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DisCOs start from values-based accountability: DisCOs are economic organizations where decisions are not guided by profit, but by social and environmental priorities. These need to be both visible and accountable. For example, they can be embedded in a DisCO's legal statutes or its technological accountability tools. Before arriving at any legal or technical solution, groups need to discuss, clarify and consent to the values they'll be accountable towards.

In short: DisCOs are no-bullshit and committed to keeping it real. 


DisCO Principle 1 is about keeping it real by being accountable. 

DisCOs are geared toward positive outcomes in key areas: This means that production is guided not by profit but by the needs of the people and planet. Determining these needs requires clear thinking. As an anticapitalist, decolonial and intersectional feminist framework, we explicitly jettison artificial needs propagated by the trifecta of hierarchy (capitalist, colonialism and the patriarchy) focusing instead on what we can agree that sustains people and the planet. 

This isn't such a hard exercise. We can agree that most people want:

  • To be cared for
  • To be fed
  • To have appropriate housing and surroundings
  • To be able to express themselves to their full potential
  • To enjoy a rich social life

People do not exist in isolation of the planet that birthed us[1]: we are part of it and, as conscious beings, responsible for keeping it in homeostatic balance. To keep the balance, we can venture that the planet wants:

  • To be cared for
  • To replenish its resources at a rate surpassing their extractions
  • For carbon dioxide levels to be radically diminished
  • To restore topsoil
  • To end deforestation and species extinction
  • To reverse ocean acidification…..

The list goes on. Extensive scientific literature supports these needs, both human and non-human. In contrast, the dominant system asserts that some, if not all, of these goals are unrealistic or need to be tempered against the needs of neoliberal markets.

These dominant system narratives are extremely harmful as they enclose our scope for restorative action. Scientifically there is nothing impeding us from taking the necessary actions to meet the needs expressed above. DisCO Futures envision a world of federated organizations dedicated to meeting these needs.

Good intentions must be paired with follow-through and monitoring of progress. Feel-good legal options (eg. B-corps) and accumulation-promoting solutions like Conscious Capitalism and Green Growth, join the deeply entrenched non-profit industrial complex in propping up the pernicious mechanisms underlying planetary and social destruction, escalating the damage beyond repair. 

To reverse this trend, DisCO Principle 1 proposes that individual organizations explicitly embed these values in their cultural, productive and organizational processes, and technical/legal statutes. 

Most companies and indeed many cooperatives, orient their production toward profit and meeting market demands, but in DisCO we want production to be explicitly guided by the social and environmental needs sketched earlier. This orientation towards positive outcomes is the heart of a DisCO's values and there are various ways of ensuring their follow-through. Remember: you have to walk the talk. Empty gestures with no follow-through are the hallmark of the dying system.

The follow-through can take place through legal means. We recommend cooperatives as they legally ensure certain democratic ownership and decision making mechanisms which are highly compatible with DisCO. Furthermore, we'd recommend reflecting your own interpretation of the DisCO Principles and your collectively defined values in your organization’s constituent legal documentation.

In the case of a DAO or an on-chain based organization, accountability mechanisms could be embedded as smart contracts, although in most cases it need not be so complicated. The key to building trust is being able to visualize it, one of the key features of the DisCO Deck, our prospective value tracking and governance facilitating software.

Both examples (Cooperatives and DAOs) address the structural side of the Culture/Structure spectrum, but what's really important is the group culture that designs the structural mechanisms to support these shared agreements. 

To be clear, distributed cooperative practices should never be solely dependent on technology, protocols or governance models. These are only tools to facilitate and strengthen collaborative culture. Enforcing technical and legal means to ensure agreements that are only superficially made is a recipe for disaster. Get your culture right first, and help us co-design your accountability tools from the shared agreements that emerge.


Guerrilla Media Collective's Goals and Values inform their practices and are codified in their legal statutes as a non-profit, socially oriented cooperative.

Cooperation Jackson proclaims its solidarity with all who labor for economic democracy, peace, justice, human dignity, and development throughout the world. Cooperation Jackson's principles include self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity and solidarity, as well as honesty, openness, social responsibility and caring for others.

Why this is important

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Interactions with other principles

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Related Elements

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