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Jeremy Rifkin Blog

Millennials, Trade Unions and Cooperatives: Working for a Better Future

Trade unions were originally created as a response to the stock holding companies that came into existence during the first and second industrial revolution but were often left playing catch up due to centralised transport and communication that all require massive capital.

As a result of this, the modern stock-holding company had to be created in order to obtain capital from other parts of the world. However, to be able to make a return on the investment, the stockholders had to create giant integrated companies that were able to raise bigger economies to repay the investment.

Labour unions were used to help those working organise their rights and be recognised as a vital part of the production and be treated as such. When the cooperatives stepped in, they were looking to over an alternative, but again were playing catch up because of the vertical integration required.

The Third Industrial Revolution is better designed for cooperatives and trade unions due to it not being centralised and transparent allowing more people to benefit from it. This means that the more a network is built laterally, the more benefit it can offer.

This isn’t to undermine the value of trade unions, but the fact remains that despite how admirable the efforts of trade unions are, they are often stifled by the fact that they’re still operating in the Second Industrial Revolution.

There is more evidence of open-source and non-profit platforms obtaining recognition, with Wikipedia being a prime example. This means that the potential for change is there, and embracing what millennials have to offer could mean that change can be implemented sooner rather than later.

However, just because millennials have a better idea of the digital era and the Internet of Things, they also must realise that the solution to every problem can’t always be resolved online. Evolving autonomous technology is impressive, but if there no one taking the reign as to what some solutions are put in place, it could mean that we become reliant on technology we don’t fully understand.

To make the changes that matter, it’s important to have a realistic outlook on the current issues of the world. This means bearing witness to what’s happening and putting realistic measures in place to resolve these issues.

The goal of the Third Industrial Revolution is to use technology that can be distributed, meaning that trying to monopolise it wouldn’t bear fruit. It will also be reliant on those that have seen the struggles of the past, such as the unions and co-operatives.

This allows for a change of consciousness that offers more information to work with in order to build a more suitable infrastructure than benefits everyone and assumes control of production without the economic strain experienced in the past.

The marriage between the two is one that’s essential for change, but time is also of the essence. Things need to start changing now, and while the millennials are being drafted in by some of the top companies, a new infrastructure is needed, as this is what will favour the unions and cooperatives, who in turn can offer more information to build the foundations of a better tomorrow.