Had Europe chosen cooperatives over Dutch and British charters as the primary model for trade and markets 300 years ago, the world would be a vastly different, and better, place than it is today. If corporate capitalism was to miraculously end tomorrow, one way of summarizing this tempest of history could be:
Corporate capitalism started out with private shipping ventures (pirates essentially) that demanded upon states protection in exchange for wealth. In return, these companies were given permission to enslave human beings, to sell slaves to New World Settlers and to Europe, and to plunder natural resources as well as luxury items without any recompense to indigenous peoples. They were allowed to murder, to engage in warfare, or to do whatever necessary to procure people and goods from the land and to then sell such people and goods at the highest prices they could fetch on the market, all at the cost only of maintaining their ships and hiring their crews. Profits were paid off in the form of dividends to the investors of the companies, while the states received their share through taxes.
A major shift in this colonial paradigm occurred with the advent of the industrial revolution, and the creation of the factory. Through mechanization that exploits both humans and machines as an integrated production asset, industrial factory production has risen steadfastly to this day in a global process from extraction/enslavement through colonization, the rise of exploitation/enslavement in the colonizing nations, the spread of exploitation/enslavement outward to former colonies and the reimportation not of natural resources primarily, but of manufactured goods.
Currently corporate capitalism continues to benefit the shareholders and investors in the same basic paradigm of transaction that began with the Dutch charters. The wealth gap between market investing shareholders and the average citizen is staggering. To continue increasing production, which the system must do to maintain itself, it has expanded its markets through mass consumerism and spiraling universal debt. Concurrently a digital revolution is occurring, the impact of which remains to be seen. For corporate capitalism however, the digital revolution has greatly enhanced efficiency in the marketing propaganda that it has always employed to sell goods and services.
It is odd that corporate capitalists have championed Adam Smith as the benevolent father of corporate capitalism when almost nothing can be gleaned from his writings regarding charters, colonization, or corporations. Adam Smith does however endorse the sort of markets we would like to build within a co-operative system that is responsive to demand, ethical, and fair. Further, we want a system that is not dependent on constant growth but that can meet the demands of scarcity, as well as the slowdown of surplus equally as a natural part of an economic cycle. In contrast, Karl Marx is demonized by corporate capitalists as a godless evil when Marx was a merely a philosopher remarking on the conditions he was directly witnessing in 19th Century London. Given those conditions, and the very real evil writers like Marx was witnessing, we would like to challenge critics of Marx to defend the capitalists that owned and ran the factories in London, and the conditions in that city where the workers lived. We want to know why the inequity between worker and shareholder, why the former does all the work while the latter reaps the wealth, why the corporate class contributes virtually nothing to the wealth of society other than low paying jobs with even lower security- why this paradigm continues to flourish.
In co-ops there are no shareholders. No one is paid for doing nothing. The next time a defender of corporate capitalism complains to you about the poor living on welfare checks, ask them about the rich living on dividends they did absolutely nothing to produce otther than the cash it took to make the initial investment. In co-ops people will be paid on their merit, not on their position. In co-ops our currency will be based on time and production of actual goods and services, not on imaginary and inflationary currencies and interests. We know the model for global economic stability for the future, and that model is primarily cooperative capitalism, with regulatory advancements to protect the people and so that we may form a more perfect union.