Cooperative Democracy: an Oxymoron?

Mark Twain Was Right: If Voting Mattered, They Wouldn’t Let Us Do It. There’s only one way to make your voice heard and it isn’t by protesting.


James Clear: “Every system is perfectly designed to get the results it gets. If you want better results, focus on your systems.”


When the coop’s democratic owner advantage is not used, it goes away. Co-ops become indistinguishable from banks. Members are just another name for customers. And leadership progressively presumes its judgments and choices are the primary basis for all decisions–even those ending the charter’s independent existence.

When democratic practices are habitually circumvented, they are difficult to restore. Without regular succession processes, the ability to find new leaders, or even generate interest in leadership is squelched. And at any moment, the sirens of self-interest can appear, canceling the credit union’s future for all members.

Democracy matters until it doesn’t. The good news is that this is a fundamental flaw that every credit union has in its own power to fix. (CUSO Magazine)


From Mike Mercer:

The extent to which cooperation is the norm depends on the extent to which the behavior is nurtured by the institutions of a society.’  In a time when power is concentrated in the hands of individuals with lots of capital or those with the keys to redistribution of wealth, it is hard to imagine that decentralized cooperation will organically be embraced from within the citadels of existing power. Rather, the cluttered path to a more civil economy will have to be cleared by those who lead democratically structured organizations that have already been formed to foster cooperative behavior.

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