Timmy Elsewhere

At the ASI.

Hurrah for John Lewis and worker\’s co-operatives. It\’s free markets in ownership structures that allow such wondrous things to happen: and said markets are vastly more important to us than capitalism, one form of ownership, is.

1 thought on “Timmy Elsewhere”

  1. I’ve got nothing against the cooperative form, Tim. But they’re nothing much different and certainly don’t detract from the obvious close connection, on the one hand, between the development of human society, in which private property has figured from the very earliest imaginable circumstances and, on the other, with capitalism, which developed directly from earlier methods of production–already committed to private property, in the main.

    Free markets are, if not synoymous with the capitalist mode of production and the institution of private property, at least intimately bound with them: all three are the natural accompiments of human liberty.

    Forms of ownership (other than that apparent by possession) are, necessarily, “legal fictions” designed to define such ownership and to minimize disputes. We define a “trust” legally. We define a business unit called a “cooperative.” To the extent these entities participate in the market and have no chartered purpose to avoid profit and make losses, they are merely part of the capitalist mode of production. The units themselves may benefit (whether “unfairly” or not is not the question here) from certain legal protections or exemptions, etc. but, in this respect, do not differ from other agglomerations such as partnerships, registered companies, limited-liability companies, corporations, etc. except in the particular applicable restrictions and exemptions associated witth them.

    It is true that units with the name “cooperative” have a certain cachet, especially with those inclined to suspicion of more ordinary business entities. But cooperatives have no (except legally-conferred) business advantages over other forms; they are no less interested in making profits for their members (and thus are no “better deal” for consumers).

    Moreover, if you investigate, even superficially, most of the types of entity called “cooperative,” you will find something unsurprising (at least to me)–that they are the product of at least one (though sometimes more) “entrepreneur” and that this person will occupy some position similar to that of a CEO insofar as is concerned compensation and prestige. This was probably true even of the cooperative “pasture associations” operating in England centuries ago (draining swamp, etc.) and in the US right up to the present time.

    If you want a look at a truly “different form of ownership,” take a look at “syndicalism” and see where that has led in the past.

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