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Mamontov Vladimir Dmitrievich, pro-rector, doctor of of economics, full professor
Tambov State University named after G.R. Derzhavin, Russia
Championship participant: the National Research Analytics Championship - "Russia";
The article is devoted to analysis of the development of the cooperative type of ownership beginning with the pre-revolutionary period. The retrospective analysis is made.
Keywords: сooperative type of ownership, consumers’ cooperatives, credit cooperatives, false cooperation.
Today historians, economists, publicists and philosophers tend to summarize carefully the experience of the cooperative construction during the NEP (New Economic Policy), paying no attention to the pre-revolutionary period. This is more than wrong. Without the previous stage the surge of the cooperative movement wouldn’t have existed in 1921-1929.
Analyzing the development of the cooperation in the pre-revolutionary period it is possible to come to a conclusion that, this economic form as it was in the past and as it is today, has many peculiarities along with having much in common: tendencies in development, principles of structure and even mistakes, which it could be possible to avoid if we had used the experience of our predecessors. Let us point out only typical characteristics of the cooperative construction in the past and at present.
There is no doubt, that the development of the cooperative type of ownership today is not a market analysis of country’s new governing body. This is the result of inner objective economic reasons. Moreover, it can be noted that this is the renewal of the previously artificially interrupted movement. The tragedy is that during the long period of the administrative prohibition we have forgotten the experience and skills of our fathers. Here are some facts about the history of cooperation in Russia.
Cooperation began its development a little bit later than in the West, in 1860s, as a result of capitalistic development in Russia. Cooperative movement was uneven. Conditionally it can be divided into two periods.
I – 1860s – 1905 - the cooperation development began from the upper classes without affecting the masses of people.
II – 1807– 1947- the period of the massive cooperative movement and its democratization.
According to the statistics, in 1865 only three cooperatives were functioning in Russia. In 1917 50 thousand cooperatives, 12-13 million in number, were functioning in Russia. (M. L. Kheisin The history of cooperation in Russia. - L., 1926).
Cooperatives in Russia didn’t differ much from the European cooperatives. There were consumers’ cooperatives, credit cooperatives, agricultural cooperatives and production cooperatives in Russia.
Often, especially in the countryside, it was hard to distinct different types of cooperatives, because they were mixed.
Russian cooperation learned the most progressive western experience, for example, consumer cooperation in its activity used progressive Rodel rules and credit cooperation used principles of Raiffeisen.
By 1917 cooperation achieves quite well organized management structure. In 1916 179 cooperative societies were operating. Sporadically all-Russian congress of cooperatives was held. Cooperatives had their economic representative offices in such countries as England, Germany, and France.
Despite many difficulties and obstacles pre-revolutionary cooperation in several fields was impressive. By 1913 cooperative dairies excluded private plants. In 1912 was founded People’s bank of Moscow, where 85% of shares belonged to cooperatives. Since 1916 individuals were not allowed to purchase its shares at all.
Consumer cooperatives weredeveloped the most before World War I, as a response to the rise in essential goods’ prices. Rural consumer cooperatives made up to 80% of the total number of cooperatives.
The rise of productive forces in agriculture demanded stable sources of financing. A key role in this process played the credit cooperation. There were 14586 credit cooperatives in Russia; approximately 37 % of farms were involved in this cooperation. Almost 90% of loans, taken by farmers, were not used for the development of productive forces and rarely were used for building houses and personal expenses.
Agricultural societies were very popular among the farmers. There were 5795 societies in 1925 in Russia. The society was in charge of organizing rolling tracts, machinery and tools stations, warehouses and libraries etc. Professional societies of apiarists and poultry farmers were also founded etc.
Not bad results and achievements had production agricultural and craft guilds, companies and sales partnerships. At the end of the 19thcentury the first prototypes of the modern collective farms (kolkhoz) appeared, but they were not effective and soon came apart. Zemstvos’ reports stated that in this type of guilds farmers treated the property like it belonged to nobody. “As a result of paying no attention to improper horse, the majority of them howled from hunger or even from carelessness in feeding”- said in the report of the Pskov province zemstvo. (M.L. Kheisin The history of the cooperation in Russia. - L., 1926).
On the basis of examined experience and farmers’ psychology A. Chayanov formulated principles of the construction of agricultural cooperation: “Without destroying the working family farm, sorting out certain types of work and joining them together with neighbors in one business; to develop cooperative movement (A. Chayanov A short course of cooperation. - M., 1925. - P.6). Just as it is today in the past cooperative movement had a long way in order to develop. Tsarist government through the administrative sanctions created insuperable barriers on the cooperation way. It is enough to point out that the “Cooperation law”, which had been discussed in the government and State Duma several times, was not approved. This law was given a chance only by the Provisional Government on March 20th, 1917. The autocracy prevented the creation of cooperative unions. Until 1917 it was prohibited to organize credit partnerships.
At the beginning of the Soviet time the cooperation policy was very inconsistent.
Analysing Lenin’s works, devoted to these matters, examining the socialist cooperation construction, when Lenin was alive, it is allowed to distinguish several approaches in cooperative movement.
Despite such contrary approaches some positive results were reached: from stormy development of the cooperation in 1917 till its prohibition in 1919.
The question appears: why the autocracy and Russian industrial bourgeoisie tried to prevent the development of the cooperation? It is thought that even in the bourgeois society cooperation cannot be seen only as a capitalist form of economic management. Broad participation of population, principles of construction/ distribution of profits, credit conditions/ tough competition with private equity and in some field its exclusion indicates the new phenomenon in Russian economic life.
It is necessary to pay attention to the fact, which needs to be carefully looked at in modern conditions. At a certain period of time the cooperative movement is not satisfied with the purely economic sphere of activity and interferes with its interests and position in the political life.
In 1908 All-Russian Congress of cooperators completed its work earlier after the intervention of the police. Section of the rural consumer cooperatives, the representatives of the working group of cooperatives along with economic demands had made a number of political proposals.
Apparently one of the reasons of the cooperation prohibition in 1918-1920s in the Soviet Russia was its unwillingness to be a detached observer of the political life of the society. A. Chayanov made a very good expression about it at the I All-Russian Congress of cooperators in 1916:
“Fighting for the distribution of the national income, for other economic and national positions, farmers despite their numerical predominance were weaker, because they had been atomized and hadn’t had even rudiments of professional organization. That is why, it is quite natural, that they used in order to protect their professional interests the only organized structure, they had – the farmers’ cooperation.”
The shortage of the establishment of the cooperative type of ownership at present time is penetration and functioning of the black economy. This phenomenon is not new for the cooperation.
Since the beginning of the cooperation movement private equity had tried to penetrate in and function in this economic form. This tendency was common in 1918, when entrepreneurship was actually prohibited. This fact supports the idea that only one edict can’t change dramatically productive relations and to abolish the private property.
During the development of the cooperation in Russia, the cooperation itself fought against a false cooperation, using public opinion and state structures.