Kicking the dog

A real movement for social change must have real democracy, co-operation and mutuals at its heart, says EDGAR PARNELL.

Many will share the anger clearly felt by the campaigners, dubbed ‘anti-capitalist protesters’, currently occupying significant spaces in many cities throughout the western world. Many will also share their view that the existing system and the organisations now controlling the economy, are seriously flawed.

99pc poster2However, simply highlighting the shortcomings of the current way of doing things without providing a clear and workable alternative is a lot like ‘kicking the dog’ as a means of venting your frustration when there seems to be no escape from your problems.

Even worse, frustration will only increase when it is discovered that you are kicking a mythical dog, for ‘capitalism’ is a meaningless term. The truth is that, at the root of the unfairness that pervades our economic system are the ultra-selfish individuals who end-up dominating any organisation where adequate oversight has not been applied.

This situation arises irrespective of the basis of the system, it can be found in equal measure within investor-owned companies, in government, and in communist states (past and present). Co-operatives and mutuals are not exempt from this scenario either – think what happened at Northern Rock and in other erstwhile building societies.

The most important discovery that those seeking change can make, is the fact that there actually is a workable alternative, which is co-operation. Of course, its no use pretending that an economic system based upon co-operation will provide a truly significant improvement upon what we have now, that is unless co-operative and mutual enterprises (CMEs) are subject to much more robust systems of democratic control, along with an adequate system of oversight.

So how do we bring about the big changes needed to our economic system and organisations?

First, we need to make sure that the member-controlled enterprise model is properly understood both by all of those involved within all CMEs and by a much wider public.

Secondly, we must come together within a real movement for social change to demand that a set of clear outcomes are adopted, which can strengthen real democracy and put co-operation at the heart of the way in which we organise society. Such a social movement must not be allowed to serve only the interests of those simply wanting to join a political elite, or be hidebound by the dogma of the past. Instead, it must be driven by an unfailing commitment to achieving those changes, that most of us know will have to be made sooner rather than later, if human progress is to continue.

Edgar Parnell writes for the website

The Occupy London website is at: