The unification of the cooperative movement at the International Labour Office: Albert Thomas’s “silent revolution” (1919-1932)

The ILO and the production of a social and economic body of knowledge
By Marine Dhermy-Mairal

English

This paper describes a project spearheaded by Albert Thomas, Director of the International Labour Office (ILO) from 1919 to 1932: bringing together farm production cooperatives and consumers’ cooperatives in order to transform the capitalist regime into one based on social justice. Following the lines of Charles Gide’s social economics programme, the aim was to leave behind a view of cooperation as being synonymous with poverty to make it a broader instrument for the economic and social transformation of the commercial world. This project, whose intellectual foundations are described in this paper, is also studied through the perspective of the ILO’s activities, with the 1932 keystone event of the creation of an International Committee for Inter-Cooperative Relations.
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