Owen inspired the co-operative movement, others--such as Dr.
William King (1786-1865)--took his ideas and made them more
workable and practical. King believed in starting small, and realized
that the working classes would need to set up co-operatives for
themselves, so he saw his role as one of instruction. He founded
a monthly periodical called The Cooperator, the first edition of
which appeared on May 1, 1828. This gave a mixture of co-operative
philosophy and practical advice about running a shop using cooperative
principles. King advised people not to cut themselves off from
society, but rather to form a society within a society, and to
start with a shop because, "We must go to a shop every day
to buy food and necessaries - why then should we not go to our
own shop?" He proposed sensible rules, such as having a weekly
account audit, having 3 trustees, and not having meetings in pubs
(to avoid the temptation of drinking profits). A few poor weavers
joined together to form the Rochdale Equitable Pioneers Society
at the end of 1843. The Rochdale Pioneers, as they became known,
set out the Rochdale Principles in 1844, which form the basis of
the cooperative movement today.
Co-operative communities are now widespread,
with one of the largest and most successful examples being
in the Basque country of Spain (see link below). Co-operatives
were also successful
in Yugoslavia under Tito where Workers Councils gained a significant
role in management.
In many European countries, cooperative institutions have a predominant
market share in the retail banking and insurance businesses.
In the UK, co-operatives formed the Co-operative Party in the
early 20th century to represent members of co-ops in Parliament.
The Co-operative Party now has a permanent electoral pact with
the Labour Party, and some Labour MPs are Co-operative Party members.
UK co-operatives retain a significant market share in food retail,
insurance, banking, funeral services, and the travel industry in
many parts of the country.