When you research cooperatives you will soon get the impression that you are in liberal territory. The few references regarding the search for conservative cooperatives will take you to the UK or Austrailia. If there is a conservative cooperative movement in the US please refer them to this site.
The label conservative has been evolving lately into territory that is not really enforced by any past conservative thinkers who put the conservative principles into words. One of my personal favorites is Russel Kirk who made a lasting impression on the conservative movement.
I will address three of his principles that relate to the conservative movement as it applies to the cooperative model and limited government.
I suggest everyone to read all ten principles at https;//kirkcenter.org
A cooperative enterprise is owned by its members who are all stakeholders with a vested interest in the success of the venture. The basic need for this sense of ownership is described in Kirks seventh principle, “Conservatives are persuaded that freedom and property are closely linked.”
Add to that his fourth principle, ” conservatives are guided by their principle of Prudence.” where he states , ” any public measure ought to be judged by its probable long-run consequences, not merely by temporary advantage or popularity.” and we have a basis for a long term solution to many of the excessive government programs that attempt to solve community shortages by short term fixes with long term dependence.
Properly established cooperatives will combine the pride of ownership with long term stability needed for a community to establish a network of involvement among its members for common future goals.
Kirks eighth principle which reads, “conservatives uphold voluntary community, quite as they oppose involuntary collectivism.” This is an explanation that goes to the root of the problem with our current welfare system. Involuntary commitment through taxation and redistribution via government programs goes contrary to a true conservatives being. Generosity and compassion to help is an attribute of us all, be you liberal or conservative. Yet a conservative does not believe it is the function of government to tax and redistribute involuntarily.
The cooperative model in many instances will flourish with a voluntary support system to kick start business ventures. Volunteers working on projects of aid are a core of many organizations in this country. We are blessed with a flourishing country capable of helping those in need of assistance. We all are ready to offer a helping hand. The distinction between continued dependency of government programs: involuntary collectivism; versus eventual independence through cooperative endeavors based on voluntary commitment is as clear as day and night to the conservative mind.
The long-term goal with the sense of accomplishment and freedom are rewards well worth striving for.