[ICDE Essay] Principles for a Cooperative Technopolitics

Cite this essay:
O’Connor, Eve. 2024. “Principles for a Cooperative Technopolitics.” Institute for the Cooperative Economy. New York City. https://archive.org/details/PrinciplesCooperativeTechnopolitics.

O’Connor’s essay explores the intertwining of cooperatives and technology, tracing back to the origins of the modern cooperative movement in 19th-century England. It highlights how modern cooperatives, initially formed as a response to industrialization and the monopolization of technology by capitalists, utilized technology not for exploitation but to preserve autonomy and communal values. The text draws inspiration from Peter Kropotkin and W.E.B. Du Bois, who amid rapid industrialization, advocated for cooperation over competition as a means of evolution and social progress. The development of the cooperative movement, highlighted by the successful establishment of the Rochdale Society of Equitable Pioneers in 1844, showcased cooperatives as innovative and modern entities. However, this success also reflected a compromise with capitalist structures, limiting the movement’s radical potential. The essay argues that while cooperatives have sought to navigate and resist capitalist imperatives, their integration into market systems often requires navigating contradictions inherent in competing with capitalist firms. It concludes by considering the potential of platform cooperatives in the digital age to revive and adapt cooperative principles for contemporary challenges, emphasizing the need for a re-politicization of cooperatives to ensure they remain true to their foundational principles of mutual aid, autonomy, and communal benefit.

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