THE STORY OF A PEACEFUL REVOLUTION.
THE EXAMPLE OF THE ROCHDALE PIONEERS.
THE decision of the Rochdale Pioneers to devote 2% per cent. of their net proﬁt to an educational fund has become historic; it marks indeed an epoch in co-operative history. With the ﬁrst proceeds of their 2% per cent. the early co-operators established reading and conversation rooms, where it became possible, for the ﬁrst time, for members to discuss the questions of the hour under their own roof. It would be difficult to over-estimate, and easy to under-estimate, the importance of this facility for intellectual communion sixty years ago. The cheapest newspapers cost from fourpence to sixpence each, and were beyond the reach of working men, of whom, indeed, a large proportion could neither read nor write. Circumstances have changed since then, but the idea expressed in the action of the Pioneers remains as a vitalising principle of co-operative organisation.
Records of the progress of co-operative education are nowhere well preserved or easily accessible, but it is certain that in the early days the educational funds of societies were frequently devoted to elementary instruction in its literal sense, and that many working people gained some notion of “the three R’s” thereby. We are told, for instance, that from 1850 to 1855 the Rochdale Pioneers conducted a school for young persons who willingly paid a fee of 2d. a month for the instruction provided. As time passed, however, the necessity for this kind of elementary school work became less, especially after the passing of the Education Act of 1870, under which the provision of primary education became the duty of the State. But for many years the co-operative educational fund was the means of providing working men with facilities for acquiring much general and, in some cases, technical and scientiﬁc knowledge.  This work would doubtless have grown more rapidly but for the artificial restrictions of the law. Under the Friendly Societies Acts and the Provident and Industrial Societies Act (1852) societies were permitted to provide by rule for educational purposes, but in the amendment of these Acts in 1855 the clause relating to the disposal of proﬁt was altered, in the case of the Industrial and Provident Societies Act, in such a way as to make provision for education technically illegal. Thus it came about that between 1855 and the Act of 1862 — when the power was restored to allot proﬁts to “any purpose allowed by the Friendly Societies Act, or otherwise permitted by law” — societies were unable to embody such a provision in their rules, and “got out of the way of thinking it an essential matter.”  Some continued, however, to make grants for propagandist purposes, and for many years “education” and “propaganda” were almost synonymous terms, not merely with the rank and ﬁle of the members but with most of the co-operative leaders as well.
At the 1869 Congress two papers on educational work were read, one of which advocated a wide extension of propagandist effort and the other the establishment of a co-operative college on a French or American model.  Since that time the subject has been discussed at almost every succeeding Congress, and a study of the records of these discussions, and of the many notable papers that provoked them, will reveal the gradual recognition of the idea of co-operative education as something differing from propaganda, and will enable the student to trace the growth of an increasingly earnest inquiry as to the best forms in which this central idea might receive practical expression.
PROFESSOR STUART’S DEFINITION.
Professor Stuart, in his inaugural address at the Gloucester Congress in 1879, pleaded for an extension of educational work, and gave co-operators not only a word of warning, which will bear repetition to-day, but a valuable deﬁnition of the lines upon which co-operative education should run.
ARNOLD TOYNBEE’S TRUMPET CALL.
In Arnold Toynbee’s paper on the Education of Co-operators, read at the Oxford Congress (1882), the full scope of the limitations and possibilities of their educational powers is stated with great clearness and force, and co-operators are apt to regard this Congress as marking the starting point of a new and vigorous growth of educational work, and Arnold Toynbee’s utterance as a trumpet call to the education of the citizen. He points out that elementary education is provided by the State; religious education is the task of the church; technical, and what is called the higher education, is the function of the employer, the State, and the universities, and then asks: —
ESTABLISHMENT OF THE EDUCATIONAL COMMITTEE OF THE UNION, 1885.
An important step in organisation and co-ordination of the work was made in 1885 when Congress agreed to the appointment of an educational committee of the Union, to act as a central advisory body to the societies in the Union. (See Chapter XXII., page 199.) This committee deﬁnes the object of Co-operative Education as “primarily the formation of co-operative character and opinions; and secondarily, though not necessarily of less import, the training of men and women to take part in industrial and social reforms and municipal life generally.” In framing the Programme which it issues each year, an endeavour is made to organise the education of co-operators, both directly, by the provision of special class teaching in the history, theory, and principles of the movement, and in economic, industrial, and constitutional history in so far as these subjects have a bearing on Co-operation; and indirectly, through advice and assistance given to local educational committees in the administration of their funds.
THE COMMITTEE OF INQUIRY, 1896.
At the Congress at Woolwich ( 1896) a special committee was appointed to inquire into and report on the educational work of the movement, and to prepare a scheme of educational work for co-operators. In this year (1896) there were 586 societies making educational grants, the total amount so allotted being £46,752. As a result of the inquiry and the consequently increased interest taken in educational work, the amount devoted to education had grown in 1902 to £73,608, allotted by 746 societies.
It is difficult to classify the various kinds of work carried on by educational committees, but the following three divisions may be taken as a fairly accurate indication of their scope:—
THE EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMME.
In the scheme of class work established by the Education Committee of the Co-operative Union provision is made for preliminary, elementary, and advanced stages in nearly all of the subjects taught, in most of which prizes, certiﬁcates, and scholarships are awarded upon the results of an examination. A special section of the class work is devoted to children under 16, many hundreds of whom are annually instructed in the fundamental principles and practices of Co-operation. The committee award prizes and “certiﬁcates of merit” to juniors passing the oral examination held at the end of the course, and “attendance” certiﬁcates to those who attend a speciﬁed number of lessons.
Important work is done in the teaching of co-operative bookkeeping, and in the examination of co-operative officials and auditors, to whom certiﬁcates are awarded which act as a valuable credential of proﬁciency. These classes are all organised through and by the committees of local societies. The committee has also a working arrangement with the Oxford University Extension Delegacy by which co-operative students can be examined and receive the certiﬁcates of the Delegacy as qualiﬁed teachers of economics, industrial history, and citizenship under the auspices of the Union.  The committee also act as the administrators of the scholarship funds founded in memory of Edward Vansittart Neale, Thomas Hughes, and Thomas Blandford.  The two former scholarships are for a four years’ course at Oriel College, Oxford, and are of the annual value of £100 each. The Blandford memorial takes the form of travelling scholarships of the value of £10 each, offered to two successful candidates in the Co-operative Union examination in the subject of Co-operation.
The annual programme is full of suggestions and instructions, and is based upon the accumulated experience of many years of experimental work, and is adapted from year to year to the growing needs of the societies and the extended operations of a steadily progressive educational policy.
EDUCATIONAL COMMITTEES OF SOCIETIES.
The growing importance of education as a deﬁnite part of the work of Co-operation led many societies to follow the example of the Rochdale Pioneers and appoint a special committee to carry on this part of the movement. The management committee found by experience that the commercial side of their work was sufficient to keep them fully employed. Moreover, educational subjects have a knack of slipping to the bottom of the agenda, and are liable to receive but secondary consideration under the pressure of business details.
The model rules of the Co-operative Union recommend the putting aside of 2½ per cent. of the proﬁts as a fund, and the election of a special committee for its administration, and the general tendency is for societies to fall in with this method: thus the educational committee has become a recognised part of the machinery of a large number of societies, and its work is provided for by rule.
There are still a number of societies who have neither educational fund nor committee; others administer the fund through a sub-committee of the management committee. The net amount of the fund available depends upon the size and local circumstances of the society, and the methods of administration vary as greatly as the sum to be administered.
It is frequently urged against co-operators that a considerable amount of their so-called educational work consists of social gatherings, tea meetings, and the like. However strongly educationalists may deprecate the use of the funds for these objects, those with any complete knowledge of the needs and desires of the people cannot but recognise a certain educative value in such methods of stimulating the social life of a co-operative society. To conﬁne the meaning of education to serious book study only is to restrict its area in a manner at once narrow and artiﬁcial and out of keeping with the broad ideal upon which the movement rests.
EDUCATIONAL COMMITTEE ASSOCIATIONS.
In Chapter XXII. the organisation of the work of the Union into sections and districts is dealt with. Not the least important part of the work in these districts is the holding of conferences on various subjects of interest or importance. Delegates from the societies attend, and frequently their opinion on the subject discussed is ascertained by vote. For some years the delegates attending were invariably drawn from the general committees and represented very largely the trading element only. With few exceptions, the educational committees had none but local status. This disability was the subject of discussion for some time, and at the Peterborough Congress in 1898 it was decided to form sectional Educational Committees’ Associations as auxiliaries to the central education committee upon the following lines:—
(1) That educational committees might combine upon a voluntary basis and form associations with the object of organising and extending educational work throughout their respective sections.
(2) That each association so formed be entitled to send one representative to the central educational committee of the Union, except the north-western section, which might send two representatives.
Associations have been formed in nearly all the sections, and a system of quarterly conferences has grown up which not only give educational committees a status not hitherto enjoyed, but do much to stimulate the work by giving opportunities for the exchange of ideas. These associations do not receive grants in aid from the Union, but are supported by fees subscribed by the local societies, generally out of the educational fund. They report annually to Congress through the sectional boards.
The Educational Associations are, even yet, to some extent upon their trial, but they are slowly gathering weight, and in all probability will become a deﬁnite part of the educational machinery of Co-operation, serving as a connecting link between the local committees and the central educational committee of the Co-operative Union.
THE WOMAN’S CO-OPERATIVE GUILD.
One of the chief auxiliary educational and propagandist agencies within the movement is the Women’s Co-operative Guild, which was inaugurated in 1883 with the object of organising women as co-operators. The Guild has attained its majority this year (1904) and has issued in commemoration of this event, a short historical account  of its organisation and activities, from which the following particulars are mainly gathered.
The inception of the Women’s Guild arose out of a correspondence in the Co-operative News, which in January, 1883, opened a special column to women under the editorship of Mrs. Arthur Dyke Acland. This correspondence included letters from Mrs. Lawrenson, of Woolwich, in which a “league,” with a board, conferences, and subscriptions was deﬁnitely suggested. “The league may be said to have been ﬁnally ﬂoated at the Edinburgh Co-operative Congress in June, 1883. There the membership rose from 14 to 50; an annual subscription of sixpence was decided on, the formation of local branches suggested, and the ﬁrst leaﬂet issued. 
The growth of the Guild has been continuous, and of recent years very rapid, the total number of members at the end of the 21st year being 18,600, and the number of branches 363. These vary in membership from 10 (the unit of a branch) to 700 women, and although the organisation is entirely self-governed, branches are not established except in connection with a co-operative society.
The organisation of the Guild follows the lines of the Co-operative Union in associating the branches into districts and sections approximating in area to those of the Union. These are all governed by committees elected from their special constituencies, while the whole Guild is ruled by its annual congress. A central executive committee of seven members being elected by all the branches. The object aimed at is healthy independence in local work, combined with response to the policy and suggestions coming from the centre. District conferences of branch delegates held usually three or four times in the year, sectional conferences held usually twice a year, prepare the way for the Congress of the Guild, which is rapidly becoming an annual event of considerable importance in the co-operative movement. Branches and districts usually adopt for local guidance the model branch and district rules which have been drawn up by the central committee and accepted by annual meetings. A distinct code of rules governs the Guild as a whole and provides for elections, meetings, ﬁnances, &c. Members subscribe individually to branch funds  and collectively to the district and central funds at a rate of 2d. per member per annum. The small funds thus created are, in a number of cases, subsidised by grants from societies; the central fund receiving an annual grant from the Co-operative Union. 
The annual report of the Guild is incorporated in the Report of the Central Board of the Co-operative Union, and is presented to Congress.
The friendliness and sense of brotherhood, so much a part of the co-operative creed, is encouraged in all Guild work, and one of the points kept in view is the bringing out and training of individuals so as to ﬁll the official ranks with the best officers. Further, to encourage all those who are most intelligent and aspiring, special individual education is provided for by means of correspondence classes, reading parties, essay competitions, and examination questions.
The policy of the Guild has always been progressive as regards co-operation, labour interests, and educational developments, but above all its mission has been to give to women co-operators a sense of corporate responsibility, and an opportunity of sharing in the full life of the movement.
The inquiry into the educational work of the movement (see page 208) was largely inspired by it, and it has from time to time initiated inquiries into the conditions of employees’ hours and wages, the facilities for reaching the poor, and other matters upon which exact information is requisite for true progress. It has also been the aim of the Guild to arouse women to a sense of the “basket power” which they especially possess as comptrollers of the household exchequers.
The education received by individual Guild women in their branch organisations makes itself felt in the influence exercised by the Guild as a Whole on co-operative, municipal, and national affairs. Thus we ﬁnd Guild members, who have graduated in their own branch, serving on co-operative committees in increasing numbers in nearly every division of co-operative activity, and also upon boards of guardians and public educational committees.
The Guild takes a keen interest in all questions affecting the national well-being, and home life of the worker, labour legislation affecting women and children, sweating, trade-unionism, and women’s suffrage.
Particulars of the special work of the Guild in relation to the poor will be found in Chapter XXIV., page 220.
The Guild supports by voluntary contributions a convalescent fund, which was inaugurated as a memorial to Mrs. Benjamin Jones, one of its early workers and presidents. This has now grown into a permanent and useful institution for the relief of members convalescent after illness.
The honorary general secretary to the Guild is Miss Margaret Llewelyn Davies, and the office is at Kirkby Lonsdale, Westmorland.
A Guild was established in Scotland in 1892, and now (1904) numbers 82 branches, 11 districts, and 7,153 members. Attached to the Scottish Guild are nine Irish branches.
THE SCOTTISH CO-OPERATIVE WOMAN’S GUILD.
The work of this sister organisation proceeds on similar lines to those of the English Guild, with whom the friendliest relations exist, but a special feature of the Scottish Guild is its work on behalf of the Scottish Convalescent Homes, for which it has raised considerable sums of money. The Scottish Guild receives an annual grant of £50 from the Co-operative Union, and reports separately to Congress. The honorary general secretary is Mrs. Buchan, 228, Saracen Street, Glasgow.
THE LABOUR CO-PARTNERSHIP ASSOCIATION.
The Labour Association “for promoting co-operative production based on co-partnership of the workers, was founded in 1884 as an outcome of the desire on the part of the advocates of proﬁt-sharing workshops to have some propagandist agency deﬁnitely pledged to the promotion of their principles. Mr. E. V. Neale took a large share in its formation, and remained in active sympathy with it until his death in 1892.
The association, which in 1903 discarded its long sub-title and expressed its intention under the title of “The Labour Co-partnership Association,” appeals (1) to co-operators, (2) to workers associated in trade unions, and (3) to the general public, and its subscription list is open to all. It has attracted to it a large number of sympathisers of all classes, and its work is largely supported by subscriptions and donations from individuals. In 1902, 70 co-operative societies and other organisations were among its members.
Subscriptions are invited upon the following general basis from:—
(1) Individuals who subscribe from ls. a year and upwards to its funds (2s. 6d. and upwards entitles subscribers to have all the association’s literature sent post free as it is published, including its monthly organ, Labour Co-partnership).
(2) Labour co-partnership productive societies and their educational departments, which subscribe one penny per member per year.
(3) Distributive stores, educational departments, employers’ associations, and trade unions, which subscribe £1 and upwards a year, and receive, post free, 13 copies of (1) Labour Co-partnership each month, and (2) other publications from time to time during the year.
The work of the Association is controlled by a central executive committee elected at an annual meeting of members, and its methods of propaganda include—
(1) The publication and supply of literature.
(2) The delivery of lectures, addresses, &c.
(3) The holding of conferences of all classes of persons interested in the elevation of the workers.
Mr E. V. Neale drafted for the Association a set of model rules for productive societies, which are accepted generally by all societies formed under its agency, and a friendly supervision, including the giving of much practical advice, is constantly exercised over all the afﬁliated productive societies. Local interest is maintained by “lodges,” whose work approximates to the propagandist work of educational committees of distributive societies.
Since 1886 the Association has promoted an annual exhibition of co-partnership production in conjunction with the Co-operative Festival held (with the exception of the ﬁrst year at the Crystal Palace. These exhibitions have been the means of attracting much public attention to the objects and attainments of co-partnership societies as a distinct phase of the co-operative movement.
The Association also seeks to promote the adoption of co-partnership and proﬁt-sharing methods by large employers of labour, provided always that such arrangements are entered into with the spirit shown by such men as the late M. Leclaire, of Paris, and the late M. Godin, of Guise.   Mr. Neale utters a word of caution on this point. 
The Association publishes a monthly journal, Labour Co-partnership, and numerous pamphlets and fugitive leaﬂets. Mr. Henry Vivian is the secretary, and the office of the Association is at 22, Red Lion Square, London, W.C.
THE INTERNATIONAL CO-OPERATIVE ALLIANCE.
The idea of establishing friendly relations between British and Continental co-operators came from the French co-operators in 1884, and has as since grown into an effective working alliance which gives promise of securing to co-operators all over the world a common ground of interest and of mutual support and strength.
The ﬁrst approach to the subject was made at the Derby Congress, 1884, when Mr. Harold Cox, of Cambridge University, returning from a visit to Paris, brought to that Congress a fraternal message from some Parisian co-operators, asking for permission to send a delegation from their body to the next British Co-operative Congress. This friendly request evoked much enthusiasm amongst the delegates, and the following resolution was adopted by acclamation:—
At the following Congress (Oldham, 1885) Messieurs Marty and Nicole were received as the ﬁrst representatives of French co-operators at a British Congress, and succeeding Congresses have been honoured by the presence of leading co-operators from many lands, while British co-operators have since been represented at practically all important co-operative gatherings in other countries.
In 1885 the Central Co-operative Board appointed “a Committee of Foreign Inquiry,”  consisting of Messrs. H. R. Bailey, E. O. Greening, A. Scotton, and J. C. Gray (secretary). This committee proceeded with their inquiry upon two general lines, 1st, to elicit information and enlist voluntary aid from individuals in the various countries who were able to speak with knowledge of the subject; 2nd, to obtain through the interest of the Foreign Office reports from British consuls in countries where working-men’s co-operative societies were known to exist. In both efforts the committee were eminently successful, and the report of their work submitted to the Congress at Plymouth was of extreme interest, as showing that in almost every civilised country the principles of Co-operation had taken root. 
At the Plymouth Congress M. de Boyve, a French representative, made some deﬁnite proposals for an “International Federation” between English and French co-operators on propagandist lines. This suggestion was brought up again at succeeding Congresses until, in 1892, Messrs. E. de Boyve, Charles Roberts, E. V. Neale, E. O. Greening, T. Hughes, G. J. Holyoake, J. Greenwood, and other friends of proﬁt-sharing decided to form an “International Co-operative Alliance” which should appeal especially to all who favoured the sharing of proﬁts with workmen. 
The formation of this Alliance did not, however, supersede the work of the Foreign Inquiry Committee of the Co-operative Union, which, by resolution of the Huddersﬁeld Congress, 1895, was reconstituted as a permanent sub-committee of the Central Board under the title of the “International and Foreign Inquiry Committee.” The Alliance, tentatively formed to promote proﬁt-sharing, called an international congress in London in 1895, when the basis of its constitution was broadened to include all forms of Co-operation. The Co-operative Union, through its sub-committee, was constituted the section for Great Britain, and the sole link between individual British societies and the Alliance.
The International Co-operative Alliance has held ﬁve Congresses: London (1895), Paris (1896 and 1900), Delft (1897), Manchester (1902), and in the intervals between congresses much good work has been done towards fostering direct trading relations between co-operators of one country and those of another. A tabulated register of co-operative productions available for exchange is kept at the office of the Alliance, which is also the medium for disseminating all manner of information concerning the movement.
Previous to 1902 individual members were accepted by the Alliance, and over one hundred persons, many of considerable standing in economic and philanthropic circles were amongst its friends and ﬁnancial supporters. But at the Manchester Congress it was decided, upon the pressure of the British section, that membership should in future be conﬁned to duly accredited co-operative organisations, except in countries which were not yet sufﬁciently organised to seek representation in this way.
It was felt that although the Alliance must necessarily lose something by cutting off its individual supporters it would ultimately be the gainer as a democratically organised and governed body.
The policy and action of the Alliance are regulated, in the ﬁrst instance, by its congresses, which are composed of duly accredited representatives of societies which have been admitted to membership. These delegates appoint from amongst their number a central committee, consisting of thirty-seven members, apportioned among ﬁfteen different countries, in accordance with their relative importance from a co-operative point of view. An executive committee has been appointed and so far has been chosen from among the British members of the central committee.
Since the members of the Alliance are scattered all over the world, it has been found desirable to group them together, according to countries, in national sections, each working on the same lines as the Alliance, and pledged to uphold and further its cause in every possible way. Of the nine already constituted, the British National Section is naturally by far the most important in numerical strength, the most active, and the most generous in ﬁnancial support. But similar national sections in Holland, France, and Belgium, in particular, are doing excellent work for the Alliance, constantly inducing new members to join, besides keeping the head office informed at all times of new and interesting developments in their work. The largely increased support now annually afforded by foreign co-operators is a most satisfactory feature in the growth of the Alliance, proving besides that its work is becoming more and more appreciated abroad. 
The work is supported by annual subscriptions, 10s. being the minimum, this small sum being decided upon so that no society may be prevented from helping to unite and consolidate the co-operative movement throughout the world. 
The central ofﬁce of the International Co-operative Alliance, and the headquarters of its executive committee, is at 22, Red Lion Square, London, W.C.
1. Mr. John Bright when distributing prizes in connection with the Rochdale Working Men’s Institute in 1862, referred to the Pioneers’ Library, and repeated the assurance of a member of the London Athenaeum Club that the selection of periodicals to be found in the reading-room of the library was “better and more extensive than that provided by the Athenaeum Club itself.” — See Co-operator, February 1862, p. 167.
2. Working-Men Co-operators, chap. XII. (revised edition).
3. (1) Co-operative Libraries and the principles on which they should be formed and managed. (2) Self-Supporting Educational Establishments.
4. A list of Delegacy teachers, and teachers otherwise certiﬁed, and lecturers on various subjects, are included in the Co-operative Educational Programme, copies of which may be obtained from the Co-operative Union price 2d. or 1s. 6d. per dozen.
5. NOTE. — Mr. Thomas Blandford was a prominent and much-respected worker in the cause of Co-partnership Co-operation, and at the time of his death, in 1899, held the position of secretary to the Co-operative Productive Federation.
6. The Women’s Co-operative Guild, 1883-1904, by Margaret Llewelyn Davies, General Secretary of the Women’s Co-operative Guild. Price 9d. and ls.
7. Ibid, page 11.
8.Usually ls. per annum; unless such subscriptions are made unnecessary by grants from the society to which the branch is attached.
9. Rising from £10 in 1886 to £200, the present amount granted.
10. The Women’s Co-operative Guild, page 162.
NOTE. —The Guild has adopted as its motto the words “Of whole heart cometh hope,” from The Vision of Piers Plowman, written about 1370 A.D.
11. On the tomb of M. Godin, at Guise, are engraved the following words, addressed by him to his fellow workers and found among his papers after his death:—
12. Twenty years of co-partnership at Guise. Translated by Aneurin Williams, page 87.
13. The Labour Association, its principles, objects, and methods. By E. V. Neale.
14. Report of Congress, 1884, page 42.
15. Congress Report, 1886, page 37.
16. Appendix to Plymouth Congress Report, page 94.
17. The International Cooperative Alliance, by Miss J. Halford (Co-operative Union pamphlet).
18. The International Co-operative Alliance. Miss J. Halford.
19. See Chapter V., page 42.