On Saturday 30th January 2015 a small group gathered in Beryl Roberts Park, Coopers Plains, Brisbane Australia to start a programme of discussions and workshops. The themes: small group organisation theory, self-management, and Plans For Land and Freedom. The focus is on cultivating skills that improve daily life within the small group.
The curriculum is built around the work of Lillian Lawson Geddes.
“We are not taught how to be fair to each other and to the community around us”.
There has been a meeting each month, set out until October. There is a Facebook Page called Mutualism Queensland. If there are other small teaching / coaching groups active I would be pleased to make contact.
“The true object of politics is to create the institutions which, by being internalised by individuals, most facilitates their accession to their individual autonomy and their effective participation in all forms of explicit power existing in society” – Cornelius Castoriadis.
“New institutions arise when organised actors with sufficient resources see in them an opportunity to realise interests that they value highly…. [Institutional Entrepreneurs] create a whole new system of meaning that ties the functioning of disparate sets of institutions together” – DiMaggio
By these statements I am happy to identify as an “Institutional Entrepreneur”. Thanks to Dr. David Brunkhorst of Armidale (NSW Aust) for alerting me, during a recent meeting, to the difference between Organisation Theory and Institutional Theory.
Maleny Urban Settlement Trust Property Fund No. One commenced business on 15th January 1995 – 18 years ago today. It was set up to house greenie activists. The house, buildings and land at 23 Tamarind Street Maleny was purchased on 25th January 1995.
The Fund’s functions, style, modus operandi and purpose developed during its first year before coming under virulent attack from a groups of local “greenie activists”. The ability of the Property Fund to continue was seriously challenged but it continues to exist. The need to provide affordable housing for “greenie activists” continues to exist. The Tamarind Street Maleny Project stands as a Case Example of the harm that can be caused by sociopathy disguised as mutualism.
With the current downturn in capitalist economies our attention once more turns to other possibilities, and the topics of “communities” and “co-operatives” are popular again.
“Intentional Community” is a category and a banner word. It is not a legal structure. A “Co-operative” is a legal structure. We are guided by Heart Songs, and we make the assumption that registering as a co-operative will mean that involvement will be “mutually beneficial”.
For each blissfully unaware searcher who responds to romantic stories about successful co-operatives there needs to be two people who are more experienced to caution about emotionally appealing spin.
We are limited by our inexperience. There are people who have dreams of power and position, who hide this within “love-speak”. The social ideals of “being in a co-operative” can lead to the construction of a perfect place for borderline sociopaths. The spin attracts cult-making people as well as cult-prone people – and the latter are not likely to recognise the sub-texts. At the point of recognition and exposure – revealing that the “intentionality” has been subverted by a cluster of Mock Mutuals – expect to be embattled. [*Lillian Hellman “They will hate you for disturbing them”, Noam Chomskey “The threat of a good example”].
For legal structures to operate for the benefit of the members rather than for the benefit of the operatives, there needs to be regulating mechanisms to prevent “the scum” from rising to the top, rather than “the cream”.
We are robbed by our gullibility. Individual membership needs to be protected so that separations are equitable, to prevent unjust expulsion. The right to fair reward for fair contribution needs to be clearly spelt out in the documents.
Cargo Cult Economics describes the unwitting occupancy of two different fiscal paradigms. One is Economics as sustained by Capitalism and another is Economics as sustained by Vernacular / Subsistence Mutualsim. It is hard to remain comfortable in a fiscal paradigm that requires 100% State Based Currency (dollars). Our everyday survival sees us adjusting our position to base ourselves within one, while accommodating parts of the other. It is easy to abandon economic honesty when in a dilemma.
Daily life is mostly spent paying tithes to marketplace gods and gurus in the hope that eventually, fortuitously, magically, the comfortable life will arrive. This comes from an ingrained belief that if you just play the game right, perform the right rituals, admire the right people, and buy the right items, position and wealth will be given to you.
Instead of accepting sufficient for a practical life through mutually supportive transactions with close allies, and with small local businesses that accept social and ecological responsibility, it is easier to purchase cheap and shoddy cargo that keeps arriving in the globalised two-dollar shops. When faced with dilemmas and contradictions at the personal level , it is all too easy to abandon economic integrity and return to worshipping that which makes for physical comfort. And thus sustaining Capitalism.
It takes courage to change.
Mutualism requires parity, equity and guardianship. Some current and even popular forms called “The Mutuals” might still be beneficial but another descriptive handle is required. They might be more consumer friendly than the profit-driven services they separate themselves from, but their mutuality might not survive scrutiny if measured by egalitarian standards or if compared to a different form of service delivery, such as those within vernacular or subsistence economies.
If all members are not actually in it together, with each wearing the gains and the losses in due proportion; if some work is paid work and other work is unpaid work – then where is it mutual or equitable?
Mock-Mutuals continue to keep the word captured because the majority of members are blissfully unaware of political sub-texts or the contrived advantage flowing from installed but invisable mechanisms that support the patriarchy and capitalism. These mechanisms play themselves out through sex, gender, class, caste, commerce, locality, age and race. And thus the members are mocked by the processes in use.