Living Cooperative

 When we are older – where and how will we live ?

As we get older, we face dilemmas – do we stay or do we move ? How can we combine an independent life with a social life, especially if we become less able to go out ?

There is considerable research evidence that old people are much happier and healthier when they lead purposeful connected lives, socialising and engaging in activities that interest them. If we have people around us all the time, we will inevitably socialise and exercise more, leading to health benefits. To a great extent, this depends on the pattern our lives - if we are close to the location of many interesting activities, then we are more likely to take part, and thus more likely to be happier and healthier.


Democracy, Consensus or Delegation

There are 3 main ways of organising and governing groups, communities, charities and even countries

They all have their advantages and problems





Elites and Establishments     

Elitism is the belief that government by a small ruling group is normatively desirable. Of course, elites and establishments can arise in any organisation, from a football or darts team to a national government, and the mechanisms for this are probably similar - perhaps they are even part of human nature. However, in the Elite theories we are examining here, the theorists go beyond the "everyday elites" to look at them as the dominant factor in a State.

A number of distinct 'styles' or 'flavours' of elite in the State have been proposed:-

Modern Political Systems

This is the survey of modern political systems (the diagram represents the Britsh political and legislative system).
All page references are for quotes from "Theories of the State" by Dunleavy and O'Leary, MacMillan Press, 1987, They are both Professors at LSE, and I found their work very useful and informative.

Sometimes I have added the unusual mythical dimensions and sterotypes which typify each system (often these are moslty used by their opponents). These are my additions, and I hope they make a change from the usual grind.


This is an attempt at rigorous and scientific analysis of society and economics, begun by Marx and Engels in the 18th Century. Some typical statements are that

Policy Analysis

The main thing to realise about policies is that they nearly always are formed in response to a problem that has occurred. The same applies to rules (if an organisation has them) and also to Laws. Laws and Policies are two sides to the same coin – there are always new events that don’t fit well in the existing system, so policies and laws are often made to try and prevent this happening. Of the two, policies are more positively directed (the carrot) and laws are often more punitive and controlling (the stick).


Politics Section. Nearly all of this section is drawn from academic sources, in particular books on Policy Analysis and work on Elites.

I then spoil it by writing my own thoughts on democracy and delegates, on co-operatives, and on some modern movements such as Transition Towns, partly to provoke discussion and thought on the forum (G)

The sections are:

Psychology of Food

My Dissertation was about food policy, and while I was working out exactly what to do and how to do it, I had a lot of ideas about our social and personal relationships and attitudes to food. In the end I went in a different direction, but, this set of ideas remain interesting to me - how we think about food and farming has a considerable influence on the contents of our shoppping basket and what we eventually put on our plates, and how we then eat it.

I didn't go any further with it, but, these are the main psychological perspectives that I have 'discovered' involving food:-

Foucault and Sex

Foucault, Sex, Discourse    

I am interested in the perspectives of Foucault. In his trilogy “The History of Sexuality”, Penguin Books, London, 1979, Foucault describes several key epochs where culture has changed due to changes in sexuality, which have happened in fairly unusual ways. It is a form of forensic history.

To attempt to summarise about 800 pages in half a page:-

Psychological Techniques

There are many valuable techniques. In general they all tend to clear blockages and problems, and uncover our own wisdom, wholeness and full potential. I want to give you an idea of what is available and how useful it might be. But, please remember that it's always better to learn these techniques with a qualified practitioner if you can.

These are some of the ones that have worked for me:-

Sub-personalities from psycho-synthesis - Link to the Psychosynthesis Trust 

Psychosynthesis has many wonderful ideas and techniques, and I recommend a full training.


Psychology section.

I have never got on with classical academic psychology. While Freud and the behaviourists may have made great advances, they have rejected or excluded any mention of the “spiritual”, so it is hard for me to accept their work as true or useful. Although there is a spiritual side to Jung, and I admire and occasionally use the idea of archetypes, I have never found him easy to read, or of any particular use to me (sorry !)