For the last year, we’ve worked hard to make our community experience useful to anyone who was interested. The first part of this work materialized in “The Book of Community.” Later, we delved into getting to know egalitarian communities, especially the Israelite kibbutzim movement, with the series “Laying the foundations for communitarianism.” We found key points that were very current and organizational developments that are useful for the current community movement. By now, it can be said that our blog is surely the main free resource available on the net for anyone interested in learning about historical experience and practice of communitarianism, which is to say, the story of the formation of productive and egalitarian communities throughout the world, from Antiquity to our day.
Of course, the kibbutz, the “sharing it all” the way we Indianos do, is just one form of the “community experience.” Surely, in terms of scope and the breadth of its determination, it’s the most fertile in results and learning, but even so, it’s a long way off from most people who are looking to strengthen the commons in their everyday life—in a large enterprise, in a small team or in their groups of friends or neighbors. People that can’t find what they’re looking for in the “sharing economy.” It’s time to start turning what we’ve learned into “bridges” for those who want to cross over.
What you shouldn’t forget
- You already have the most important thing: the people you trust and with whom share reflections on life and how to live it. People with whom you learn, and for whom you feel affection. That’s your community. In fact, it’s normal to have several. We all have more than one: the one we form with our partner, our family, friends with whom we share hobbies, or work colleagues with whom we have an understanding. Really, if you think about it, only the hard part is left to do…
- Never forget that belonging to a community is a shared, active, and voluntary desire, not the passive product of a situation or a common thing that “we are”: communities are not “created,” whether on the basis of abstractions, or because we push others, or because it seems “obvious” to us that it’s for the “common good.” And there are no exceptions: otherwise, it always goes badly.
- “The common good” and “democracy” are shared political values… but they don’t work in a community.Communities that work are based on consensus and diversity. There is no “common good” that can be defined with a vote; if we try, we will destroy the very base of community. Does that mean that in a community, things can only be done when they are part of a consensus? No, it means that community, as such, only advances on the basis of consensus, and that for it to work, it must give space to the highest individual freedom, the highest abundance, which, in fact, over the long term, is the measure of its success.
- The importance of consensus means that the basis of every community that works is a conversation–and therefore learning–that are shared and permanent. Community and communication have the same root, and we shouldn’t forget it.
And the two most important:
- A community is no more than a set of interpersonal relationships, and is organic in the same sense that coral is really a set of autonomous animals, which is why what defines it is its culture, its shared ethos. The rules of a community, its structure, aremechanical, like the mechanical guides that we can put in a coral to condition its growth. In general, the organic must be supported by the mechanical, but the mechanical must be subject to the organic–otherwise, the “guides” would kill what’s alive, or wouldsimply empty out the community.
- And the most important of all: a community is something we do, not something we are. We don’t share essences, we don’t build essences, there is no learning of essences. What we really share in community is doing. The nucleus of everything is learning and the knowledge developed towards an objective or a common search. It’s the relationships that we establish by struggling together for something that produces fraternity and true recognition of the other, not ecstatic discovery of some essence. Knowledge discovered together is what makes us feel that we really share a common legacy earned together. That mix of struggle and learning is what arises spontaneously in work as a shared challenge. That’s why phenomena like the kibbutz appear, and that’s why “shared income” communities are usually volatile if they don’t share the work that creates that income.
Where to begin
The Club of the Indias continues to surprise us and teach us things. Right now, it’s a true case study. Everything started in the most natural way, a year ago now, with the opening of laMatriz.org. Little by little, a conversation began that grew and flowed. By October, there were small agreements, and thousands of messages exchanged, and with them, enough trust for some matriceros to go ahead and share an apartment during Somero 2015. Following Somero, we had the first seminar: a friend of the club taught others in an in-person workshop. We started a blog, and that blog worked to take a step forward, and from in-person seminars, we will go to our first online course. And from there, we’ll move to our first proposal to do a team research project, “Project Christmas,” which a half-dozen members of the club already have supported with their posts and searches documenting the context of what, if everything goes as planned, will end up being a experiment in the Internet of things and the direct economy.
In just a year, la Matriz/ The Club of the Indias has become a space for fraternity where learning, conversations, and differences in all kinds of things are shared, and which is already starting to think about producing things together.
It wasn’t a spontaneous phenomenon: it’s required conscious willpower from everyone, as well as desire, hours of writing posts and discussing all manner of things on la Matriz. It’s been an organic phenomenon in which the contribution of the Indianos was to provide media, develop a tool, create significant times and spaces, and participate like any other person in the conversations that arose without monopolizing them or putting up artificial borders. Thanks to that, now we have a Indiano community beyond the Indianos of the kibbutz.
Surely, for those who want develop community among their own circle, it’s a good example.
Translated by Steve Herrick from the original (in Spanish).