Common Fund

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John Michael Colón, Mason Herson-Hord et al.:

"How do we fund cooperatives, incentivize cooperation over competition, and tie these member institutions to an explicitly socialist politics? We propose a Common Fund, which would absorb the profits from a network of community-run cooperatives and pool money that communities could reinvest for economic development. It would be under the democratic control of the networked cooperatives’ member-owners and would initially finance additional cooperatives to further grow that network. As it grows, the fund could invest in such profitless purposes as building new infrastructure, establishing other independent socialist institutions, and financing political movements to take over and reform local government along radically democratic lines.

Credit streams through non-extractive finance from organizations such as Working World are a particularly good starting point for worker ownership. The Working World fund’s initial capital was raised from donations, investment capital, and the profits of the successful workers’ cooperatives that control it. The organization uses this mixed capital stream to offer zero-interest loans and educational support to newly founded worker co-ops or existing firms transferring ownership to workers. Uniquely, the fund accepts no loan repayment until the co-op begins to turn a profit, and even then it gets paid back strictly as a percentage of profits. (In months without profit, the firm pays nothing). The Working World has funded over 200 worker-controlled companies around the world, and it has been so successful that it is now spearheading the development of a network of local funds for cooperatives. The fund currently needs local organizers to set up local credit institutions and incubate new co-ops, and answering that call would be a powerful addition to the labor organizing and grassroots cooperative development proposed here. Such a network of funds—if democratically controlled and funded from the bottom-up—can form the basis of a new cooperative economy and a new communally engaged labor movement.

There is no doubt that an organized workers struggle is important. But the union movement of the past developed institutions primarily to leverage their collective action within capitalism. Now these proletarian institutions must replace capitalism." (


* Report: Community, Democracy, and Mutual Aid. Toward Dual Power and Beyond By John Michael Colón, Mason Herson-Hord, Katie S. Horvath, Dayton Martindale, & Matthew Porges. Next System Project,


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