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What we should seek to understand about co-operatives, Co-operation and peace by Ian MacPherson Emeritus Professor of History University of Victoria

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Presentation on theme: "What we should seek to understand about co-operatives, Co-operation and peace by Ian MacPherson Emeritus Professor of History University of Victoria"— Presentation transcript:

1 What we should seek to understand about co-operatives, Co-operation and peace by Ian MacPherson Emeritus Professor of History University of Victoria

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3 A challenge…. As you listen, perhaps you can think of a co-operative (co-operative movement, co-operator) making a significant contribution to peace In a sense, most co-operatives do to some extent whenever they are inclusive and responsive to their communities Particularly looking for examples of co-ops that bring together groups seriously divided by history, ethnicity, politics, religion, etc. Consider how contributing to more peaceful societies is an important aspect of the broad impact co-operatives can have

4 What are we talking about? The primary focus is not war, though co-ops can play an important role in war situations: mobilizing consumer goods fairly, distributing them more equitably, avoiding hoarding, mobilizing after conflicts (CARE), bridging differences after conflicts Mostly considering co-ops that deal with social tensions and pressure that often become the underlying causes of war: found in many communities to varying degrees Rarely, though, the most obvious reason why a given co-op is formed Co-ops emerge for two broad reasons 1.Search for economic opportunity (production and consumption) or better services…co-operative entrepreneurship 2.Responses to tensions/problems derived from class, ethnic, religious, gender, economic, and ideological differences

5 The general patterns Co-operatives have developed primarily within the following contexts the industrialisation of the world within a market economy stretching back over two centuries; co-operatives within imperial frameworks co-operatives amid the grand ideological struggles co-operatives and independence/development the restructuring of the global economy currently underway. Co-operatives have been affected by these major shifts and to a significant extent can only be understood by recognizing that fact. They are integral parts of the major shifts in the human experience, not just isolated responses. They are participants and they are survivors. However, one should not conclude that the highlighted developments constitute a full explanation for co-operative development.

6 Some co-operative contributions Focus on specific deeply-felt needs: healing through practice Bridging differences Encouraging social inclusion Offering democratic ways to surmount tensions Encouraging new leadership Mobilizing social capital Empowering more people to contribute (e.g., women, youth, weak) Co-operatives in their everyday activities, by what they do and how they operate, contribute to the creation of more peaceful communities and societies.

7 This capacity to contribute to a more peaceful world has never been more important than today. Perhaps at no other time have co-operative movements had a greater opportunity to help create a more peaceful world. In the past, wars generally began at the nation state level; today they are as likely to emerge from communities. Co- operatives are basic instruments for community wellness and identity.

8 Industrialisation

9 Co-operatives and industrialisation Classic way to understand rise of many movements Responses to turmoil caused by industrialism: industrialisation seldom a benign or peaceful process Class warfare Civil discord, even revolution Workplace issues Urban stress: food, housing, financial security Rural change: growing market economy, technological change, rural social issues Complexities of migrations and mingling of peoples These disruptive circumstances were the sources for much co-operative activity. They still are. Co-ops have often emerged because of much social unrest. We should not sanitize our history.

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11 Co-operative responses to the discord of industrialisation Application of democracy to economy Different ways to distribute economic benefits Community benefits Unleashing of community-based entrepreneurial activity Strengthening the weaker Addressing particularly consumer, financial, rural and workplace issues All of these contributions help create more peaceful societies. To what extent did they bridge differences? How were they actualized? How did people who traditionally were divided by differences learn to work together? We need specific case studies and examinations of process and structure.

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14 One may debate where industrialisation ends, or even if it has, but the similarities between the underlying conditions of industrialism in the past and the major changes of today are striking: multifaceted transitions within manufacturing systems global movement of finance new sources and applications of energy the changing face of work changing geographic distribution of economic power, and changing attitudes of the state We are not just engaging in an historical exercise.

15 Co-operatives and ideological struggles The titanic struggle for many decades from the later nineteenth century onward: Liberal democratic, social democratic, anarchist, Marxist and fascist struggles Co-operatives always had to live beneath those struggles, even though it might be argued that the movement offered an alternative to all of them Inadequately elaborated and divided co-operative intellectual heritage Existed within all the countries shaped by the great ideologies, although significantly less so under fascist regimes Sustained connections across ideological barriers Tendencies towards pacifism Demonstrated need for autonomy: key to effectiveness in bridging differences Survival and connections, however tenuous, however strained: what price?

16 Ideologies 16 Proudhon Gramsci Marx Kropotkin Mill Paris, 1848 The Paris Commune, 1871

17 Co-operatives within imperial frameworks By its nature, the development of empires creates social, economic and political dislocation Often punctuated by wars and coercion Co-operatives often developed as part of economic programmes of imperial powers –but there were also altruistic motives Way of stimulating market based global activities, especially in staples and capital accumulation Complex issue of relations with traditional patterns of co-operation Impact, tensions and contributions of settler co-operatives Coming to terms with imperial/colonial diversity

18 Examining the imperial legacies 1. Helped overcome some traditional differences 2.Linkages between producer and consumer groups 3. Provided a measure of stable incomes 4. Helped develop institutional democracy But, what in retrospect was the imperial record? One can look at several countries (e.g., India, Ghana, South Africa) and see quite different results. Why the difference? How do we come to terms with the motivation of colonial administrators and the will to survive? To what extent were they able to be inclusive? What programmes made them more inclusive? Continuation of work to be found in Patrick Develtere, Igance Pollett and Frederick Wnayama Cooperating out of Poverty: The Renaissance of the African Cooperative Movement (Geneva: International Labour Organisation, 2008) and work being done by College et al in Africa today.

19 Co-operatives and independence movements Independence was seldom achieved without considerable social dislocation and violence, sometimes war Many co-operative had grown up within colonial frameworks, tied to the imperial centre but also significantly separated: managerial cadres and substantial employee groups drawn from colonial societies Some (but highly variable) member involvement Importance for such leaders as Nehru, Ghandi, Nyerere, Nkrumah, Burnham, Sukarno But each leader, each country, had its own view as to what kinds of co-ops were necessary and how they should be developed Each country dealing with shortages of infrastructure and resources Many countries dealing with intense internal divisions – where and how did co-ops fit in?

20 NkrumahNyerereBurnham Nehru + GandhiSukarno

21 Development co-ops Independence-era co-ops tended to merge with co-ops developed through development processes, starting in the 1960s: aid programmes, ngos, interest groups Not easy to generalize because the countries, types of co-ops, and the purposes for which they were created varied so much What is the record of development agencies in creating co-ops across differences? What were the results of efforts at more complete inclusion? How disinterested were the development NGOs? How effective are co-ops in dealing with the deep social issues that they try to address: HIV/AIDS, detention camps, rural transition

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23 The complexities of the postindustrial world Inequalities of incomes Workplace insecurities Power of capital and financial control Community disruptions Migrations of people Food issues Internationalisation and its economic/political dimensions Weakness of community/personal control = democratic deficit

24 Current restructuring Some selected trends:  the search for better food at reasonable prices  the search for better environmental practice;  the search for a more complete democracy;  The establishment of fairer financial rewards;  the quest for more employment opportunities for young people;  the deepening of religious and cultural differences;  the search for a new and better ethical basis for economic and social activities; and  the debates over the appropriate roles of the state. Each of these, or combinations of them, can create extensive social unrest. There are co- operative responses to each of these potential (and already intensifying) trends

25 The needs to know…. How have specific co-operatives functioned effectively amid different kinds of societal unrest and war? What are the best examples of co-ops that have drawn together people otherwise seriously divided? What, if anything, did they do to bridge the differences? What were the implications for governance? Which kinds of engagement activities worked best? What kinds of co-operatives seem to be the most useful? How can people involved in the most obvious violent or disrupted societies learn about co-operatives so they can develop them practically and without impossible expectations? How can the development of co-operatives become part of the peace- making process? What can we learn from the ICA’s historic general commitments to peace? How to bridge established and new co-ops

26 How to proceed? Sustained focus Development of resource base Points of contacts with development community and governments interested in encouraging co-operatives within seriously divided communities? Consider systematically the best dispute resolution techniques Organize funding applications Prepare sessions at various conferences on the theme of “co-operatives and peace” Prepare teaching/training packages on the theme Document examples of efforts within co-operatives to ensure the inclusion of groups not previously well represented

27 THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY asserts its support for the establishment and development of the Cooperative Institute for the Promotion of Peace and Social Cohesion at a location or locations to be determined. The Institute would be advised by a committee chosen in consultation with the ICA Director General or designate. It would be developed on a three-year trial basis with the support of US$60,000 from interested co-operative organisations for each of the three years. The Institute would be expected to raise funds from foundations, research councils, and co- operative organisations on a project-by-project basis. THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY looks to the Institute to serve both as a framework for the development of programs of cooperative activity in these areas and as a focal point for thinking, analysis and research about them. The Institute will operate within the framework of the policies, principles and decisions of the ICA and will report periodically to the ICA Board and to the General Assembly. THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY calls on the institutions of the ICA and on the cooperative movements, organizations and institutions throughout the world to work closely with the Institute in developing its frame of activity and to give it all possible support in its undertakings. THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY emphasizes the importance of cooperative peace-building and social cohesion strengthening activities in building a better world. It urges national and international institutions working towards these goals to do so in partnership with the ICA, the cooperative movement and the Cooperative Institute for Peace and Social Cohesion. The Co-operative Institute for the Promotion of Peace and Social Cohesion. THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY asserts its support for the establishment and development of the Cooperative Institute for the Promotion of Peace and Social Cohesion. Location to be decided. Three year trial basis. The Institute will operate within the framework of the policies, principles and decisions of the ICA and will report periodically to the ICA Board and to the General Assembly.

28 THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY emphasizes the importance of cooperative peace-building and social cohesion strengthening activities in building a better world. It urges national and international institutions working towards these goals to do so in partnership with the ICA, the cooperative movement and the Cooperative Institute for Peace and Social Cohesion.

29 The institute Sustained focus Development of resource base Points of contacts with development community and governments interested in encouraging co-operatives within seriously divided communities? Consider systematically the best dispute resolution techniques Organize funding applications Prepare sessions at various conferences on the theme of “co-operatives and peace” Prepare teaching/training packages on the theme Document examples of efforts within co-operatives to ensure the inclusion of groups not previously well represented

30 What would it look like? Small secretarial and administrative structure, not an empire: help for computing andtranslation; secretarial services on demand Chief roles: catalyst for activities; seeker of funds (foundations, research organisations, co-ops. Advisory board developed with ICA involvement; meetings arranged to coincide with other gatherings and (primarily) electronically Regional engagement Emphasis on involving people interested in the theme on a volunteer basis Emphasis on distributed activities: network of interested persons and organisations Importance of electronic communications: essentially a virtual research/engagement project

31 Please help show a key difference Be in touch if the idea interests you and you can help Thank you!!!!


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