Politics in Minutes (2016)

Community, cooperation and common ownership

One element of utopian socialism that found an early application was the idea of collectivism – communities collectively taking responsibility for production of goods and service, and their distribution. While the idea is common to all strands of socialist thinking, it has also operated successfully within capitalist societies. The idea of was pioneered by the cooperative movement of Rochdale, in north England, in the 19th century, and continues in many countries today.

Quite separate from government, cooperatives are autonomous not-for-profit businesses or organizations owned and managed by their members for their mutual benefit. The best known are consumer cooperatives – the collectively owned and run retail outlets and chains – and cooperative insurance services, but there are also workers’ and housing cooperatives, and credit unions that provide for the needs of the community. While not formally aligned with any political ideology, the movement is an example of the socioeconomic principle of socialism in practice.

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The original cooperative store in Rochdale is now a museum.