A Training Guide for Co-operative Trainers.
In the world in which we live some people are rich while the majority are poor (workers and unemployed). The capitalist system has forced the burden of this unequal and unjust system to be carried by the poor majority. There are a range of problems caused by the capitalist system which include unemployment, poverty, depletion of the natural resource base of the world, pollution of cities, rivers, the oceans and the ozone layer. In most cases the poor are not included within the system but rather are forced to exist on the margins of it. In the extreme, but all-to-common case they are forced to live as homeless and landless families and communities.
The promise of a different and better world has not been kept by the capitalist system. Poverty has increased both within and between countries with approximately 1.3 billion people living in grinding poverty around the world. Mass discontent is increasing and becoming unbearable. The challenge now is for the poor majority to begin the process of freeing themselves from the system. In order to challenge this system, lessons from past experiments (both successes and failures) tried in the name of the poor majority must be learned and constant struggle must be waged. The struggle to break out of the system is both ambitious and necessary. There are many sides from which the system must be challenged in order to create an alternative that places the well-being of humanity at its center. For example, the dominant forces of competition, greed, selfishness, and individualism must be transformed. If these basic ways of relating in the world are not challenged then the freedom to live with dignity and in cooperation with society and nature will not be realised. This struggle for social transformation must rely fundamentally on the knowledge, confidence and potential of the poor.
Co-operatives are both an important alternative to the current system and a weapon in the struggle against the system. In other words, co-operatives provide an alternative space in which people can organise to meet their real needs. Indeed, co-operatives are part of the practice of freedom from the capitalist system. In South Africa we are fortunate to live at a time when real change is possible. Our new democracy has given the previously oppressed majority an opportunity to change their lives. Within our new democracy we have the opportunity to end suffering. One important avenue on which we can build a new society is by building a strong and powerful co-operative movement and sector.
This training guide is meant to assist in this struggle.
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