Front Page Titles (by Subject) 2.: Cooperation 28 MARCH, 1864 - The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XXVIII The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XXVIII - Public and Parliamentary Speeches Part I November 1850 - November 1868
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2.: Cooperation 28 MARCH, 1864 - John Stuart Mill, The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XXVIII The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XXVIII - Public and Parliamentary Speeches Part I November 1850 - November 1868 
The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XXVIII - Public and Parliamentary Speeches Part I November 1850 - November 1868, ed. John M. Robson and Bruce L. Kinzer (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1988).
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The Reasoner (then subtitled The Secular World and Social Economist), XXVIII (1 May, 1864), 116–17. Dated in text “Easter Monday.” Headed: “Great Co-operative Soiree in London. / Speech of Mr. J.S. Mill.” Also in The Co-operator, No. 52 (June 1864), pp. 4–6. Both journals were the property of George Jacob Holyoake, who says, in his J.S. Mill as Some of the Working Classes Knew Him (London: Trübner, 1873), p. 5: “The first time [Mill] appeared at a public meeting and made a speech was at the Whittington Club, before a large tea gathering of co-operators with their wives and families. I was asked to urge him to speak. . . . [H]ad it not been for the evidence of so many women taking part in co-operative economy, . . . he, I suspect had not spoken then.” The organizing group was the London Society for Promoting Co-operation. The Chair was taken by Edward Vansittart Neale. His speech was followed by those of Lloyd Jones, Dr. Bowker, and Henry Pitman (editor of The Reasoner). Then Mill spoke.
i have very little to say, but that little will be to express my sense of the great value of such societies as this is, as a central organ in London, and possibly for much more than London. It appears to me that the value of such a society consists not solely or principally in the great advantage it affords, to bring into a single focus the interests and efforts of its members, so as to carry on, as this purposes to do, that joint operation for their common benefit; it is not this merely which seems to me to constitute the principal value of a central organ like this—but it is also to be a moral organ, to keep before the eyes of co-operators true principles. What does this mean? Does it mean merely a contrivance by which a small number of persons, or a small number of societies can eat or drink that which is wholesome, and eat and drink it at the lowest price? This is certainly not an unimportant thing; but this is a small thing, and co-operation is a great thing. No doubt it is very desirable, and, indeed, important, that some hundreds of persons or societies should improve their condition—if they should do so, I would be very glad, and should greatly rejoice at it,—and that they should purchase what they want more cheaply and of better quality than they have been accustomed to do. But this is not co-operation. It is not co-operation between a few persons to join for the purpose of making a profit from cheap purchases, by which one, two, or more might benefit. Co-operation is where the whole of the produce is divided. aWe want, not to benefit a few, but to elevate the whole working class.a This principle has been so well stated before, that I should not venture to insist upon it after the admirable manner in which it has been put by previous speakers; but it is absolutely necessary to insist upon it, and it is impossible to insist upon it too strongly. It is not bgenuineb co-operation, where any of the cco-operators are excluded from the division of the whole producec . Anything else than such participation in the produce, is nothing more than raising working people into the position of employers. Now, what is wanted is, that the whole of the working classes should partake of the profits of labour. (Cheers.) We want that the whole produce of labour shall, as far as the nature of things will permit, be divided among the workers. The nature, however, of things dfixes certain limitations. But the whole of the produce of labour can be divided amongst the workers only to the extent that it is obtained fromd their own industry. So long as profits are thus obtained, and the workers are in possession of capital, they will naturally receive,—as they are entitled to receive,—the whole of the produce; but as long as they are not in possession of means sufficient, or cannot employ their labour, they will need to be aided by greater means—by the capital of those ewho, ore whose progenitors have accumulated it by their labour for acquired it by their intelligence. Thosef who furnish a portion of the capital, will, no doubt, be entitled to a portion of the profit. The earnings of capital are not large—its remuneration is not great. Three per cent. is but little for its use; that is the rate with the Government, where the security is the best given. Capitalists are satisfied with four per cent. from some of the railway companies, where the security is not so good. This is all that can be obtained for the risk implied in its investment. Now, we are not to suppose that co-operation may not be made as safe as railway companies. Indeed, you may ultimately hope that the workers will be able to divide among themselves the whole produce, with the exception of the small amount I have mentioned. Three, or four, or five per cent., five pounds out of £100, is but a small deduction. Who can say that this is too much, or that it is unreasonable for the use of capital to be applied to the purposes of labour? Few societies would think of offering a less consideration gthan that to their own members to induce them to save, and put their savings into the joint concerng . Many people think, although the co-operatives have very judiciously and very rightly shown no hostility to any other class—no desire on their own account to bring any other class down, yet that their aims are unattainable. A difficulty is felt; and it is said, what is to become of capital, if you succeed to the extent you hope for? In the first place, it is necessary to state that this is a gradual process; for as long as there are hany working people who are dishonest—as long as there are any who are idle, who are intemperate, who are spendthrifts—so long there will be working people who are only fit to beh receivers of wages. We are enabled to judge of those who are honest and trustworthy in the same way as we are to judge who is untrustworthy, so that, while we ought not to give our confidence rashly, there is also a danger in withdrawing it rashly when it has been once reasonably, and after due consideration, given. Here are two dangers; and it follows, that, so long as there are persons unworthy to take a part in great operations, there must be persons receivers of wages. iIt is only when the entire working class shall be as much improved as the best portion of them now are that our hopes will be realised, and the whole mass of the people will practically adopt co-operation.i There is no fear that there will be any disturbance of existing interests, that there will be any disposition to avoid taking part in the working out the problem. Nothing will last any longer than the circumstances which necessitate it. There is no fear that co-operation will spread faster than the co-operators jimprovej . It is not an easy thing. It is certain there will be, for many generations a great scope for labour in common way of wages. It is only in proportion as the lower grades rise to the level of the higher classes—it is only in proportion as that great change takes place, that the advantages of co-operation will be individually felt; and persons will become ashamed of not taking their due share in the work; and no difficulty whatever will be felt of obtaining capital to co-operate with labour. This will be a new millennium, which it requires but little knowledge to comprehend as entirely practical. We want, then, the co-operation of all workers—such ought to be our object. We ought to proceed towards this cautiously and tentatively, and never attempt to do an act which we feel will not be recommended by right principle. We ought to be content with steady persevering co-operation. I do not mean that the industrial or commercial operations of co-operatives can or ought to be carried on on some gigantic scale; for all such operations as you contemplate are in their essence limited. That which can be carried on from your side, must be necessarily small. The duty of all such co-operative societies is first, that they should help one another, that they should encourage those who have gone first, and shown the others the way to go,—how to succeed, and the sort of success worth having. (Cheers.) How to succeed will be learned by degrees. Co-operators will learn by practice. It is not an easy thing: if it had been, people would not have waited until this period for it. It cannot advance further than the minds and morals of the people engaged in it knor faster than honest and competent men and women can find howk to manage its concerns. It cannot progress faster than the lability to distinguish those who are trustworthy, and the willingness to trust them when foundl . These are the points on which co-operators are most in danger of failing—in the first place in not having competent and trustworthy managers; and, in the next place, to have them and not to know them. (Hear.) Then, what is the success to be kept in view! mBut when this great improvement in the mind of the people has taken place,—when all have become capable of co-operation, and most have adopted it,—I believe that the owners of property will be ashamed to be the only persons who do not take their share in the useful work of the world, and will be willing to invest their capital in co-operative societies, receiving a fair interest for its use. This is the millennium towards which we should strive. I do not mean that the industrial or commercial operations of particular co-operative societies can or ought to be carried out upon some gigantic scale. All that such societies as this can do, is in its nature limited. But this co-operative societies can do—they can help one another. Those who have succeeded can encourage and show the way to others; and they can keep constantly in view both the way to succeed, and the sort of success worth having. How to succeed will be learned by degrees—co-operators will learn by practice.m I confess, if there were no other object in view than that persons who are original members should make themselves a little better off, I should not be addressing you to-night. I should be glad of it. I should be rejoiced at any person being improved in his position. This, however, is a small thing compared with co-operation. What we ought to aim at is, not to enable a small number of persons to rise, but all workers to share in the profits of labour. It all depends upon keeping right principles in view. All depends upon the disposition to put into practice the excellent principles that Mr. Lloyd Jones has expounded.1 I believe there are many co-operators who are fully imbued with these principles, and I believe that the number is increasing. It is because I believe this n—and therefore feel assured thatn co-operation will ultimately regenerate the masses of the country, and through them society itself, that I have ventured to address you this evening. (Loud cheering.)
[Following Mill, the Rev. Henry Solly (a long-time friend of Mill’s family) and George Jacob Holyoake spoke.]
[c-c]C producers are excluded from the profits
[d-d]C which is too strong for all of us, will not allow that the labourers should have the whole produce of labour, unless they own the capital; and they can only do this when they have acquired it by
[f-f]C and intelligence, and accumulated it by their own frugality; and those
[g-g]C] R for it than that
[h-h]C] R working people, there will also be the idle, the imprudent, and the spendthrift, who will remain the
[i-i]C] R We are looking forward to the time when the whole mass of the people shall adopt the true principles of co-operation.
[j-j]C] R desire
[k-k]C , than honest men and women can be found
[l-l]C] R power to trust a person when you find him trustworthy
[1 ]The speech by Lloyd Jones (1811–86), socialist activist and author, which preceded Mill’s, is given in The Reasoner, XXVIII, 116.
[n-n]C] R , that I believe