Wisdom Living

Wisdom workers cooperative and co-housing

Introduction

In the preceding chapter, there is presented the basic form of group Wisdom practice.  It is helpful to apply it also in our individual lives in many ways. It adds to our personal practice more confidence by witnessing that we are not isolated, but others have similar experiences. It could be further expanded by adding to group discussion topics related to six attitudes.

However, ideas of Wisdom Society, as it is described in the Vision, go much further, embracing the social dimensions of humanity. A year ago, at the time I wrote the Vision, it proposed the structure of Wisdom society as a network of small social groups called Wisdom nuclei. However, the idea of creating a Wisdom nucleus may appear to some too „radical” or too challenging. Why, because at that time, just less than one year ago, the situation of the economy of the capitalistic world appeared in far much better shape than it is now.  However, that predicted there its weakness and fragility by now has been proven beyond any doubt, and perhaps the radical solutions would be necessary.

Nevertheless, for the hardcore believers in the recovery and continuation of modern capitalism, I propose in this chapter some less radical approaches, which may be more acceptable. They also could be viewed as steps leading to the full implementation of Wisdom Society.

The inseparability of Wisdom living and the socio-economic situation

Throughout human history, the socio-economic situation had a profound impact on the state of individual and social consciousness and vice versa. From the arrival of Homo Sapien until the period of stratification, the society was mostly egalitarian.

Since, more or less, the arrival of agriculture, the social structure gradually changed and was build around two leading interrelated concepts, which propagated domination of one human over others and more wealth than others. To justify such an absurd and unknown earlier worldviews, numerous additional ideas had to be created. And now, after about 10,000 years of stratification, we see their catastrophic results.  The worst and most dangerous is the destruction of the ecological environment of our planet and rampant ferocious capitalism. I assume that I do not have to elaborate any further, I am sure that due to your innate intelligence, you see what is going on.

Rediscovering our wisdom, which is free of those two, is impeded continuously during our everyday life. We have to deal with others who are becoming more and more scared and aggressive, we have face challenges to our wellbeing, and so on. All of that makes the practice of returning to the state of wisdom extremely difficult and for inexperienced practitioners virtually impossible.

To help in wisdom practice and also our everyday life, we have to find or to create a protective socio-economic environment. It should, at least, defend us from the most damaging aspects of the current capitalist economy and its social impact. By its social impact, I mean aggressive and competitive individualism, desire to own more, mindless following so-called authorities,  egotism, and so on.  

There are several organizations which tom some extend, try to provide elements of such a protective environment. Among them, the most successful seem to be the movement of  Ecovillages (around 10, 000 worldwide) and  Intentional Communities (well over 1000). Basically, everyone can join or try to create such one. However,  none of them is designed to fully embrace the key ideas of Wisdom living, such as egalitarianism, unanimous decisions, and cooperative altruism.

Consequently, I suggest below, a more ambitious approach: to create alternative environments for cultivation of Wisdom living. But here is an important comment: these suggestions apply to the post-COVID-19 world. Now, they may be considered, and indeed even be, be dangerous.

Wisdom workers cooperatives

The idea of cooperatives emerged a very long time ago, they are as old as humanity.  Their roots reach the original social form of Homo Sapiens during the paleolithic period when the matrilineal extended families of hunter/gatherers fully cooperated in all their activities.

In the more modern times, cooperative appeared separately in England and France in the multitude of forms at the dawn capitalistic system. At present, they have such a variety of forms, that it would not make sense even of superficially describe them. However, here we will focus on one of them, called Workers cooperative.

An interesting article about them you can find on Wikipedia. From the data it refers to follows that they are more resilient to economic upheavals than typical capitalistic enterprised, the participants are more satisfied what also expands even in their family life. The workers’ cooperatives also have many forms which differ on such issues as decision making and income sharing is concerned.

The type of workers cooperative, which accommodates some principles of Wisdom Living, would have to embrace three aspects:

  • the participants of such a cooperative, individually and as a group, are involved in the wisdom practice
  • the decisions are made unanimously
  • the income is shared equally.

The first aspect, that is, the wisdom practice, is the indispensable base for the forming of the cooperative. Without it, the remaining two would not be realistic because the participants would be infected by the „viruses” of stratification. In essence, some would believe that they are more relevant and better than others and try to take monetary advantage of that. Also, since stratification infected social consciousness with the belief one’s individual, independent existence and consequently, attachment of one’s own concepts, the unanimity of decision making would be very difficult to achieve.

The second aspect, the unanimity of decision making, is necessary to prevent the disintegration of such cooperative enterprises. Since there is no owner to make a final decision, often its relegated to the majority of the workers, a typical method of democracy. As we well know, observing modern politics, the power of the majority leads to continual friction and vicious infighting. On the level of a country, it produces discontent, but in the case of workers cooperative, sooner or later, it would bring a catastrophic effect of the disintegration of the enterprise, what often is happening.

The third aspect, the principle that the income is shared equally, is often a bone of contention in workers cooperatives. The fact that a person independently of her or his usefulness to the cooperative is awarded the same pay than others is incongruent with our mentality shaped by millennia of stratification, and particularly by its last phase:  the capitalism. However, the principle of altruistic cooperation, which lies at the base of Wisdom Society, which was present much longer, since the dawn of humanity, worked astonishingly well. The absence of altruistic cooperation brings our present,  absurd situation where governments spent enormous money to support useless, failing corporations rather than its citizens. The most vivid example of this approach is the current governmental decisions to give money to such parasitic services as cruise ship industry or tourism-based airlines to make sure that they could survive.

The workers’ cooperatives create possibilities for further advantages. Since its control is left to the employees, it can bring benefits impossible to realize in a typical capitalistic enterprise. The closeness of relations between the participants makes the possible realization of numerous projects. In the following, I  will describe a few obvious ones.

In the countries where so-called self-education is legal, within workers cooperatives could create appropriate care and education facilities for members’ children. They could be much more human than the existing bureaucratic and hostile education system. Also, there can be arranged wholesale purchasing of groceries for the members and other similar possibilities.

The key advantage of wisdom workers cooperative is its atmosphere based on altruistic cooperation and humour. It contrasts with the atmosphere in many workplaces of the capitalistic enterprises,  which is often the most vivid example of domination, where the relations between employees and their superiors are filled with aggression, resentment and competitiveness. Though theoretically, it could be handled using the wisdom practice, for a new practitioner, it could become an insurmountable obstacle.

Wisdom cohabitation

Another possible way of providing a more protective environment for development wisdom living is a close form of cohousing.

Cohousing has numerous forms ranging from loosely connected groups, forming housing cooperatives because they are financially advantageous to much more intimately interrelated wisdom cohousing.   The housing cooperatives became particularly popular in the seventies and eighties of the last century and still continue but with lesser enthusiasm.  The relations between members are often limited to periodical meetings where they decide about such issues as repairs, cleaning, landscaping, and similar.

The essential purpose of forming a Wisdom cohabitation unite, similarly to wisdom workers cooperatives, is providing a protective environment for practitioners during everyday life. The proximity of the living of the members offers many opportunities for altruistic cooperation during the life we spend at home. It embraces possibilities of such activities collective raising children, preparing meals, shopping, and taking care of each other, particularly of children and physically challenged and aged. It also makes possible an alternative education for children as it is described above in the case of wisdom workers cooperatives.

It also offers many practical advantages absent in the nuclear family style of living like buying groceries from wholesalers, shopping by one or two members to supply several others based on their individual requests, dedicating a special place for laundry as it is done in some large, upscale apartment houses, and similar.

Since members of such a cohousing unite are engaged in, at least, basic wisdom practice the collective lifestyle make the group practice natural and easy. The discussion following a session of such practice may be extended to collective, unanimous decision making concerning topics related to their cohousing issues and beyond.

Closing remarks

Both presented above, forms of creating a protective and conducive environment for the development of wisdom living can be naturally fused together. Living nearby of the workplace is obviously advantageous. In essence, it eliminates the necessity of travelling to work what saves both time and money.

Beyond that, it would create an important step towards creating a wisdom nucleus. However, it still would not be the same because several principles of wisdom nucleus are still missing like self-sufficiency and protection of ecology.

The description of the wisdom nucleus is presented on this site in the form of several video talks. However, this form may be somewhat tricky for not native English speakers. Besides, in spite that these talks are less than a year old, they may already be slightly aged because the world changes faster and faster. Consequently, I decided to write and post an updated version of Wisdom Society, beginning with a nucleus, which will be the topic of the next chapter.

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