The miracle of co-operation

Cognitive scientists have found 20 men and women who can remember what happened every day of their lives from pre-teens onward.

Cognitive scientists have found 20 men and women who can remember what happened every day of their lives from pre-teens onward.

This among many studies plumbs the mystery of the mind and suggests that humans are smarter than we used to think.

Smart enough, collectively, to distribute food, shelter and comfort across the world more fairly and efficiently than it is distributed now.

Tool using is another aspect of human brainpower. Twenty thousand years ago, it was stone axes. Today, computers. Tomorrow, maybe, artificial intelligence.

We now have the electronic tools to mobilize citizen anger against a privileged elite which (some of us believe) has been mismanaging the political economy.

Inventive leadership is another element in the movement for radical social change that has trashed such failed ideas as rigidly centralized economic planning. It’s leaders are driven by a sense of deprivation and a battery of morally and intellectually inspired ideals.

One notable agent of change was Father Jose Maria Arizmendiarrietta, or Arizmendi for short, the priest who launched the Mondragon co-operative movement in the northern part of Spain where the Basque language is spoken.

He arrived in 1941, when Fascist dictator Francisco Franco was starving the region of resources and punishing its people for fighting him in the Spanish Civil War. Arizmendi stirred five pioneers to create Mondragon as a survival strategy in three parts: a credit union, a technical school and a workshop for manufacturing kerosene stoves.

After enormous growth, Mondragon has faults but it guards its structure of economic democracy: one vote for each worker-owner, some of the income invested in the well-being of the home region. Pay of managerial workers averages five times higher the lowest worker’s salary, against a reported 350 in the U.S.A.

Mondragon co-operative corporation has become an appliance and high-tech manufacturer, financier, insurer, university educator, grocer, trader and exporter employing 100,000 people, with annual sales of 13.9 billion Euros.

It weathered the economic storm well, reduced wages moderately by the owner-workers’ decision, and did not fire anybody except new hires on trial.

The Mondragon story contains this message for Canada’s NDP, which used to call itself the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation.

The NDP, with its strengthened official-opposition status in Canada’s House of Commons, and its increased popularity, is now under temptation to bland down into one more Liberal-Conservative party and thereby become the secret friend of the corporate power elite.

Arguably such a move would be like climbing aboard a sinking ship. Anger is rising against a political and economic system that crushes the poor and cushions the rich and powerful.

Barely a hint of that rage in the blogosphere reaches us through the gee-whiz view of the world supplied by daily newspapers, radio and television.

In the daily media, suffering appears as entertainment. Bloodshed provides shock and thrills.

Where millions of people are under threat of death from starvation, disease, gang violence and war, the glimpses of horror are comfortably sandwiched between sales pitches for soap, summer drinks and more and more stuff to display in our mortgaged houses.

A chorus of voices on the Internet reject this fuzzy popular viewpoint. How does the NDP stay true to its name as the party of new practical ideas in the Tommy Douglas tradition while treading carefully to avoid offending the elites? I don’t know how, but I believe the party can achieve the miracle.

—G.E. Moritmore is a Langford-based writer. Think About It appears every second week in the Gazette.



Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Ocean Boulevard could open after Labour Day

Colwood council expected to discuss options later this month

Sidney can ‘only educate and encourage’ people to social distance

CAO says municipality lacks legislative authority to enforce social distancing in public

View Royal fire chief calls for realistic solutions to ‘mess’ at Thetis Lake

Emergency crews harassed while extinguishing brush fire, rescuing drunk 15-year-old during long weekend calls

Greater Victoria woman goes on gratitude mission to thank first responders

Jen Klein fainted while driving and crashed on Pat Bay Highway in 2019

B.C. records 146 new COVID-19 cases through long weekend

More that 28 people tested positive for the virus each day since Friday

Canucks tame Minnesota Wild 4-3 to even NHL qualifying series

J.T. Miller leads Vancouver with goal and an assist

Cyclist in hospital after being hit by load of lumber hanging from truck on B.C. highway

A man is in hospital with broken ribs, punctured lung and a broken clavicle and scapula

COVID-19 vaccine efforts provide hope but no silver bullet to stop pandemic: Tam

There are more than two dozen vaccines for COVID-19 in clinical trials around the world

Two people die in propane heated outdoor shower near Princeton

Couple was attending a long weekend gathering

Racism in B.C. healthcare: Deadline for First Nations survey coming up on Aug. 6

Survey comes after hospital staff allegedly played a blood alcohol guessing game

‘We want to help’: As overdose deaths spike, beds lay empty at long-term Surrey rehab centre

John Volken Academy searching for ‘students’ to enlist in two-year residential treatment program

Study shines light on what makes LGBTQ+ youth feel safe in a community

The study goes beyond looking at school or family supports

Most Read