The Gentle Economic Collapse of the Empire

I've been thinking of Revolution or the fall of the Empire, radical awakening of unity consciousness for years, as early as 1994 I was thinking about the fall of patriarchy and some movement that included all the different causes. But in 2001, the year I was thirty, I started to see a way we could could create an economic revolution that was sustainable and dealt with inequality. My vision of what is possible goes something like this:

Small groups around the country see the need for a totally different paradigm to live in, and are willing to give up current ideas of what security means and success to work for a larger vision that includes everyone getting their needs met. This means physical, emotional and spiritual needs. These groups, or maybe its just one group…lets stick with one group, because its easier for me to imagine, though my understanding is that many people all over the world are already working in this direction. So one group of say ten people buy a large house in a city. They commit to income sharing like Federation of Egalitarian communities do. I especially like Emma Goldman Finishing School's model of income sharing, where people “pay” into the house 20 hours a week in either domestic labor or their income for 20 hours at their job. They have a computer program to figure out how much money and labor they need each month, and are small enough to be able to be flexible enough to work with each person's ability and needs. In exchange for this payment, they have all of their survival needs met…heck they even had fancy organic shampoos, olives, a clean house and organic veggies from their garden, when I visited a number of years ago. The rest of their time is freed up to their art and activism…some of them also work more to pay off loans or save money personally.

So this group is dedicated to spreading their vision of income sharing households, I personally like the idea of eventually taking over a city and surrounding countryside with these cooperative households. This one group uses some of their income to save enough money to purchase another home. In addition to living together, they have been doing the personal liberation work I talk about in my last post, so they are creating a culture of love, non violent communication and transparency between them. At some point they have enough money to buy another property and do so, splitting the group and adding new members to each household. Eventually they may own the entire block. At this point I like the idea of ripping out the alleys and barriers between yards and creating gardens with food, building a central kitchen for everyone on the block, having solar panels and composting toilets, grey water systems and living roofs. Workshops for coop businesses that the group has created in the basements and perhaps garages and in the homes. Shared libraries, offices, and features such as hot tubs and saunas for the block. Oh, wait, this is already happening in some ways!

Ganas community in New York has something like five collectively owned houses with adjacent backyards and various businesses that are in their neighborhood, they are also dedicated to the personal liberation work. Twin Oaks has been income sharing for 40+ years and lives collectively on 400 acres in Central Virginia, with shared gardens, homes, businesses, a person made pond, river, sauna and an amazing playground or two. Emma Goldman was saving money to give to another group to buy property to create another community when I visited them five years ago, I'm not sure where they are in the process now. The thing is that none of these communities are doing all of the things that I think would make a successful long term revolution, AND they each hold such important pieces of the puzzle.

What if these small coop houses spread like Starbucks or McDonalds do? Creating a culture of transparency and love, egalitarian living, with everyone in agreement about the larger movement or vision being economic revolution, moving from a capitalist culture to a gift economy, on a grassroots scale? Each community saving up extra resources to grow the concept, to create more cooperative businesses and communities to serve the whole movement. Put the land into land trusts, not big land trusts, but small ones that may only own up to ten homes, workshops, hospitals, farms, etc, so that you don't have more than 100 people having to work together to decide what to do with the land, and so that the power of controlling the land can't get out of hand.

At some point there is a tipping point. Hundreds or thousands of people living in a space of love and peace with one another, getting all of their needs met without being controlled by corporations or the government is going to look pretty darn good. Good systems to grow the culture and revolution will mean it will be easy for people to see what a good life they could have by joining the new grassroots revolution. All the while the Empire falls, gently, without hurting a soul.