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that year premiums amounting to £107,000 were paid, the cost of collection and administration being only 3 per cent. of this amount, as against 35 to 40 per cent. in other insurance concerns; 15,000 claims, amounting tɔ £97,000, were met. In 1919 £411,000 was paid to claimants. The net profits on this scheme are returned to the participating societies in proportion to their premiums.

The huge and many-sided wholesale business is conducted on democratic lines. Control of policy rests with the periodical meetings of delegates from all the societies which are members of the C.W.S. Management is in the hands of an elected general committee, which is made up largely of men who belong by birth, training, and sympathy to the working classes. The failures have been few, the successes great, and the whole story of the C.W.S. is a standing tribute to the capacity of the British workers for “minding their own business."

The Co-operative Union. If the C.W.S. is concerned with the body of co-operation, the Co-operative Union looks after its soul. The Union was formed in 1872, and is a federation of the retail societies for educational, legal, propaganda, and political purposes. Its aim is stated to be the promotion of the practice of truthfulness, justice, and economy in production and exchange," and in various ways it strives to prevent co-operation from degenerating to the level of a mere big business concern. Its sectional and central boards discuss points of policy; its parliamentary, educational, and other committees look after the various branches of its work, and help to form new societies. One of the most interesting tasks of the Union is in the field of education. The Pioneers stressed the need for education, and the Co-operative Union has endeavoured to keep this matter before the minds of members. Individual societies vote money for libraries, reading rooms, lectures, socials, entertainments, glee clubs, etc., and the total expenditure on educational work in 1919 was £124,000. The Co-operative Union arranges classes and correspondence courses in industrial history, economics, civics, co-operative theory, history and practice, bookkeeping and management. In 1915 it appointed an Advisor of Studies; in 1919 it decided to establish a Co-operative College as a memorial to co-operators who fell in the war.

In all this work the Union is assisted by the Women's Co-operative Guild, formed in 1883, which strives to create amongst women a lively interest in co-operative affairs. The Guild preaches loyalty to the store, urges its members to win recruits, keeps a watchful eye over the treatment meted out to female einployees, and encourages women to seek election to responsible positions. At the same time, it has looked wider afield, and interested its members in the suffrage, divorce law reform, school clinics, child welfare, and other campaigns.

Co-operation and the War. On the outbreak of the war, the co-operative movement generally set to work to prevent unnecessary increases in prices. Serving one-third of the population (chiefly the poor section), its interest was naturally to obviate the hardships which would arise from inflated prices. It gave a ready response to government appeals, and so organized production and distribution that during the dark days of 1917 there were scarcely any food queues outside its stores. Two things, however, eventually aroused the wrath of co-operators. When the government was appointing committees to advise it or take charge of some branch of national service the co-operative movement was often ignored, and the

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assistance of private traders alone used. Business men filled post after post; they were given control over food, clothing, etc., but the co-operator, possessing the experience which comes from handling supplies for over 3,000,000 families, was overlooked, although co-operative interests might be vitally affected by the various controls. Secondly, certain anti-co-operative interests revived the demand that dividends, being profits, should be taxed, and any increase in them regarded as excess war profits. Since co-operative societies sell to themselves—i.e., their members—they cannot make a profit out of themselves; the dividend is merely a deferred rebate, and could be abolished entirely by selling goods at cost price, plus distributive charges. Yet the cry for taxation grew strong in certain quarters, and one or two chancellors of the exchequer seemed to favour it.

These two factors, amounting to apathy or hostility towards the movement, caused co-operators to think hard. Their immense interests were insecure so long as private traders had the floor of the House of Commons from which to make their attacks. Should co-operation therefore seek political representation The question was not new, but had always been answered in the negative. Now in 1917, under the pressure of these attacks, and under the influence of the ideas of reconstruction which were in the air, the Co-operative Congress abandoned the neutral policy of over 70 years, and decided to run its own candidates on its own platform at the next election. That platform included the safeguarding of co-operation, the eventual state ownership and democratic control of the means of production, distribution, and exchange, a vigorous state housing policy, drastic educational reforms giving equality of opportunity to all, democratic control over foreign policy, land taxation, careful and gradual demobilization, and a levy on wealth to cancel part of the national debt. The decision and the platform were generally approved by the rank and file of the movement; ten co-operative candidates stood at the general election of 1918, and one was successful. While it is doubtful whether the new party will ever be strong numerically, events since the Armistice suggest that co-operation may enter more into a close working alliance with trade unionism and political Labour.

Co-operation in Other Lands. Co-operation of consumers made considerable progress in other countries, both before and after 1914. In Germany little advance was recorded before 1900, but in 1913 1,500,000 members were enrolled in about 1,200 societies. By 1918 there were 2,250,000 members, and the number has grown rapidly since. The Hamburg society in 1919 had 110,000 members, ran 227 shops, and owned 45 blocks of dwellings. French co-operation nearly doubled its membership between 1914 and 1918. Belgium had many big societies before 1914, and co-operation has revived rapidly since 1918. The advance of the movement in Russia was one of the outstanding features of the war years. "In 1905 there were 1,000 consumers' societies; in 1914, 10,000; in 1917, 20,000. In December, 1918, about 12,000,000 members were enrolled in 25,000 societies, one of which (Moscow) had 210,000 members. In the United States co-operation recorded little but failure until 1900. Since then much progress has been made, and in 1920 there were about 3,000 consumers' societies, with a trade of $200,000,000 a year. On the Pacific coast the societies are strongly supported by the trade unions, in Illinois by the miners, and in 1918 the American Federation of Labour resolved to start a vigorous propaganda in favour of co-operation.

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Australia. Until quite recent years co-operation has been negligible in volume and influence in Australia. Labour effort concentrated on unionism and politics, and ignored co-operation. Few people were aware of the size of the movement elsewhere, and some trade unionists opposed co-operation because they feared that any indirect reduction in the cost of living by the receipt of “divi” would be used as an argument to prevent wage increases in the arbitration courts. Still the movement was not entirely unknown, especially in South Australia and the coal districts of New South Wales. The oldest society, Adelaide, began in 1868 with ninc members and a capital of £5. The first week's trade was 7/6, the first year's £150. In 1920 there were 9,000 members, 350 employees, a capital of £170,000, and a turnover of nearly £400,000. The Port Adelaide Society began in 1896 with £1 10/2. This sum was invested in butter, which two committeemen sold from door to door. In 1920 this society had 1,500 members and £60,000 trade. New South Wales has about 30 societies, of which Balmain, founded in 1901, is the largest in the Commonwealth, with 13,500 members and over £400,000 turnover in 1920. The rapid increase in prices after the Armistice, and the apparent futility of political action drove many people towards co-operation; for instance, in Adelaide the public servants and the returned soldiers each established societies in 1920. Lu the same year an important interstate co-operative conference was held in Sydney, and a Co-operative Union decided upon. In that year over 80 societies were in existence. Most of them work on Rochdale lines, but credit trading is much more prevalent than in Great Britain. The need for a C.W.8. has long been felt, and one was established some years ago at Newcastle; but as yet its influence has not been great.

Conclusion. Co-operation among consumers has reached a high point of development, especially in Europe. Economic pressure has driven it from retailing to wholesale buying and large-scale production, and there is no reason why the movement should not have eventual control of land, mines, factories, ships, and everything else necessary for the production of the goods required by its members. Certain industries, as for instance lighting, transit, machine-making, luxury and export trades are perhaps beyond its ken, but in the big staple occupations which produce the goods required by the millions of consumers, there is still abundant room for expansion. Cooperation has limitations; it will not cover all the field. Further, it still leaves unsolved the question of the relations between producer and consumer. It is easily possible for co-operation of consumers to exploit the producer quite as badly as does the profit-seeking capitalist. But we must discuss that in the next chapter.

Books Recommended. Clayton, J.,"Co-operation”; Webb, C., “Industrial Co-operation”; Potter, B., “The Co-operative Movement”; Redfern, P., “The Story of the C.W.S.”; Holyoake, G. J., “History of Co-operation''; “The Co-operative Movement” (New Statesman Supplement, May 30, 1914); Fay, C. R., “Co-operation at Home and Abroad”; Woolf, L. 8., “Co-operation and the Future of Industry.'

6

CO-OPERATION OF PRODUCERS.

THE co-operative movement described in the last chapter is sed solely on the interests of the consumers. As such it resembles collectivism, except that it is a perfectly voluntary institution, standing on its own feet, while collectivism involves compulsion, with state administration. Some of the criticisms applied to collectivism therefore apply to co-operation of

consumers.

Especially is this true of the relation between the “co-op.” and its employees. As the C.W.S. and similar bodies extend the scope of their productive efforts, and as the retailing societies increase their turnover, a growing body of workers becomes subject to a new type of employer. The old employer tried to get his labour supply cheaply, in order to produce large profits; the new one may try to do the same thing in order to be able to pay the largest possible dividends on purchases. Hence, though the two employer's motives are different, the same problems may confront the wageearner-problems of hours, wages, factory and shop conditions, trade union recognition, some voice in control, and some share in the product. The co-operative employee may be-and sometimes is—treated just as badly in one or more of these matters as the man who works for a slave-driving capitalist. Working men, probably strong unionists, may, when clothed in authority as committeemen or directors, sweat those under their control, subordinating the welfare of the employees to the desire to declare a big "divi.'

On the other hand, especially in the big retail societies and the C.W.8., recent years have witnessed a marked improvement in the attitude of the movement towards its employees, and the conditions in many cases are now equal to, or better than, those provided by the best employers. There is greater security of employment, and dismissal is improbable, except for flagrant offences. Working conditions, especially in some of the C.W.S. factories, reach a standard of cleanliness, comfort, lighting, etc., far above that imposed by the factory acts. Wages are equal to the trade union rates; early in the present century the C.W.S. established a minimum wage for its male workers, and in 1914 for its female employees, but the pressure of competition from private stores and factories makes it impossible to pay much higher rates than prevail in rival concerns. Finally, trade unionism is now more frankly recognized. Thus the movement has come to realize that it cannot ignore the labour problem, and that exploitation must be eliminated in every corner.

But the employee is still an employee, almost as completely as in a capitalist store. As a member he may exert some influence at general meetings, and the worker in the Scottish C.W.S. was able until recently, by taking up shares, to secure a small voice in the management of his factory or warehouse. But with these exceptions his position is fixed. All that the syndicalist and guild socialist say about “wage-slaveryin capitalist industry applies equally to co-operation. If, therefore, the aspiration of labour is, as these critics assert, to get industry controlled by those who

work in it, co-operation of consumers takes us no distance on that path. We must look elsewhere and turn our attention to co-operation of producers.

Productive Co-operation. The idea of the self-governing workshop where capital and labour are supplied by the same people has fascinated many men during the last 80 years. To the worker himself, to middle-class sympathizers and philanthropists, and to some conservative statesmen, it has seemed a pleasant and easy way to economic freedom, Hence the number of experiments in co-operative production runs into thousands, scattered over France, Belgium, Germany, Italy, and the United Kingdom. Nearly all of them owe their inspiration to France, the classic home of the idea. In 1831 Buchez persuaded a small group of Parisian cabinet-makers to establish a society, pooling their small capitals, accumulating more whenever possible, and paying the same wages to all the workmen-capitalists. The society lasted only a few months, but a similar organization of working jewellers, formed in 1834, lived in various changing forms until 1896. During the forties Louis Blanc was advocating social workshops" and co-operative self-employment, and during the revolution of 1848 about 80 such enterprises were established, half of them receiving some assistance from the state. In 1854 31 were alive: the remainder had failed or been crushed by the police. Still, 17 of them survived till 1887, and three of them lived to have a golden jubilee in 1908.

A second outburst of zeal occurred in the sixties, a third after 1880. Here and there some philanthropist left money to help workmen to independence; municipalities let contracts to co-operative groups on favourable terms, and in 1893 the French government began to make small subsidies or advance loans at 2 per cent. In 1914 there were 500 groups of producers, with 20,000 shareholders, 25,000 operatives, and a gross turnover of £3,000,000. All were in occupations in which skill or strength are more important than capital; all were in small-scale industries_e.g., building, furniture, metal, leather, printing, and similar trades. One or two dealt with a large volume of work, as for instance a painting and decorating society with a business of £60,000 a year, or a large joinery firm which did £80,000 of work yearly. But the great majority were unstable and unsuccessful. They rose suddenly, often after a strike, when men were determined to do anything rather than go back to work for the “boss." A society was established, and the members threw themselves into the work with intense fervour, toiling long hours, and accepting low pay. But the fever subsided, and trouble crept in. Discipline was absent, and there was nothing to fill its place. Friction and quarrels developed, the manager was dismissed or retired in despair, goods were made but could not be sold, and the members began to feel that they were no better off than when they worked for an employer. The end was then not far away.

The experience of France was repeated in most adjacent countries. Belgium started co-operative workshops in 1848, and since 1885 many others have appeared—and disappeared. Germany tells the same story of many experiments but small achievement. The General Commission of German Trade Unions in 1911 pointed out to its members that associations of producers were useless, dangerous to labour solidarity, and doomed to failure, unless they were managed by technical experts, adequately financed, and in close touch with consumers' societies. In Italy there were in 1910 578 associations of producers, chiefly in the metal-work and printing trades. Some of them have been quite successful, especially one in the glass-blowing

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