• John Stuart Mill et le coopérativisme




    C'est en lisant l'ouvrage final de Rawls, Justice as fairness, que je suis tombé, un peu par hasard, sur un passage où l'auteur mentionne en passant la position de John Stuart Mill par rapport aux résultats d'un marché libre. Voyez plutôt (page 178 de l'édition anglaise de 2001) :

    « Mill believed that people would much prefer to work in [worker-managed firms] ; this would enable the firms to pay lower wages while being highly efficient. In due course these firms would increasingly win out over capitalist firms. A capitalist economy would gradually disappear and be peacefully replaced by worker-managed firms within a competitive economy. »

    Sur le plan de l'histoire des idées c'est très intéressant car je croyais (peut-être naïvement) que cette anticipation (analyse) quant aux résultat d'un marché libre (freed markets) était davantage contemporaine. Après tout, le Center for a Stateless Society a seulement dix années et c'est le principal organisme (à ma connaissance) à s'intéresser à ce type de thèses. Nous voilà donc avec un auteur fameux qui fit cette anticipation dans son ouvrage de 1848 Principles of Political Economy (book IV, chapter 7).


    Le chapitre en question s'intitule On the probably futurity of the labouring classes. Vous pouvez le trouver (ainsi que le reste de l'ouvrage) en libre accès ici.

    Extraits :

    When, however, co-operative societies shall have sufficiently multiplied, it is not probable that any but the least valuable work-people will any longer consent to work all their lives for wages merely; both private capitalists and associations will gradually find it necessary to make the entire body of labourers participants in profits.

    Eventually, and in perhaps a less remote future than may be supposed, we may, through the co-operative principle, see our way to a change in society, which would combine the freedom and independence of the individual, with the moral, intellectual, and economical advantages of aggregate production; and which, without violence or spoliation, or even any sudden disturbance of existing habits and expectations, would realize, at least in the industrial department, the best aspirations of the democratic spirit, by putting an end to the division of society into the industrious and the idle, and effacing all social distinctions but those fairly earned by personal services and exertions. 

    As associations multiplied, they would tend more and more to absorb all work-people, except those who have too little understanding, or too little virtue, to be capable of learning to act on any other system than that of narrow selfishness.

    As this change proceeded, owners of capital would gradually find it to their advantage, instead of maintaining the struggle of the old system with work-people of only the worst description, to lend their capital to the associations; to do this at a diminishing rate of interest, and at last, perhaps, even to exchange their capital for terminable annuities.

    In this or some such mode, the existing accumulations of capital might honestly, and by a kind of spontaneous process, become in the end the joint property of all who participate in their productive employment: a transformation which, thus effected, (and assuming of course that both sexes participate equally in the rights and in the government of the association)
    would be the nearest approach to social justice, and the most beneficial ordering of industrial affairs for the universal good, which it is possible at present to foresee. »

    Petit extrait de conclusion tiré du même chapitre sur un thème connexe :

     [Socialists] forget that wherever competition is not, monopoly is; and that monopoly, in all its forms, is the taxation of the industrious for the support of indolence, if not of plunder. » 




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