Honest Abe Was a Co-Op Dude: How the G.O.P. Can Save America from Despotism
10 Pages Posted: 11 Nov 2014
Date Written: November 9, 2014
Abraham Lincoln was a co-op dude. He had a hip neck beard, sure. Everyone knows that. But few have bothered to notice that the first Republican President of the United States was an economic democrat who put labor above capital. Labor is prior to and independent of capital, Lincoln believed, and “deserves much the higher consideration”, he told Congress in his first annual address of 1861. Capital despotism is on the rise again, threatening the stability of the economy and union. The biggest problem of democracy now is not the failure to fully extend political rights, however important. The bigger problem is economic in nature. The threat today is from a lack of economic democracy — a lack of ownership, of self-reliance, of autonomy, and of justice in the distribution of rewards and punishments at work. From the appropriation of company revenue to lack of protection against pension raids, capital despotism is rife. “The road to serfdom” has many paths to choose from, Hayek warned in his important book of 1944. But too many Americans — including economists and policymakers — are neglecting the economic path, the road to serfdom caused by a lack of economic democracy. Cooperative banks and firms can help.
Keywords: Cooperatives, economic democracy, capital despotism, Abraham Lincoln, labor, Coase, organization and production, shareholder value, corporate governance
JEL Classification: D2, D3, A13, B3
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation