To act and be in a collective means putting aside own individual judgments and prioritizing the needs and principles of a group. A group can develop principles to follow and to help with communication and work process. The group can have a focus on an issue and create a mission statement that will reflect the group’s intentions. The difference between collectives and companies is that there are no bosses, no hierarchy, everyone is a leader and is consider an asset for the collective’s growth and goals.
In our daily lives we do not have any mainstream examples of collectives because the world is run within power dynamics. Someone has more money, will hire you because you need money, and then a worker-boss relationship is initiated. This type of relationship has been common throughout history and it is very stressful for many people since we are set to believe we need someone more powerful than us to survive. Gloria Anzaldua states, “Our creativity is our own survival.”
People around the world begin their own projects and create their own business. Or work in cooperatives and trading. Western society does not encourage collectivity because it is an individualistic culture with principles based on competition, large-scale corporations (monopolies), and profit making purposes. Collectives provide us with the space to imagine how we would like to work with others. How do we put team-work into practice and how do we take ownership of our own lives?
Since we do not learn collective skills in school we might get frustrated and give up easily. School system teaches us competition, and individual work ethics it does not teach us collective ethics. School systems are connected to the principles of a capitalist society with the goal of structuring people in hierarchies of power.
Different communities across the world begin their own collectives to resist to hegemonic capitalist conditions. Personally, I have been involved in different collectives in Los Angeles and our main purpose is to act and live the way we would like our future to be like. Since we have minimal examples of collective process we begin to create it ourselves. Some examples have been through labor union structures, Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed philosophy, or resistant groups from Latina America to Palestine that we can learn from.
Practicing collective work is heart work and I have learned that because we really do the work for the love we have for other human beings since we currently live in a world that divides and control’s people’s well-being. Relying, trusting, and being comfortable with one another gives us hope for a better future putting it into practice today.