What is a Co-operative Paradigm?

Community gardens or allotment sites are one example of a co-operative paradigm.

Permaculture espouses the idea that a co-operative paradigm provides the best pathway to a stable, sustainable future in which permaculture ethics and principles are maintained.

Within the framework of a co-operative paradigm, people can switch from being the cause for the world’s major problems to the basis for solving them. By finding a common series of goals and aspirations for what Bill Mollison (founding father of permaculture) calls the ‘ethical majority’, people can work together towards the future they wish to see.

Part of creating a co-operative paradigm is rejecting binary, polarizing politics that promote “left-right, black-white, capitalism-communist, believer-infidel thinking”, which promote antagonism and destroy co-operation and interdependence, and instead focussing on that which we have in common rather than that which divides us. 

A co-operative paradigm is not always about rejecting those ideas and ideals that we do not have in common. Rather, it is about using practical strategies and common sense to find common ground and points of accord on shared interests that can help us work towards a better future for all. Being able to co-operate in spite of differences is a key skill for sustainability that is often overlooked.

Many people feel frustrated by politicians and political processes. But a co-operative paradigm operates in many ways external to current political systems. Individuals and small-scale communities can shift into a more co-operative paradigm regardless of any existing political realities. When enough people change – politics will likely follow, or be cast aside. 

The key to the formation of co-operative society generally lies in assembling sufficient numbers of common-sense people with common ethics and purpose in one area. So ask yourself – how can you personally work to build such community where you live?

In permaculture, reality is fully recognised and acknowledged. People are imperfect, and live in an imperfect world. The idea of a co-operative paradigm is simply a starting point – strategies to give us a place to begin when rehabilitating our planet and working for a better future.

Of course there will be problems with any attempt at a paradigm shift. But co-operation, on a local level, is a good place to begin when trying to define and solve problems. Using small and slow solutions to achieve our goals means beginning close to home and working our way out to the wider world.

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