For an interesting read try, 'The Rise and Fall of United Grain Growers: Cooperatives, Market Regulation and Free Enterprise', by Paul D. Earl, U of Manitoba Press, ($27.95).
Earl traces the history of the Winnipeg based co-operative grain company from its beginning in 1906 to its takeover in 2007 by the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool, now called Viterra.
The UGG was started by farmers in Saskatchewan and was the first farmer owned grain marketing business in Canada. Initially it was kept going by about 16,000 producer-shareholders who were organized in a network of local associations which supported the company.
As good as it sounds, the iron-clad laws of capitalist economics forced the UGG to compete on the market with private grain companies. This eventually led to mergers, which in turn led to them being sucked in to the whole capitalist scheme of things; clear proof that bits of socialism cannot exist within capitalism.
There are many who believe that the co-operatives will provide an easy and painless means of transforming present competitive production into production upon a basis of common property.
The means of production to-day are in the hands of a small but tremendously wealthy class; a class that is powerful because it controls the State machinery. The means of production are operated by a large but poverty-stricken class of wage workers; a class that is in slavery because it leaves the State machinery in the hands of its oppressors.
Production is on a gigantic scale, based upon sale for profit. The increase in quantity and complexity of the machinery used makes necessary ever less and less workers to turn out the things required by society. The big capitalists undersell the small, and eventually drive increasing numbers of the latter out of business. It is a social system in which society is divided into two classes—a capitalist class and a working class. The capitalist class consists of a tiny minority—the wealthy few who own and control the instruments of production and distribution. The working class consists of the vast majority who own no productive property and must, therefore, seek to work for the class that owns and controls the means of life in order to survive.
The relationship between the two classes forms the basis for an economic tyranny under which the workers as a class are robbed of the major portion of the social wealth that they produce.