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Catalyzing worker co-ops & the solidarity economy

A life of sharing

The Ohlone hunter, then, did not feel that he lived in a highly competitive, every-man-for-himself world. Rather, he saw himself as a working member of a family and a tribelet—organizations which he knew from birth as trustworthy, permanent features of the world, organizations which he felt sure would take care of him when he was sick and weak as well as when he was strong and able.

Generosity was thus a prime virtue among the Ohlones, but it was even more than that. Generosity was a way of life. It was the only way a proper person could conceivably behave—toward a relative especially, but also toward the world at large. As an early missionary noted: “They give all they have. Whoever reaches their dwelling is at once offered the food they possess.”

The way of sharing gave the Ohlones a totally different outlook and character from ours. They were not “stimulated to obtaining consequence among themselves,” as Captain Vancouver put it. Competitiveness was not an Ohlone virtue. In fact, to stand out and place one’s self above the society was considered a serious vice—the mark of a dangerous, grossly unbalanced person. When praise and honor came, they came not to the egotists or the braggarts, but to those who showed the most moderation and restraint, to those who were able to share most generously.

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