Control is a complex subject. In our increasingly centralized and corporate world, control is concentrated in the hands of fewer and fewer people. In this era of globalism we have some very large companies that have enormous influence. Unfortunately, we then are confronted with how we can hold these billionaires and financiers accountable. Governments even start to look small by comparison. Voting in our elections may provide leverage but big money is at play in elections too. But beyond government, communities may assume 'ownership' directly.
Co-operative democratic ownership is a radical alternative model for organizing commerce, as is the democratic non-profit association. It is through these models real 'DEMOCRACY' is achieved. But these models rely on people to step up and participate, in pursuit of the common good. The crux is for individuals to realize that a vote, every few years, is a bare minimum. Responsible citizenship requires more of us.
Corporate capitalism asserts that 'markets' will hold commercial enterprises accountable. However, this has not proven to be the case; government regulation is needed to ensure transparency, safety, equitable treatment, and reasonable choice. And regulation is a constant field of struggle. In addition, the dominant corporate model has two major shortcomings - the tendency to consolidate (create monopolies) and the tendency to place higher costs on those on the lower rungs of the socioeconomic ladder (e.g. payday lenders).
The co-operative model, like the one we have at CCEC, gives consumer members the ownership responsibilities. Ordinary people (though their representatives) assume control. In this community ownership model 'profit maximization' is not the primary objective.
In BC and in Canada the co-operative model is in some stress. While some large co-ops and credit unions appear to be successful, the role of the members-owners has been eroded. Democracy has been diminished. Small co-ops and projects become even more important. Participation is key - as directors, on advisory committees, and as volunteers - that ensures 'control' rests with the people, but also generates debate, innovation and social change.
Democracy relies on ordinary people taking part, stepping up, and 'seizing' control in service of the common good.