the collective property of individual cooperatives and associations of cooperatives. The social nature of cooperative ownership is conditioned by the nature of the prevailing relations of production. Cooperative property arises at a certain stage in the development of the capitalist mode of production, with the appearance of different types of cooperatives. Under capitalism, cooperative property is a type of collective capitalist property, private capitalist ownership of the means of production being the source of its formation and development.
Under socialism, cooperative property is a type of socialist property; cooperative property is the same as state property because it is based on the socialization of the basic means of production, eliminates the exploitation of one person by another, ensures planned development of production, and is characterized by relations of comradely cooperation and mutual assistance. Cooperative property differs from state property in that it represents a lesser degree of socialization: whereas state socialist property is owned by all the people, cooperative property is owned by a particular cooperative or collective. Cooperative property also differs from state property in terms of its sources, the objects owned, its legal status, and the resultant forms of remuneration. Cooperative property arises in various ways: (1) through the collectivization, by persons entering cooperatives, of the means of production, distribution, and exchange that belong to them; (2) through the transfer of various kinds of property to cooperatives by the socialist state; (3) through increase in the common wealth of cooperatives in the course of their economic activity under conditions of extended socialist reproduction; and (4) through the acquisition of property by cooperatives—for example, as the result of sale or purchase, gifts, or inheritance. Because the chief means of production form the basis of the cooperative property of production cooperatives in agriculture— for example, kolkhozes in the USSR—the secondary means of production may be privately owned by the families of kolkhoz members.
The development of cooperative property in the USSR is inseparably linked with the implementation of V. I. Lenin’s cooperative plan. By 1934, when the collectivization of agriculture was essentially accomplished, cooperative ownership of the means of production and goods produced gained a firm foothold in the countryside. The Soviet state treats kolkhozes and other types of cooperatives as socialist enterprises. Relations of cooperative ownership take shape and develop on the basis of state socialist ownership and under its determining influence. There are two distinct forms of cooperative property: the property of kolkhozes and other cooperative organizations, such as consumer and housing cooperatives, and intercooperative property, which is owned by several kolkhozes or cooperative organizations and represents a higher degree of collectivization. Joint ownership by the socialist state and kolkhozes or other cooperative organizations has become widespread.
Of all cooperative property in the USSR, kolkhoz property constitutes the largest proportion and has the greatest socioeconomic importance. Along with the state-owned land allotted to the kolkhozes for their perpetual and free use, kolkhoz property is the economic basis of the kolkhozes.
The common property of kolkhozes and other cooperatives consists of their production, procurement, and trade enterprises, cultural and utility enterprises, buildings and structures, tractors, combines, machinery, means of transportation, draft and productive livestock, perennial plantings, and crops, as well as other means of production, goods produced, and other property appropriate for the activities of kolkhozes and cooperative organizations. Cooperative property falls into several categories, depending on its purpose. For example, the kolkhozes have fixed assets, working assets (main and insurance stock of seed and fodder and monetary working assets), the guaranteed wage fund for kolkhoz members, and several special funds, including cultural and utility funds, funds for social insurance and financial help to kolkhoz members, funds for material incentive for kolkhoz members and specialists, and the reserve fund. The procedure for establishing, renewing, supplementing, increasing, and expending each fund in accordance with its economic designation is regulated in detail by legislation, in particular by the Model Kolkhoz Charter.
Cooperative ownership will gradually approach ownership by all the people through the growth and consolidation of cooperative property, through an increase in the degree of its collectivization (resulting from further growth and improvement in the material and technical base of kolkhozes and other cooperative organizations), through the development of intercooperative enterprises, organizations, and associations, and through the development of intercooperative and state-cooperative production links. This process will be accompanied by equalization of the legal status of cooperative-kolkhoz property and state property. This may be seen particularly in the increased protection of cooperative property and its growing resemblance to the protection of state property.
In the event of violations of the right of cooperative ownership, this right is protected under cooperative, civil, administrative, and criminal law. Cooperative law protects cooperative property through appropriate actions by the cooperative’s own administrative agencies. These agencies take measures of a disciplinary or pecuniary nature against those members who have committed offenses violating the property interests of the cooperative or causing property loss.
Civil law protects cooperative ownership by assuring the cooperative of the right to recover property misappropriated by organizations or individuals, to demand the removal of infringements of its right of ownership that do not involve loss of possession, and to collect debts from various organizations and individuals for the benefit of the cooperative, as well as by obliging organizations and individuals to make reimbursement for damage to cooperative property that results from illegal acts.
If the misappropriation of cooperative property is incontestable, administrative law may be employed to rectify the violation. In this event, restitution of the cooperative’s violated rights in regard to a particular property may be effected by a higher agency annulling illegal acts and decisions of a lower agency, by ordering guilty parties to return to cooperatives property appropriated in violation of the law, and by administrative punishment of persons guilty of squandering cooperative property. With respect to protection under criminal law and the punishment of offenses against cooperative property, the Criminal Code of the RSFSR and the codes of the other Union republics fully equate cooperative property with state socialist property.
The property of the consumer cooperatives represents a large proportion of cooperative property in the USSR. The consumer cooperative system includes retail trade and public catering enterprises, procurement stations, vegetable and potato storage facilities, enterprises for processing agricultural products, and the like. Housing-construction cooperatives are expected to become an important type of cooperative organization in the USSR.
In most socialist countries cooperative ownership has become the basis of production relations in the countryside and does not differ in socioeconomic terms from cooperative ownership in the USSR. The development and consolidation of cooperative ownership in the USSR and other socialist countries follows common laws, although there are some distinctive features associated primarily with the specific circumstances of the emergence of cooperative ownership in these countries. The building of socialism in the countryside in most non-Soviet socialist countries has been promoted by organizing peasants into production cooperatives and setting up state socialist agricultural enterprises, while retaining private land ownership for rural toilers. The experience of the USSR and other socialist countries in establishing, strengthening, and developing cooperative ownership exerts a great influence on the development of the cooperative movement in all countries. This experience is especially important for developing countries that have taken the noncapitalist path. Their progressive governments are encouraging the development of various forms of cooperative organization among the population, especially the broad masses of peasants.
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M. I. KOZYR’