Other formats

    Adobe Portable Document Format file (facsimile images)   TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 81

From Competition to Co-operation or "Socialism in the Making." — Critical Notices

page break

From Competition to Co-operation or "Socialism in the Making."

Critical Notices.

In a preface to this booklet, Sir Robert Stout, Chief Justice of New Zealand, says:—

"Mr. Ross deals with political and quasi political questions. There are obvious reasons why I should not touch on such subjects. The social questions dealt with by Mr. Ross are, however, above politics, and have an interest for every citizen of Australia. I bespeak for this booklet the careful and thoughtful consideration of those who are looking to our new nations in the southern seas to become more and more the home of great and good citizens, and of those who realise that it is their duty to help to bring about these social reforms that will make such an ideal possible."

The Manchester "Co-operative News" is the press organ around which the whole co-operative movement, as it develops itself in Great Britain and on the Continent of Europe, centres itself, and the imprimatur of this high authority has been given to Mr. Ross' booklet in the following criticism:—

"As was pointed out in an article by Mr. John Plummer, in a recent issue of the 'News,' the co-operative principle, as we understand it here, has little life, and still less practical page break application, in Australia. This position of affairs is emphasised in this little work, which contains a preface by Sir Robert Stout, Chief Justice of New Zealand. Mr. Stout admits that although the Australasian colonies may be regarded as a land of freedom, the people have still their social problems, and seem no nearer a solution of many of them than did their ancestors in the early part of last century. The author of this booklet thinks that in voluntary co-operation there is, if not a solution of those social and economic problems, at all events a mitigation of many of the evils under which the people are suffering. Sir R. Stout opines that this may be too sanguine a view, but that if Mr. Ross be only partly right—if his remedy will palliate any of those evils—then it is the duty of all lovers of their kind to welcome bis suggestion and to try his remedy-voluntary co-operation. Mr. Ross marvels that, amidst the contentions and recriminations of socialists and anti-socialists, there is hardly an allusion ever made to the 'social evolution which is taking place in Great Britain and Ireland, and on the European Continent, bv means of that marvellous and ever-expanding agency known as the co-operative movement.'

"The anti-socialists, he says, may be excused for not regarding co-operation with favour, for 'it is inimical to the régime of private capitalism,' but he can only account tor the indifference of Labour politicians on the ground that 'either they do not know better, or that a recognition of its supreme importance as a working-class movement should entail upon them too much social hard work without the chance of winning such prizes as are to be secured by successful political agitation.' But we need not follow Mr. Ross into the political aspect of the matter. What we have to admire is his strenuous advocacy of voluntary co-operation, of which he has evidently made a very careful and complete study.

"A thorough-going democrat, Mr. Ross is naturally opposed to the anti-social agitators, who do not recognise that there is a social problem to be solved, and who have for page break their central idea unlimited competition; but, on the other hand, he is of opinion that the co-operative movement is calculated to overcome the cry for State socialism in the full acceptance of the term. He recognises that the State owes many duties to social reform, and that co-operators are compelled to give increasing attention to political means for obtaining such reforms of the law as will remove obstacles to social progress. But State aid should not be demanded so as to lower the sense of responsibility or the need of initiative in the individual citizen.

" Mr. Ross regards voluntary co-operation as a powerful lever for the raising of the masses, and, given a solution or modification of the increment of land values problem, this power may be considerably increased. "If, however.' he says, 'conservative anti-socialists are able to influence the Governments not to undertake the solution of the increment of land values problem, or its modification, but permit it to take its natural course unchecked, the agitation for State socialism, which the co-operative movement is calculated to overcome, may receive fresh vigour from the hard lot of settlers placed on the land under conditions to which State socialism would be a welcome change.'

"This little work appeals to us mainly on account of the sterling advocacy of the principle for which this journal stands, and it should have an interest for every citizen of Australia. The story of the origin and progress of voluntary co-operation in Great Britain is briefly and lucidly told, and the object lesson is one well worth taking to heart by the new nations in the Southern Seas."

In a note to the writer of the pamphlet, His Grace the Anglican Bishop of Tasmania kindly says:—

"Many thanks for your booklet.... At present I have only had time to glance through it. Tt is most encouraging to know that there are some who are able in the midst of all this political strife to take a calm and disinterested view of matters, and to devote to our social problems an interest that is at once keen, practical, and scientific."

page break
The following appreciative notice is taken from the "Age" newspaper:—

"Between the extremes of socialism on the one hand and unlimited competition on the other, Mr. John Ross' panacea for solving the economic problem of to-day lies in voluntary co-operation, and the pamphlet in which he advances his views is an interesting and decidedly suggestive array of all the facts and figures bearing on the immense success which has been achieved by co-operative societies of the nineteenth century, from the famous work of Robert Owen in New Lanark to the present day. His arguments and his data are to be warmly recommended to all those who are seeking information on a movement which, as Sir Robert Stout says in an appreciative preface, is worth experiment if it will palliate any of the evils from which we suffer."

The following table of Contents will give a fair idea of the character of this little work:—
a.Preface by Sir Robert Stout, Chief Justice of New Zealand.
b.Preliminary Remarks.
I.Unlimited Competition a Social Failure.
II.Early Propaganda Work and the Rochdale Experiment.
III.The Spread of the Co-operative Movement.
IV.From Distributive to Wholesale and Productive Co-operation.
V.People's Credit Banks.
VI.The Credit Foncier.
VII.The Social Problem.
VIII.Prospects of Co-operation as a Social Movement in Australia.
IX.Increment of Land Values and Closer Settlement.
c.Appendix—The Civil Service Co-operative Credit Bank.

McCarron, Bird & Co., Printers and Publishers.

To be had of all Booksellers and Civil Service Stores.

Price 1/-