In America today, three people control as much wealth as the bottom half of us. So, are we stuck in this deadly spiral toward ever greater concentration of economic power? No, we can do better. We know we can because some of us already are. Worldwide, one in 10 employed people works in a co-op; and 1 billion in 96 countries are members of coops.
Democracy is a culture that lives or dies on whether it’s creating three conditions throughout our public lives that have proven to bring forth the best in our species and to keep the worst in check: One, the wide dispersion of power; two, transparency in public affairs; and, three, a culture of mutual accountability in contrast to the blame-the-other culture fomented today.
In these dark days, it can be helpful to keep a list of unexpected and pleasant surprises.
Back in the ’60s, Frances Moore Lappé realized that hunger is caused by a scarcity of democracy, not food. Then, a collective of courageous women farmers showed her how to change that.
Belo Horizonte, Brazil, a city of 2.5 million people, once had 11 percent of its population living in absolute poverty, and almost 20 percent of its children going hungry. Then in 1993, a newly elected administration declared food a right of citizenship. The officials said, in effect: If you are too poor to buy food in the market-you are no less a citizen. I am still accountable to you.