Russell Brand on co-ops

A Christmas gift is Russell Brand’s book, Revolution. Charismatic or controversial, comic or serious, I don’t know, but it is certainly full of passion, hope and far more humility than I would have imagined.

It is also the first bestselling book for a while to quote the seven principles of co-operative identity, and associated co-operative values, that form the Statement of Co-operative Identity of the International Co-operative Alliance.

The principles are the open source coding for democratic enterprise that has evolved and been tested in organisations dating back to the 1844 Rochdale Pioneers (they had an additional one, though, not to forget, which was political and religious neutrality).

First the values. Co-operative values, he says “sound a bit airy-fairy but these ideas would’ve prevented me squirrelling away the donated offcuts of well meaning celebrities for some imagined reason.”

And then, this is what Russell Brand (UK comic, actor, bohemian, ex-addict and ex-husband of Katy Perry) says about the principles of co-operation:

Principle 1 – voluntary and open membership “voluntary? Do we get paid for working in these places or what?”

Principle 2 – democratic member control – “okay…we could vote on whether or not to make money. See, I’ve gone into a capitalist frenzy and we’re only on point 2”

Principle 3 – member economic participation – “I see. We have to foster a different attitude to property.”

Principle 4 – autonomy and independence – “I’m beginning to see that these principles are explicitly designed to inhibit predatory people like me.”

Principle 5 – education, training and information “….the entrepreneurial spirit could still thrive, but not at the expense of more important collective values.”

Principle 6 – co-operation among co-operatives “these kind of organisations could now be communicated and collaborate on a global level using the incredibly technological advances of the past few decades.”

Principle 7 – concern for the community “these suggestions don’t just amount to ‘play nice’, like some equal opportunity PC crap to hold out a hand to the disadvantaged; they work better. The German economy works is the strongest in Europe, perhaps because its workforce feels invested in its efforts, instead of trolling around like eunuch mannequins, castrated and hopeless, waiting for a two week holiday.”

“The answer to the quandary of how to reorganise society isn’t new leaders” he concludes, but perhaps “the answer isn’t leaders at all.”

Nicely put, boss.

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