As far back as my childhood, I understood that government existed to do things for people. We can’t all have a swimming pool, so the government gives us swimming pools. We sometimes get sick, so the government provides us with hospitals. We need to get downtown, so the government provides us with buses. We can’t have everyone cut down trees, and so the government regulates forest use. We need to get educated, so the government builds schools and hires teachers. We get old and can no longer work, so the government provides us with money. The price we pay for these services is that compromises between priorities need to be made, and we have to share and queue in the midst of scarcity, but we all get access to the same basic stuff, and the same basic rights, security, and care.
Even now as an adult, this remains my ideal of government. It is also my ideal of community. For, in the best case, the two categories are one and the same – the community governs, and government is of and for the community. We teach and learn from one another. We care and are cared for. We govern and serve. Some would call this socialism, but I call it civilisation. It is also, perhaps paradoxically, the system that most honours and uplifts the individual. For it is a system that seeks to address the needs and the aspirations of the individual; but considers the individual in the context of community. Corporatist-style capitalism, on the other hand, values the individual in isolation, not based on his or her integrity as a human being, but upon his or her material wealth. In this disordered world view, money is regarded as the conduit to freedom and happiness.
Anthropologists have long noted that a key factor in advancing human evolution was the formation of cooperative communities; first based on kinship, and then on fictive kinship. There were general expectations of everyone to maintain the community, but there was also the utilisation of special talents. Thus, some would be raised up in distinction as mediators, as textile workers, as shamans, as musicians, as toolmakers, as artists, as fire-starters, as dancers, as surgeons. The notion of an individual standing apart from community was simply inconceivable. The talents they had were to serve and uplift the group as a whole, and in so doing, experience the joy of self-fulfillment and the positive regard of those for whom the service is offered. In this world view, it is the exchange of spiritual intimacy which is perceived as the conduit to freedom and happiness.
Opportunities to build or sustain meaningful community is opposed to the principles of the power elite today. The best consumers are those who are focused on self-satisfaction rather than mutual service and sacrifice. The most compliant citizens are those who are fearful or disdainful of their neighbour. The most materially efficient society is one built on a network of financial obligation. The foundation of exploitation is the dehumanizing rock of isolation, loneliness, and hopelessness perpetuated by the purveyors of corporatism. That is not the way we human beings are created. We are beings in a state of constant becoming. And we become fully who we are in the spiritual intimacy of genuinely self-offering, loving community.
This sort of utopian blather will strike many as simply crazy. But sometimes craziness is the last coping strategy available. It is as if we have been plunked down in a room from which we believe there is no escape, because it never occurs to us that there may be a door out. In this context, the idea that someone would get up and start feeling the walls for a doorknob may very well seem, at best, futile. But the door is there. We know the door is there, because human beings have been in other rooms. They exist. We have been there. In fact, some societies are still living in those rooms, against all odds.
The dream of intentional Radical Faerie community in British Columbia is an exercise in finding the doorknob back into the room of community. Call it socialist, call it left-libertarian, call it syndicalist, call it green, call it anarchy. I call it being human together. It is an exercise in living out faerie consciousness for real, rather than for a weekend. It is a model to the wider society that islands of sanity can exist, with hope, to float above the tempestuous sea of a disordered, homicidal, homo-cidal, biocidal world. A sea that will drown us all, if we let it.
A few weeks ago, four B.C. faeries discussed what it would take to create intentional community here. The conversation was not theoretical. It did not take the usual track of “wouldn’t it be nice if…?” It was about where to locate a sanctuary, how much it would cost and where to get the money, what would be a realistic timeframe, who we could invite who has the time, energy, and something to contribute. It was about getting from this room into the next. We spoke of meeting again in January. I’m excited! I’m excited, because it feels that I am emerging from the darkness of an old order on the brink of collapse into a new one built on principles at once both ancient and postmodern. And I`m excited, because it is my own Radical Faerie tribe leading the way.