by James Peter Warbasse
by Cooperative Publishing Association
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This book is made necessary by the change now in process from the economic system of profit capitalism to some other form. The chaotic uncertainties which characterize the period are associated with war and threats of war. A struggle between two ideologies exists. One is for free private enterprise; the other is for centralized governmental control of property and of men. The cooperative way, presented here, exemplifies free private enterprise and private ownership of property.
A purpose of this book is to show the cooperative method in action as a way to rectify these conflicts, and therefore as a way to peace.
It is an interesting fact that many books are written which exhibit no knowledge of the cooperative movement but which advocate cooperation as a way to peace and to the solution of world problems. They are by social reformers and philosophers, apparently unaware that the people are doing the very things these authors advocate. In the humdrum world, events are taking place which are not seen by eyes fixed on the skies.
The cooperative method here discussed is neither new nor theoretical. It is an old and tested way of business. At this juncture of history it needs to be understood for its peace-promoting power. The main purpose of this book is to show how the cooperative way not only makes for world peace but is necessary for peace.
The various forms of cooperation are now testing themselves in the world laboratory of change. They all serve a purpose. The fact that this book deals with cooperation from the consumer standpoint does not reflect upon the value and importance of producer and marketing cooperatives. They are performing essential services. The same can be said of profit business in general which in the absence of any better way is making it possible for consumers to get the things they need and for labor to have employment.
The solution of the war problem has now become an immediate and imperative necessity. It is not enough to say that we owe it to our children and to future generations to prevent war. We owe it to ourselves.
Sentimentality, moral appeal, disarmament conferences, peace pacts, and exhibition of horrors of war have contributed little to the cause of peace. This book examines certain salutary economic tendencies in the consumer cooperative movement which are actually in operation in all countries and across international borders. In these are seen developing before our eyes the conditions essential to peace. Peace is discovered actually in the making. While this expansion of democracy in the economic field is slow, nevertheless that very slowness may make it substantial. Of all the ways that are looked to as leading toward peace, the slow way in the end may be the quick way.
Expansion of the cooperative method makes for lessening the need for political government. Instead of solving problems by more political government, this book insists that less political government is not only to be desired but is possible.
The time has come to plan for rehabilitation of the world, not by returning to political and economic methods that have gotten it into its troubles, but by using proved methods which make for peace. These methods are applicable to all people and to all economic needs. Already one-fourth the population of the world are having experience in cooperative economy. The world should be ready to renounce its old ways. The time is ripe for a new life of abundance, peace, and justice.
War is here discussed from the broad social viewpoint. War evidences an uncivilized condition of society. Whatever advances the state of civilization makes for peace as against war. Not everything in this book deals with the clash of arms. Much that is said is far from the field of battle. But everything that is discussed has to do with the bettering of world civilization. This means more intelligent understanding of the nature of war and peace. The way to peace is the deliberate way--through the broad avenues of knowledge, education, social justice, and ethical culture. The cooperative way is not approached as an immediate way to stop war, or even to prevent war. It is discussed as a way to a better state of culture and of human relations--and that is the way to peace.
The author is aware that many other factors besides cooperation have to do with peace. Peace depends upon something more than economic conditions. Human psychology is a powerful influence. For example, the decay of the home as a focus around which the family life develops has much to do with the unrest that disturbs peace. The neuroses are causes of war. The home is now reducing itself to a place where people sleep, cohabit, listen to the radio, and live between times. The home was once the place where things were done, children born, clothing made, food prepared, and industry carried on. First the father, then the mother, found occupation elsewhere outside the home. The withdrawal of women's interest from this center has deeply affected the children. The lessening of wholesome parental intimacy with children has resulted in the frustrations, uncertainties and shocks which later show in the neuroses. The increase of psychoneurosis gives rise to the instabilities, antagonisms, and hatreds that disturb peace and make for war. But whatever other factors are considered as causes of war, it will be found that the cooperative method, as a way of life, decreases their dangers. Thus while this book can not discuss all factors contributing to peace, it must be borne in mind that cooperation is a universal agent giving strength to all the ways of peace and offering resistance to the ways of war.
Some of the material presented here is taken from other books by the author, especially from his "Cooperation a Way of Peace" (Harper and Brothers), "Cooperative Democracy" (Harper and Brothers), and "The Cooperative Way" (Barnes and Noble). This is because he desires to bring to bear all available material upon this subject.
It might seem that this book represents cooperative propaganda. This is correct; but the propaganda represents education, and the bias is frankly for the cooperative way of life. That, it can be shown, is a good way of life. Accordingly, propaganda in favor of democracy, justice, mutual aid, abundance, and happiness will be found in these pages.
The people in general want peace. Must they remain eternally at the mercy of forces which are beyond their control? Must they see wars made against their will and against their interests? Is war a concern wholly of their political leaders? Is there anything practical in the everyday life, to which the most humble can lay his hands, that ultimately will help toward elimination of war?
It is to these questions this book is addressed. In seeking the answer the author turns to the actual affairs of the economic and political life of the people.
The nature of this book is optimistic. It is not so much an analysis of cooperation as it is an indication of the comprehensive possibilities of the cooperative method as a way to peace. Beyond this optimism are difficulties and an adverse side which are discussed in the author's "Problems of Cooperation," but not here. The author is aware of the efforts of monopolistic profit business to hamper and destroy the cooperative method of business, for the tendency of cooperation is to keep down prices and to curtail profits. The oil monopolies, for example, have on foot measures which are shutting out the organized consumers from the production of petroleum products for their own use. These great combines apparently are not aware that in so doing they are creating public disapproval and are moving ever closer to government control and to government ownership of their very own industries. The enemies of cooperation are the most potent business forces in the world. Their activities may soon result in the political socialization of all industry, which will leave cooperation in the difficult position of competing with government in business. The advancing wave of socialism may blot out cooperation and delay its resurgence a thousand years. These questions are not resolved in these pages.
The author acknowledges his indebtedness to Julia Nightingale Perkins and to Dorothy Bourne Eldredge for valuable criticism and for careful proofreading, for which he here expresses his appreciation.
Woods Hole, Massachusetts
15 June, 1950
J. P. W.
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