New Internationalist books and publications

Scientists are pointing to increasingly dangerous levels of climate change and habitat destruction, Europe and America are facing their worst economic problems for a generation, and social movements around the world are calling for sweeping reforms.

Do co-operatives offer an alternative model of social organisation which could address some of these key issues? Or do they simply offer another way of organising businesses within a predominantly capitalist economy? What would the world look like if co-operatives grew to gradually replace private businesses across every economic sector? Would it be much the same? Would it be somehow transformative or utopian?

This book brings together fourteen different perspectives on one of the most promising alternative economic models available today. Economists, academics, co-operators, politicians, campaigners and ordinary people combine to bring a rich array of experiences and insights to kick off a new global debate on how much better a co-operative future might be.


  • Is there a co-operative alternative to capitalism?
    A one day conference in association with Ethical Consumer, New Internationalist, and Red Pepper.

    Friday, 27 September 2013 from 12:00 to 19:00
    Amnesty International UK HQ London, EC2A 3EA, United Kingdom Tickets: £18.00
    Register here

  • ISBN-13: 978-1-78026-161-4
    Format: Paperback
    Dimensions: 216 mm x 138 mm
    Page extent: 208 pages
    Publication date: October 2013

    Date added: April 15, 2013

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    1. #1 Ian Snaith 02 Oct 13

      I'm trying to buy this from you on line but it seems very difficult

    2. #2 Ian Snaith 02 Oct 13

      I'm trying to buy this from you on line but it seems very difficult

    3. #3 ciderpunx 02 Oct 13

      Hi Ian,

      You're using our shop? i.e.

      Where are you getting stuck?

    4. #4 Alkemest 23 Oct 13

      Hey, I love the idea of the book, and the Introduction that I'm reading. I'm interested in ordering your book, but I live in America, and the only vendor is (I believe) charging $25 for shipping. While reasonable, if it's shipping from overseas, I'm wondering if there were any alternatives, maybe something more affordable.
      Anyway, I'm excited about getting to read through this!

    5. #5 Robert Stafford 01 Dec 13


      This new review is likely to be of interest...

      Is This an Alternative?

      People over Capital: The Co-operative Alternative to Capitalism. Rob Harrison, ed.
      New Internationalist. £9.99.

      To mark the International Year of Co-operatives in 2012, the organisation Ethical Consumer held an essay competition on the topic ‘Is there a co-operative alternative to capitalism?’. Most of the chapters in this collection were entries in that contest.

      Co-ops are described by Ed Mayo as ‘member-owned businesses with some distinctive characteristics in terms of form and ethos’. The general theme of contributions is that co-operatives do indeed represent an alternative to capitalism, though there are some dissenting voices, as we’ll see. Co-ops apparently employ 100 million people worldwide, and account for 21 percent of GDP in Finland, for instance. There are various suggestions here for expanding their role, such as creating a parallel currency or establishing peer-to-peer lending.

      It is also pointed out that much open-source activity is co-operative-based. Nic Wistreich imagines a pitch on Dragons’ Den for a system where millions of people would contribute their ideas, opinions and videos free: it would surely have been laughed out of court, but in fact Twitter works pretty well. Wikipedia is another example of a massive co-operative venture.

      An initial reaction to the view that co-ops really represent an alternative to capitalism might be that they involve wage labour and the production of commodities, just as any capitalist business does, so they can hardly constitute an alternative. They also necessarily involve profit-making but not, some would claim, profit maximisation. One point often made is to do with pay: Cheryl Lans notes that in the Mondragon co-op in Spain the highest-paid employee earns just 6.5 times what the lowest-paid gets. But this is still a sizeable disparity, and not all co-ops are so ‘egalitarian’ as, according to Chris Tomlinson, the CEO of the Co-operative Group in the UK was paid over £2m in 2010.

      Tomlinson’s is the most critical of the chapters here, and he argues that being a co-operative is not a shield against recessions. The recent travails of the Co-operative Bank certainly demonstrate this, as the Co-op Group has lost control of it to hedge funds and other bond-holders. He also refers to American Crystal Sugar, an agricultural co-operative that locked out 1300 workers in 2011 for the best part of two years (see ACS gave over $2m in political contributions in 2012, to both Democrat and Republican candidates.

      With a fair amount of imagination, it is possible to imagine a world of co-operatives, where pay differentials are far smaller than today and there is some semblance of democratic control by workers (and maybe also consumers). But it would still be a world of wages, prices and profits. Why not strive for socialism instead?


      Needless to say, agreement is not expected and feedback welcomed.

      Yours for a world of free access,

      Robert Stafford
      Internet Committee

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