Rochdale Principles

Co-operation as a Critique of Capitalism: A Historical Perspective

Date/Time: Thursday 9th of September – 6:30pm – 8:00pm

Platform: Zoom Video Conferencing

Host: Patrick Doyle

Free Event

We are currently living through an overlapping series of health, economic, and environmental crises, which has led many to question the efficacy and morality of capitalism. The refrain of ‘build back better’ provides reassurance to people looking to a future where some degree of ‘normalcy’ may prevail. However, at present it remains a slogan without a programme. Meanwhile, the response of co-operators to these challenges in the field of credit provision, care work, food distribution, and renewable energy highlights ways in which the co-operative movement is already pointing the way to a possible future. This is not new.
Crises and capitalism possess a long history. The emergence of co-operative movements in the nineteenth century represented one of the most important and enduring responses to economic and political instability. The rapidly changing nature of work, the disruptive emergence of new technologies, issues around precarity and inadequate pay affected the lives of populations around the globe. In response, this talk will outline some of the ways co-operators have sought to replace, reform, and find a new relationship with capitalism in the past. Drawing on a range of examples, including some from an Irish context, this talk will plot a potted history of those co-operators who imagined a radical and different future and consider what lessons we might draw from the past.


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Our Community Development Programme for 2021 has been boosted by the support we received through the Social Enterprise Fund in 2020.

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