Billeder på siden

ity" of the Social Democrats helped on the work without touching the political neutrality of the association. One factory after another combined with the "Trudowoj Ssojuss." The Social Democrats were the first who advised against the founding of other co-operative stores. At the end of March the association had only 1000 members; by the middle of July it' had 6000. It had a fund of 50,000 rubles and 12 shops for selling goods distributed throughout the factory quarters of the city. Of the search for dividends, such as we see in many Russian and sometimes in German associations, there is not a trace. The members of "Trudowoj Ssojuss" renounce not only the interest on the money invested, but dividends as well. All revenue must be used for the development of the society, and for the support of the unemployed. At present the association is beginning to found lecture courses for working men and schools for their children. At the meetings of "Trudowoj Ssojuss" the enthusiasm of the workers is so great, it reminds one of the days of Gapon.

But along with its advantages, this co-operative store has also its dark sides. In the first place, it is still in debt to a rich member who has bought well-equipped bakeries and leased thein to the society with the right to purchase. Now, in the beginning the feeling of solidarity was so strong in many of the members that they worked for the society without pay. For that reason the demands of the organized union bakers appear to them to be selfish. "The bakers want higher wages," say many of the members, "but we work for the good of the society for nothing, and what's more, the bakery at present is run at a loss."


But much more dangerous under present political conditions than this already settled contest with the bakers, is the enmity of the shopkeepers. The newly founded society by its economical activity has intensified class separation and class struggle more than a thousand orations could have done. The petty trading class separated itself from the working class-or rather the laborers deserted the traders. The Petersburg shopkeepers fell into a rage and founded in June 1907, the "traders alliance." The aims of the alliance were, from the start, of course: In the first place it would ruin the co-operative store by lowering prices-the resulting losses to be paid out of a common fund. Furthermore the "alliance" would spy upon the Society wherever it sold goods, and denounce its probable abuses in the press. But as all this did not avail, the shopkeepers resorted to denunciation. They informed the police that the society transported bombs along with bread, that its neutrality was only a pretense, and that one day it would prove a danger to the state. The story of the bombs was so absurd, that even the government did not believe it.

Such is the co-operative outlook in Petersburg. In other cities a movement of the same sort may be observed. In Moscow, in the Government of Perm, etc., the factory co-operatives are emancipating themselves from the factory bosses; and following them in other places are the railway co-operatives who would throw off the yoke of bureaucracy. In Baku in Charkow, it is the merchants' employees who wish to organize co-operative unions.

Other unions in Warsaw, Ekaterinoslav, Tula, Astrachan, etc., greet enthusiastically the new co-operative idea. The idea of union co-operation gains ground, and in Petersburg the organized merchants' employees have founded (beginning of August 1907) a co-operative kitchen where they take their meals. The association of printers also have opened a kitchen, and intend shortly to open a retail shop and a printing press.

The inclination toward co-operative production is very strong in Russian workingmen, perhaps because the obsolete, original "Artel" was nothing else than a band of co-operative producers. The leaders have much diffiiculty in weaning the workingmen from this idea. Isolated, unconnected with co-operative stores, these productive associations are seldom profitable.

In Petersburg, in July, a tailors' association was formed. The hat-makers intend to form a productive association. The sausage-makers, in connection with "Trudowoj Ssojuss" have the same intention. In the Government of Ufa the workmen were actually desirous of leasing a mismanaged and bankrupt government mine; but the government would not listen to the request. Co-operative mines and factories seem to them dangerous, as being "socialistic experiments." "The workers"-they think "cannot conduct a business without the undertaker; if they should succeed, the belief in the indispensability of the capitalists would be shattered."

We have said that the labor leaders [Arbeiterführer] hold themselves aloof from the idea of the production association As we have seen, this is not their attitude toward the co-operative stores. Especially the trade union leaders [Gewerkschaftsführer] lay great stress upon the organization of the co-operatives, in connection with production. The Moscow workingmen have called upon the coming labor congress to give the co-operative stores organized help: Otherwise their delegates will leave the congress. But this threat is superfluous. The Petersburg unions have already (end of July) prepared a resolution in favor of the co-operative stores for the approaching congress. According to the resolution, both sides must unite, and submit all possible differences to a commission of delegates from both organizations. Curiously enough, the unions ask in this resolution that

[ocr errors]

the co-operative stores shall render them financial aid. But at present this is impossible, not because the Russian co-operative stores lack means, but on other grounds. In 1904 the association expended nearly 30,000 rubles for education and for relief work.* But the immaturity of many of the co-operative stores and the political situation, put many obstacles in the way. There are some members who denounce every "political" step. The great factory co-operative stores in Sormovo was suppressed because of taking part in the "armed uprising" in December 1905, and has only recently got permission to re-open. The largest Russian co-operative store, that of the railway employees in Perm, which counts 12,000 members, was in the spring of 1906 openly denounced in the press. It was said that it sold weapons in order to organize the uprising. Then, too, many were displeased because this co-operative store at the end of 1906 contributed for the families of members ordered to strike, 100 rubles out of the surplus fund. The sending of two cartloads of wheat to the starving peasants in 1907, was the only thing that re

ceived a unanimous vote.

Taken all in all, the co-operative movement has a future in Russia. In 1904, two hundred and ninety-one unions out of the thousand made a yearly output of nearly 37,000,000 rubles, and had almost 1,700,000 rubles surplus. One hundred and eighty co-operative stores are establishing a promising wholesale concern in Moscow. For a new movement which dates only from the end of the seventies, when it was begun by the well-known Marxist, N. Sieber, these are significant figures. BY DR. TOTOMJANZ,

(St. Petersburg.)

(Translated from the Neue Zeit.)

From the author's latest statistics of the co-operative stores.


The Panic.

By far the most important event of the month has been the financial disturbance. It is rather interesting that the ink was scarcely dry on the editorial in this magazine last month, questioning whether there would ever be another panic than we seemed to be launched full into the midst of one,

To be sure there is still some question of whether all the phenomena of an industrial crisis will follow, or whether, after a brief period of financial upheaval, there will be only a steady industrial depression, or possibly a revival. It is certain that never before has there been such a conscious control of affairs by great industry as has been shown during the past few weeks, but it still remains to be seen just how effective that control is in the deeper industrial phases of the subject.

It would seem that the industrial up-sweep had reached its greatest height, and that the income of the future had been mortgaged by the inflation of securities to such an extent as to produce, in the financial world at least, all the phenomena of over production.

Then came the battle between Heinze and the Standard Oil crowd, upon the one side and the conflict between some of the great trust magnates and the Roosevelt trust-busting crusade. These disturbances were enough to give the final touch that set the whole structure tumbling.

The first sign of any trouble was a decline in the price of certain stocks. This called for more margins, or increased collateral, from speculators and borrowers. The money needed for this purpose was not at hand, and the towering mass of credit that had been pyramided upon the small amount of actual currency began to totter. A money stringency occurred in New York. A frantic effort was made to quarantine the trouble in the city of its origin. If the New York banks could withstand the strain it was thought that the remaining financial institutions of the country would be safe. So money

was poured into the metropolis from all directions. At almost the first call for help from the gamblers, the national government forgot its trust busting and rushed to the rescue. The United States treasury was swept clearer than it has been for years in the hope of stemming the tide. More than $100,000,000 was supplied by the national government, leaving a scant $17.000,000 in the national treasury, a sum that would ordinarily be considered far below the safety point.

This vast sum of money was still all too little. It was secured by deposits of government bonds, and it was then proposed that ordinary securities be substituted for these, in order that the government bonds might be released to form a basis of national banknote issues. This is now being done and several million dollars more will be added to the currency in this way, and the national government will have loaned to the great capitalists of this country, without interest some two or three hundred millions of dollars at a time when money was worth from six to one hundred per cent in the market.

But all these efforts did not succeed in preventing the escape of the panic germ from New York. But when the disease spread to the remainder of the country it found the financial institutions of other cities already beggared for the assistance of the eastern banks. This process had been made all the easier by the fact that the law permits the banks in the small cities to keep the amount which they are required to hold in reserve against possible demands of their depositors, in certain great banks located in financial centers, and particularly in New York. So it was that by the time the panic had spread outside New York, the money had already been withdrawn from the banks outside that city.

There was no possible way by which the money of the depositors could be paid out if they demanded it, and it soon became evident that they were going to demand it. The money was not there and the only thing the banks could do was to give an exhibition of a magnificent bluff. By a concerted agreement the banks of the United States quietly informed their depositors that they could not have their money. There is no question but that such action is illegal. We are not raising any question of its desirability. It is easily possible that in this crisis it was the best thing for all concerned, although we will by no means grant this without argument. But it is absolutely certain that if this power is to be exercised, if all laws are to be swept aside at certain times, if the right of private property is to be abolished or suspended in certain things at certain periods, that some one ought to exercise this power besides a body of bankers who are mightily interested in the financial results of such action. It may be, on the other hand, that the precedent thus established will prove to be a handy thing at some future time. If a victorious laboring class should decide to take a few laws into its own hands

« ForrigeFortsæt »