Cooperative legislation provides building structures in the current industrial paradigm, from which a new bottom-up network structured social-economic system can be built. With this post I intend on giving one organizational proposal to inspire others to go further with the idea I’m presenting.
If you are not yet acquainted with the REconomy initiative, or with the Transition Network, I highly recommend you get up to speed with the “The Unstoppable Rise of the Collaborative Economy” TEDx talk, presented by Shane Hughes, as well as getting hold of a copy of the “In Transition 2.0” documentary.
When I found out that cooperatives could be a major tool to aid the transition, I have been trying out different combinations of network organizational concepts and structures for ease of scalability, reduced overhead and resilience against the establishment. I’m building on my experience in information technology, namely TCP/IP and distributed systems. This is a work in progress, so it should be taken as a draft. Here are some questions that came up so you can understand where I’m coming from.
What is the minimum number of cooperatives necessary in each settlement (to reduce overhead costs and be able to scale)?
What is the most efficient way to avoid paying excess trade costs?
How can the population maintain their invested assets in case an encompassing cooperative is forced to shut down?
I’m basing this proposal on my current vision where I believe our civilization is heading towards, in terms of governance structure. I see sovereign settlements connected to their neighbor settlements through several operational networks to be the most resilient way we can organize ourselves as a society, as centralized governments will most likely be a thing of the past in the 22nd century.
As I’ve come to see it, there are three types of cooperatives necessary for the transition:
- Settlement Nodes
- Production Networks
- Legacy Bridge Co-ops
The cooperatives that are created now will fade away once the old system is abandoned, leaving the settlements and ongoing processes in place. The cooperatives are just used as interim structures which are protected under current system legislation.
These are the ones that should be most protected, and if possible the least amount of involvement with the establishment. These nodes are the collective owners of settlement resources: land, buildings, equipment, multiple storage and tangible information.
The settlement nodes lend the resources to other cooperatives who will do the real production and trading. If a non settlement node cooperative is forced to shut down, the resources are preserved for the citizens to use on another cooperative.
Production Network cooperatives focus on the production processes of some or all necessary goods and services for the local and neighboring population. Production should be made as vertically integrated as possible, from seed to plate, as I like to call it.
If there is no trade outside the production network cooperative, taxation cannot be made. For human feeding processes, imagine producing the food on the land, processing the food through transformation facilities and equipment, and serving meals in settlement restaurants (cantinas), all provided by the settlement node cooperatives’ lent resources. The purpose of the production network cooperatives is to provide the processes by which prosperity for the population can be generated. Internal exchange tokens or time can be used as a means to manage access to resources, before an abundance condition hasn’t yet been met for the network.
One possible resilient way of creating/dividing networks is in maturity level. An immature settlement has a greater likelihood of screwing up in some advanced area, which could bring down a whole mature production network. More mature settlements can sponsor immature settlements to get them up at their level as quickly as possible, as trading between production network cooperatives can be taxed.
If a production network is forced to shut down, as it has minimal passive and actives assets, a new production network can be created very quickly and business can resume for the settlements involved. Here’s a bonus idea, a standby production network cooperative can be already have been created prior to any incident, as the corporate establishment will most likely try to make them frequent.
Production networks can be expanded, shrunk, merged or forked. Overall human prosperity productivity is the goal, not profit. Besides the human feeding example, these networks can for instance provide recreation, communications, and space exploration (who knows ;)). Production networks can share information collaboratively worldwide, there is no competition going on, hence this can get much higher productivity yields than the industrial competitive economy.
Legacy Bridge Co-ops
These are the cooperatives that heavily exchange with the old industrial system. They might deal in infinite growth tokens, non regenerative local resources and some unsustainable practices. As dealing with the old system is a risky business and these cooperatives will eventually disappear, I suggest keeping these to a small size and as far removed in liability from the settlement nodes and production networks as possible. You might need these legacy bridges to bootstrap your local economy.
If you want to keep the number of cooperatives to a minimum, two cooperatives in each settlement could be enough: the settlement node co-op that focuses on keeping collective property, and the shared production network in which the settlement is operating in.
All feedback is welcome, please comment and enjoy building a civilization together.