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The Political Economy of ProgressJohn Stuart Mill and Modern Radicalism$
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Joseph Persky

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780190460631

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190460631.001.0001

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Cooperatives, Unions, and Economic Democracy

Cooperatives, Unions, and Economic Democracy

Chapter:
(p.133) Chapter 9 Cooperatives, Unions, and Economic Democracy
Source:
The Political Economy of Progress
Author(s):

Joseph Persky

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190460631.003.0009

The key argument of this volume is that Mill saw laissez-faire capitalism as a transitional state. For Mill the concrete manifestation of this transition was to be found in the rise of cooperative production facilities. In the new economy, Mill anticipated that the material and psychological independence of workers would be built on the emergence of a substantive cooperative movement. As education raised workers’ capacities and expectations, those workers would be increasingly unsuited for the mindless subservience of the capitalist employment relationship. Although as a young man Mill had argued against the economics of Owen and Thompson, after the French Revolution of 1848 Mill consistently moved to the left, making a radical case for cooperatives. He rejected independent proprietorship as inefficient, profitsharing as a half measure unlikely to satisfy the working classes, and nationalization as mind-numbing and bureaucratic. Mill looked forward to unions becoming focal points of cooperative development.

Keywords:   Mill, cooperatives, Owen, Thompson, French Revolution of 1848, independent proprietorship, profitsharing, nationalization, trade unions

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