The cooperative movement was one of the first social movements of modern times, with roots at the beginning of the industrial revolution, and was an integral part of the early labour movement. The movement for worker cooperatives, workplace democracy, and social enterprises is resurgent around the world today. The cooperative movement of the present and near future operates primarily in the spaces that the corporate system cannot and will not fill. Cooperatives can provide a dignified living for the many millions who would otherwise be unemployed or marginalized. Grassroots social movements have turned to cooperatives in response to the depredations of globalism and the worldwide deep recession, to improve people’s living conditions and to empower them. Many of the new social enterprises are arising from spontaneous initiatives of grassroots groups, and many are being organized, coordinated, and backed by non-profit development organizations, governments, and communities. Cooperatives and social enterprises are the world’s best hope of achieving peace, prosperity, and social equity in this new century, and it is there that the eyes of the world need to turn.
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