We Can Build Compact Walkable Towns Instead of Suburban Wastelands
Sunday, June 17, 2012
Cooperatives as an Alternative Economic Model
Robin Murray explores the potential of co-ops to form the basis of an alternative economy
Illustration: Andrzej Krauze
The first great surge of co-operation took place in Britain at the dawn of the age of railways in the 1840s. It was a consumer co-operation of the industrial working class. Within 50 years it had grown into a network of more than 1,000 retail co-ops and a wholesale society that had become the largest corporate organisation in the world. By the first world war, British co-ops accounted for 40 per cent of food distribution. They owned their own factories, farms, shipping lines, banks, an insurance company and even a tea plantation in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). The co-operative movement was, in the vision of one of its inspired organisers J T W Mitchell, on the way to developing an alternative economy.