Anarres 2 cooperative community

August 21, 2012

Tough decision on location

Filed under: Uncategorized — Ed @ 3:05 pm

Well, I’ve been weighing the pros and cons of locating in Canada vs. locating in Mongolia. If the community is located in Canada, it will be a safer bet long-term, but we will be relatively poor and not have enough capital to do anything interesting. Also, the community will probably attract more serious and ideologically committed participants, which is probably a good thing, but it could lead to hairsplitting arguments over policies. On the other hand, in Mongolia we would have enough capital to have a real farm, factory and/or workshop, which could eventually develop into a Mondragon type cooperative network. On the other hand, if we locate in Mongolia and succeed in attracting Mongolian members, for most of the members it’s probably not going to be about ideology, but about making a living. You could argue that it doesn’t matter if the ideology is there as long as the organization functions in the desired way, but eventually, without a guiding ideology, the movement will go the way of the trade union movement and the socialist parties, and it will lose its way. I was reading the platform of the New Democratic Party of Manitoba (a democratic socialist party) and there is nothing about replacing capitalism with socialism or about economic cooperation instead of private ownership and competition.

Another consideration is that if we locate in Canada, we’re going to be viewed as a bunch of weirdos, and we’ll probably have to fight over zoning and permits. I did actually find a 4.5 acre piece of land in Saskatchewan with a well, electricity, and phone, on a decent road, within 1.5 hours of a train station and 2.25 hours of a major city for an amount I can afford.

If we locate in Mongolia, we will probably be viewed as weird foreigners, but we can offer people jobs, which goes a long way towards gaining acceptance in a country with high unemployment. It will probably be easier to find a good or service that is in short supply, and we can probably afford to provide it without being crushed by well-capitalized competitors.

I still can’t decide what to do, but I’m leaning towards Canada, just because of the language issue. After living in Japan for seven years, I can only communicate in the most basic way, which is often frustrating.

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