Living in a Co-op is a Revolutionary Act (or, Cath’s Rant)
Housing and food are two areas over which most people have no control and are dependent upon capitalist society. Housing co-ops are a way of moving property (an area of control in a capitalist society) into the co-operative sector. We are thus removing our support from the State by removing one of the areas of dependence on the state. This is changing the way we relate to the state, making us more independent and therefore putting us in a better position to challenge it. It is a structure that could survive the downfall of the system.
We are also trying out alternatives to the nuclear family set-up. This is a thing that many groups are trying to do, but that does not relieve us from our responsibility to work out a set-up that suits each of us, that can last and that can provide stability and support for its members. Of course, this will take a long time and we will make lots of mistakes, but the ultimate aim, of a long-term intentional community, is certainly possible. However, like the rest of the co-op, developing and maintaining a supportive community requires thought, time and energy.
We get significant material benefits from living co-operatively:
- because we do not own the property as individuals, it cannot be taken to cover an individual’s debts. This means we are not prevented from taking action which could result in financial penalties.
- because we do not have individual mortgages, we are not coerced into jobs we don’t want, in order to fulfil financial responsibilities.
- because we are responsible for the houses, we can adapt them to suit our ideals, needs and tastes.
Of course, this means a significant contribution in return. It means putting as much work into the co-op as if you owned your own house. It means taking as much responsibility for council tax, bills, gardens, maintenance, etc, as if you lived on your own. This is because, although there are more people, there is more paperwork and the houses were cheap and need lots of maintenance. But if you don’t want the responsibility of owning your own home, then move into a shared house in the private sector. What I’m saying here is: Cornerstone is a commitment equal to your social change activity – it does not take second place.