Anarres 2 cooperative community

April 17, 2022

Interesting article on Charles Fourier

Filed under: Uncategorized — Ed @ 3:44 am

Charles Fourier was a French utopian socialist who came up with an elaborate (and somewhat nutty) plan to build giant, multi-floor buildings called phalanxes that were arranged hierarchically by floors, according to social class. His major contribution to socialism was the idea that people should do work that they find interesting and pleasant, and that by having people take on the work they naturally found to be attractive, somehow everything that needed to be done would get done. This may be true to some extent, but I doubt it would actually work because there are far more people who want to be ballerinas, astronauts, fashion designers, professional athletes, performers and novelists than there are who want to be dishwashers, plumbers, janitors, wastewater treatment workers, farm workers or dentists, but these less glamorous jobs are really a lot more necessary for society.

Anyway, this is a good article on Fourier that spins him as more of a socialist and a feminist, and he’s reportedly the person who coined the word ‘feminism’ back in the early 1800’s.

At the Dawn of Capitalism, Charles Fourier Imagined a Socialist-Feminist Utopia

“After his death, Friedrich Engels credited [Charles Fourier] with the idea of alienation, that under capitalism we lack a personal connection to our work because it profits someone else…. Fourier understood the ideal of freedom, and… what a hollow notion it was for most people under capitalism….

‘…in civilized societies liberty is illusory if the common people lack wealth. When the wage-earning classes are poor, their independence is as fragile as a house without foundations. The free man who lacks wealth immediately sinks back under the yoke of the rich. The newly freed slave takes fright at the need of providing for his own subsistence and hastens to sell himself back into slavery in order to escape this new anxiety that hangs over him like Damocles’ sword.’

Along with liberty, he found the other two buzzwords of the French Revolution, equality and fraternity, equally ridiculous as long as people suffered from economic precarity [i.e., insecurity] and were forced to endure hunger or wage-slavery.”

——

By the way, Fourier and other socialists are often accused of being ‘antisemitic’ because they were opposed to the market economy. Due to historical circumstances, Jewish people in Europe had been relegated to being merchants and bankers, which is explained here:

“In the Christian tradition, the only noble labor was physical labor, and so earning wealth from the manipulation of money was seen as inherently ignoble. In the somewhat more prosperous and market-driven medieval period, Thomas Aquinas helped make private property and commerce more acceptable, but he did not fundamentally break with the Aristotelian view that trade was suspect and the pursuit of wealth was sinful…. In the medieval mind, Jews were seen as a kind of stand-in for mercantile and usurious sinfulness. Living outside the Christian community, but within the borders of Christendom, they were allowed to commit the sin of usury on the grounds that their souls were already forfeit…. The Jews were used as a commercial caste the way the untouchables of India were used as a sanitation caste.”

Ironically, after European society was transformed by the industrial revolution and capitalism, things have now been turned completely on their head. The pursuit of wealth through commerce (aka business) has become the modern west’s religion, and becoming a millionaire or billionaire through trade and industry is considered by our culture to be the greatest thing that a person can achieve or aspire to. It’s the purpose of almost all of our economic activity, which is focused like a laser beam on making as much money was humanly possible, no matter what the cost to society. In fact, companies that fail to focus exclusively on making as much money as possible for their shareholders are often accused of mismanagement.

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January 3, 2022

January 2022 update

Filed under: Uncategorized — Ed @ 7:46 am

Having had another year to think about Anarres Two, it’s looking unlikely that I’m ever going to see a house built out there. My mom is almost 80 now, so I may have to come back to the U.S. to be around in case she needs help (so far she’s says she’s doing fine). If I do come back to take care of her, I’d be in the southwest Nevada/northwest Arizona area. I’d hopefully be able to camp out at Anarres Two occasionally (and actually keep some trees alive, etc.), but as far as building a home and living out there year round, it seems unlikely that’s going to happen. My mom has no interest in moving north, my wife has no interest in moving to the U.S., and I’m going to be 61 in a few weeks.

Even if I was able to come up with a down payment on a home, I’d have to spend almost all my Social Security money on mortgage payments, just to have a second home that might be vacant most of the year (which would be a bad idea). And who is going to make even a 15 year loan to a 61 year-old man? I guess the loan would be secured by the land and the home, but the Imlay area is not a very hot real estate market. I guess an ‘end-timer’ might be interested in a place to hide out while society collapses.

I may be able to come up with enough money to put in a well, but if no one is going to be around to carry on building a socialist utopia after I’m gone that would just be (more) wasted money. The land would be worth more with a well (and a house), but it’s doubtful that it would be worth more than the money spent. Even if I did manage to sell it, I’ll be dead soon, so what’s the point?

We never know what the future will hold, but right now I’m not feeling very optimistic.

I’m still stuck in Japan for the time being. I’m vaccinated, so I could travel, but I’d have to do a 14 day quarantine upon returning to Japan, and who knows what in the U.S. since it looks like the rules depend on which state you arrive in! So it seems unlikely that I’ll be able to visit Anarres Two this year.

One thing I’ve been meaning to do, but haven’t done yet, is to contact the power company about the feasibility of developing part of the land as a solar energy project. I’ve contacted solar installation companies about it but they don’t reply to my emails, so I assume that means it’s something they don’t normally do or something that is not economically viable. I’m guessing the power company only buys power from homes or businesses because they have to, and not from solar farms since they could just build solar farms themselves. There’s a lot of cheap land and a lot of sun in Nevada, so if there was a way to make a profit I imagine people would be doing it. If the Green New Deal had passed and the government was financing projects like that, we’d have clean energy galore. Part of the revenue from the generated power would go towards paying off the government loan, with the rest going to the solar farm owner/operator as income.

I also stumbled upon a better method of combining solar panels and solar water heating. Instead of running water through the panels to cool them, you use antifreeze or oil (winters are very cold in northern Nevada). The tube carrying the liquid then turns into a coil inside a conventional hot water heater. The heated liquid is in a closed loop. After warming the water in the water heater the tube runs back up to the roof, so that the fluid circulates through the system. It’s described as an “active” solar water heating system (since the fluid is pumped through the system). There is an illustration here:  https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/solar-water-heaters

I’ve thought about advertising Anarres Two more, targeting people who are already socialists, but being a political democratic socialist and being a ‘utopian’ democratic socialist (in the sense of prioritizing building socialism among yourselves instead of politically transforming the entire society) are fairly different orientations. It’s possible to be both, but it’s pretty rare. Maybe I should try seeking some of these people out? I read an interesting review of the movie Snowpiercer, which is about an end-times train full of survivors that circles a frozen earth. The train was built by a capitalist and runs like a capitalist society. The people at the back of the train do most of the work, and as you move forward in the train the level of privilege increases, until you get up to ‘first class’ at the front of the train, where all the decisions are made. The workers rebel and try to take the train. The reviewer points out that one of the characters thinks it’s a better idea for the rebels to try to break out of the train and take their chances on surviving after making their escape, than to fight the security forces and take over the train, but the others don’t listen to him.

If Snowpiercer had merely told the tale of an oppressed working class rising up to seize power from an evil overlord, it would already have been an improvement over most of the political messages in mainstream cinema…. But the story … goes beyond that. It’s about the limitations of a revolution which merely takes over the existing social machinery rather than attempting to transcend it…. The train symbolizes that system, which subordinates everyone to [the logic] of domination through [a hierarchy of] labor, while convincing them that no other world is possible — that only death awaits them outside the machine…. [Nam] tries to warn [rebel leader] Curtis away from a confrontation with [the capitalist] Wilford that will prove disastrous. Instead, he suggests that the whole premise of the train is a lie — that the conditions have ripened to make life outside the train finally possible.”  https://www.jacobinmag.com/2014/07/smash-the-engine

 

I haven’t seen it yet.

November 7, 2020

2020 update

Filed under: Uncategorized — Ed @ 3:03 am

I wasn’t able to visit Anarres Two this year due to the coronavirus pandemic and the resulting travel restrictions and quarantines. Hoping to be able to visit in 2021.

I’ve been doing a little thinking about possible business ideas. One idea is selling and installing photovoltaic thermal (PVT) solar panels, especially for providing shade for mobile homes. These are solar panels that are cooled by water tubes. They output more electricity since they can be kept cooler, and also produce hot water. Someone would need to go to school to get the know-how though. Another idea is turning several acres of A2 into a solar power or wind farm, but the hurdles would be financing and connecting to the power grid, the latter of which would be very expensive. Another idea would be setting up a small scale manufacturing business of some kind and selling the products to people who support worker co-ops, or doing greenhouse farming. And also I still think the yurt camping idea might be viable during the warm season. If you had the financing, some kind of business in Imlay, like an ‘urgent care’ clinic or food coop or coffee shop/EV recharging station by the interstate would also be possible. You could buy land close to the interchange in Imlay for the solar farm for EV charging. Lots of ideas, but not much money….

Since I haven’t been able to attract much interest in my scheme, instead of initially setting this up as a worker coop I may focus on setting it up as a private home at first. That would result in a home with a well, a septic system and a wind/solar off-grid power system. The next step would be transforming that into a co-op/corporate model by selling the property to a worker-owned corporate entity at some point.

August 12, 2019

Summer 2019

Filed under: Uncategorized — Ed @ 1:39 am

While back in the U.S. for my daughter’s wedding in early August, I swung by Anarres Two to water the small trees I planted last year. Unfortunately, they had all been stripped of all their leaves and appeared to be dead, just sticks sticking out of the ground, but on closer inspection I thought they may still be alive, so I went ahead and watered them and hoped for the best. I brought jugs of water with me this time. I suspect the trees were stripped bare by grasshoppers earlier in the summer. The two older trees were still alive but the upper half of the tall one had also been stripped bare. The grasshoppers were gone by the time I arrived, but there were still plenty of Mormon crickets. I thought about buying some ducklings next year and just turning them loose to eat the grasshoppers and crickets, but I don’t know if they would be smart enough to fly south on their own in the winter, without parents or other adult ducks to lead them. They would need clean water and a pool of some kind to survive, and there are probably predators, like hawks or coyotes, so probably not a good plan until someone is around to take care of them.

The gate held this time, so no further cow damage, but I didn’t have time to repair the roof of the ‘carport’ or to do much weeding.

I rented a car in San Francisco and drove all the way to Imlay, but the traffic in California was awful. Next time I’ll take a train to Sacramento and rent a car there.

I just spent one night there and drove back the next day to catch my flight home. Saw some meteors when I was stargazing during the night. One exploded apparently, behind me – I saw a bright flash but when I turned around it was over.

It’s a beautiful place. I’m hoping I’ll be able to live out there eventually.

May 4, 2019

Legal and Ownership Issues

Filed under: Uncategorized — Ed @ 12:34 pm

I stumbled upon two good articles.

This one is about dealing with legal issues. Here is an excerpt:

Your Community and the Law

Posted on April 30, 2019 by

Seven Things Every Community Should Know

I want communities everywhere to be well aware of legal-financial realities. The founders of my community didn’t know this, and it absolutely came back to bite us! Here’s what I want you to know:

(1) Your forming community will be (or your existing community already is) embedded in and subject to local, state, and federal laws and regulations. Federal tax requirements, federal laws regarding illegal substance use, firearms, and other issues. Federal and state laws regarding the rights and responsibilities of one’s legal entity(s). Annual reporting requirements with the state, and state health department and environmental quality regulations. County subdivision regulations, zoning regulations, building codes, and property tax requirements.

(2) Learn what these laws and regulations in your area are, how they affect your community—and what the legal and financial risks may be to your community and to each member if you don’t comply with them.

(3) Educate your community members about this.

(4) Decide to either comply or not comply with laws and regulations affecting you. Or comply with some but not others.

(5) If your group decides not to comply with some laws, be willing to take the associated legal and financial risks. Tell all potential members about these risks. Full disclosure!

(6) Orient all members, especially new ones, to the legal entity(s) your group uses, and the benefits, responsibilities, and challenges of each.

(7) Especially educate your members about lawsuit and liability issues, so everyone understands the degree of liability protection the community does and does not have.

Good thing for us that most communities do understand the law and make sure their communities are legally sustainable!”

https://www.ic.org/your-community-and-the-law/

It’s probably a good idea to comply with all laws, in my humble opinion!

And this one is about the difference between an LLC and a Corporation:

LLC or Corporation – Which Should I Select for My Business?

Updated October 06, 2018
Excerpt:

“How are Corporations and Limited Liability Companies Alike?

Both corporations and LLCs limit the liability of the owners/shareholders from the debts of the business and against lawsuits against the business. It’s not true that an LLC has less protection against liability.

First Difference – How the Business is Formed

An LLC is formed by one or more business people, as owners. The owners, called “Members,” file Articles of Organization and set out an Operating Agreement. An LLC is a pass-through type of business because the profits and losses are passed on to the Members depending on their share of membership.

A corporation is formed (incorporated) by filing corporate organization documents in the state where the corporation is located, and by designating shareholders, each with a specific number of shares. The corporation also creates a Board of Directors to oversee the corporate business.

Second Difference – Ownership

The main difference between LLC’s and corporations is the ownership of the business. You might say that a corporation is owned by individuals who purchase shares, while the LLC is owned by individuals. LLC owners are called “Members,” while corporate owners are shareholders.

LLC owners have an equity interest in the assets of the business, shown in the business balance sheet as owners equity, while corporate owners have shares of stock.”

https://www.thebalancesmb.com/what-is-the-difference-between-an-llc-and-a-corporation-397526

The author also discusses differences in how profits, losses and taxation are handled, but does not discuss how the business is run.
An LLC can be run by a manager on behalf of the owners (like a corporation) or can be run by the members. “The default rules give each member equal voting and decision-making rights, irrespective of ownership percentage. You can imagine the problems that may arise when there are multiple owners and major decisions to be made under the default rules. This problem may be avoided by allocating rules about voting and decision-making in the Operating Agreement and Articles of Incorporation.” https://gundersondenton.com/business/problems-decision-making-llc/

In a corporation a CEO or board of directors makes day-to-day decisions but they answer to the shareholders, who can change the officers and vote on major issues, with the votes of the shareholders (according to the number of shares held) deciding the outcome. In other words, if Amy has 1,000 shares she gets 1,000 votes, while Ben, who has 750 shares gets 750 votes. “Boards of directors are responsible for the governance of their companies. The shareholders’ role in governance is to appoint the directors and the auditors and to satisfy themselves that an appropriate governance structure is in place.The responsibilities of the board include setting the company’s strategic aims, providing the leadership to put them into effect, supervising the management of the business and reporting to shareholders on their stewardship.” https://www.icaew.com/technical/corporate-governance/principles/principles-articles/does-corporate-governance-matter

If you have a small group of people who invest about the same amount of money, an LLC might be better, while a large group with wide variation in the amount invested might prefer the Corporation model. However, I didn’t realize how flexible LLCs are. You can set them up almost anyway you want. All of these articles suggest discussing this decision with an attorney who specializes in setting up these kinds of organizations.

September 29, 2018

Fall 2018 update

Filed under: Uncategorized — Ed @ 7:42 pm

Just got back from a three-day, marathon visit to the future site of Anarres Two.

The gravel road up the mountain was in better shape than last time. Maybe the county worked on it a little. It’s still not great, but better than it was.

The cows broke in by forcing their way through the gate, and tore the place up again. So I poured a concrete post hole with a metal pipe as an anchor for the gate post and added a bike lock, so hopefully that will keep the rascals out. The barbed-wire fence I put up last time was still in good shape. The cows leaned on my makeshift carport beams though, and the wind blew most of the cloth off the top, so it’s in a sorry state – that will be a project for my next visit.

The existing trees were still alive and I planted six more, all hardy black locust trees. I planted seedlings this time so that they wouldn’t need bracing. I hear they adapt to the wind as they grow. I watered them with the sparkling waters of the roaring Humboldt River (smiley face). The weather is much nicer in late September and is probably even nicer in early October. Clear skies and a gentle breeze, warm days, cool nights. No grasshoppers, spiders, scorpions, mormon crickets or mosquitoes. I was so busy cleaning up, planting trees and weeding the firebreak that I didn’t even have time to take pictures. I had to rent a car this time, so I was on a tight schedule.

Back in August I made an offer on the 20 acres just to the east, but I did not receive a reply. I guess that is the new social norm – no reply means ‘no’.

I thought about a possible, future, dorm-like structure. with maybe five or six small, private rooms and shared kitchen and restroom/bathing areas. A pre-fab building? One made of interlocking, rammed earth blocks? There are cool, portable machines that do that, so that you don’t have to truck in tons of concrete blocks.  A mobile home designed as worker housing? Powered by a wind and solar system. We’d probably need a barn as a work area too, for whatever it is we are going to do to generate income. Have to come up with the money for a well and then a septic system before any housing will be permitted though.

The hard part is finding other communitarian democratic socialists who are interesting in seeing this happen. I should probably advertise more, but I think letting people seek the project out filters for people who are the really interested, ideologically motivated pioneer types, which is what you need when first getting started.

March 24, 2018

Summer 2018?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Ed @ 2:21 am

Current status of the project: Still looking for others interested in forming a worker coop-based, democratic socialist community. Still no water or septic though, and you need those before you can add county compliant housing. Still no power either. Still haven’t had anyone contact me who has said they like the idea, they are a committed democratic socialist and they are willing to help make it happen. My financial situation prevents me from sinking very much more money into the project at this point, but I plan to forge ahead as best I can.

I’m seriously considering a visit this summer. I didn’t go last year, so I really should go this year just to check on things and do maintenance on the fence, etc. I do enjoy camping out there. The Green Party is having its annual meeting in Salt Lake City in July, so that is tempting, too.

I came up with another business idea. I saw a story on TV about some guys in Iceland who are making vertical axis wind turbines. They are hand crafting them out of stainless steel (I think) and there are multiple parts needed to assemble their fancy, high-tech, and very expensive wind collectors. My idea is to make the collectors out of steel drums, a.k.a. oil drums (new or used) by cutting flaps in the drums and bending them into a similar configuration. Small turbines, the parts that actually generate the electricity, can be bought fairly reasonably. My other idea is to install solar panels over the roofs of mobile homes or as carports, which would provide shade (in short supply in Nevada) and electricity. We could build prototypes and test them at A2 as we develop them.

Hopefully there is water running in the Humboldt river this year. During my previous visits there wasn’t, but they’ve had a fair amount of rain since then. I could use that to water my trees this year instead of bothering my neighbor.

April 27, 2017

A visit in August 2017?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Ed @ 9:22 am

I’m trying to decide whether or not to make my annual pilgrimage to Anarres Two this year. It’s expensive, but I get to see my family. August is hot, very hot, but it’s dry and the nights are cool, and it’s not a very busy time for me. I hate spending my “vacation” sitting in coffee shops editing research papers and wondering if I’m going to get kicked out for overstaying my welcome. So far I have bought a lot of drinks and that hasn’t happened.

Burning Man is going to run from August 27 to September 4th, so that is probably a time to avoid, although that happens some distance from Imlay. I thought about having an alternative, free gathering, where people run around in sparkly underwear and plant trees instead of burning things, but I’m getting a little old for that.

There was enough rain this year (I see there is a flood warning for the Humboldt River over the next few days!) that I could probably skip my visit and my trees would survive. I don’t have any major projects to do, unless I decide to try to buy more land (and put myself at financial risk).

I usually use my mom’s second car when I’m in the U.S., but my brother is getting out of prison soon and he is probably going to be using it, which means renting a van, which is expensive.

Not to mention that I hate flying through China to get an affordable ticket, and then being “extremely vetted” at the U.S. border, or worse while I’m visiting, since Trump has let law enforcement off the leash.

I’ll let you know as soon as I make up my mind….

 

January 6, 2017

Hello Elizabeth

Filed under: Uncategorized — Ed @ 1:29 am

Thanks for contacting me through the FIC website, however your email service does not like my email service and my reply email was rejected:

Sorry, we were unable to deliver your message to the following address.

<*****@live.com>:
Remote host said: 550 SC-001 (BAY004-MC4F55) Unfortunately, messages from 183.79.56.136 weren’t sent. Please contact your Internet service provider since part of their network is on our block list. You can also refer your provider to http://mail.live.com/mail/troubleshootin

Here’s my bounced email:

Hello Elizabeth,
At this point, Anarres Two is about 20 acres of undeveloped land, and I am trying to attract a core group of communitarian socialists with a long term vision of developing it into a worker coop/community.
Due to zoning and the concept behind the community, I don’t think private dwellings will be an option. It is legally two separate, adjacent lots, so it may be possible to have two dwellings, but that would be the limit and would limit the community to two households. My idea is to set it up as a campground or agricultural coop and have “worker housing”, which is allowed – we would be the worker-owners. But it would have to be a dorm type structure I presume, not individual structures.
Another option would be to buy more land (there’s a lot because there is no access to power or water except from wells) but that would turn it into an ecovillage instead of a worker coop.
I hope that’s helpful,
Ed

November 8, 2016

Current status of the project

Filed under: Uncategorized — Ed @ 1:37 am

Just received an inquiry and I thought I’d post (an edited version of) my reply here in case anyone else is interested:

Hello (name),
I’m currently trying to form a core group of supporters to raise the funds necessary to move forward. The guiding idea behind the community is a cooperative, democratic form of socialism. I noticed that the “Proposed goals” page on the website doesn’t explain this very clearly (I discuss it on the “About me” page), so I’ve added that to the “Proposed goals” page here:   https://anarres2.wordpress.com/proposed-goals-structure-and-by-laws/
At this point it’s just undeveloped land. I camp out there in the summer and I’m trying to grow some trees. I put up a barbed wire fence this summer to protect them from cows and wildlife. Yes, it is open range. I have two adjacent 10 acre lots. It appears that one dwelling can be built on each lot, and that additional buildings are allowed if you have a business and need to house employees, etc. There is a lot of undeveloped land nearby that could also be bought if needed.
There are no utilities whatsoever and no well or septic system. The county requires a well and septic system and a code-compliant home or newer mobile home. There is a major power line along the property line, but connecting would be extremely expensive. The sun is intense so solar power is an obvious option (the neighboring property owner uses solar and has a well). Wind can be strong too but is not as steady, so a wind/solar system would be ideal. Any construction, wells or septic systems have to be done by or under the supervision of a Nevada licensed contractor.
Camping is apparently limited to 30 days per year. I assume that is per person but it may be for all persons. If people were going to be doing a lot of camping we would need to check with the county. 30 days per lot? I understand that camping is allowed when you have a building permit and construction is underway.
My idea is to get it rezoned as a recreational camping business and have a yurt campground. It will cost a lot of money to set this up however. Another possibility is some kind of agriculture, fish farming, etc.
The roads leading to the property are mostly gravel and dirt. They are passable but need work. It is only about three miles from Interstate 80 however.
The core group would need to share my vision of a socialist worker cooperative. I’m flexible on exactly how that is set up, but I want it to be democratic and ethical towards the members (i.e., if they leave they get most or all of their money back, which is why I thought of using the corporate shareholder model).
After it gets up and running we might be open to a broader range of participants, but I think it’s important that the founding members be on the same page and share the same goal, so if you aren’t an enthusiastic communitarian socialist we are probably not a good match.
Thanks for your interest and let me know if you have other questions,
Edwin Stamm
(I have blank lines inserted between my paragraphs when I edit this, but when I save it they disappear… Except for the first line.)
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