Future Commonwealths: Civic Identity and Economic Rhetoric in Cooperation, 1914-1924
Advisorde Jong, Greta
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This study explores the changing relationship between civic identity and economic rhetoric between the recession of 1913-14 and the years immediately following the recession of 1920-21 as represented by the main organ of the American consumer cooperative movement, Cooperation (originally called The Co-operative Consumer). Published originally by the Consumers' Cooperative Union and later by the Cooperative League of the United States, Cooperation promoted a revolutionary political economy and culture against "the evils of private capitalism and private profit." Targeted at cooperative organizers and members, the purpose of Cooperation was to facilitate cooperative organization and education, to report events concerning cooperatives, and to be a vehicle for cooperators, both nationally and internationally, to share ideas and strategies. Examining the ways in which this dialogue served to construct and refine cooperative thought in terms of revolutionary strategy and technique, this essay argues that cooperators' thought ultimately transcended consumer organization and translated into an alternate conceptualization of civic and political participation that attempted to balance radical communitarianism with an ideal of commutative justice.