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pay about 3}d. a week for this purpose, and the foreman would receive 36s. in all.

A more formidable difficulty even than that of establishing discipline was the provision of adequate working capital for these societies. Even in cases of unskilled labour where no machinery or plant is required there is still the necessity of providing weekly wages for the workers who have no other means of subsistence, and also of purchasing raw material of one kind or another. The share capital and reserves of newly-formed societies are hopelessly inadequate for this purpose; and, although the State, from which a large number of the contracts are obtained, has made a considerable number of concessions in favour of the societies, its methods of payment are exceedingly slow and encumbered with even more than the usual amount of red tape. Efforts to raise money from private capitalists and ordinary banking firms naturally met with very little success, as their interests were radically opposed to those of the societies; and, although a large measure of assistance was forthcoming from other co-operative institutions such as Signor Luzzatti's banche popolari, Wollemborg's casse rurali, and some of the distributive stores, this was quite inadequate to meet the case, and many of the earlier societies

seriously restricted in their operations by this cause. Even where credit was obtained, the rate of interest was never less than 6 per cent., more frequently it was 8 per cent., and even rose sometimes as high as 10 per cent., and this in days when the ordinary rate was not as a rule above 4 per cent. Efforts were made, both at Reggio Emilia and at Milan, to meet the situation by the establishment of local banks. But, owing to the political and sectarian cleavages which unfortunately mar the harmony of the Italian co-operative movement, there has been little or no co-ordination between the co-operative credit societies. They have had no large central institution such as one · would naturally expect to find; and the big sums of money which they take in as deposits, instead of flowing back into the productive side of the movement, are for the most part invested in Government Bonds or gilt-edged securities. Consequently the effect of these institutions was purely local.


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A feeling soon sprang up that the societies which had obtained a certain degree of favour and legal concessions from the Government in return for the official contracts they undertook were entitled also to State support in regard to credit, pending the payment of their bills. Thus we find that the Congress of Reggio in 1905 asked for State advances, repayable by easy instalments at 4 per cent. ; and later a group of prominent co-operators in the Parliament, headed by Luzzatti, made an unsuccessful attempt to inaugurate a State-aided central bank for co-operative societies. The scheme lapsed for some years, but in 1913 it was revived in a new shape with the establishment of the Instituto Nazionale di Credito per le Co-operative. This body is not directly controlled or financed by the State, but it has a public charter and administers Government grants, having representatives appointed by Government on its Board. The capital is provided mainly by the large public savings-banks (which are themselves non-profit-making bodies with State charter), together with a few of the biggest People's Banks and the two central workers' Insurance Societies. Advances are made to Labour Societies against the certificates issued to them by the public authorities whose contracts they take; and credit is also granted to consumers' stores, farming and building societies. Special grants in aid of these loans are made by Government departments; and the rising power of the Socialist party, which is closely identified with the co-operative movement, has brought about an increase in the amounts so allocated. In this way the problem of the provision of working capital has been largely solved, while the exemption from certain taxes and a greater degree of freedom in tendering than is allowed to private companies has put these societies in a specially favoured position.


The co-operative farming societies, alluded to above, have attracted even more attention in Europe than the purely labour societies; and it is interesting to note that they were in their origin more or less a by-product of the societies we have been describing. The first contracts for direct labour which were undertaken were mainly for purposes in which unskilled labour or at least semi-skilled

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work alone was required. The usual objects were drainage, road-making, irrigation, levelling, and similar works of reclamation or reconstruction. The greater part of this work was provided by the authorities, with the dual purpose of finding employment for large bodies of poor and discontented labourers and of carrying out, at a small cost, necessary improvements which would later bring in a large national return. Naturally enough, the amount of work of this kind which was available gradually diminished, and the less-skilled members of the societies found themselves once more threatened with unemployment. As most of them were in the first place drawn from the rural population and had a certain amount of familiarity with agricultural methods, their tendency was to look to the land to provide an alternative means of support when other work was not available. Consequently we find the same societies which took contracts for labour also renting land from public bodies and landed proprietors, to the exclusion of the prevailing middleman tenant, and using this land to give agricultural work to their unemployed members. It was no later than 1887 that the first co-operative labour society, which was itself founded at Ravenna in 1883, took up land in this way and started farming on a small scale. The example was speedily followed by others; and of the considerable number of co-operative farms now to be found in Emilia practically all had their origin in, and are now closely connected with, the Co-operativa di Produzione e Lavoro.

The example thus set was imitated by the small tenant farmers (coloni) and purely agricultural labourers who had no connexion with the socialist workers with whom we have been dealing so far. Thus it is that in the domain of collective farming, as in other branches of co-operation in Italy, we find the familiar semi-political, semi-religious cleavage between the Socialist and the • Catholic' type of society-a division reminiscent of the conditions existing before the war in the co-operative movement of Belgium. The part played by the two divergent bodies of doctrine is illustrated by the existence of two types of farming societies known respectively as the "affitanze a conduzione divisa' and those a conduzione collettiva, In each type the land, which may consist of


one large farm or a number of smaller ones, is rented direct from the owner by a group of workers organised in a co-operative society. The difference consists in the manner in which this land is afterwards administered. In the collective type, which corresponds to the socialist ideal, the land is worked in common under the guidance of a foreman or expert technical manager; the produce is sold on behalf of the society; and the proceeds, after payment of rent and provision for reserve fund, are divided among the members in proportion to the number of days worked by each. In the Catholic type, where the sanctity of individual property is upheld and any experiments in communism are deprecated, the land is parcelled out among individuals, and the collective element is confined to bargaining over the rent and to a certain amount of combined purchase and sale.

The collective type obviously suits those districts where the primary object is to provide occasional employment for unskilled labours, while the Catholic is more adapted to the population which aspires to live entirely by farming and has a natural desire for fixity of tenure. Accordingly we find that one type predominates among the semi-industrial population of the North, the other in the more backward districts of the Sonth. But this general statement must not be accepted without qualification; in practice there has been a disinclination on the part even of the labourers, except in the best-disciplined districts, to accept the full measure of communism; and considerable compromises have been made by the Socialist leaders for the sake of expediency. In general it may be said that the number of farms where the collective system is worked in its entirety is comparatively small'; but the results attained by them in recent years have been so striking that it is probable that they will shortly come to predominate over the other type.

So many descriptions have been given of the detailed workings of these societies that it is unnecessary to go into the matter at greater length. But it is of particular interest to note that, just as the methods of the labour societies are being paralleled by the new guilds in industrial England, so there is a movement in Ireland to adapt to the peculiar needs of that country the lesson of Italy's co-operative farming societies. The newly-founded

Vol. 235.--No. 46%.


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