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Institute for Real God Cooperative Spirituality COOP105: A History of Cooperative Community

COOP105: A History of Cooperative Community


OVERVIEW:
This course provides a survey of the various experiments in cooperative communal living that have been either proposed or actually carried out throughout history. Examples include:

  • the tribe (both in its ancient and modern forms)
  • Buddhist sanghas (from several thousand years ago until today)
  • early Christian communities
  • Utopian visions on paper (such as Plato's Republic, Francis Bacon's New Atlantis, and Thomas More's Utopia)
  • the world's various monastic traditions (past and present, male and female)
  • the feudal arrangement (including guilds)
  • American utopian visions and communities of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries (Brook Farm, Walden Pond, Harmony, the Luddites, the Amish, the Shakers, etc.)
  • the communist ideal and its actual implementation
  • the hippie movement
  • contemporary communal living, from the "family unit" (including extended families) and the "neighborhood", to cybercommunities, to larger experiments, including parent nation-states that provide varying degrees of social benefits to their citizens
The course will study:
  • the purposes, higher aims, and greater benefits (relative to both the commonly available alternatives in their own time as well as now) either hoped for or realized of these smaller scale alternatives to (or building blocks of) the nation-state
  • the nature (and realizability) of the self-sacrifice required in order to achieve the collective purposes
  • the strengths, weaknesses, and pitfalls worth noting in the various experiments (particularly the reasons behind the failure of a particular experiment)
  • the ongoing tensions between a cooperative community's leadership and its members
  • the differences between the purely secular experiments and those founded on a spiritual or religious basis (including a discussion of which of these tends to survive more often)
  • the challenges involved in a cooperative community surviving its own birth pangs or growing pains
  • the ways in which, together, cooperative communities around the world can form building blocks of a new world order
  • the ongoing tensions between a small scale cooperative community and a parent nation-state (including principles such as "separation of church and state" when the community is religious or spiritual in nature)
An overall conclusion will be that the survival of such communities and their real ability to achieve their own high aims depends on the ability of the community's members and leaders to truly transcend their own egoity, in order to live and work together day to day, and, together, fulfill a higher purpose.


OPTIONAL READINGS:
RELATED COURSES: