Ravanera: Cooperativism: paving the way out from crises

Kim’s Dream

FORMER Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon of the United Nations said, “Our world is under strain. Poverty continues to plague communities and families. Climate change threatens lives and livelihoods. Conflicts are raging. Inequalities are deepening. These crises will only worsen unless we change course.”

Unless we clearly understand the root of the problem, we can hardly change course. It behooves for all of us to know that the present economic model is causing all of these dysfunctions because of the stranglehold of global corporate power of the global economy where only one present of the humanity is benefitting.

Indeed, all of us are acutely aware that the world is changing profoundly. Anywhere, inequality, intensifying ecological turbulence due to climate change, violent extremism, crisis in democracy, decline in social justice, economic and financial instabilities and crisis in democracy are phenomena which are unfortunately becoming ordinary.

A year ago, 811 million people on earth were hungry, today the number has increased to 821 million, mostly in Asia. Indeed, there is so much hunger and poverty amidst plenty. Yes, in so many ways, we already live in a world of plenty as economic growth has produced incredible wealth and many have already escaped from extreme economic hardship. Yet despite these advances, parts of the world remain stuck in extreme poverty.

How can we extricate those in dire poverty from such dysfunction in the light of climate change and violent extremism? This call has become even more urgent as headlined by a national paper recently that no less than President Rodrigo Duterte fears of the future ahead because for the first time in Philippine history, a Filipino suicidal bomber gave a strong message that violent extremism has come of age in our country.

Our simple analysis points out to that truism that when economic dictatorship perpetuated by cartels’ stranglehold of the economy is grafted on the electoral representative democracy, the consequence is the toxic growth of violent extremism resulting not only in the death of democracy but in the democracy of death.

How do we change course? Simply, through shift in paradigm as the prevailing economic model is only successful in sacrificing the people and mother earth to the altar of greed and profit. The only alternative paradigm is cooperativism as its DNA is that of being members-owned, value-based and principles-driven and sustainability.

Democratization of wealth and power is now the urgent call of the times in a highly skewed and pyramidal society. No less than the highest law of the land, the 1987 Constitution has aptly provided for in Article XII, Chapter XV, “to promote the viability and growth of cooperatives as instruments of equity, social justice and economic development.”

Social injustice looms in so many ways in this country. It is glaring in the life of the peasantry tilling the land not their own; and if they own the land, they do not control the mode of production and marketing having been imprisoned in the vicious cycle of poverty because of conventional agriculture. It is seen in the life of Filipino consumers buying products that have already passed five marketing layers.

It is perpetuated by so-called Electric Cooperatives which are cooperatives in name only because until now the 500 billion pesos capital shares of some 11 million member-consumer-owners are not being recognized. As cooperatives, ownership must be bestowed to the members but the rule of the electric cartel is so strong and they cannot stop their heavy rakings.

Social injustice is painfully lived by our Indigenous People (IPs) who once owned the land which they used in the spirit of sharing and service, even producing the 8th wonder of the world, the amazing Rice Terraces. But the poorest of the poor now are our IPs as their ancestral lands have been transformed into vast plantations by big Transnational Corporations, planting high value crops to satisfy the consumerist lifestyle of the people in the highly advanced countries while we cannot even produce enough rice for our people.

Indeed, we must pave out way out from such worsening crisis to liberate the poor and the vulnerable from the quagmire of poverty. We must now draw those in the margins into the mainstream of development process by harnessing the collective power of the people through cooperativism. Only then, can real social transformation be had!


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