The Robert Owen Commemoration Lecture

New Lanark World Heritage Site
Robert Owen's School for Children
New Lanark Mills
New Lanark ML11 9DB
United Kingdom

Iain Macdonald: "Co-operative enterprises build a better world" Many people have written much of Robert Owen – countless books and articles are testament to that. He has variously been described as a scholar, entrepreneur, social reformer, economist and trade unionist! But for some he was the original co-operator. He is acknowledged by most as one of the founders of the British co-operative movement. It is therefore most appropriate that in this UN Year of Co-operatives, we celebrate his unique contribution to social and economic life which continues to this day – possibly now more than ever. The International Year strapline bears witness to that. At long last there is a growing realisation that co-operative enterprise could be one of the main solutions to the current economic crisis. Just compare the ability of co-operatives to survive the crisis as opposed to their investor-owned capitalist counterparts. Why are we prepared to go to war to defend democracy but not expect it to operate in the business sector? We wouldn’t dream of allowing our politicians to behave in the uncontrolled, irresponsible and selfish manner of senior bankers – would we?! We demand a say in the running of the judiciary, the police and education systems but not in business! With millions of co-operative businesses, owned by one billion members and providing 100 million jobs throughout the world, it is time for the proven success of co-operatives, their unique values and principles, and the legacy of Robert Owen to be properly recognised. Iain Macdonald was Director-General of the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA) in Geneva from 2002 to 2010. He was directly involved in persuading the United Nations to declare 2012 as the International Year of Co-operatives. He is a member of the New Lanark Board of Trustees, a GlobalScot and a member of the advisory board of Co-operatives Development Scotland. In 2005 he was President of the UK Co-operative Congress. He is currently acting as consultant to the third global co-operative trade fair, ICAEXPO, taking place in Manchester in October. An admission charge of £3.00 per person will be payable at the door and will include a glass of wine or soft drink to be served in the Mill Hotel following the lecture. Robert Owen’s School will be open from 7 p.m. and the lecture will begin at 7.30 p.m.
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