CO-OPERATION IN ENGLAND.
"There was an exhibition at the Crystal Palace, London, during September, of co. partnership productions under the auspices of the English labor organisations. Wa • read that the exhibition ** was not materially larger than in former years, but there was a great advance in its artistic appearance. The centre of the hall was occupied by the largo show Case of "the Glasgow United . Baking Society, who exhibited, lor the fits*! time. This base was & glass shbp in itself. Of societies who exhibited in former years ■ quite a number had .provided themselves with show oases during the year. Tfin result was to show their goods to much greater advantage. The United Bakers, Society of London, the printers of Netting* ham, the general builders, and the boot* makers of Long Buckly exhibited for the first time. Altogether there were forty-five societies exhibiting.” Among the speakers at the opening of the Exhibition was the Agent-General for New Zealand, who spoke as fbllows Ladies and Gentlemen, —I have come some little distance—from Fiance that is—in order to be here to day. I am well repaid. Sympathising as I do. thoroughly and altogether, with the principles that underlie co-operation in all forms, but most of all with co-operation when it takes the shape of production, it would have been pleasant enough for me to be here,if only as a looker on. But to have the duty assigned to me of opening the exhibition is an honor indeed, and one for- which I heartily thank the Labor Association. Iraayaay: more, for I feel myself repaid for any little trouble .1. may have taken were it only by the honor of sitting on the same platform with Mr Ludlow. Mr Ludlow is almost the last of the active" workers in that band of whom Maurice and ■ Kingsley and Neale and he were distinguished leaders. Most of them are indeed gone from among ns, but the bond has never died j the principles of Christian Socialism are as alive as ever. ' Let me as a friend and bumble ally congratulate you upon the vitality of co-operative production as shown by this striking display to-day. A few years ago labor co-partnership was at best glimmering, as shines a little, candle in the dark. 1 , ls a R°Uen candlestick with more than 150 branches. Long may it bold up its light-ra beacon and a protest against selfishness, sweating, fraud—against all that is cheap and nasty and against all that makes the second commandment a mockery ! The-movement has been long in coming to practical success, but nowit has reached that point, and its progress is going on at a rate, for the statistics show that in' the last thirteen years it has increased twelvefold. Englishmen like facts. Let them come, here and they will find them. I should like to get an outanb;put individualist and take him round this exhibition as a punishment to show him what combined action can do. He would find fustian here, but not of the ordinary platform variety. One thing he would not find, and that is hats Co-operators, I suppose, have been too busy attending to the iiftide of men’s heads to pay attention to the outside. , , Thinking men may well differ as to the precise forms into which co-operation may evolve and as to the precise share likely to be taken in that evolution by private co-operative societies; but I can scarcely understand their differing as to the value of the societies as an example'and aii- experiment. I am referring to those amongst thinking men who are profoundly dissatisfied with the world s present industrial system. And if we look around us, and look searchingly, there would seem—despite gold discoveries and trade booms—to be as ample reason as ever for this dissatisfaction. _ I have only to mention the Penhryn-quarries, the engineers’ lock-out, agricultural depression, the class war looming near in the United States, the fraudulent means by which certain foreign , companies strike at English trade, the equally fraudulent means by wnich certain English retailers manipulate colonial food imports, to remind you that famine and pestilence are not the only evils that arise in this glorious and-as years go by—prosperous year of Jubilee. Fortunately the great principles which animate co-operators are spreading, and not in this part of the Em pire alone. In the colonies, as also abroad, men have grasped them and are applying them—in their own way. Our numerous dairy factories and farmers associations (and in New Zealand alone we have 170 co-operative dairies) deal both with production and distribution, with imports and with exports. Many of our State functions are in truth forms-., of co-operation, forms which tuo members of small demo* crane societies co-operate- rather than allow themselves to be exploited by powerful individuals. A truly democratic community is essentially a co-operative society. In New Zea-. land the system under which Government work* men, associated in small groups, become themselves contractors, to the exclusion of middlemen, has been on the whole a striking success. It is. a happy mean between the old contractor system ■" and mere daywork under direct employment.-" It' . is capable of improvement, but in it is the germ of a most noteworthy and valuable advance on both ordinary contracts and ordinary wage labor. Let me. contrast the scene pow before me with
sne I can well retail. Three years ago I stepped on to the. bank of a river flowing through an Australian wilderness There, scores of miles from towns or anything that could be called human society, hemmed in by league after league of sun-scorched, dusty, thirsty, straggling “scrub,” some little bands of men and women were struggling to make homes for themselves. Huts had Been built, gardens laid out, orchards and vineyards planted, wheatfields sown; and with infinite toil irrigation machinery was being erected and the'dry soil watered. Amid desolation, under broiling heat, poorly fed and worse clothed, these pioneers were yet making headway were conquering strips and patches in the desert. They were banded together" in associations, and their motto was “ Co-operation, not Communism.” Like you, they were heralds in the wilderness, redeeming a bit of soil here and there, giving a valuable object lesson and contributing their mite towards solving the great Thus, in the far comers of the earth, as here in this great capital of capital, you will find co-operation doing its good work.
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CO-OPERATION IN ENGLAND., Evening Star, Issue 10469, 12 November 1897