...I found my mind turning to a collective house in Oregon where Isabell, my older daughter, had lived the summer before, and to a group of young anarchist artists and musicians in Greensboro whom I knew through both of my daughters.
After Isabell came home from college an anarchist herself, I began to put aside my preconceptions about these people — as disorderly, violent and destructive — and to see them as a community dedicated to replacing hierarchy with consensus and cooperation. (Isabell once described them as Quakers who swear a lot.) Over time I found myself drawn to their hopeful view that people know best what is best for them and to their determination, naïve or not, to build a better world right away. Anarchism, at least as practiced here, seemed to be more about building community gardens and making your own fun than about black bandannas and confrontations with the riot police (although it was about those things, too).
Amid the chaos of my own life I wondered if this approach to living might have something in it for me. Unconventional as it was, I figured it couldn't be any worse than struggling to pay the mortgage and being Justin's mother on my own.
So Justin and I entered a microeconomy in which it is possible to live not just comfortably, but well, on $500 a month. When we pooled our skills in our new household, we found that we had what we needed to design a Web page, paint a ceiling or install a car stereo. Sharing services and tools with people outside the house saved us thousands of dollars a year. If there is a historical model for the way we live, it is not the communes of the 60's or the utopian experiments of the 19th century, but the two-million-year prehistory of our hunting-and-gathering ancestors. Looked at through that lens, the life of our miniature tribe feels a lot like the way people were meant to live.
Sunday, March 12, 2006
NYT on Anarchism and Co-op Life
Interesting article by Liz Seymour about anarchism and co-op housing over at the New York Times: Inviting Anarchy Into My Home. Reminds me of my life in Memphis and deCleyre. Her description of co-op life amongst anarchists seems accurate, or at least similar to my own experience in Memphis: