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Re: [tlug] Introduction to (Tech) Worker Cooperatives, 09:00AM on Sunday, July 12th JST

BTW, the German Wikipedia page for cooperative (Genossenschaft)
uses the term

"Genossenschaft im Raiffeisen’schen Sinne"

which translates to "Cooperative in the Raiffeisen sense"

So, I guess my chosen terminology "Raiffeisen model" wasn't all that bad ;-)

On Fri, 17 Jul 2020 at 03:46, Benjamin Kowarsch <> wrote:
On Fri, 17 Jul 2020 at 02:21, Stephen J. Turnbull <> wrote:
Benjamin Kowarsch writes:
 > On Thu, 16 Jul 2020 at 15:31, Stephen J. Turnbull <
 >> wrote:

 > >  > Under a bottom up model, this consensus has to be reached by a very
 > >  > large group of people, essentially all stakeholders.
 > >
 > > Not true in worker cooperatives.  Customers and society at large are
 > > excluded from decision-making.

 > Has it escaped your attention that I was talking about the
 > Raiffeisen model?

No.  That's why I wrote *worker* cooperatives, which appears to be the
topic of this thread and the motivating ethic of this whole list. :-)

Yes, but you were responding to a specific sentence in a post of mine that was actually about general decision making approaches, not even about cooperatives. I merely mentioned that the bottom up approach would be the natural model for cooperative organisations and also explained why this approach is logistically more challenging and how this has resulted in many cooperative organisations to use a top-down approach instead. I then continued to give an example of how one particular kind of cooperative model has dealt with these challenges.

Your response to that is like "That could never work for X" but (1) I never claimed it would work for X -- it may or it may not -- but you also did not give any kind of reasoning why.

As far as the Raiffeisen model is concerned, nobody is excluded. You buy a share in the bank and even if you are not an employee nor even a customer, voila, you have the exact same voting power than anybody else. And you get that investment back through dividends pretty quickly.

 > What I said there is 100% correct under the Raiffeisen governance
 > model.

Cite please.  I can't find anything in English that describes the
governance model at all beyond calling it a cooperative,

Not my fault that you can't read German. :-P

I think the Google translator should be able to produce a good enough translation to be intelligible.

There is the website of the Volksbanken and Raiffeisenbanken of Germany

There is the website of the federation of Volksbanken and Raiffeisenbanken of Germany

And there is the German civil code, called the Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch or in short BGB, which establishes the cooperative legal form and the German cooperative law, called the Genossenschafts-Gesetz or in short GenG which sets out all the details, including the governance model which is mandatory under the law.

The German wikipedia page on Genossenschaft also has quite a bit of info

and a couple
of articles on Raiffeisen himself which mention "self-help, self-
governance, and self-responsibility" but don't say how "self" is

Try the German wikipedia page on Raiffeisen instead

Certainly nothing about how non-member stakeholders
participate in governance.  Nor have you described that process, you
just asserted that "essentially all stakeholders" participate.

Anybody is by law entitled to become a member, so there you have your universal coverage.

If you want to participate, become a member, easy peasy.

Remember, one member = one vote, like everybody else.

Note that Austrian and German law doesn't distinguish between banking/utility cooperatives,
manufacturing/trading cooperatives and consumer cooperatives. Under the law they are all the same.

There is also some scholarly material on

There are also some hits on Raiffeisen, predominantly from Eastern Europe in Slavic languages, typically about Raiffeisen banks in the region, most likely they will describe the governance model as well and Google should be able to translate it sufficiently to be intelligible.

You can also take my word for it, for when I was living in Europe, I was a member of a local cooperative bank, in Switzerland, in France and in Germany. So I was giving you the summary of their governance model from first hand experience.

> Here again we seem to have a terminology issue.

I'm not sure why you think that.  I know perfectly well what you mean
by "cooperative".  What I have been unable to find is a concise
statement of what the "Raiffeisen model of governance" is, and how it
would apply to *worker* cooperatives.

I had actually stated what I meant by Raiffeisen model

I had stated that it is the governance model that is imposed by law in
Austria and Germany, and I had summarised its three pillars

(1) profit cap
(2) democratic voting (one shareholder = one vote)
(3) widespread ownership (via cap on shares per member)

I had also stated that an important factor is the prohibition to
demutualise. One might consider that a fourth pillar.

You know what I find extremely funny here???

In an earlier email you weren't happy that I wasn't using the term socialism
as a euphemism for bolshevism like almost everybody else does and you
literally said I should just make up my own terminology.

Now, I used my own terminology "Raiffeisen model" for what is the governance
model prescribed by the German cooperative law for cooperatives there (and
the same model is also law in Austria).

And yet, now that I did so, you are not happy either, now you are complaining
that you can't find English literature with keyword search on "Raiffeisen model".

At the very least I think we have proof now that I was right when I said that
in the realm of political discourse and economics, it is not a good idea to 
make up new terminology, which you didn't believe. I hope now you do.

I hope this clarifies why I am not making up a term for socialism but use
the existing terminology (since hijacked by Lenin) and apply its original
meaning. Perhaps you will appreciate this now.

I wouldn't call a credit union (the most prominent form of Raiffeisen
cooperative as far as I can tell)

A credit union is not a cooperative bank.

A credit union is a bank that is restricted to serve only its members,
not the general public. A cooperative bank has no such restrictions. 

a *worker* cooperative.  Most
members do not work for the bank!

So what? We are talking about the governance model. The governance
is the same for all cooperatives under the Austrian/German system.

There are plenty of cooperatives operating under that law (and thereby
under the governance model mandated by law) which are not banks.

There are agricultural cooperatives which use the Raiffeisen name,
because that is what Raiffeisen actually started with.

There are consumer cooperatives, some of which have become
Austria's and Germany's largest supermarket chains.

There are service cooperatives like taxi and bus operators.

There are utility cooperatives and housing cooperatives.

And there are cooperatives that make stuff. The ones you
might want to call worker cooperatives.

All of them run the same operating system:

The GenG OS codenamed "Raiffeisen",
latest maintenance release from May 25, 2018.

> But perhaps this gives you an idea about the mindset.

I understand the mindset.  Again, I'm not sure why you think anybody
doesn't understand the mindset.  Most people have that mindset to some
degree, and pretty much everybody knows people who live that mindset.

 > Not sure which model you are talking about there, but the
 > Raiffeisen model needs very little regulation:

You have claimed that, but I don't believe it applies to "worker
cooperatives in industries with strong network externalities", because
as far as I can tell you have one example: the Raiffeisen family of
credit unions.

They are not credit unions, but they operate under the GenG,
the same law that worker cooperatives in Germany operate under.

You claim that they are a model, but they are not
*worker* cooperatives as far as I can tell, nor do credit unions
exhibit strong network externalities.  I do not think that model will
necessarily work outside of the credit union context, while pretty
much any model works for credit unions.

Credit unions can only serve their members, I guess that can only
work at scale, but cooperative banks are quite a bit different.
They're successful at scale
in corporate form in the US and in Britain

In Europe, cooperative banks are successful because they are
local and small. Scale is a side effect of federation but it is not
their raison d'etre nor their strongest selling point. People use
them because they are local and small.

Britain's cooperative banks have all been demutualised as a
result of the "Big Bang" in the aftermath of Thatcherism and

In any event, I understand that you have difficulties getting your
head around the concept of one operating system for all
cooperatives, perhaps simply because your country of
origin nor your chosen home country have such a thing
and so you never experienced it.

I can assure you however, that the one operating system for
all cooperatives does work. Austria and Germany are good
examples of that.

If you can bring yourself to dissociate from the idea that every
type of cooperative needs to have a different governance
model, then perhaps you will be able to understand what
I have been trying to convey.

Nevertheless, thanks for the comments.

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