Introduction to Cooperative Individualism
Welcome to the School of Cooperative Individualism. The School was
established in January 1997 as a place where thoughtful persons would
find meaningful -- and sometimes new -- insights into the long and
tireless search for a socio-political philosphy that, if implemented,
would nurture the development of just societies.
I thank those of you who have visited and continue to return to the
School, and I particularly appreciate the comments and recommendations
received over these many years. I will continue to add important
material to the School's library and will strive to provide links to
other websites that contribute to the expansion of our knowledge and
The School offers visitors what I believe is a unique opportunity to
explore the quest for first principles begun by the ancients and
elevated to the realm of scientific investigation by the classical
political economists of the 18th and 19th centuries.
Cooperative individualism is an activist philosophy, a set of
principles upon which to base activism, and many of the classical
political economists were activists in their own times. The one person
who most fully serves as the
architect of Cooperative Individualism is Thomas Paine,
although he never referred to his principles and proposals by this
term. The first consistent use of the term I have found is by one of
the founders of an experimental community called Fairhope, in Alabama.
E.B. Gaston's essay on cooperative individualism is included in the
Thomas Paine had both an extraordinary intellect and a deep
conviction to truth and justice. His writings and his deeds speak of
someone never afraid to challenge conventional wisdom when observation
and reason directed him to do so. Although Paine never used the term
cooperative individualism to describe the socio-political philosophy
to which he subscribed, this term is quite appropriate as the basis
for just relations between individuals, between individuals within
groups, and between groups. Paine was also an activist. He fought to
end privilege, despotism and monopolistic behavior.
After Paine's death early in the nineteenth century, the torch of
cooperative individualism fell to the ground, its fire nearly dying
out until the emergence of Henry George in the final quarter of the
nineteenth century to relight the flame and carry the torch into the
global political arena.
In the twentieth century, the princples of cooperative individualism
were gradually overwhelmed by the conflicts -- often violent --
between those who desired to remake the world order and those who
fought to defend the status quo. In that environment, the philosopher
Mortimer J. Adler fought to preserve scientific methods and the
objective pursuit of truth. His writings materially contribute to the
preservation of the principles of cooperative individualism.
Today, as in Paine's own time, constructive change requires two
things, essentially: an educated citizenry and a core of teachers able
to distinguish between true and false moral principles. Change will
then flow naturally and, on the whole, peacefully. This is the mission
of The School of Cooperative Individualism.