What do the 1999 film Office Space, Star Trek Next Generation, and Rosa Luxemburg have in common? They all provide sharp social commentary, and they’ve all been featured in recent episodes of our show All Things Co-op.
With new episodes every other Tuesday, All Things Co-op is a Democracy at Work show that explores everything co-op. From theoretical and philosophical conversations about political economy to on-the-ground interviews with cooperative workers, All Things Co-opaims to appeal to a wide audience of activists, organizers, workers, and students motivated to create a new cooperative society.
In this season, Cinar, Kevin, and Larry, hosts of All Things Co-op, are having fun drawing on elements of popular culture to launch into discussions about cooperative theory.
In Alienation, Office Space, and the Cure for Capitalism, they discuss the theory and lived reality of alienation through the black comedy Office Space.
KEVIN: “Alienation is a deep, philosophical topic. You could go very much into the weeds about this. But I don't think you need to. I think you just need to go to work. When you've got the case of the Mondays you know it's not because of your job, it's because of capitalism and the system you live in, because it alienates your labor. You know what alienation is; you don't need to read a philosophical text about it.”
Star Trek Next Generation depicts one version of a post-capitalist society, in which humanity’s basic needs are taken care of. But we can’t wait that long. Envisioning a Cooperative Society tackles the question of what do we want our future society to look like.
CINAR: “Democratically controlling production and consumption provides an opportunity for people to actually realize their real selves... A society that's designed for you to self-actualize your real self at the end of the day, your real talents. And I think that's what democratic control of production will allow us to do.”
But among the pop culture references, you’ll still find discussion of the classic and critical theorists of the past. In Taking on Rosa Luxemburg's Critique of Co-ops, Larry, Cinar and Kevin agree that Rosa Luxumburg's critique of reform and cooperatives, from a chapter of her famous text Reform or Revolution, can provide a road map for today.
LARRY: "’Reform or Revolution’ was just one book, one part of her life, and you've got to consider the whole person and all of her deeds and thoughts too. But that book does lay out a lot of the problems even in the United States today if you look at it the right way... Like, ‘Don't pass this way without considering Rosa Luxembourg.’"
All Things Co-op is available as a podcast and on our YouTube channel, with new episodes every other Tuesday. Subscribe to our channel on YouTube, if you haven’t already, to stay up to date on all of our shows.
The [email protected] Team