The case for just defeating undemocratic competitors in the market


My thinking about worker coops has evolved during the past year or so and my ideal worker coop would be governed strongly by below 2 principles and nothing else:

  • One-person-one-vote meaningful workplace democracy, not just in form
  • Very high competency for the chosen line of work

These 2 principles should create a virtuous swirling effect to enhance each other.

The worker cooperative should seek to find undemocratic enterprises and defeat them in the open market, by simply offering better services or products than them, and paying its workers better than the competition. (Realistically, it probably also needs to identify lines of work needing low capital requirement, at least initially.) The customer may or may not care about “worker cooperative blah blah” (they probably are not interested even in the slightest😅)

Maybe my position stated above is a bit of a "Libertarian " one but I am not sure how the labeling goes…

If you are interested, we can talk more - or if you recommend forums I should visit, please let me know! :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:

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I agree with those principles. I also agree with the 7 co-operative principles, Cooperative identity, values & principles | ICA

It is part of our identity in the co-operative movement.


I’m wondering if ‘Very high competency for the chosen line of work’ is compatible with openness to all?

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If you’re working on the long-term approach, and training your new members effectively, then yes, being open to all works.

Anyone who doesn’t have the skills won’t have any preconceptions about the field. :smiley:

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Thank you everyone for your replies - by ‘Very High Competency’, I meant a wide range of skills that could be useful for the enterprise.

For example :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes::

A mathematically oriented person with appreciation of set theory, etc may have an easy time understanding relational databases, even without any experience of SQL.

Literature majors may become excellent computer programmers or project managers by the virtue of being able to communicate effectively with teammates and customers.

Workplace democracy is an excellent idea but requires context - for what purpose? I think one obvious and worthy goal is to eradicate undemocratic (or just “normal”) companies, by wining over the customers from them :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:

With the the right goals such as above, our tool of democracy should harness the deep creativity from all workers, making them highly competent “soldiers” for the coop :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:


I disagree with this view a little. And in my cooperative I have been struggling to change this concept.

I believe that we do not have to compete on an equal footing with capitalist companies. I believe that one of the points that values our products is our democratic structure. Therefore, we need to look for customers who are not looking for just a product with more competition, but for customers who seek to hire a company for its values of fairness with its workers.

We are seeing that these customers exist!

In addition, on our part, we also need to prioritize suppliers with these values, in order to create a network to strengthen fair companies.


Hello! Yes, of course, coops serving coops makes complete sense, they are the rare groups of people who actually share the cooperative values! :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:

I have just started to realize that in certain markets, worker coops can have distinct meritocratic advantages over “capitalist corporations” - in areas where engaged members collaborating with and learning from each other is a prerequisite for success, such as software development.

So we can actually turn the table and win against them in their own game! :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes: And I thought, ah, that’s the proper use of competition, of ideas!