Review of the Book
What is Cooperation?
by James Peter Warbasse
Joseph Dana Miller
[A review of the book, What is Cooperation?
James Peter Warbasse, published by The Vanguard Press, New York,
This is another of the Vanguard Press series treating of various
phases of social philosophies. Socialism, Single Tax, etc., are, as
our readers know, treated in books that have preceded it.
The author of this book is the outstanding authority on Cooperation
and president of the Cooperative League. Cooperative Democracy
published in 1923, and reissued in a revised edition in 1927, is the
larger work of the same author on which the present manual is based.
There is here everything the general reader will want to know of the
reasons for and history of Cooperation in the United States and in
Great Britain, in which latter country the movement has attained such
There is a chapter entitled "Criticism of Proposed Remedies"
which is, on the whole, not unfair. On the subject of the Single Tax
the author is in error in saying that "it would result in State
ownership of the land." Perhaps, however, the author means
people-owned, and this would be true in essence if not in form.
Mr. Warbasse says: "It would not change the motive nor method of
business." He is silent, however, on whether it would or would
not change the mater of distribution, and that is the important thing,
whether production be carried on cooperatively or competitively. Many
Single Taxers are affiliated with the Cooperative League, but most of
us regard it as only one of the proposals for economic betterment
which must be largely nullified as long as the source of all wealth
the land is the private possession of the few.
We may say that cooperation is better than the reasons given for it.
Under our present system it has its value; under a system where the
rent of land was taken by the people and all natural resources were
peopled-owned, there would be a vast extension of cooperative
enterprises, and these would be largely substituted for individual
enterprise, though cooperation would never wholly take its place for
obvious reasons. But its progress under economic freedom would
probably astound Mr. Warbasse if he is fortunate enough to live so
long. For the workers will then be free to cooperate as they are not
now, for there is a partner in all productive enterprises with whom
real cooperation is quite impossible the owner of the land. Men who
cooperate do so with the idea of each participating and contributing
some effort which we call labor, but the landlord contributes no
effort and no capital. Even if he throws in his land, rent free, he is
only giving what was here before him. Usually, however, he will demand
to be paid for his land, and if so there is just that much less for
the real cooperators.
We have a fairly well grounded suspicion that Mr. Warbasse is not
ignorant of this fact.