Co-operatives are not to be condemned as they bring forth some elbow-room for workers under capitalism but they should not be promoted as the means of emancipation for labor. Like unions they should be treated as defensive tactics. The limitations of co-ops has been revealed whenever and wherever they have been practised.
The organisation of socialism has been described as the socialist cooperative commonwealth where there exists common ownership which can be said to be no-ownership. The difference from this to conventional cooperatives is pointed out in Marx’s Gotha Programme, where it’s stated “within the co-operative society based on the common ownership of the means of production, the producers do not exchange their products” for the simple reason that their work would then be social not individual and applied as part of a definite plan. What they produce belongs to them collectively, i.e. to society, as soon as it is produced.Every member of society being free to take from the common stock of consumer goods according to their individual need.
The Commons still exists and is being defended as these two recent news items demonstrate
Association was a word used in working-class circles in England to mean a voluntary union of workers to overcome the effects of competition. This was Marx’s sense too: in future society the producers would voluntarily co-operate to further their own common interest; they would cease to be “the working class” and become a class-free community. Natural resources and the man-made instruments of production would be held in common: Marx speaks of “a community of free individuals, carrying on their work with the means of production in common”
The State as an instrument of political rule over people would have no place. Socialist society would indeed need a central administration but this would not be a “State” or “government” in that it would not have at its disposal any means of coercing people, but would be concerned purely with administering social affairs under democratic control. Marx never defined socialist society in terms of the ownership and control of the means of production by the State, but rather in terms of ownership and control by a voluntary association of the producers themselves. He did not equate what is now called “nationalisation” with Socialism.
Conscious planning, conscious control over the material conditions of life, is the essence of socialism. This was what Marx meant when he said that real history would not begin till Socialism had been established; human beings were not behaving as human beings so long as they were controlled by blind historical and economic forces, ultimately of their own creation but unrecognized as such; Socialism would allow men to consciously regulate their relationship with Nature; only such a consciously planned society was a truly human society, a society compatible with human nature.
Socialist society would be a non-market society, with all that that implied: no money, no buying and selling, no wages, etc. Either production is regulated by a conscious previously worked-out plan or it is regulated, directly or indirectly, by the market. When Marx talked about men under capitalism being dominated by blind forces, which were in the end their own creations, it was precisely blind market forces he mainly had in mind. The Communist Manifesto specifically speaks of “the Communistic abolition of buying and selling”
These two pamhlets are worth a read