‘What is Prima?’
Our contention is that the ‘Isonuc’ (the isolated nuclear family) is the main source of our individual alienation and despair and our collective and personal conflicts. We’ve also suggested that ‘Prima’ (Primary Rearing Institution & Mutual Association) is the solution to these devastating human and social problems. We are all too familiar with the Isonuc, but what exactly is Prima? The idea is deceptively simple: 50 adult couples commit to sharing their lives for five and a half years in order to provide their children with the optimal human environment in which to develop from six months before birth to the age of five. The Prima concept is based on the evidence from modern psychology and neuroscience that experiences from the first five and a half years of life have an overwhelming influence on the development of the brain and, consequently, on personality, character traits, attitudes, values, etc… which determine the course and quality of the rest of a person’s life-history.
The expectant parents who volunteer for Prima life are, when their pregnancy is confirmed, randomly assigned to a group with 49 other couples, thus ensuring the maximum diversity of ethnic, religious and class backgrounds. They commit to living together for five and a half years in purposed-designed, community accommodation. They also commit to solving problems and conflicts through ‘support group’ discussion. This is an essential and defining characteristic of Prima life: isolated, private life (in the way we understand it in the Western world) would not exist among the hundred-adult community of the Prima. Any attitude, personal characteristic, psycho-sexual proclivity, etc… that might affect parenting or cause conflict between partners, or within the community, will be gris for the group mill. It is this feature of Prima life which makes it a genuine human community, like the hunter-gatherer group of prehistory, where the physical survival of the group depended on its ability to solve internal conflicts. Later versions of ‘community’, under agriculture and industrialism, were – and are pale imitations – less vivid by a thousand shades of pale!
Prima parents would also have to make three further commitments: firstly, not to divorce or separate during the five years of child rearing. Second, strictly adhere to the policy of only one child every five years and, third, a maximum of two children per couple. Once the family has left the Prima, at the end of the five years, the couple would be as free to divorce as they are now in modern Western societies. Hopefully, the years spent in the therapeutic environment of the Prima’s support groups, would reduce the frequency of divorce among these couples, but probably not eliminate it altogether. The ‘two-children-only’ policy would have the consequence that parents would spend a maximum of eleven years living a Prima life.
This, in turn, would have two further consequences; Prima communities, as the movement matured, would have to make provision to accommodate and care for a (probably growing) population of second children, all of whom, however, would be over the age of five. These children would, of course, live with their parents in their private accommodation. But arrangements could be made for this older group of children to live a much more ‘peer-oriented’ life, with many group sporting, artistic and educational activities, to give their parents the time, space and energy to concentrate on caring for their younger child. Given that the first child had itself grown up in the Prima, the negative consequences of sibling rivalry should be very considerably reduced.
The second major consequence of the ‘five-year/two-only’ policy would be on the career paths of the parents: the Prima life-style would provide great potential and flexibility to maintain or pursue career opportunities, in terms of very effective child care. Each Prima child would have, in addition to the conventional two immediate carers, a further 98 surrogate carers: not strangers, but other adults who the child would know, and to a greater or lesser extent, would have bonded with, in the Prima’s community life. Given that each child would have two parents, plus up to 98 other potential care-providers, the Prima could provide an enormous variety of flexible child care arrangements. This would enable parents to pursue part-time, or even full-time, work, eduction or training opportunities.