Socialism and cooperation in the views of the «Father of the Cooperative» Mykola Levytskyi

I. Fareniy

Abstract


Introduction. World famous Ukrainian cooperator, so-called «Father of the Cooperative» Mykola Levytskyi is reflected in a number of works on the history of the cooperative movement. The main attention is paid to the development of cooperatives. Of less apparent interest is the study of theoretical preferences of Mykola Levytskyi. This fact has led the study of Mykola Levytskyi’s outlook.


Purpose. This research aims to reveal one aspect of Levytskyi’s view on social processes, namely the attitude to the ideas of building the socialist system.


Results. Mykola Levytskyi’s ideological beliefs are not unique for the late 19th – early 20ht century. Socialist, Marxist, Populist theories prevailed in the public opinion of the time and were inherent for the «Father of the Cooperative». Yet Levytskyi is marked by high activity in the dissemination and promotion of the ideas and the independence of their interpretation. Despite the combination of views Mykola’s different theories seem integral and self-sufficient.


Mykola Levytskyi consistently shared socialist convictions. From his youth he was interested in the ideas of socialism. Levytskyi belonged to the current populist socialist movement. Although Levytskyi emphasized the primacy of Karl Marx in the development of the theory of building a socialist society, he did not get into the ranks of Marxist currents of public opinion. Mykola Levytskyi did not question the validity of the provisions of the Marxist theory of social development, but believed that Marxists interpreted it dogmatically and used it without the regard to the specific country conditions.


The basis of the socialist system, according to the Levytskyi, is cooperation. He was convinced that cooperative management was able to cover all areas of national economic life. Levytskyi considered cooperative activities as a direct creation of socialism, and dedicated all his life to this. He was engaged in extensive outreach and the creation of cooperative organizations. Only from 1894 till 1905 his efforts helped open more than 500 industrial and 200 agricultural cooperatives. Some of them were successfully operating for many years.


The scientific novelty of the study. This research does not claim an exhaustive disclosure of Mykola Levytskyi’s views. However, it details his attitude to the characteristic trends in the public opinion of his era and the role they had in his development.


 


Conclusions. Mykola Levytskyi was convinced of the great social and economic opportunities of cooperation, its consistency with general public interests. However, he did not consider the cooperation the final stage of social progress and the only form of promotion in post-capitalist perspective. The development of social life, in his opinion, would prompt other forms of building the socialist system.


Keywords


Mykola Levytskyi, co-operation, co-operative motion, socialism

References


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