Poster Plakat A Collection of Posters from the Soviet Union and its Satellite Nations

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Moscow Union of Consumers' Cooperatives

The Moscow Union of Consumer Societies (Moskovskii Soiuz Potrebitel'nykh Obshchestva) or MSPO, was formed in 1897. In 1917, the Soviets reorganized it under an association of unions. They also changed its name to the Central Union of Consumer Societies or, Tsentrosoiuz. The structure of the cooperative system under Soviet control was built on a territorial basis with a regional union (raisoiuz), a provincial union (gubsoiuz) and the central union (Tsentrosoiuz).

By 1985, the cooperative sector of the economy included some 26,000 collective farms with 12.7 million workers. Soviet Cooperatives sold their own goods and had distinctive brands but overall, the state held a commanding authority over production and sales. Cooperatives also were a way for the underground or “gray” economy to function openly. In 1988, The Law on Cooperatives permitted them to become self-financed, self-managed and be set on a profit-and-market oriented system. The law also afforded the cooperative movement to be on the same level as state enterprises. Cooperative members gained social rights similar to those working for the state. By 1987, approximately 150,000 people worked in some 13,921 cooperatives. Free from the constraints of state-control, productivity indeed grew higher but so did the prices of goods.

Sources & Citations

The Cooperative Consumer (1917), Vol. 3, Issue 1. Page 116 (structure and formation)