When BASE went through the legal process of evolving from a housing co-op to a community co-op registered with Co-Ops UK in late 2007/early 2008, it was necessary to complete a number of legal documents that included setting out it’s formal Aims & Objects etc. You can read here the formal BASE Community Co-op mission statement, aims & objects (opens as a 2 page pdf) – kebelecoop_aims etc.
At the same time, activists decided to write up some core principles to guide the way that BASE was run, and to set out clearly it’s political position.
BASE is therefore run on a number of core principles, which reflect the sort of world BASE members want to see and help bring into reality. It is these principles which make BASE a radical social centre. Instead of waiting for that ever far away big moment of revolution, or for leaders and authorities to sort out our problems, we recognise that we can make fundamental changes here and now, in the ways we organise, communicate, interact and take action. This is the everyday revolution. BASE aims to be a living example, albeit on a small scale, of other possibilities, based on the principles below:
- Collective decision making and organisation
We try and reach decisions by consensus, where everyone agrees. Sometimes it takes a long time and can be frustrating, but direct democracy takes hard work and practice. The process is as important as the results or goals. When it works well, working together as a collective is inspiring, and can really get stuff done!
- Co-operation and mutual aid
In a world dominated by competition and conflict, we believe that working together, sharing knowledge and resources, and helping each other out builds strong communities and networks of support and friendship.
- Direct action and taking power back
Direct action means refusing to be a spectator, or waiting for someone else to do it for us. It is about taking power back and realising our potential to bring about change.
- Equality and non-hierarchy
BASE sees the importance of organising without leaders or bosses, and everyone having equal say. When power is shared equally in a group, it can be more effective and sustainable – as well as empowering – for all involved.
- Not for profit
In a time where everything has a price and the cost of living makes people poor, BASE has always avoided the profit motive, and getting rich! Fixed bikes, food and drinks, free information, books, internet access and meeting space are available either for free, in return for donations or for next to nothing. We believe in making everything genuinely affordable – and accessible – to all.
- Openness and inclusion
BASE seeks to be as open and inclusive as possible, providing a space that is equally welcoming to everyone (except cops, fascists etc) irrespective of age, race, gender, background, sexuality and (dis)ability & and we encourage – and aim to provide equal access to – participation in the collective. To help facilitate Openness and Inclusion, BASE has agreed an Anti-Oppression/ Safer Spaces Statement – read it here.
BASE realises that sustainability is at the core of the better world we are aiming to create. By following permaculture’s fundamental principles (earth care, people care, fair share) we strive to have a positive impact on our entire diverse human and ecological environment.
We aim to chose the most sustainable path in all our activities, providing a clear link between action, consequence and solution.
- Resistance and solidarity
BASE is anti-authoritarian, opposing both government and capitalism, and supporting people in resistance everywhere. BASE is part of a worldwide movement for revolutionary change.
BASE as a building and its garden is a dietary vegan space and supports the abolition of all non-human animal exploitation. BASE promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of humans, animals, and the environment.
- Voluntary participation and shared responsibility
All that happens at BASE is made possible by volunteers freely giving their time and sharing the endless tasks and hard work of organising a social centre. With no wages or bosses involved, it’s a different kind of work. People contribute what and when they can. Working for ourselves, for our own goals, on our own terms is what we call a proper job!
A note on the BASE Principles:
BASE Community Co-op is committed to its principles and actively uses them as guidelines to inform ethical decision-making in both policy and practice on all levels. While BASE strives to uphold its principles it recognises that there may be times when it falls short of an ideal.
There is no hierarchy of principles wherein one principle is considered more important than another. There may be situations when two or more of its principles are in conflict with regard to the best course of action. Such ethical dilemmas require further discussion and consultation. In that event co-op members, collective members and volunteers are encouraged to raise the matter with the co-op as a whole for discussion at a co-op meeting.
We are conscious that rather than being viewed as problems, such occasions can be opportunities for mutual education about the issues involved, raising awareness and information sharing. They also provide useful ‘real life’ practice of problem-solving in a non-hierarchical and consensus-seeking way.
A compromise between principles may be required. However, reasons for that compromise will be clearly articulated and the outcome of the decision reviewed by the co-op members.