Thursday, October 27, 2011


by Terry Kok on Wednesday, October 26, 2011 at 12:39pm
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Before families were torn apart, they worked and played together. Small family owned and operated trades were the rule, not the exception. The children helped in the business of life, learning first hand how to do everything from the ground up, eventually taking over the management when the parents turned to grandparents and a new generation of children was raised to carry on the ancient traditions. If a child was drawn to something an aunt or uncle was doing, they lived and learned from that part of the family. The extended family was the basis of true community. Everyone listened to the grandparents because they knew the history, the tricks of the trade, the ups and downs of the world, the intricate details. Families did not break up. They stayed together. It was a continuity of grassroots community until corporations arrived on the scene.

The corporate world taught the opposite, that each person was on their own, separate, divided. Family businesses were looked down on as limiting and archaic relics of a primitive past. Children were raised to leave home and were cast out if they didn’t. Parents began spending their children’s inheritance. True community was branded as communism as the corporations took over and wiped small business after small business off the map. Instead of learning a trade from the elders, the kids were forced to go to school, to comply with corporate standards so that they could get a job working for the corporations. Families fell apart and community life was eventually replaced with a virtual substitute, the Internet.

I grew up during the very end of the family business era. My parents had jobs working as hired labor for other families. From birth I yearned for something already passing out of favor. When I was very young, during the 1950s, the anti-communist movement was well underway. People who tried to pool resources for mutual aid and support were turned in by their neighbors or branded as “commies” by congressional committee. The suburbs was invented and everyone was forced to go to private or government schools and punished if they didn’t. During the 1960s the corporations seized more power and control and the children who wanted to “succeed” in the world went off to college to be programmed. If you didn’t play the game you were kicked out of the house. Relatives were people you saw on holidays. If you tried to create family with your friends and restore the ancient traditions, you were branded a “dirty hippie” or a “dangerous radical”.

I graduated from high school in 1970 and married my high school sweetheart. Under pressure from my mother and my wife I attempted to go on to college, to choose a career, a place in the corporate pecking order. I also tried to get a job but found out that I had been blacklisted because, during my high school years, I had been outspoken about the downsides of the corporate system and the wars they waged over people and resources. I was branded by society as a “hippie-radical”, a throw-back to an earlier era, a communist sympathizer. I quickly found out that college life was an extension of high school programming, another 4 years in prison with the glimmer of working the rest of my life away in some sort of corporate slavery. I completed one semester and flunked out of the next so, with a couple of friends who were also branded, we opened a small business, a hippie shop. One of those partners when on to start his own shop and he is still in business to this day. He never married.

The hippie shop worked as a small business because we worked. We were successful but that brought a downside. One of my partners, his wife, and my wife decided that “success” meant that we should start acting like we were part of the corporate world. They thought we should be living the high life, going to cocktail lounges, dressing fancy, turning our backs on what had made us successful, acting like we were above our customers and pretending to be corporate whores. I couldn’t do it. I wouldn’t do it so my wife kicked me out of the house and took our child as her own, making me pay child support. My partner and his wife started dressing and acting fancy. Within a year the business was ruined. I had to start over from scratch with no money and no support network.

To make a long story short, I was married again and again, always wanting to bootstrap a business from the grassroots up and share it with my family, restoring the ancient traditions of real community but being burned in the process. I grew several businesses only to see them destroyed from within, by wives who refused to work together as a family. I lost two more sets of children to the influence of corporate consciousness. I lost an alternative community that I co-created when my co-creators turned on me and I was threatened with having my home burned to the ground. Yet, despite the personal pain and loss, I was resilient, a born “go-getter”, a self-made human being, not a corporate clone. I still am and now, as the corporate world collapses and those jobs are rare to be found, people out of work with no skills or gumption to employ themselves, I am attempting, one last time, to find folks who wish to work together for mutual aid and support to co-create a viable alternative based on the ancient model before the whole world goes up in flames.

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