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What is Economic Democracy and Why is it Important?
Is employee ownership just a first step?
In a recent article, Micheal Moore wrote about the need for economic democracy for a truly democratic society. What is economic democracy, and how does it relate to employee ownership?
According to the Bronx Cooperative Development Initiative, economic democracy is a set of practices that would primarily address social, economic, and political inequality. In its most simplified form, it would entail public ownership and democratic control of the community. This would go beyond just employee ownership of businesses. Housing, land, education, and any other government or private industry would also be owned communally in a complete movement away from hierarchy and towards equality. It is about allowing communities to make democratic decisions about themselves without corporate or government interference.
The economic democracy movement grew out of disadvantaged inner-city communities. For instance, the Center for Economic Democracy is an organization in central Boston. Its program focuses on wealth redistribution, climate justice, raising capital, and, of course, employee ownership, all pointed towards an end goal of community self-determination. The Bronx Cooperative is another example focused on similar goals in New York.
For practitioners of economic democracy, employee ownership is but one step in the movement toward true equality. Economic democracy takes a holistic approach toward equality and democracy, putting complete control of the community in the hands of the people who live there.