Co-operation and Capitalism Mixed
CO-OPERATION AND CAPITALISM MIXED.
BY W. H. VAN ORNUM.
Before proceeding to my real subject I want to say a word for the TWENTIETH CENTURY. Its present attitude is one which is so far in advance of anything that has characterized it since Mr. Pentecost left the helm that one can scarcely realize that it is the same paper. It no longer busies itself with little palliatives, but outlines a clear and distinct policy which goes at once to the very root of the whole matter. The number now before me, of August 24th, is especially gratifying. The TWENTIETH CENTURY is now fast regaining its proper place at the head of the advanced social thought in this country.
I wish to make one or two suggestions to Mr. Edward P. Faxon as to his scheme of a "Cooperative Industrial Union of America," Does it not look a little incongruous that a "cooperative union" should start out as a "stock company" with a fixed capital, and then go into the business of issuing interest bearing bonds? What would anyone buy these bonds for ex[cept] for the interest they bear; and what is the difference between subsisting on the interest of these bonds and those issued by the United States Government? His " cooperative union," even if successful, would simply be one more department store run by capitalistic methods for the benefit of its stock and bond holders. It would, according to Mr. Faxon's own showing, depend upon crushing competiturs in business, or forcing them to sell out to this new trust on "seeing the probability of their trade slipping away from them." The only hint of cooperation in all this is in the name; its methods are those of capitalism. Its hand is that of Esau, but its voice is the voice of Jacob. Is cooperation so poor that it must borrow the mantle of capitalism to cover itself? Capitalism and cooperation are the two opposing principles of human association. One is based upon human slavery and the other human liberty. One implies subjection, servitude and inequality, and the other equality-a universal brotherhood. They are as opposite as midnight is to noonday. They will no more mix one with the other than oil will mix with water.
Mr. Faxon anticipates opposition from "those who would like to see the continuance of the present system;" but his fears are groundless. They are the ones who will favor it, in order to save the present system from entire destruction. It is an old trick of capitalism to change its form whenever it is seriously attacked, in order to reappear in a new guise. But it is always the same horrid monster. It must be destroyed.
Let me suggest to Mr. Faxon the principles of cooperative banking as a far-better basis of a cooperative union than the capitalistic scheme he has outlined. To my mind that offers a basis for universal cooperation without an admixture of capitalism. And if the present financial panic should result in the general adoption of this plan it will prove a blessing in disguise. It will be the beginning of the end to the whole capitalistic abomination. Nor does it require any "national labor congress" to set it on foot.