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Co-operative Movement

Singing the Praises of the Beautiful Banks

The Co-operative bank has had various scandals in recent years, financial and otherwise. The Co-op 'brand' has decided it needs to clean up its image. The result is a current television advertising campaign which is as preposterous as it is insulting to our intelligence. The television ads are voiced by Russell Brand’s former radio show on-air commentator, George The Poet, who utters ponderous platitudes as if these capitalist high-street banks and supermarkets were some kind of socialist utopia. In fact, of course, today’s Co-op bears hardly even a trace of the idealism of the Rochdale Pioneers of 1844. Like the John Lewis Partnership, it has long succumbed to the pressure to act just like any other profit-hungry, hierarchical corporation within a capitalist world.

Party Notes and News

A report by the Propaganda Committee discloses the fact that 200 people attended the (small) Conway Hall on Sunday, February 22nd, to hear the debate between Com. Turner and Raj. Hansa on "Is Parliament the Way to Socialism?" We regret the inconvenience caused to the many persons who had to be turned away owing to a "packed house." Many friends and sympathisers have told us that the debate proved to be very instructive and stimulating, and this is borne out by the figures for the sales of literature, and the contribution to our funds resulting from this meeting. Just over £2 worth of pamphlets, etc., were sold, and the collection was nearly £4.

The S.P.G.B. versus the I.L.P.

A debate was held between the S.P.G.B. and the I.L.P. at Bethnal Green Town Hall on Friday, December 2nd. The I.L.P. speaker, N. Dunbar, claimed that the revolutionary ferment among the workers since the Bolshevik seizure of power has completely changed the problem of overthrowing capitalism. The workers have made inroads into capitalism by such achievements as unemployment insurance, and that the I.L.P. policy of Workers' Councils is the road by which the workers will achieve Socialism. The present I.L.P., since the Bradford Conference early this year, is a fundamentally different body from the old I.L.P., and must not be held responsible for its predecessor's actions.

Comrade Hardy, for the S.P.G.B., denied that the problem is essentially different from what it was before the war.

Cooking the Books: Co-ops Again

Despite the capture of the Co-operative Bank by hedge funds and the exposure as hypocrisy of its claim to be more ‘ethical’ than other banks, there are still those who stubbornly argue think that co-operative enterprises could be a viable alternative to capitalism. Supporters of capitalism, however, have a more realistic view of co-operatives and what they can and cannot do within capitalism.

One of the arguments put forward in favour of co-operatives is their democratic management structure. They certainly are more democratic than any normal capitalist enterprise which are anything but this. The moment an employee enters the doors of the office or the gates of the factory where they work they cease to be ‘free citizens’ with a right to vote and become subjects who have to carry out the orders of the unelected managers who are running the business on behalf of its owners.

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