To facilitate this shift, a worthwhile starting point might be to think of the myriad ways we are collaborating with the various dominating systems. That list probably cannot be complete, though it will help us find patterns that can point toward areas where new structures are needed to help us move beyond collaboration. Most of us, after all, collaborate because that’s the only way we can survive. So, we need to create structures that allow us to survive outside of the current system!
Instead of trying to compile a comprehensive list, I want to look at several areas, the basics of survival, and outline the collaboration with the system there, as well as pointing out the system that I think is behind it.
Food: We get our food within the capitalist system. We buy it at the grocery store or the farmers market – in any case, we purchase it with money. We collaborate with the idea that we have to have agriculture in order to feed all of us (which might be true with the masses of people on the planet now! So, we also collaborate with the idea that more people is better…)
Shelter: Again, how we live is tied into the capitalist system. We have to pay for our space – rent or mortgage.
Work: Most of us equate work with a job, a way to earn money, however there is plenty of work that has not been turned into a job. Actually some of this work is, at least in my experience, way more fulfilling than most jobs – like giving a friend empathy. This fulfillment gives meaning to our lives, a foundation for happiness.
Collaboration is ensured by tying our survival to it – physical and emotional survival. The areas listed above are (part of) the physical survival. Even when we might physically survive, we might end up in shame-induced depression because our belonging to the group is challenged when we don’t follow the rules. So, we also need to address our beliefs. As Daniel Quinn pointed out, civilization is underpinned by the belief that there is only one right way to live, everything else is deemed uncivilized. This belief manifests itself in more myriad ways, for example:
- Adults get married.
- Married adults have kids. (Yes, that’s actually two beliefs…)
- We have to have a job. And it better be full-time.
- The older we get, the bigger our living space has to be.
- Living without a car is dangerous.
- Responsible adults get up before 7.
While there are many people who have the courage to live outside those normative boxes, I believe that more of us would do this if we’d figure out a way to ensure that the basics are covered. I find it difficult to pursue what makes me come alive, for example, because I do not know how to ensure my physical survival. Not everybody has the guts to live in attics or closets, so I think instead of finding individual solutions, we need to start building collective ones. And these solutions need to be viable where most of us live because we might not want to move to the middle of nowhere, the place where most intentional communities set up camp.