Mutuals and Cooperatives Seminar: The people’s business

Speakers

23 - 24/09/2015
00:00:00 - 00:00:00
Mutuals and Cooperatives Seminar: The people’s business
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This event is part of our project on Mutuals.

Brussels. FEPS office. 23rd September 2015. Lunchtime 11:30 – 14:30

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Much of the disillusionment with politics that is shared across the European Union stems from our politicians’ inability to propose economic and political systems that work for ordinary people, rather than the vested interests of business, the wealthy and the powerful.

Across the E.U., social democrats too often appear to offer only an alternative management, albeit a kinder one, of the same economic systems that are seen to have failed.  The only radical alternatives being discussed are throw-backs to an equally discredited state-controlled past.

We need to find a policy narrative that connects with and inspires voters by aligning the recognisable social democratic political values of fairness and democracy with a new political plan for organising our economy and society. 

A major part of this is the social democrats’ attitude to business.  We should be the champions of co-operative and mutual businesses that spread wealth and empower their workers and customers.

Social democrats should be in favour of businesses that:

  • Work in the interests of their customers
  • Share widely the rewards of enterprise
  • Actively engage and involve their workers

The theme of mutual business ownership is one that should be claimed by social democrats across the European Union.

A policy agenda that promotes and grows customer and employee ownership of business could help to develop strong progressive and populist policies that can work for many social democratic parties in the EU.

In many countries, the history of co-operative and mutual business is interwoven with progressive movements.  Many trade union and socialist societies originally founded these organisations to provide services to their members.  In the middle 20th century, social democrats turned to the state for economic and social solutions; the subsequent growth of marketization left little response from the left.

This is a credible position from which to reclaim the ground of social business for progressives.

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