The history of cooperatives as a form of economic organization is fascinating. I have been reading a book about experiments in my own country that have been done in the last century, and some features came out very strongly:
when there is a collective of workers with shared ownership on a socialist basis there have been fights about the height of salary, problems with investing in growth, keeping up with capitalist competitors, lack of reserve funds for periods of demand collapse, refusal from capitalist companies to deliver raw materials, lack of an appropriate base of customers, etc.
Ideals and expectations often were too high and unrealistic. So, many cooperatives went out of business, especially after the great depression in the 30's and world war II.
In Third World countries we see today a more successful approach where farmers have organized themselves to from cooperatives to grow and sell coffee, cacao, sugar, bananas, to name a few products. NGOs have played a major role in this, financing the setup and securing distribution, eliminating spurious intermediate trade and securing a customer base through the promotion of Fair Trade products.
One way we can support this trend is by buying these Fair Trade products. By doing this, one helps a lot of families to raise their standard of living. These families can save some money for education of their children, provide for health care, and so on. This is a moral choice, perhaps even an obligation for spiritual oriented people. The obligation for the cooperatives is to provide for good quality of products, care for the environment and reasonable prices.
What do you think?