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Tuesday, December 7, 2010


 I've been looking in this blog at different means of changing the social order, creating greater equality and less poverty other than the traditional massive federal interventions or classical state socialism.  I'm not opposed to all federal intervention, but the principle of subsidiarity indicates that other means should occur first.

A lot of the things I have looked at are easily described with convenient labels like consumers cooperative or credit union, or municipal socialism, trade unions, etc.  But I heard an idea expressed in simple terms once by an old black woman in West Oakland who had grown up in Louisiana.  I was a community organizer there around the time of the 1989 Bay Area earthquake and it's aftermath.

I don't remember her name, but I remember her house, which I had been too.  It was a large old house with a long flight of front porch steps.  The house sat on a high foundation and I imagine, although I had never seen it, it had a large basement.  Those steps were damaged in the 1989 earthquake and she fought for a good long while before getting FEMA to pay for repairing them.

She explained to me once why she supported people working together in community organizations to help each other.  She said that where she was raised, in Louisiana, if you were a farmer and had a pig, many people often helped you take care of it.  One neighbor might provide the feed, another wood for the pig pen.  The Vet might birth and treat the pig without charge.  Then when it was time for you to slaughter the pig, everyone who had helped you raise it got a share.  It was that simple.  Cooperation in expectation of future reward as a simple social organisation.  No name to it, no elaborate social form. Just just shared in the work and the reward.

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