Ready for Cooperativism?

Most of the participants and readers of LDSCooperative, I’m guessing, are not currently living in cooperatives or dominantly socialist states. Personally, I live in the United Kingdom, a nation that is perhaps one of the closest to America in capitalist culture, despite powerful socialist innovations, such as the National Health Service. We’re used to capitalism – it’s what we’ve grown up with. It’s what we know. If your story is anything like mine, you’ve come across socialist principles through conversations with friends, or in your studies. It instantly makes sense to you. You think: ‘that’s what I believe!’ You wonder: ‘Why aren’t we living this way?’

Of course, there are a few good reasons. The reality of western society is that after living under authoritarian, dependency-forming government for generations, we have built up a ‘solid’ culture of reliance upon hierarchies of authority. Apart from anything, some would argue, ‘following’ is part of our inherent psychological makeup. As human beings, we like to have a leader to tell us what to do. In the Church, dependence on authority can be even more pronounced. There is genuine concern in Church government that without the support of authority structures, the membership would flounder, ‘blown about by every wind of doctrine’ (Ephesians 4:14).

As much as we, as socialists, believe in the empowering influence of self-government, we must admit that for many of us who have come to depend on hierarchy and top-down leadership, going ‘cold turkey’ would be damaging, and possibly catastrophic. So what can we do, to get ready for a personal, if not a worldwide ‘revolution’? Here’s some suggestions. Feel free to add your thoughts, or disagree:

Opt out. Where possible, don’t participate in capitalism. If there’s an option to walk to the shops, get a bus, or drive in your privately-owned car – take anything but the latter.

Talk. Build a vibrant community, in your own circle of contact. Resist the tendency to spend your free time atomised from the rest of society. Don’t sit home and watch the television on an evening: instead, call some friends round, to talk about something real! If you have the option to either send an email, or talk on the phone – go for the more personal interaction. It’s what community is about!

Diversify. For example, given the option to either work overtime, or to spend your time on an allotment… you know the answer. If you have opportunities to go back to study, then don’t miss the chance. Having a diversity of skills is important in building a community.

Learn. At least part of the problem with socialism is that there haven’t been enough specific solutions devised to fix problems with the application of the principles. By studying, talking, writing and sharing our ideas, we can clear a path that those who follow us can benefit from, and improve further. Especially in terms of our LDS experience with socialism, we can find genuine and meaningful answers to questions that trouble our generation.

I’m sure you can think of many more examples. Perhaps the best thing we can do to get ready for cooperativism is to prove, through living as many of the principles and ideals as we can, that there are real and significant benefits that come from living in this way. Come up with a plan for how you’re going to put these steps into action – and be sure to share your successes here in the online community.


Recently listened to an

Recently listened to an interview you conducted...great work. I'm one of those odd liberals who live and grew up in the most conservative area of even Utah...Republicans is a branch off the church here. You have to use ID to purchase Mountain Dew. You have to have a temple recommend to be a teacher what did 7 generations of one family living within a few blocks of each other create? Well a family of liberals partly because we believe in what the Joseph Smith church taught which is not Republican policy rather the opposite. I have a journal of a young man 20ish and single who was the United Order secretary of the community. His comments of the cooperative life is interesting. He had more of a classical education than I ever had and was living in a wilderness in a new isolated Mormon settlement. I found his account fasinating. Cheers

WOW...thanks for suggesting

WOW...thanks for suggesting the idea of a secular sabbath Greg.

Stephen - I agree that we

Stephen - I agree that we need faith to live cooperatively, of course. However - one of the points of my article is that I think it would actually be easier to completely separate from society and start a collective. The difficult part - and what we must do - (at least for now) is to live in this way, while society at large remains unready to do so.

Great thoughts in your

Great thoughts in your article. Thanks for posting.

Socialism contains a mysticism and a morality of its own (Gramsci went into detail about this). Collectivism is largely compatible with all the Abrahamic traditions. Hence the social experiments of the anabaptists, the kibbutzim, and of course our own united order.

One thing I've been practicing lately is a secular sabbath (can't claim that this was my idea -- a rabbi named Boteach came up with it). It has been remarkably empowering to unplug and opt-out one day per week.

Be the change you want to see. The world will follow.

Great Post Andy...thanks so

Great Post Andy...thanks so much for that. I think you are so right that we need to show that living a cooperative based lifestyle is one that brings happiness, joy and the type of prosperity that one cannot get in a capitalist society. And when I talk about prosperity I mean in more ways than just wealth.

An interview I did with Andrew Bolton, a member of the Twelve Apostles of the CofC was really insightful about cooperative living and how it requires an almost monastic commitment at this moment when capitalism is so strong.

I think for now we have to build up to it and do the small things....and have faith.

Imagine the faith it would take to move to a place and start living in a collective.

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