What is a cooperative?
Note: According to Alphonse Desjardins, what are the advantages of a cooperative?
Association is the ultimate leverage. This is a truth that is far from being understood in its entirety by everyone. Used the most by those who need it the least (those with social and material resources), it is neglected or ignored by those who need it the most to supplement their personal and economic needs. Association helps to improve wages and working conditions. It is the basis for labour unions. It is there to help in family crises such as illness and death. It is our corporate emergency aid… Why then is this great way of achieving so many goals not used to promote and protect the material interests of the sometimes agonizing problems of the working class?
We will try to demonstrate that their economic association is necessary to overcome present or imminent economic dangers and to allow them to improve their material situation […] In this new association, it is no longer capital that dominates or dictates the rules, but the individual. Capital is merely an accessory. All people experience the same needs and seek the same legitimate satisfactions. However, they are also faced with the same economic problems. The principle of association allows for a society where there is perfect equality, where the most humble shareholder feels comfortable and is protected. Influence on and management of the association is the same for each member. As in any well-ordered society, no one person can claim anything or force an issue solely for his or her own advantage because this is harmful to the rest of the community. We have called this organization a “cooperative.”
Source of extract: Free translation of Alphonse Desjardins, La Vérité, 24 septembre 1910. Cité dans Yvan Lamonde et Claude Corbo, Le rouge et le bleu : Une anthologie de la pensée politique au Quebec de la Conquête à la Révolution tranquille, Montréal, PUM, 1999,
French (If available)