Free Market Economics = Cooperatives
Date: Tuesday, July 11 2006
Found this interesting article at GNN on the nature of the Free Market, one that exists without capitalism. Of course in order to have a free market it has to be cooperative. Something my pals in the Mutualist movement have been at pains to point out.
Frances Moore Lappe finds a cooperative approach to living that actually enhances human dignity
"A market economy and capitalism are synonymous—- or at least joined at the hip. That’s what most Americans grow up assuming. But it is not necessarily so. Capitalism—control by those supplying the capital in order to return wealth to shareholders—is only one way to drive a market.
Granted, it is hard to imagine another possibility for how an economy could work in the abstract. It helps to have a real-life example.
And now I do.
In May I spent five days in Emilia Romagna, a region of four million people in northern central Italy. There, over the last 150 years, a network of consumer, farmer and worker-driven cooperatives has come to generate 30 percent to 40 percent of the region’s GDP. Two of every three people in Emilia Romagna are members of co-ops.
The region, whose hub city is Bologna, is home to 8,000 co-ops, producing everything from ceramics to fashion to specialty cheese. Their industriousness is woven into networks based on what cooperative leaders like to call “reciprocity.” All co-ops return 3 percent of profits to a national fund for cooperative development, and the movement supports centers providing help in finance, marketing, research and technical expertise."
The fact is that these counter economic experiments in Italy began in the Hot Autumn of the early seventies. They also gave rise to the autonomist movement of the working class in the cities who took part in rent strikes and food strikes, where they decided the price of the products they would buy. A different kind of wage and price control regime than that of the State which was also embracing this during the economic crisis of the time.
[Proofreader's note: this article was edited for spelling and typos on July 11, 2006]