7.1 COOPERATIVES IN THE AGE OF FINANCIALIZATION That the cooperative movement today is at a crossroads is common knowledge. The observation is heavily laden with significance, indicating the great vitality that this form of enterprise has won in the economic battlefield. At the same time, however, its very successes raise new, worrying questions. Is it still possible that in today’s new conditions the cooperative enterprise can continue to do well – as well as its capitalist counterpart – and also to serve its other purposes? Or, to state the issue from a different angle, is there something to the argument that in the age of the financialization of the economy there is just no room for enterprises for which the social dimension is central? On proper consideration, questions like this all point, directly or indirectly, to two main themes: how to administer cooperatives and how to finance their growth without endangering their special identity. To administer a cooperative in a correct way requires two conditions: on the one hand, the line of communication among worker-members must be rendered accessible; on the other hand, there must be a commitment to the practice of equity, avoiding subjection and exploitation. Let’s try to clarify. Communication is different than information. While complete information is all that is needed to solve the problem of coordination of decisions, cooperation presupposes that a particular form of participatory democracy is put into place: the exercise among the members of the firm of the option of voice. It is to Albert...
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