The mission of The New Moral World is to provoke a conversation about history and future of the cooperative movement.
Cooperatives began to emerge around two hundred years ago as an element of the working class struggle for socialism. They embodied, demonstrated, and advanced the “principle of cooperation” that socialists maintained should govern social activity on the whole. The division of society into owners of wealth and hired laborers would dissolve, and in its place would rise the “cooperative commonwealth”: a society in which wealth is owned in common and used for the benefit of all.
As the struggle for socialism progressed, it developed other organizational forms and strategic priorities. It produced the trade unions, schools, civic organizations, and political parties, all playing their role in advancing the socialist cause.
Around 100 years ago, seemingly on the verge of victory, the socialist movement began to disintegrate. Unions and cooperatives have persisted since then, but they are no longer bound up with a vision of revolutionary social transformation, instead focusing on serving the needs of their members.
Anyone familiar with cooperative enterprises knows that they harbor a powerful potential. They point beyond the limits of our world, if only in a small way. Within every cooperative enterprise is contained a glimmer of the cooperative commonwealth: the possibility of overcome capitalism through socialism.
Yet the cooperative movement, on the whole, is no longer oriented by such a project of social transformation.
It hasn’t been for generations. Instead, it is concerned with spreading the cooperative model and advancing the interests of established cooperatives within capitalist society. Cooperatives are little more than a means of adapting to capitalist society, making one’s place within it more tolerable.
There is nothing wrong with owning up to reality. Yet it is our conviction at The New Moral World that the full potential of the cooperative movement will only be realized if we begin orienting ourselves around the implicit vision and goal of the cooperative principle.
We have to grasp our work in this movement not merely as a “bread-and-butter” concern but as part of an unfolding historical process. We must grasp and articulate the possible positive outcome of that process if we are to see it realized. If we neglect our responsibility for this process, we do injustice not only to the potential future, but to the past: the struggle for socialism that forged the cooperative form that we now take for granted.
To this end, we will publish a variety of relevant material. If you are interested in contributing, or would like to learn more, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also help support this project with a small monthly subscription on Patreon.