Thanks to the outpouring of replies on the Golden Dawn Group yahoo forum to Nick Farrell's post, I have been thinking today about whether or not Golden Dawn Orders should be ran like businesses.
What got me thinking about it was a comment that said if a group has a website, then it is a business and it is advertising and applicants are its customers...and the customer is always right.
I will admit that I have always viewed the Order system, both esoteric (ex. Golden Dawn) and exoteric (ex. Freemasonry and the Woodmen of America), as a business model. It comes from being a restaurant manager for ten years, an apprentice to my father (who was self-employed a good part of his life), and being a freelance writer.
In fact, I find that some of the behavior that other people find unbecoming of an esoteric system, such as the mud-slinging, advertising, and lawsuits, to be perfectfully understandable if you think of the lodge system as a type of business.
Note that I say "understandable." I don't think that such behavior is anything to brag about, or even desirable in an esoteric system, but I do understand it.
And considering that all of the Big Three (the three Big Name Orders that I consider to be at the top of the heap GD-wise) have at least one business person (current or ex- business owner) in their upper echelon, it is not really surprising.
So the question becomes what type of business is Golden Dawn?
My answer to that one is that Golden Dawn is a co-op. For those of you who have not experienced co-ops up close and personal, a co-op is a business owned by the customers who use it. Credit unions, farmers co-ops, grocery co-ops are all good examples.
A co-op is ran and governed by its members for the benefit of its members. And you have to qualify to be a member of a co-op; they don't just allow anyone in.
Repeat after me: A magical lodge (Order) is a group of people pooling resources to accomplish a common magical goal. In the case of a Golden Dawn based group, it is to study and practice the Golden Dawn and RR et AC material.
There is nothing in that definition that says that a lodge can not be ran like a business, though it would be a highly picky business that was choosy about who it did business with. If it is not co-op, I don't know what it is.
(Of course, this is based on my ideal of the physical meeting based lodge; Orders that specialize in doing correspondence courses, allow everyone in and are typically owned and controlled by a single person.)