– Guest post from Phil Amadon, Cincinnati Union Co-op Initiative
Paul Krugman, said in The New York Times that “Capital in the 21st Century…the most important economics book of the year…maybe of the decade…does more than document the growing concentration of income in the hands of a small economic elite….in which the commanding heights of the economy are dominated not just by wealth, but also by inherited wealth, in which birth matters more than effort and talent.”
The author, Thomas Piketty, and a team of scholars, researching for 15 years covering over 200 years of wealth and income records of a number of leading capitalist countries (including the USA) have conclusively shown that the concentration of wealth in fewer and fewer hands has continued, faster than the rate of overall economic growth, WITH ONE EXCEPTION…the post war NEW DEAL ERA….the 40s thru the early 70s.
What does this mean for the Union Co-op, Mondragon Model? What does this mean for a movement that wants to “build an economy that works for all…” and a movement that wants to “turn back the race to the bottom that is driving down workers standard of living?”
First, Piketty shows that this ever greater concentration of wealth is a central part of the functioning of the global economic system. The Union co-op movement, recognizing this fact, is first, a line of defense against the normal functioning of the global capitalist system. As a line of defense for workers, just as unions are a line of defense, the union co-op mondragon model recognizes the first principle of defense: in unity there is strength, divide and be conquered. The Union Co-op Mondragon model, the co-op of co-ops, the solidarity in the face of failure, makes an organizational model capable of withstanding the crushing forces of the global market and capable of going to scale in the face of towering opposition. A model capable of building “an economy that works for all” in the face of this hostile concentration of capital, is a model that builds unity of the people, as the union movement does, along the lines that won the great New Deal victories of the past, the Mondragon Co-ops of today and the union co-op Mondragon model of the future.