- Kim’s Dream
- Orlando R. Ravanera
Let us recall the popular lines that time and again come to the inner recesses of our mind every time the cooperative movement face challenges as exemplified by the corona virus pandemic. We were saying then as we say now that a strong army can conquer a kingdom but that the strongest army in the world cannot stop an idea whose time has come. Indeed, no way can COVID-19 defeat the firm determination of the cooperatives to be a countervailing force against poverty, inequities, social injustices, climate change, violent extremism and now the pandemic called corona virus.
The one billion members of the cooperatives world-wide including some eleven million cooperative members in the Philippines know that indeed cooperativism has come of age and that, no force on earth can stop it now. This truism has been affirmed by the USAID, the United Nations and by the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA).
Please allow me to put this in its proper historical context. Do you remember that that for the first time in the UN history, it declared 2012 as the International Year of the Cooperatives stating that cooperative enterprises build a better world. On its part, the ICA has declared 2011 to 2020 as the Cooperative Decade as it describes the cooperatives as the People’s preferred Development Model and the fastest growing enterprise that will replace the present dominant paradigm.
What is so amazing was the 3-month Research-Study conducted last year by the International Cooperative Development Council headed by Dr. Judith Hermanson of the United States Agency for International Development or USAID. In summary, the Research Study has concluded that the existence of the cooperatives influences the over-all quality of life of the community and the members enjoy better economic position and that cooperative members have greater resilience as measured by access to resources in times of emergency than non-members. It finally concluded that the Philippines is the Cooperative Leader in Asia and the Pacific. Wow! So wonderful!
The paradigm shift from neo-liberal capitalism to cooperativism is already long overdue. The unsustainability in ecology must now be rectified because, in the absence of a major change, the unsustainable pattern of resource use will cause the collapse of the world system in less than a hundred years. The unsustainability in the economy, where individualized aggrandizement and accumulation of wealth is the order of the day, must now be debunked to give way to the collective efforts towards inclusive growth through cooperativism.
Albert Einstein once told us that we cannot solve a problem with the same thinking that has given rise to the problem, thus, from a consumerist and materialist thinking, there must be a shift to regenerative mindset, from having more to being more.
The UN has categorically defined the DNA of the cooperatives as members-owned, value-based and sustainable. Being members-owned, the problem of gross inequities will be solved as the mebers are the main stakeholders as they own and manage their own enterprise. The members are the ones to control, to decide and to benefit – thus, democratizing wealth in a highly iniquitous society.
Being value-based, the cooperatives give high adherence to time-honored and universally-accepted cooperative principles, values and practices of participation, democracy, equality, service, industry, cooperation, honesty, transparency, accountability and most importantly, concern for the environment and for the communities.
In a world so enamored in externalities and trivialities that is giving high veneration to the profit motive and external looks and so much denigration to spiritual values, transformative cooperatives for people, planet, prosperity and peace is the urgent call of the times. In cooperativism, there is no such thing as moderating one’s greed as cooperatives’ raizon d’ etre is for service and not for profit. Money will be used to enhance life and the well-being of the people and NOT to make more money.
The cooperatives are considered as the builders of sustainability and by 2020, they will be the acknowledged leaders in social, economic and ecological sustainability. This means food security, inclusive growth and ecological integrity will be the priorities rather than business and profit.
The one billion cooperative members worldwide are giving notice to one and all that social change is now in the offing; indeed, social transformation is now sweeping the globe as humanity is now in the threshold of the earth’s tipping point. If the present dominant paradigm continues, meaning, “business as usual,” then, we will tip the balance in favor of death.
The paradigm shift towards cooperativism, that advances the blueprint of the cooperative decade, will tip the balance in favor of life as the roadmap makes the cooperatives the countervailing force against resource depletion and economic stagnation. Yes, the cooperative’s time has come and no force on earth, be Cartels or global cooporatives can stop them. Not even the much dreaded Corona Virus!