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Community Means Independence

August 15, 2012

Community Means Independence

By Reed Camacho Kinney

My essay at this blog, What is Community?, is the structured outline of what this essay describes.

The household group of four or five adults will be deficient in good planning in the absence of varied view points and varied experience. “In the execution of plans the group lacked emulation and the stimulus that accompanies friendly rivalry. It suffered from the absence of diverse skills of many individuals.  It also suffered from its small numbers when it came to doing big jobs of construction, wood cutting and the like. On such big jobs, teams of experienced people, accustomed to working together…” (1) is needed.

Even so, four or five adults can achieve much in the way of semi-self-sufficiency. Scott and Helen and Nearing, with the help of a few adults, built their own stone house, as well as a guest house.

The Nearings’ mastered subsistence living, so they worked “for bread,” about four hours a day. They held to a wholesome, vegetarian diet. Their “…health was far better than most …were adequately clothed and comfortably housed …had time for leisure in beautiful surroundings.” (2) Scott and Helen Nearing played musical instruments together, read, and enjoyed participatory visitors.

Nonetheless, four or five adults seeking real, semi-self-sufficient independence are too few for the opportunity of specialization and division of labor, and more of their time is needed to complete needed tasks and chores. When more than one priority need tended simultaneously, then, the small group may be stressed, and undergo the “…dissipation of energy to no constructive purpose.”

Despite the limitations of such a small group, the Nearings did well living an independent life that agreed with them.

A Dozen, a Score of Capable Adults, or Even Twenty Families

Scott Nearing explains that had their group been a group of “…a dozen or a score of capable adults, animated by the same purposes and willing to follow out agreed plans, along lines of well established practice…” Then, the standard of living would have been maintained “…with far less expenditure of energy and labor time, leaving much more time…,” discretionary time for members.

In regard to the scenario of a an effective group of fifteen to twenty families, Mr. Nearing says, “…families of the immediate neighborhood …a well-knit unit, based economically on cooperation and mutual aid and socially on the principles of live and help live, not “mine for me” but “ours for us”, the resulting community still would have been woefully deficient in a variety of complementary skills, talents and social relationships.

For example, – there would not have been enough good voices to make up a choir, nor enough passable musicians to man a local orchestra or enough actors to set up an effective dramatic troupe or dance team, Or, viewed from another angle, there would not have been enough babies to warrant the organization of a nursery school or kindergarten, nor would there have been enough six year olders for a first grade or enough teen-agers to establish and maintain a reasonable balanced social group at that difficult, unbalanced age.

Had the community undertaken to set up a dramatic club, a kindergarten or a teen-age group, it would have been compelled to augment its members…” (3). The structural, the organizational, challenge faced by everybody who desires real independence is met by DESO.

“Skinner, in his Walden Two, …. correctly sated the minimum social requirements for an intentional …[community], – (1) enough people to provide variety, diversity and specialization; (2) sufficient control over ingress [people coming into the community] and egress [people going out of the community] to preserve …[organizational-cultural] purity, group identity and group purpose.” (4)

Community in decentralized economic social organization, DESO, is the means for people to come together in order to actualize well defined social purposes, and to develop an effective civic-economic/ civil-culture. A civic-economic culture is one wherein members share equal ownership of their public productive enterprises, and a civil-culture is one based on members’ dialogical-based civil organization. That can be accomplished in real community.

Independence Is More than Autonomous Monetized Organization 

DESO monetized organization functions within the context of community building. DESO monetized organization is tailored to its limited production, production-based economy.

The primary, DESO objective is to enable people to have an immediate home; to live in community.

The DESO vision, and format, is for people to focus on their need for mental health, and to design the type of society that best meets its requirements. I think that DESO communities are the way to accomplish that. The organizational principal that its structure is based on is true dialogue among all members, which public dialogue directs community civic management.

The feature that is most appealing is that an independent community can use that dialogical structure to chart its own course. Community members navigate together through our emerging reality.

Members can make use of their varied points of view and varied experience …a community population large enough to include members of diverse skills for actualizing large projects …teams of experienced people, accustomed to working together. With DESO mutualistic organization, the community can well afford the independent sovereignty its members so richly deserve.

People need a home, and that home is community where people own equally their monetized organization, their mutual community bank, MCB. Members finance themselves freely, for constructive projects, with both Federal Reserve Notes, FRN, and with community autonomous money, CAM. The DESO monetized organization that members in dialogue manage is flexible and pragmatic.  It carries weight. It is designed specifically to stimulate member production, and to maintain community productive enterprises. That is one component of independence.

DESO socioeconomics is mutualistic, but not without design, and not without purpose. Living patters are grounded on continuing dialogue, structured, consensus-based dialogue, which directs each community’s concerted action to meet the real needs of its members. This unique, structured approach to community self-management is doable, and desirable.

That fundamental need of mental health is met through DESO community structure. It enables people to come together in real dialogue to self-manage their community economic stability in conjunction with their guaranteed minimum standard of service, GMSS.

Housing, food, and water are essential for all community members, as are fabric, energy, education, health service, and interest free financing and grants.

The concept of community is that people know how to produce, and to procure for themselves what they need to meet their fundamental necessities. But to do that, their organization is designed to self-manage the production that best meets those needs.

 DESO Differs Markedly From The Organization Of Mass Centrist Society, MCS.

 For example, the voting units of DESO civic organization are each, individual modules of three to five mutualistic families, who produce among each other, much of what they need, and they pool resources for their, agreed on, applications.  I have been referring to them as mutual voting blocks, MVB.

Individual MVB promote the formation of other MVB in order to consolidate their capital in the mutual community bank, MCB, and in order to consolidate their public productive enterprises, Pub. P. E. ….They are families passionate about establishing their independence through DESO; people who want a real home.

Two, or more, MVB coordinate their participatory management via a community coordinating committee, CCC.

(The MCB is initiated with the contributions of each MVB. The contributions are accounted for and the members who qualify manage the MCB while in tandem the community self-manages it. The whole description of how that management operates is elaborated in the book, Decentralized Economic Social Organization, DESO, and Neo-New World (6).)

The CCC takes the written plans from members, and their summarized plans of action, which are compiled into ballets. Each MVB receives one Ballet.

(The people of MVB are individuated, productive people who love life, and each important project that each member embarks upon is financed freely.)

MVB members dialogue to set a consensus value, of 70, 80, or 90%, on each plan summarized on the ballot. These processes do not take place in isolation from other MVB, per se, what they dialogue about are plans that they have all known about, because the community is participatory.

(Everybody has the opportunity to grow with any of the Pub. P. E. they choose; water, sanitation, agriculture, food processing and its distribution and storage, appropriate industry, renewable energy, health care, MCB, construction, public safety, community personnel department, the CCC, and education. In community, all participatory public productive enterprises are owned by all members equally.)

The ballots from the MVB go back to the CCC and the CCC will record that (for example) a written plan had received more 80% “consensus weight” from the MVB than any other weight.

So, the subsequent ballots, comprised of those same suggested plans, go back to the MVB with their community authorized consensus weights. Each MVB dialogues about their options for community action, the summarized plans, printed on their ballot.

There are no more than twelve people in civic dialogue in each MVB. That is why some MVB are divided into two MVB of six and seven dialoguers each. No one is denied the opportunity for civic dialogue.

Each MVB is composed of three to five mutualistic families.

The reason no more twelve people can have a civic dialogue is because too many people can’t dialogue.

If MVB members approve the 80% plan, then 80%, or more, of its members had favored it, and it was approved.

The ballots go back to the CCC. The CCC checks to see if the plan that was valued at 80% consensus was approved by 80%, or more, of the MVB. When a plan is community approved, then, the CCC is authorized to withdraw the funds from the mutual community bank, MCB, to fund the project.

 The CCC has no executive power. The MVB have all of the executive power in that type of civic organization. That type of self-management, described fully in the book DESO, works for a small community of, perhaps, as many as fifteen hundred members.  The actualization of a DESO community is needed to bear that out, to test that estimation.

The example of Helen and Scott Nearing is priceless in its demonstration of independent life, but all the while, with that desire for a much wider community of independent people, that home, that culture – mutualistic culture with good neighbors, survival with growth, maximum community with maximum individuation; sane society.

And, that is what we are driving at here, cultural transformation. It is self-evident that mass centrist society is structured to fail. An ever-expanding market is unsustainable, and, at once, its shallow, consumer-based, for-profit mentality, small minded dreams of opulence, sickens its members.

Centralized power is the enigma of western civilization. It is costly, and culturally insalubrious.

Slavery – inhumanity – stifles the spiritual growth of the master, while he defeats the life of his slave.

Domination damages all MCS members. The extreme wealth of very few, anonymous MCS members dominates the productive lives of most members.

All for-profit institutions must expand to exist. International markets are fed from centralized systems of mass production. Learned consensus has it that the situation is untenable.

 Community Enables Human Growth

 If planned and executed correctly, local production for local use is a permanent benefit. Real community assures members more than the human dignity of its guaranteed minimum standard of service, GMSS, and humane  prosperity. It enables each member the opportunity to be educated through art, not as a class, per se, but as the vehicle of participatory education.

Its philosophy of education is at the heart of DESO community. Every child is exposed to all arts, and through art to science. Each child is supported by the community to attain the skills needed to pursue her predilections. The interrelations among children, educated through aesthetics, do not need external “moral” impositions, since aesthetics becomes the objective reference point that guides their interpersonal relations among their discoveries and their productive endeavors. (7)The result is truly independent, individuated people that are integrated into society, at each person’s discretion, between ages twelve or fifteen, when their ego development is sufficient to participate in civic dialogue.

DESO education provides young adults with gainful functions in its public productive enterprises, Pub. P. E. …Each Pub. P. E. contains an office of education. … Individuated, knowledgeable, mature adults are what community needs for dialogical self-management.

The primary benefit from life in DESO is living in mental health; survival with growth, maximum community with maximum individuation. The purpose of civic-economic mutualism is the individuation of each member. Humane empowerment from WITHIN overrides, precludes, power over others; thus, war is eliminated.

A humane culture is composed of networks of independent, sovereign, permanent communities. They can choose to cooperate for inter-community projects, but centralized power doesn’t exist. This brief explanation has run its course. …If you are interested, then, by all means, we encourage you to get your copy of the book, DESO. It’s about bringing people together. Share the cost of the book, and discuss its content, with friends. I’m always available to answer questions, and to benefit from your wise critiques.

*Reed’s  LINKS:


1. Living the Good Life, Helen and Scott Nearing, Shocken Books Inc., c 1954, c 1970, p. 192

2. Ibid, p. 191

3. Ibid, p. 193

4. Ibid, p. 194

5. Thomas H. Greco, Jr. 
PO Box 42663, Tucson, AZ 85733
Beyond Money: 
Tom's News and Views: 
Archive Website: 

7. Concepts from: Sir Herbert Read’s work, The Redemption of the Robot, My Encounter with Education Through Art, Copyright 1966 by Simon & Schuster, Inc….New York, N.Y ….1969




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One Comment
  1. Steve Wood permalink

    More wonderful insights!

    Again I look forward to reading your book.

    I would like to add something to help people invision a new lifestyle in a village setting. The magic number is 150 people.

    According to Jonathon Haidt – “The Happiness Hypothesis” and Malcolm Gladwell – “the Tipping Point”, 150 people is the best size for a large group to achieve a collective forward movement. Any larger and issues such as diversified vision, competing leaders, and loss of personal connection between members begin to occur.

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