Charles T. Fowler, “Co-operative Homes” (1886)

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The Home and the FamilyIts StatusMarriageSexual Ethics Where they Arose.

Wife And Housekeeper—”Her Sphere”— Co-operative Home’s Influence on her IndependenceEffect on MarriageMotherhood

The State Abjured.

Status Of Children —PlaceSociety—EmploymentCompensationEducationResult.

Social Breadth—Epitome of Society.

Material Richness— Opposed to Workingmen’ s Homes

Less Cost—ConstructionConsumptionMarketingRetail Profits Woman’s WagesCombination

Division Of Labor—Its Economy and OrderServant Girls
Isolation Guaranteed
Independence And Freedom Secured
Social Economy Attained

Solidarity PreservedSickness Provided for

Outward Organism—The Determining Factor

Practical Suggestions—What to AvoidCompetitive Basis

Associated Homes—Social IdealSocietary Results

The next number of The Sun will be upon the Tenure of Land showing what a natural and scientific land tenure would be, and what influences have brought the present system about, and how they can be checkmated to immediately change one system into the other. We shall moreover show that our method is the only possible one, it being true to life, and already operative.


16 W. Fifth street,

Kansas City, Mo.


— “As the home, so the people.” —

We come now to apply the principles of co-operation to social and domestic life; and to determine the status of the family, as the basis of the social and economic organism which is to constitute the future habitation of man.

It has been said that, “The family is the unit of the State.” Very properly may this be so considered, if by the State, we mean force; and, if we regard the husband (or house-band,) who does the fighting and voting, as the unit of the family, then the family would be the unit of the State.

But since the co-operative commonwealth rests on peace, not force; and since women and children are regarded as units, the co-operative family can hardly be called “the unit of the State.” It is rather an epitome of society, its miniature, or cellular growth. It does not rest on physical ties, or animal relationship, nor is it engrossed in “getting a living.” It is based on an intellectual relationship, a spiritual affinity, and its attention may more properly be described as being turned towards original investigation.


The keynote to the present family and home organism is the institution of marriage. The distinguishing feature characterizing this relation of the sexes is the two kinds of morality, one applicable to woman, the other applicable to man. When woman “falls,” she falls irretrievably, but her paramour does not fall. But can a sexual morality, on the part of man, which is noted more for its breach than for its observance, be said to exist at all? Hardly, there is then left only that which applies to woman.

But, how did woman come to have a sense of chastity apart from man? One would think that if one was moral the other would be, if one fell, the other would fall. If woman is modest, chaste, and pure, and man is immodest, unchaste, and impure, it is rather a peculiar juxtaposition of qualities. One can see how a tender lamb may be turned over to a wolf’s protection, because of its strength, but it is difficult to see how chastity can be put into the care of unchastity. Can it be? Is it not an anomaly? Have women any more chastity, per se, than men? Must not sexual morality, in the nature of the case, be mutual, reciprocal, independent, free, and based upon knowledge?


Then, alas, if there is no such sexual morality, on the part of woman, how happens it that a peculiarly exceptional morality has been attributed to her? Because the morality of woman is but obeisance to a married man’s immorality; so that what is naturally a crime, outside of marriage, becomes a virtue inside; and what may not, in itself, necessarily, be a sin, outside of marriage, is made to appear so! How did this state of things originate? When savage tribes were emerging from a state of promiscuity, ownership of mistresses was considered a great advance. If, in the change from many masters to one, the lot of woman was not consulted, his convenience was greatly enhanced thereby. It was a kind of reinforcement of “law and order.” If she was caught with another, she incurred the frown of his disapprobation. To be exclusively his sexual slave, was taught as the badge of her chastity; this was in what her chastity consisted; here it arose; and here the two kinds of sexual morality commenced.

The question of sex being the profoundest fact in nature, this relegation of it became conserved in custom; religious life accommodated itself to it; it became a rite; the law enacted it into a statute; and it was called marriage; which as an institution is founded upon regulated license, or legalized prostitution.* Not that this is so personally, for it must be remembered that persons are better than institutions. So much the more should they bring the institution up to them instead of allowing it to drag them down to its ancient level. If any one has any doubt that the present status of woman, under marriage, is not that of a sexual slave to one man, we refer them to the case of the Beecher trial where Mrs. Tilton, while naturally the only party aggrieved, was not a party to the suit. It is moreover, only necessary to know that in marriage, a woman still loses her name, her person, and all power of making a contract; even the proposal to marry is still reserved for man.

Some may wince at this laying bare the social anatomy of marriage, and attribute the one sided morality of woman to the liabilities of motherhood. But there are several objections to this interpretation; they are the facts of law, of history, and social custom. It remains for the free and independent woman to exhibit such grounds of morality. For, as legal marriage was an improvement over a chaotic promiscuity, so is a free moral tenure an advance over legal marriage.


* Mrs. Matthew Arnold would not attend George Elliot’s reception. What a pity she could not go where Jesus and Plato would have been. Elizabeth Fry could not stay in the same house with Lucretia Mott, because she did not believe in the Trinity. Spencer tells us of certain well kept slaves who refused to speak to their free brethren. So it is amusing to see certain married women making themselves conspicuous in having kept well up in this ancient morality!


Now we have arrived at the position where we are enabled to approach directly to our subject. For, following naturally the status of the “wife,” came the duties of the “house keeper.” From a sexual slave, she became a household drudge. Before there was any division of labor, she did the chores. She waited upon her husband. She did the cooking. She bred and fed, satisfying the two carnal appetites of man. He did the hunting, fishing, fighting, and loafing. Not that she could not loaf, or hunt, or fish, or fight; not that there was anything out of the way in his doing the cooking, save that he was her husband, and she was his wife!

The treadmill routine of tending camp kettles and babies did not largely inspire a thirst for the warpath. The monotonous round of cares destroyed her ambition and power of initiative. Her narrow environment cut off all perspective, contracting her mind. Feeding hungry men, and tending squalling babies tended to keep her humble, self sacrificing, and obedient. Such was enough to have degenerated the gods, for wherever the women have done the fighting, and the men the cooking, the men have not dared to peep; the women owning all the property, and conveying it, in their own names.

But, over all, superstition set its seal, when the priests, whose function is to conserve vested interests, voiced the decree of the Almighty, and declared that to bear children and to keep house was “woman’s sphere.” To get out of this was a disgrace; not to get into it was a sad mistake.


Now the co-operative home is coming specially to destroy “woman’s sphere.” I cannot help it; it is inevitable; the same concentration of capital and division of labor that is going through everything else is going through the home, that is all. It is coming, to abolish the kitchen, to emancipate the wife and the housekeeper, to set her, industrially, “free and independent.” Already the loom and the spinning wheel have been laid to rest; for a girl, in an hour, can do more on a power loom than our grandmothers could accomplish in an entire week. But one has only to go through a well appointed hotel or restaurant, in order to find that nearly as great improvements are being made in domestic service as the power loom exhibits over the hand loom. The real fact is housekeeping consumes too much time for the benefit derived; it is too costly; and being an unskilled employment, with no division of labor, menial in its character, without much compensation, not every woman, much less women of genius, can thus afford to sacrifice their productive powers, which would otherwise go to themselves, to their husbands, and to society.


May it now be asked what effect the industrial independence of woman will have upon marriage? Just the reverse of the influence that marriage has had upon her industry. As through marriage, she became an industrial slave, so, through her industrial freedom, must she purify marriage. Liberated from housework, she has her profession: having her profession, she gets her pay: having a variety from which to select, she gets equal pay: she has no one but her genius to tell her what is “her sphere:” being independent, she is not for sale, nor to be given away: she does not ”fall” in love, but owns her person, and retains her name. Being never sold, or given away, or caught, courtship becomes a continual courtesy: being intellectually equal, she commands respect: being supplied with a new mental pabulum, all gossip and scandal dry up and blow away: and the present order of social vices become unnatural, unnecessary, antiquated and obsolete.


Under such circumstances, of course woman will be queen in her own sphere; and from the vital character of maternity, it must become the sphere of all spheres. The sanctity of childhood and the prerogative of motherhood must be recognized. Having been the moulder of the child, the mother becomes the natural and undisputed possessor. Being in command of such exceptional prerogatives, of course the maternal instincts must finally wield the controlling influence in directing the social ideal of the time,—in telling us what is property, what is law, what is trade, what is justice and punishment; and, as the Goddess of Liberty, forever banish war and the State, which is based on force, and of which man, her husband, has heretofore been the “unit!”


Thus we come to the point where the State’s relation to the home is utterly upset; and another prerogative of nature has been rescued from the profanity of the priests and the politicians. The real natural law of the situation is simply this, that the men and women of the world are not equal; how then can they be equally paired? If they were equal, what certainty is there that they would all be complements or duplicates of each other? If they were all mated, a diversity of interest occupation and training would throw them out of plumb. And if they could keep thus intellectually paired, what would be more disastrous than the loss of one’s individuality? Sometimes one hears the remark that such and such a couple have lived together for so many years, without quarreling! Bless their souls, why have they never quarreled? Simply because there was no longer two poles to the battery, whereby they could generate a counter current. They began life as two individuals; they ended by being only one. The husband had absorbed the wife, or the wife the husband.

Again, there is no necessary relation between marriage and parentage, any more than there is between conjugality and philoprogenitiveness. There are many husbands and wives to whom child-bearing ought to be a crime. There have also been very excellent fathers and mothers,. who have not been husbands and wives. The world has been adorned with some very illustrious children, outside of marriage, as it has been cursed by some very scrubby ones inside. The legislature is not the final authority on legitimacy after all. If a refined man will remain a refined one outside of marriage, what benefit, then, is the statute to him? None, he is above the statute. But a corrupt man, before marriage, will be a corrupt one after. What, then, has been the effect of the statute upon him? Does it make him pure? But if the contract has been mutual the State can only recognize it. What, then, is the force of State interference? Simply to get fees from ignorant people for sanctifying their vices. And the throwing away, ever after, of all right of private contract and recourse, only shows the desperate character of the final plunge. You cannot get back of a free, reciprocal, human experience, at one’s own cost, as the basis of “law and order.” The people are a great deal more virtuous than the law. Indeed, in a natural state of society, the social evil is unknown. Nothing of virtue, or continence, or monogamy, can be lost in destroying this arbitrary power to practise ancient licentiousness. Never have we heard that self government was incompatible with virtue; if it were so, there is far more hope in freedom to err, than in the most virtuous conformity to slavery.


In fully delineating the factors of the co-operative home, we must not forget the status of children. I will not here go back before birth to claim that children have rights, or to say that they should be “registered” in the herd book of life, as “Roses of Sharon,” or “Dukes of Devonshire.” But we must insist that their status be fully recognized after birth. If the status of the mother has heretofore gone unrecognized, how should we expect to find that of the children recognized? The proprietor of the domicile has always exercised his power to domineer. To spare the rod was to spoil the child. Up to twenty one, the child is owned; at which age it is supposed to be sufficiently grown to thrash its father. Who, when remembering how they were owned in childhood, and had the current education and religion thrust upon them, can fail to realize the terrible loss? To be sure, parents are under obligations to protect the helplesness of the child, which their act has incurred, but beyond this, is not the child an integer? Is it not to be natural? Has it not a sphere? And is it not sovereign, to the extent of its growing capacity? To act and be reacted upon, is the way we grow; we never learn anything from other people’s experience; to help one’s self, at one’s own cost, is nature’s university.


First, then, a child has a right to a place: without which, no one else will be sure of a place of his or her own. By recognizing their place, their things, and their personality, they will learn not to intrude upon that of ours. Muscles, then, will not be developed at the expense of manners. Since manners and morals both come from the same root, the manners that children inculcate, will indicate their future morals. If they are allowed to run over everybody, while children, like so many cattle, when they grow up they will want to govern, rule, vote, and hold office.

Next to a place, children have a right to their own society. Adults have their society. Are not children social beings? If the children have not the proper society of their own, they must be engaged in the contemplation of their papas and mammas’. A constrained subserviency is thus generated, on one side, and an authoritative and patronizing air on the other. What provision can the isolated home make for them, except to turn them loose upon the street? But the character of one’s playmates may make a more lasting impression than the teaching of adults. Either the children are always in the way, or else the mother is constantly filled with anxiety as to their whereabouts. The nursery and kindergarten of the cooperative home must be a great relief to her.

Next, children have a right to be employed. The superabundant activity that is capable of poking pebbles into one’s ear is capable of being utilized to put them into bottles. What so feeds the fancy, except to create? and how children can imitate the older accomplishment of their elders. I have thought that a child of five might be able to go into business, that is to buy and sell. I do not think, by that age, that it should longer expect to get, or give, something for nothing. If its services could be utilized, they should be compensated and so pay for its board and clothes. If it is properly compensated, and properly compensates others, I would not exchange its sense of equity for all the political economy of Harvard and Yale.

Being naturally observing and inquisitive;—if not put into tall boxes, and made to ask questions they do not want to ask for the sake of getting false answers,—they would grow up able to think, and unravel nature’s processes. And a child that has got a good body, and good manners, that has an occupation, and can think, and pays its debts, is certainly a very well educated man, a fit citizen of the new republic.


Having, now, the status of the co-operative family, it presents a far richer and more complex expression than the ordinary family. The isolated home is narrow, selfish, and conservative. We forget how the human family is the final organism; and that the recognition of this fact redounds to the greatest individual benefit. We are all “ constructive” accomplices in our neighbor’s misfortunes. If we were a little better, he would not have been so bad. Society first produces what it, afterward, punishes. Instead of society being the victim of its members, the members are the victims of society. It then follows that the greatest benefit for any one man is to recognise the fullest opportunity, for every man to better his condition. For, all have got to have a home, if they do not get it, our’s will be put in jeopardy.

Now the isolated home, engrossed in its animal necessities, fails to recognize this. It says “If I am a good husband, or if I am a faithful wife, if I attend to my family, my whole duty is done,” Outside, on Christmas eve, there may be pointing the skinny finger of death through the plate-glass to the comforts and luxuries within: but no ruffle of thought is stirred, no compunction of conscience breaks forth therefrom. Why? Because the family is a Jew, and the world is a Samaritan;—“If I am a good husband, or if I am a faithful wife, if I attend to my family, my whole duty is done.” But what if your family does not then get taken care of?

Against such narrow interpretation of life beats the heart of Jesus; and, set about with snares and pitfalls, is written the mandates of social science. It is more important that one should be a good citizen than a good husband, or a faithful wife, or even a devoted father and mother. In the last days there will be found more hope for tramps than for such as these. Yet public duty, in the Christian church, has been found only compatible with celibacy; and Plato advised, in his republic, that the mothers should be ignorant of their own children. Not that they would, thereby, love their own children less, but that they would love the average child more. The real relationships of life are spiritual, not physical, and are to be counted spiritually. “Who is my mother and who are my brother and sister?” said Jesus.

The co-operative home recognizes this higher and broader law. Its life is not only more harmonious, but more varied. The tendency, in the isolated home, the way people are put together, is to breed in and in. The stronger overrides the weaker; the positive absorb the negative; familiarity dulls the edge of courtesy and respect; the best traits find no attraction; and the worst are worn threadbare. We see faults of manner, of grammar, and of disposition, in this way, stereotyped for life. People need a variety of spiritual food, and a change of intellectual atmosphere and scenery, as much as they do a physical change.


Again the co-operative home surpasses the isolated one, in material richness. Under the present system, the isolated home is either an abode of squalor, or else of caste, social distinction, and ambitious display. Not that a person shall not have such a home as he wishes, but to take pride in a fine establishment founded upon the meager opportunities of your neighbor is humiliating, and incompatible with an enlightened gentleman. In advocating the co-operative home, it is with the express intention to discountenance the present order of workingmen’s homes. I am not at all anxious to see workingmen build homes at all inferior to rich men’s establishments. If the average, respectable, working bee cannot live in as good a hive as the idle drone then my recipe for labor’s reconstruction is a failure. None of your three room cottages for me and my clients.

Not only do I want the working bee to have as good domestic accommodations as the drone, but far better; for, under the new system, all antagonism between the workers and the drones will have passed away. We do not want to sleep on a bomb, or to be waited upon by “servants.” We want our helpers to be equal in opportunity, and to be interested in and responsible for the quality of their work. We do not want to be slaves to slaves, by directing something to be done, and then go to find it undone, or wrongly done, and so have to do it over again ourselves. That kind of service does not comport with our idea of a home. We want security and harmony, and fellow feeling; not overseers, and eye servants, and irresponsibility, and antagonism. We want to be served by equals, by elasticity, and honor, and grace, by kings and queens not by slaves, and drudges, and shirks.

No back stalls in the rear of some usurer’s stately mansion, for “workingmen,” no, but a palace, a villa, a banquet hall, a coachman, a gardener, Chinese in the chambers, Negroes for grooms, a Frenchman for a cook, and a Yankee over all! Yes, more, baths and music rooms, and art galleries, summer heat in winter, and winter in summer, flowers and fountains, playgrounds and kindergartens. Why be always repining on the downward scale of life, when the more there is consumed the greater the power of reproduction? The best in nature is always the cheapest. And we are now prepared to show how much cheaper it is to dwell, with regal magnificence, than under the present conditions. Let us, briefly, enumerate some of the economic advantages.


First, the cost of constructing a building that will hold twenty five families is far less, pro rata, than the cost of constructing twenty five separate buildings. The foundation, the roof, the land, the heating, the water and culinary arrangements would probably cost less than half. If the walls required to be of greater strength, the same would serve as a protection against heat in summer and cold in winter: and being less exposed, they would be less costly to keep in repair. If we consider five hundred dollars the nominal cost of a three room cottage, twenty five times that amount, or twelve thousand five hundred dollars, would build quite a building, far surpassing in accommodations that of the three room cottage.


While the cost of construction is a stationary gain, the saving in the cost of consumption is a constant one. In the cooperative store, we spoke of the significance of pooling one’s custom, but what necessity is there now in the co-operative home for anyone to go to a retail market? The market comes to us. If you consider half an hour each day not too much to be allotted to marketing, then for twenty five families, the time consumed would be twelve and one half hours per day, or one man’s entire service.

Take the retail profits; if you reckon them to be twenty per cent., and the cost of consumption per person, per week, to be two dollars, and four persons in a family, then the saving per year to the twenty five families would be two thousand and eighty dollars.

Suppose we place the cost of domestic service for a family of four, at three dollars per week, the total sum for the twenty five families separately, would be seventy five dollars per week. Now suppose, for all combined, it costs five dollars per day, this would be thirty five dollars per week, or a saving of two thousand and eighty dollars per year.

Again, consider that the three dollars per week went as the wife’s board, or as “pin money,” then reckon her enhanced productive powers by going to her husband’s office, or one of her own; would it then be too much to raise the three dollars to eight? if so, then the gain of the twenty five wives would be six thousand five hundred dollars per year.

Suppose, again, that it takes one hundred and fifty dollars to furnish an ordinary kitchen, the twenty five families would spend three thousand seven hundred and fifty dollars. This would, when working together, put in a good many labor saving appliances.

But, a co-operative home, based on usury would be a real monstrosity, so we must reckon a capitalization, of at least two thirds, to float as currency. By the aid of this, we are enabled to organize all our exchanges, from the farmer up, and leave the usurers to their destruction.

The account would, then, stand something like this:—

Savings Of A Co-operative Home.

Saving in construction $5,000

Saving in kitchen furnishings 1,875


Yearly saving in women’s enhanced wages…. $0,500

Yearly saving in retail consumption 2,080

Yearly saving in domestic service 2,080

Yearly saving in interest 800

Yearly saving in waste and antagonism 800

Yearly saving in marketing 300

Yearly saving in repairs 50

Total, $19,485

If this seems exaggerated, or a partial statement let it be understood as only indicative, and that the same process can be carried still farther, in the consolidation of luxuries as well as necessaries. If, instead of twenty five families subscribing for twenty five daily papers, at ten dollars each, they only subscribe for one, they will save two hundred and forty dollars per year. If instead of twenty five sets of reference books, each costing a hundred dollars, one only is employed, there is a saving of twenty four hundred dollars. If one piano, in the music room, costing a thousand dollars, can be substituted for twenty five, costing three hundred each, then there is a saving of sixty five hundred dollars, and so on with other things, in proportion.


Perhaps there is no greater source of economy than in the division of labor. By the aid of machinery, unskilled labor can be utilized in the place of skilled labor, while steam and electricity take the place of muscle. Instead of a washboard, how much better is a revolving drum and motor, under an expert, who lifts the lowest drudgery into a science and an art. Instead of having sour dough, how much better to have the call of an electric bell to tell you when it has sufficiently risen, and a kneader. Instead of having an oven that requires constant watching, how much better to have a steam heater, regulated by a thumb-screw. Instead of the endless annoyance of dish-washing, how much better to have a dish-washer and drier. Instead of having a cow that gives more milk than a small family can use, a part of the season, and none the rest, how much better to have the facilities for handling a general average. Instead of three men, each having a horse, part of the time idle, and neither fitted for a saddle horse, a driving horse, or a draft horse, would it not be better if all could have one buggy horse, one saddle horse, and one draft horse? Instead of twenty five families having as many pieces of land each containing a quarter of an acre, to be spaded by hand,—that which is adapted to vegetables being unfit for fruit, and that which is fitted for fruit being unfit for grain,—would it not be better to have one tract properly divided, into grain, fruit, and pasture, for the equal benefit of all?


The reader may have gone through the garret of a New England farm house and seen the multiplicity of trumpery there accumulated for years from a lack of division of labor. There is enough gathered there to stock several second-hand stores, save that while these appliances are of every description, none are in working order; they more properly constitute a kind of cross between a junk shop and a dime museum.

But as the scattered ends of dough, under the hands of the skillful housewife, are finally gathered up for a gem, so these odds and ends of furniture and rusty tools, in the co-operative home, are all gathered together, under the universal tinker and man of all work, into order and utility. He can keep his tool house, and has sufficient use for his tools to keep them in order. He can shoe a horse, mend a harness, repair a buggy, paint a house, or paper a room.

This, you say is contrary to the division of labor, and the specialization of function. This is a new department, out of the regular line, subject to its own law; the man of all work is an original genius. There is a point where too much consolidation is top-heavy, and too much delegation loses power. The closer you hitch your horses to the wagon, the more they can draw. The less machinery you have, the simpler the laying out of the work. One can tell himself what to do, on the spot, when a thing needs to be done, and when one has time to do it, cheaper than one can tell another, far away, when he cannot do it, or when you do not want it done. For this reason, small manufactures, under a democracy, can compete with large ones.


Having a division of labor, the troublesome servant girl question is laid on the shelf, and the endless door bells calling you to the front to give audience to peddlers and tramps have that service delegated, once for all. Is it a fine thing to have your isolated home turned into a hotel of uninvited guests, when the thermometer is at ninety, and the servant girl away? In the co-operative home, when the superannuated clergyman comes round, to talk and pr(e)y, how easy to say, “We are dreadful glad to see you, but you must excuse us from entertaining; we have given up housekeeping; we board now.”


Can any now object to the co-operative home, because of a lack of isolation? Were this the case, it would be a fatal objection. But I believe that just the contrary is true. In the isolated home you have such company as you do not desire, when you do not want any; and when you do want it, it is not to be had. What greater lack of seclusion can there be than to be mixed up with servants, or called to the door at any moment, or commented upon, by your neighbors, when you go and come, as to the nature of your business? In the co-operative home it is just the reverse. It is noticeable that the people who live close together in cities keep to themselves better than those living in the country. The closer the members of society impinge upon each other, the more are they obliged to recognize their separate places; one’s neighbors are then governed by affinity instead of geography. To be alone amid people, is truly a solace; but it is none the less fascinating to be able to emerge from seclusion and be in the midst of company.


Then think of the independence the co-operative home affords to go and come. The isolated home is a jail. If you want to go away, who will take care of it? And yet if it burns, unoccupied, the insurance would be worthless. What an incubus of care, what an insolated life, an isolated home entails? We have known gentlemen give up the finest establishments just for this reason, and engage a suite of rooms in a hotel, so that they could go and come without responsibility or anxiety. Who, after enjoying the full benefits of the freedom of a cooperative home, would take upon himself the care of an isolated one, as a gift?


It is an important item in social economy to reap the largest benefits with the least outlay, or to derive the greatest use with the least responsibility of ownership. The less a man owns in proportion to what he can use the richer he becomes. Such an opportunity the co-operative home affords. Outside of the satisfaction of one’s immediate, personal tastes, such as your coat or chair, all realty is capitalized and made personal under one overseer. So, when you want to move, there is no sacrifice; the few personal effects that you have in your room are easily disposed of on the spot at nominal rates to your successor. Franklin said, “Three removes are as bad as a fire.” Yet, in our time, the man would not be much who did not move. It makes all the difference how one moves. Health, friendship, culture, occupation, all necessitate moving. Some families, under the isolated home, are constantly moving. According to Franklin, the taking up of old fits, and putting down misfits, the buying at an advance and selling at a sacrifice, must entail a terrible fire.

The situation is still further intensified by the changes that every family is subject to. First it increases, then diminishes; unless the house is elastic, it must at times be overcrowded, or else there is room to waste. Formerly children and entertainment overflowed its ample halls; soon the children are married, and the apartments deserted. Soon they move away and scatter, some in Michigan, some in Maine. The old folks walk the vacant corridors sad and gloomy amid the memories of by-gone days. They can no longer keep up an establishment; they must sell; and the fine mansion specially built for them must go for one half of its original cost.


But the Nemesis of a cruel fate does not leave them now; it has but just begun. They are about to meet with the same harsh mandate passed along, that as there has been no homes provided for old maids, so there shall be none now for mothers in law. O harsh, yet just sentence! that the rearer of a family should have to stand in its presence homeless. Yet such it is, but only what they have brought upon themselves. They must suffer silent and devoid of pity. Henceforth, she and “the old man” must stalk about foreigners in their native land. How cruel is limited affection; how ruthlessly are life’s hopes blasted by too narrow an interpretation. So true it is that the solidarity of the family is only preserved in co-operative homes.


Again, everybody is liable to be sick; on such occasions, it is deemed desirable to be near one’s friends and relatives. But what provision can the ordinary, domestic appliances of life furnish for the comfort of the sick, without filling the whole house with sickness? Is the isolated home large enough, or complex enough in its appointments to guarantee retirement and isolation? Can it afford to keep in reserve a sickroom, with light, and air, and quiet? No more than it can a nursery, or a kindergarten. Only are these provisions compatible with the conditions of a co-operative home.


If these are some of the characteristic functions of the co-operative home, what may be said of its outward organism? It will be noticed that we have chosen a hundred people, or twenty five families, as the unit of capacity. A four story building with a central court, could easily accommodate this number with light and air; and a ten acre tract of land would give the varied advantages of a park and at the same time leave less than a half acre to each family, or an ordinary twenty five feet lot to each person.

Since the perfect individuality, or isolation, of each person is to be first assured, the form would need to take a complex expression. It should be removed as far as possible from a box-like uniformity, contain four entrances and projections. The walks and approaches should be varied, and screened with shrubbery. Since the different functions to be performed are distinct, they should be separate, so as not to interfere, yet connected, as they are related. Of course an accurate description of what only circumstances and climate and topography can decide, is not to be expected here. We have no special coop into which to drive all humanity. There may be one building or many, one acre or twenty, with every variety of structure; the social status and economic principles, however, remaining the same.


Especially true is this in reference to the status of woman. So long as married women are chattels, so long as they, for injury done, have no recourse unless it be constructively done to their owners; so long as the traditional import of the institution is that women marry to be mistresses, with a promise of support, until they become industrial drudges, what can be expected from co-operative homes? As well expect a co-operative community based on slave plantations. Our diagnosis of the present family-home was undoubtedly correct; whether viewed from an a priori, or an a posteriori standpoint. For instance, twenty newly married couples once thought they would combine, to save the expenses of housekeeping. They rented a building, and engaged a cook at a dollar a day. But had one of those wives then been asked, for a consideration, to assist, they would have regarded it as an insult. Do you think they who were married to work for their husbands for nothing were now going to support themselves! At the end of the month, their husbands thought they would figure up the result as a contribution to social science; but, to their dismay they found no perceptible difference between present expenses and those that formerly existed when their wives did the work. This discrepancy constituted a dark and impenetrable enigma, from which they withdrew in discouragement; the only bright feature connected with it being the women were never known to complain! None the less, a score had been made against “co-operation,” the real significance of- which was that it died of too much marriage.

Had this experiment been tried while the parties were single, while the women had occupations, their own purses, and were independent, might we not reasonably suppose that the experiment would have proved a financial success? Therefore, whether or not women are born to be housekeepers and to obediently rear children, decides the fate of the co-operative home. To those who dare break their “sphere” and become independent, the co-operative home will prove the natural result.

We tried to come to a different conclusion, that is we attempted to treat the home from a pure economical standpoint, but it refused thus to be treated; its economy grew out of the family status: and, in order to treat one, we were compelled to treat the other. We found that a home without woman was like a bird without wings; and, if the Creator did, at first, forget to put her in, it would never do for us to leave her out; but, in order to fit her into the co-operative home, we found that she must be an independent woman. Therefore, if the conclusions here arrived at is not satisfactory, it must be attributed to the nature of the situation instead of to us.


“How now,” you say, “are we to inaugurate the home? Many attempts have been tried, and all have failed; the fact is human nature is not, as yet, far enough advanced.”

This objection is neither a novel or new one; it is a relic of the doctrine of depravity, not in the people, but in the objector. He has got a political hobby, a mansion in the sky, or at Washington, into which he has been trying to drive the people, and they will not go; the disease is in the doctors, not in the patient. A dog seeks to better its condition as enlightened by experience, and this is all that the wisest man knows. Is not this all one needs to know? Then let us banish authority and caste of cults, and patronizing airs, and learn nature’s demands.

As soon as we leave our machine hobby; get at the law of the situation; become harnessed to cause and effect, this scepticism of human nature, this helpless denunciation, this general discouragement and insolvency will give place to order and buoyancy and power. Then competition itself becomes the handmaid of co-operation.

Indeed, I am at a loss to know how the paternal philosophy ever could organize a co-operative home. It would have to unify the tastes, the prejudices the whims, and the caprices of mankind; it could not be done; it never has been done, except as they have all surrendered to some central dogma. What if Mrs. Jones should refuse to speak to Mrs. Smith, because she was a little off color; and Mrs. Smith should refuse to speak to Mrs. Jonquill; and Mrs. Jonquill should refuse to speak to Mrs. So-on Ad-infinitum,—one fairly trembles to think of the result! Such a co-operative home would go off by spontaneous combustion, like burnt-up paper. The verdict of the survivors would be :—” Whereas we went into this concern in search of good society, we are very glad to escape with our lives; and we find no further desire to organize the dyspepsia or to tamper with social affinities.” Who could consent to be, yoked in such an enterprise?

Then let us not call the co-operative home by any pet names. Let us not call it the Sanatarium of the Millennium, or the Seventh Seal of the House of Judah. Do not call it ‘our” home, or even a “co-operative” home, or even any “home,” at all. Perhaps it would be better not to call it; let others call it; and do not expect any society, whether with long hair or short hair, large waists or small waists, frugivorous or anti-vegetarian, Materialist or Spiritualist.

Perhaps it would not be best to suppose that one is greatly preserved in minding his own business, by having occasionally thrown at him a majority-rule vote. Let everybodys’ interests be separated, as far as possible. Where communism is really necessary, there is no need of compulsion, for the minority will naturally choose the better alternative. Where there is a real difference, the minority should, unless agreed otherwise beforehand, be permitted to retire with their interests intact. Without this safety valve, there can be no progress; where everything has its place and keeps it, collusion is impossible.

While the society of the home will result in great advantage special stress cannot be laid upon it; it is its own law. We guarantee isolation; not until a person can be left to himself, can he approach another spontaneously and naturally; besides, the high gods only come to individuals.

We heretofore said that while co-operative banking was a most influential factor, it was easy to organize ; now while the home is not the most important, it requires considerable management. The remark is frequently made that “ he can keep a store, or run a steamboat, but he cannot keep a hotel.” The one matter of cleanliness is such a matter of education, that while one person may be clean in one thing, and another in another thing, it is rare to find a person clean in everything. There are people who can keep hotel; but being called a “reformer,” is no sure sign that all such could run a hotel, much less all at once! But with a proper manager, we do not see why a co-operative hotel might not be made a success, indeed, popular, nay, fashionable. It is only necessary to draw up the plans, to make the specifications, to capitalize the stock, and show, while nothing is risked, how the maximum of luxury can be obtained, with the minimum of cost. Then turn to the isolated home, with its narrowness, its selfishness, its squalor, its inconveniences; where it takes a maximum of cost, to get a minimum of comfort. Look on both pictures, you who pay your money, then take your choice. Whether it will pay is the safe criterion upon which to present its merits. If yon can show a greater labor saving machine combined with other desirable qualities, on a competitive basis,—which is the only one nature recognizes,—the best must crowd out the poorest, and the demand come to the supply. If you can put a beef steak on a workingman’s plate costing six cents, which he has heretofore been unable to get for less than ten, it will need no abstruse logic to make this unadvanced species of human nature see it. If his scanty living can be eked out by furnishing his wife ten dollars a week for less work than for what she was previously getting but four, and if you can guarantee his children better advantages, then seeing is believing.


Perhaps it may be here said, that with the elimination of interest and rent, we should realize domestic economy in the ordinary hotel. This is largely true, and I would not seriously object to such a hotel. But, when that consummation is reached, I imagine you will see a cultus a great deal richer and broader than the cuisine of a common hotel. In the world of spirit, congenial souls gravitate to there own conditions. Eating and drinking are but symbolic of intellectual repasts; and with usury abolished, and none unemployed, what might properly engage our attention? Getting a living? That trouble would have been spared, had we never existed. To live for what? There is an “overproduction,” and all are supplied; there is then nothing left to do, except as original investigators in science and art. Instead of a place of simple hospitality, our home will be a kind of natural church. Homes were the fit receptacles of early Christianity, before it was swallowed up by ecclesiasticism; and, now that her dogmas are dying, the churches are again seeking to perpetuate their life on a social plane.

But what a different cultus our home inspires, when instead of superstition, sentiment is wedded to science? Where children are reared with the manners of mature years, and old age preserves the bloom of youth! Where woman’s weakness has redounded to man’s strength where truth is the bond of affection, and universal ends the seal of solidarity! As far as the heart of Jesus transcended the Jewish ceremonialism, so is co-operation in advance of the regnant principles of church and state. As Emerson foretold,

Now the State house is the hearth,
Now the Church is social worth,
And the perfect state has come,
The republican at home.

If we cannot boast of our exports over our imports; that the largest number of fat hogs were killed of any previous season, if we cannot boast of our immigration statistics, or the numbers that swarm our great cities, we can boast of the quality and of the kind of men there produced. If we cannot show the largest clearing house report, we can show the largest number of beautiful homes and the best social condition of the people.

In the last number, we showed the near possibility of free travel and free communication, where man could enlarge his environment and become a universal guest. In the next, under Land Tenure, we shall inquire into the natural distribution of homes, for the need of business and society, so that man may find a universal host.

Whate’er be his lot, or where’er he may roam,
‘Mid pleasure and plenty, he’s always at home




Learn how to LIVE: never mind how you die: social conditions are paramount to personal will: for sixty cents you may know some of the most important conditions of living.


CO-OPERATION: ITS LAWS AND PRINCIPLES. Showing the Grounds of Liberty and Equity, and their Violations in Rent, Interest, Profit, and Majority Rule. Portrait of Herbert Spencer.

THE REORGANIZATION OF BUSINESS. On a Labor, Instead of a Usury Basis. Embracing the Store, the Bank, the Farm and Factory. Portrait of Ralph Waldo Emerson.

THE RAILROADS. Showing how the Shippers can break the Pools, control the Directories, and conduct the Roads at “Cost.” Portrait of Wendell Phillips.

THE CO-OPERATIVE HOME. Or the Abolition of the Kitchen. Portrait of Louise Michel.

THE LAND QUESTION. Showing a natural and peaceful way of Starving out the Landlords. Portrait of Robert Owen.

THE CO-OPERATIVE REPUBLIC. Showing what Is t. “take the place” of “Government.” Portrait of

Supplement: “PROHIBITION:” Or the Relation of Government to Temperance.

The Cultus of co-operation are the principles of Liberty and Equity.

Its Economy is in equitably rewarding the utmost division of labor.

Its Polity is its power to organize the masses on a plane of self interest.

Its Power is in the fact that it is reinforced by natural law and the “survival of the fittest.”

Its Social Ideal is the future American Republic.

Its Religion is the Unity of mankind.

Its Consummation is human Solidarity, under one government, one language, and one religion.



About Shawn P. Wilbur 2703 Articles
Independent scholar, translator and archivist.