Economist, intellectual and cooperative member, founded the school of Nîmes in 1885, inspired by the Rochdale principles: the historians make this moment coincide with the beginning of consumer cooperation in the country.
Gide gave thus an impulse to the creation of cooperative experiences, until founding the national federation of consumer cooperatives, the Union coopérative. It was simultaneously an essential piece for the studies of politic and social economics in France.
In his work “La cooperation” (1900) he defines cooperative business as an alternative to the capitalistic enterprise, where “since there is no limit to the number of shares held, it may happen that some rich capitalists acquire alone a part of the social capital which is much more important than that of thousands small shareholders, reducing the latter to the role of zero. According to the essential nature of the cooperative society, the capital, that is in it, isn’t absolutely suppressed- cooperative members are too practical to think that it is possible to do it without a capital or to get it for free- but it is reduced to its true use, which is that of a tool at the service of work, paid as a tool”.
“If cooperation had no other purpose than opening shops and sparing money, it couldn’t be capable to unify in the same belief and hope millions of men of different countries”
“Cooperation wants to reform the universe, but it begins with the reform of the local economy. It goes towards the stars while it tries to look at the same time where it puts its feet”.
C. Gide, La Coopération: conférences de propagande…, Nabu Press, 2012