for them. Three currents of cooperative politics are identified: populist politics, market politics, and capitalist politics. Extensive examples of these cooperative politics are presented. They include the leading co-op organizations such as the American National Cooperative Business Association, and the International Cooperative Alliance, all the way down to local co-ops.
The three cooperative politics that dominate the landscape of contemporary co-ops are shown to be problematical. They are all inadequate to guide genuine, complete cooperation. Their weaknesses are manifested in problematical cooperative practices that shall be elucidated.
Because co-op practice is grounded in political theory and practice, weaknesses in cooperative practice must be overcome by implementing a new cooperative politics. I articulate socialist politics of cooperation and co-ops as a valuable candidate for this corrective . This politics will be explained and assessed. (Imprint: Nova)
“The current co-op movement in the U.S. seeks to be a structural alternative to capitalism; this book seriously questions whether the current movement can accomplish that task. Carl Ratner offers up a rich and unique political analysis and critique that provides helpful insights into the practice and problems of the contemporary cooperative movement. Noting that cooperators tend to view their work as apolitical because the explicit influence of national political parties is absent, the author constructs a compelling argument that cooperators nonetheless operate unwittingly with implicit political conceptions of freedom, opportunity, human rights, social participation, decision-making, power, and governance that are shaped and limited by the capitalist economic system. Ratner demonstrates how a more radical, anti-capitalist, socialist form of cooperation and co-ops are needed to realize the fulfilling potential of cooperation and co-ops. For those wishing to understand and advance the cooperative movement, this book is essential reading.” - Peter Feigenbaum, Ph.D., Director of Institutional Research, Fordham University
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