What We Stand For

What We Stand For

Locally-owned small businesses

The corporate economy centralizes money and power in the hands of the few. Economic decentralization is therefore necessary in order to turn the economic control back into the hands of small business owners, farmers, artists and craftspeople and all those who are key to creating vibrant and resilient local communities. Today, however, these community enterprises are facing many challenges due to corporate and commercial interests. While small family farms still make up the majority of the agricultural economy in the EU, the number is shrinking. In Romania alone, three family farms are closing every hour, in part, due to industrial farmers from other countries buying up local land and farms. This plight can be reversed through decentralized economic policies preventing outside interests from controlling and profiting from the small scale, local economy. As the local industry and farm economy grows, parts of it can expand through the revitalization of the once active, rural and small-town cooperative movement.

Cooperative enterprises

As the crisis of inequality continues to deepen in Europe and elsewhere, the question of how to structure the ownership of capital in an economy of scale looms ever larger on the horizon. As capitalism continues to wreak havoc on the environment and destabilize the finance system, even some right-wing voices are questioning the sanity of corporate ownership. “Why are so few companies owned by the people who work for them, and why do both liberal and conservative political parties not offer greater incentives, such as tax advantages, for this to change?” wrote Margaret Thatcher’s authorized biographer, Charles Moore, in the Wall Street Journal. The conservative Mr. Moore effectively suggests we turn corporations into worker-owned businesses, e.g. into cooperatives. He is not alone. A growing number of economists and writers have also concluded that the cooperative business model is the most practical system change needed to create a more democratic economy of scale. When the profit motives in the corporate boardrooms are no longer the main drivers of the economy, we can more effectively reduce both inequality and environmental degradation.

Public stewardship of utilities

Small private businesses and large-scale cooperatives can exist side-by-side in a dynamic relationship. Some industries or utilities, however, are too complex or too important for society’s welfare to be either privately- or worker-owned. These public utilities, or “key industries” are best managed by the state or local government. When an industry is declared to be a key industry by an appropriate government authority, it comes under state control and central planning. Large-scale key industries, such as the oil industry, are serving society best if they are centralized and owned by the public, while small-scale key industries can be geographically distributed. Such a strategic consideration wards of the kind of private sector profit speculation and monopolization so common in the oil industry today. Examples of small-scale key industries might be the provision of potable water, treatment of sewage and the manufacture of ball bearings. These vital industries are key for maintaining economic balance and long-term economic resilience.

Intrinsic value of nature

The degradation of earth’s biodiversity and ecosystem services is among one of the greatest challenges facing humanity today. The main cause of this degradation is capitalism’s dictum that nature mainly has utility value or instrumental value: nature exists to be exploited, to serve both human need as well as greed. Hence our current economic system has driven us to the brink of global, ecological collapse. We believe, therefore, that the best way to safeguard the earth’s existence for future generations is to recognize that nature also has intrinsic value—animals and plants, rivers and mountains have a right to exist for their own sake. Once the existential right of the biosphere is supported by legal means, we will have the capacity to protect nature once and for all from exploitation and destruction.

Regeneration of renewable resources

Renewable resources are natural resources that can be regenerated or replaced by ecological processes on a relevant timescale. They include biological resources such as biomass, plants, and animals, as well as carbon, nitrogen, fertile soil and fresh water. Some renewables are considered inexhaustible, such as solar, wind and wave power.

We humans depend on these renewable resources for fresh water, pollination, food, and medicine. Although the world has enough water to serve our growing population into the foreseeable future, access to fresh water is often a problem. Thus, we need to regenerate more freshwater in areas of need through catchment systems to make sure drinking water is distributed equitably. Likewise, regeneration of plant biodiversity is important in ensuring the future health of the planet’s forests, mangroves, riverbeds, and mountains. Maintaining biodiversity by stopping the extinction rate of species a rate caused by economic exploitation of nature is vital to the health of the planet and to our own survival.

Protection of non-renewable resources

If we don’t recycle, reduce and reuse our consumption of non-renewable resources such as those products made from oil, coal, natural gas and minerals, these resources will one day disappear. Implementing laws and regulations to curb the overutilization of non-renewable resources is important in their long-term management. Even more important is the development of cradle-to-cradle industries in which non-renewable resources, in the form of effluents, are cycled back into the industrial cycle so that there is little or no waste. Another important way to protect non-renewables is to develop alternatives to oil and coal such as wind, solar, wave and geothermal energy.

Ethical Leadership

The main goal of corporate capitalist leadership has been to increase productivity and profit, often at a high cost to workers and the environment. Ethical leaders use their power and authority to serve the greater good, rather than focusing on themselves and the profit needs of the corporate boardrooms -–a win/win for employees, organizations, the community and the environment. Likewise, ethical politicians are needed to serve the people, the community and the environment rather than the corporations and their short-term profit-interests. Ethical leaders create hope and well-being in their communities and help transform the society more quickly into places of lasting prosperity.

Decentralized decision-making

Historically, centralization of wealth and power has been a major cause of social and economic injustice, environmental destruction, and militarization. Therefore, we support a restructuring of economic decisions away from the powerful few to a people-centered, less bureaucratic system of economic democracy in the workplace and civic involvement in the community. Economic and political decision-making should, as much as possible, remain at the individual and local level, while assuring that civil rights are protected for all citizens. It is in the community and in the workplace where people spend most of their time and energy, and it is here that most decisions effecting people’s lives should be made.

One human society

Throughout history, human beings have made progress in many areas – in science, technology, the arts, etc. – but we have yet to create a world in which all people, regardless of gender, race, nationality, religion or cultural background are treated as equals, as one humanity. It is time for all people to have the opportunity to express themselves and to develop their potential within the spirit of “one universal family.” We must strive for a world where everyone is respected and given the scope needed for their individual and collective progress. Only such a global community of people can be worthy of the term “one human society.”

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