Just received an inquiry and I thought I’d post (an edited version of) my reply here in case anyone else is interested:
November 8, 2016
October 11, 2016
Yes, worker coops do exist and thrive in the real world. There is even a documentary about them, and here is the preview:
That being said, these do not spring up overnight – they require a fair amount of capital and a lot of effort. But it is possible.
September 5, 2016
“One cornerstone of our current economic system is the concept that competition is necessary for business. The Nobel Prize laureate for economics Friedrich August von Hayek wrote that “competition is in most cases the most efficient method we know”.
This concept has never, to our knowledge, been scientifically proven. People just assume it to be true. Research has shown, however, that cooperation, not competition, is much more effective in terms of motivation, a key element regarding business innovation and efficiency. Competition does, of course, motivate people and market capitalism has proven this, but it motivates them in very problematic ways. Cooperation motivates people through successful relationships, recognition, esteem, mutual goals and mutual achievements.
In contrast, competition is defined as the “mutually exclusive achievement of objectives”. I can only be successful if someone else is unsuccessful. Competition primarily motivates people through fear. Fear is a widespread phenomenon in market capitalism. Many fear losing their job, their income, their social status and their place in the community.
There is another component of motivation when it comes to competition. Aside from fear, competition elicits a form of delight in being better than someone else. This motive is very problematic. The goal of our actions should not be to be better than others but rather to perform our task well because we enjoy it and find it valuable and helpful. If you derive self-worth from being better than others, you are dependent upon others being worse. This actually constitutes pathological narcissism: feeling better because others are worse is sick.
If we, as human beings, do not learn to cooperate and act in the spirit of solidarity we will not call power relations into question but rather will attempt to elbow our way into the realm of power and the social elite. In doing so, the majority will fall by the wayside. And social cohesion will be poisoned because we will constantly take advantage of others, exploit and debase them in the pursuit of our own advantage, weakening and destroying social trust and social bonds.”
Christian Felber and Gus Hagelberg
Not to mention that competition wastes resources when businesses are providing the same goods or services and chasing after the same consumers, requiring them to pay for advertising and cut prices, employee pay and benefits in order to compete. Why have two convenience stores, auto dealers, banks or gas stations across the street from each other, and have them both teetering on the edge of bankruptcy? But if you keep the market-based economy, as the Economy for the Common Good movement (quoted above) seems to advocate, how will you stop monopolies or cartels from over-charging or mistreating their customers? Only if the businesses are run by consumers in the interests of consumers can you avoid this conflict of interest. So why not just operate the economy on a non-profit basis, abolish money and call it socialism? Maybe the ECG movement is an evolutionary step in this direction.
June 13, 2016
I’ve been camping out here at A2 this June and I’ve gotten a lot done. The weather has been nice. I put sun screen fabric on the car shelter. It’s doing a good job, not as noisy as the plastic tarp, but I’d still like to put a straw or bamboo mat on top of the fabric to make it sturdier. I’ve finished the barbed wire fence, to keep the free-ranging cows out. I put the canvas roof on the yurt for the first time and figured out a way to hold it in place. It has held up pretty well, but there haven’t been any strong storms yet. It’s nice to have some shade and privacy, but it gets very hot on hot, sunny days. I just use it as a utility and storage area. I also cleared a fire break around the trees and the yurt.
I have a major decision to make. There is a new RV park (apparently) going in across from my neighbor to the west. It looks like development is coming to our wilderness area. I’ve been thinking about contacting the owners of the 20 acre lot just to my east and making them an offer on their land. That would give us a 40 acre square lot with gravel/dirt “roads” on two sides. If we decide to have a cooperative yurt camping business in the future, which I think would be popular, keeping that lot undeveloped would help preserve the natural setting. Or, alternatively, we could develop that lot since it’s a little easier to reach. To our south we have BLM land which is not likely to be developed (hopefully).
The other option is to spend money on a well, which will probably cost 150% as much as buying the extra land. My neighbor to the west, who has kindly been letting me use his well water, has been hinting that it’s probably a good idea for me to get my own well, but $15,000 is a lot of money.
The problem is I don’t have a lot of money. It would put me at financial risk (i.e., I would end up spending all my savings) if I pay for either of these by myself. So it would be really nice to find some other people who are seriously interested in helping this cooperative community idea move forward who would be willing to invest. In a worse case scenario, we’d have a 40 acre square lot with a well (and eventually trees), which SHOULD be worth more than what it cost.
But I need to be really selective to be sure the people who get involved at the start have a democratic, ethical, civil libertarian, socialist perspective, in order to get things started off in the right direction. That’s a fairly limited target group.
It would also be nice if people who fit these criteria, but who don’t have money to invest, could help out by visiting during the summer when I’m not here to plant and/or water trees, so that there will be some precious shade to enjoy when people are eventually able to start living here. I think the monthly dues I suggested were $20 a month for prospective members, so that should not be out of anyone’s reach, but we could waive the dues in return for labor. If we do that though, at the present rate it will be a while until we can raise the money to pay for a well, septic system, housing and solar system, which will be needed if people are going to actually live out here.
So, if I take a longer term view, I should try to buy the land east of A2, and if I am thinking in the shorter term, I should go for the well. But realistically, I don’t actually have the money to safely do either by myself. Hmm….
If anyone is going to visit this summer, the weekend of June 18/19 would be a good time to come. I may take a little road trip after that, since I’ve gotten everything done that I wanted to do. Leave me a message here to let me know if you’re coming.
May 26, 2016
The 1941 movie “The 49th Parallel” is actually a WWII propaganda film about Nazi fugitives who are stranded in Canada after their U-boat is destroyed during a raid. They wander onto a Hutterite settlement and the unknowing residents take them in and try to explain their system. The Hutterite scene starts at 50:00 and the description of their system ends at about 56:00. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AtEtMUXjuKw
It would be nice to believe that there could be benevolent leaders who truly have the interests of their followers at heart, but I think it is difficult for most modern humans to imagine such a thing. Democracy seems a lot safer.
April 9, 2016
Are you feeling the Bern? If you want to hedge your bets, you could vote for Bernie AND help create a non-Leninist, democratic socialist community, to enjoy the benefits of cooperation and demonstrate the viability of socialism. Anarres Two aspires to be such a community, and hopes to establish a worker-owned cooperative someday. It will require patience and a long term vision, but not as much patience as waiting for society to catch up with us.
Anarres Two is currently just 20 acres of sometimes dusty, sometimes grassy, rural, unimproved land in northern Nevada, but someday it could be a Bill of Rights-loving socialist community. But I can’t do it alone. If this sounds like something you’d like to see happen, consider dropping by this June for a little camping, or just for a visit, or stick around a while and help out. Check out the websites at https://anarres2.wordpress.com/2016/03/25/summer-2016/ and at http://www.ic.org/directory/anarres-two-cooperative-community/ for more information, and drop me an email or leave a comment if it looks interesting. Please make an appointment if you’re coming so that I’ll be sure to be there, and so I can help you find it.
March 25, 2016
I’ll be camping out on the land in June this year. If you’d like to visit, please leave a comment and we can set up a rough appointment so that we can be there at the same time and I can help you find it. I may make side trips while I’m there, and I wouldn’t want to miss your visit. If you come by Amtrak, I can pick you up in Winnemucca. Visitors are welcome to camp out, but you’ll need your own tent or vehicle to sleep in. I wouldn’t sleep out in the open since there is supposedly a mountain lion in the area, but he or she keeps a very low profile. One neighbor who has lived there for years and years has only seen tracks, and he lives much farther up the mountain.
My goals are to get the canvas roof up on the yurt, finish the fence (to keep free ranging cattle away from the trees), improve the sun shelter, plant some more trees and make a fire break (a mound of dirt around the fence). Also want to put a glass cover over my water reservoir and see if that works as a water heater. I will probably break down and buy a gas stove this year. Some warm coffee or soup would be really nice on those cold mornings.
I got a letter from a consultant for a gold mining company regarding a possible expansion of the power line that runs to the south of the lot. They wanted permission to do an environmental and historical survey in case they use that route, which was an alternate route. I granted them permission, but I was worried about it because if it goes through we’d probably have some really big power lines there and would lose part of the land. According to the news, however, the company declared bankruptcy, so hopefully the project is dead. It doesn’t mean the company is dead, but they probably won’t be able to come up with the money for the project (hopefully). UPDATE: Got a letter today: “…the 345 kV transmission line is no longer proposed…. NV Energy has submitted a letter to the Bureau of Land Management withdrawing their application…” Yea!
I really need to find more people to get involved in this project. Isn’t there anyone else who would like to see an egalitarian, democratic, cooperative/socialist community happen in northern Nevada? I could advertise more, but I think it’s more likely that I’ll find serious, dedicated people if they find Anarres Two themselves than if they see an ad and say, “Hey, that sounds like fun”. My current approach has not been very effective though.
August 22, 2015
What I actually accomplished this summer:
I built a sun shelter big enough to park a car under. I need to add slats and a sun fabric roof next year. The plastic tarp I used this year was quickly destroyed by the wind.
I put in fence posts and a gate. I need to add t-posts and barbed wire fencing next year, to keep cows out of the “developed” area.
I replaced the gravel in front of the yurt entrance with concrete paving stones.
I moved the shower tower inside the yurt and experimented with a combination shower tower/stove, but it was too unstable without mortar.
Next year I want to plant more trees, since the fence will hopefully keep the cows out. My neighbor’s theory is that I should plant really small trees and not support them with poles, so that they will naturally thicken. I think just buying large trees would work, too, but I would need a truck to get large trees out there. Watering them will be a problem though. I need to find someone who lives in Reno who will swap free camping for tree watering.
My experimental solar water heater worked pretty well at first, but the clear plastic sheeting over the water cistern quickly became cloudy and white due to the UV rays from the sun, so I went back to just leaving the dark blue shower jug out in the sun, and that worked better. I could try using a glass cover next year (from a discarded sliding glass door or window perhaps). My experiment using the garden hose as an external heating coil was inconclusive. I think I need to use a shorter hose.
Possible business schemes:
I thought it might be possible to develop part of the land as a yurt camping ground. People would pay to camp in our yurts. These types of resorts are popular with tourists in Mongolia. There is hiking nearby and you could also offer horseback rides. The view is great and the stars are really beautiful. People could camp from spring to fall. The nights are fairly cool even in the summer. When it was in the 90s during the day, it was only in the 70s or 60s at night. We might need to have a source of heat (that doesn’t involve fire) during the spring and fall.
We’d need to have a building for restrooms, showers and cooking/dining, and we’d need to have the last part of the road re-graveled. We’d also need a well and a septic system, and several heavy duty yurts that are permanently anchored to the ground.
An alternative idea would be to have a business in Imlay, based on our skills and what people living there want or need. Since Imlay is right on I-80, you would have highway travelers as customers, too. Maybe a coffee shop/bakery/internet cafe?
May 26, 2015
I set up a Facebook page with links to info about other “socialist communities” (broadly defined):
Socialist Communities https://www.facebook.com/SocialistCommunities
April 27, 2015
I’m planning to make it back to Anarres Two again this summer, from late July to mid August. Here is my “to do” list, in rough order of urgency:
– put the canvas roof on the yurt (which will be a community toilet, shower and cooking space eventually). If I put in two sets of stakes, I could stretch the tarp high enough to leave an air gap during the day and use the closer stakes at night.
– make a better solar water heater (a black plastic trash can inside an elevated wooden frame covered with plastic sheeting).
– make an “indoor” shower connected to the water heater (with a kiddie pool or plastic tub inside to collect water and with drainage to the outside, where the grey water can be collected and used to water trees, etc.).
– plant two more trees and water them really well. Maybe cottonwoods this time.
– make a sun shelter for my car (wooden posts with a tarp draped across them). It gets really hot during the day. I just draped a tarp over my car last year.
– dig a secure storage area
– enlarge the cistern pit for water storage
– collect rocks to put around trees and hoe the area around the trees and yurt as a firebreak.
– fence off the tree and yurt area, or at least fence off the new trees, to keep out roaming herds of livestock.
– if I still have time, collect rocks for area around the yurt and the path to the road.
If anyone wants to help me “build socialism” this summer, I could probably use your help. You would probably need to bring your own tent or sleep in your vehicle until we get a sleeping shelter built (it’s not on the “to do list” now, but we could add it). Living conditions are pretty rough at the moment.