Liberal democracy is in crisis around the world, unable to address pressing problems such as climate change. There is, however, another path—cooperation democracy. From consumer co-ops to credit unions, worker cooperatives to insurance mutuals, nonprofits to mutual aid, countless examples prove that people working together can extend the ideals of participatory democracy and sustainability into every aspect of their lives. These forms of cooperation do not depend on electoral politics. Instead, they harness the longstanding practices and values of cooperatives: self-determination, democratic participation, equity, solidarity, and respect for the environment. In his new book, Cooperation: A Political, Economic and Social Theory (Columbia 2023), Bernard E. Harcourt develops a transformative theory and practice that builds on worldwide models of successful cooperation. He identifies the most promising forms of cooperative initiatives and then distills their lessons into an integrated framework: Coöperism. This is a political theory grounded on recognition of our interdependence. It is an economic theory that can ensure equitable distribution of wealth. Finally, it is a social theory that replaces the punishment paradigm with a cooperation paradigm.
A creative work of normative critical theory, Cooperation provides a positive vision for addressing our most urgent challenges today. Harcourt shows that by drawing on the core values of cooperation and the power of people working together, a new world of cooperation democracy is within our grasp. Find more here.
Bernard E. Harcourt is Isidor and Seville Sulzbacher Professor of Law and Founding Director of the Columbia Center for Contemporary Critical Thought at Columbia University. He is also directeur d'études at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris. Saskia Sassen is Robert S. Lynd Professor of Sociology and Co-Chair of The Committee on Global Thought at Columbia. Rahel Jaeggi is a Professor of Practical and Social Philosophy at the Humboldt University of Berlin. Kendall Thomas is Nash Professor of Law and the co-founder and director of the Center for the Study of Law and Culture at Columbia.
This event is co-sponsored by the Maison Française, Columbia Center for Contemporary Critical Thought and Alliance Program.