Towards a Cosmic View of Cooperativism
by Paul Dejillas, Ph.D.
Professor of Anthropology
The United Nations defines a cooperative as “an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly and democratically controlled enterprise…” The cooperative movement, according to it, is one of the largest segments of civil society, and plays a crucial role across a wide spectrum of human aspiration and need, including those that concern health, housing, banking services, education, gender equality; and protection of the environment and workers’ rights. The inter-relatedness or inter-connectedness between cooperatives and sustainable development is implicit in the definition of the term “cooperative,” considering especially that sustainable development also with the same basic human aspiration and need that relate to protection of the ecological system, global poverty, inequality, and the like.
In many existing literature, however, seldom does the subject of cooperatives directly treated in relation to sustainable development. Though many researches and studies treat the crucial role of cooperatives in economic development, the discussion is still heavily focused on the meanings, features, types, principles, mechanics, organization, structure and management, policy and legislation as well as on the various attendant services of education, research, and financial sourcing and management. In addition, the subject of cooperatives has not yet been clearly treated in relation to a broader science, which is emerging and known to some of us as “applied cosmic anthropology” --- our main interest being students of cosmic anthropology.
This is our point of departure. We depart from the conventional way of discussing cooperatives per se and view the subject from the broader perspective of sustainable development and applied cosmic anthropology. A review of the various programs as formulated by many academicians as well as practitioners would give the following conventional subjects when discussing the subject of cooperatives to students, clients, and other interested parties:
· Meanings, Concepts, Principles, and Values of Cooperativism
· History of the Cooperative Movement
· Comparative Study of Cooperative Laws and Regulations
· Cooperative Organization, Structure, and Management
· Cooperative Accounting and Budgeting
· Various Cooperative Support Services Systems: Education and Training, Research, Economics, and Financing
· Agricultural Cooperatives and the Various Phases of Production, Credit Management, Purchasing, Marketing, and Warehouse Management
· Various Types of Cooperatives: Savings, Consumer, Service, Production, and Processing Cooperatives
We shall be departing from this conventional approach to viewing cooperatives. Our concern will be how to relate the cooperativism to the objectives, principles, and major concerns of sustainable development, which is the broader context of our discussion. But we have an added concern also of viewing both cooperatives and sustainable development within the perspective of applied cosmic anthropology. Specifically, we are concerned of how we will understand the meaning of cooperativism from the cosmic perspective and the value of the insights derived therein in terms of improving our relationship with Nature and the environment as well as with each other.
The concrete objectives, therefore, that this course is trying to pursue when studying cooperatives are the following:
· To explore the meanings, aims, and principles of cooperativism from the cosmic perspective (which is the preferred view of “Applied Cosmic Anthropology”);
· To discover the principles, forces, methodologies, and approaches that govern cooperativism in the Cosmos;
· To discover the pattern of its behavior, organization, and structure; and
· To explore its form and way of governance, leadership, and style of carrying out activities.
This is our point of departure. Join me in venturing into what may still be an unknown path of studying cooperativism, not from the conventional largely economic and sociological approach, but from the pioneering cosmic perspective of looking at reality. I don’t promise you anything.