This is a visionary novel about a transformative social innovation in family life and child rearing. The institution at the heart of this reform is called ‘PRIMA’ (Primary Rearing Institution & Mutual Association). Prima consists of 150 adults and infants living together, in a purpose-designed building. These fifty couples commit to spending five and a half years in Prima in order to give their child an optimal start in life.
Prima communities are conceived of as a macro-social reform, aimed at transforming entire societies. Consequently, their creation and maintenance needs to be the result of national democratic policy: Prima need to be legally and socially legitimised by the state and financially guaranteed by the national government. The novel describes; how and why the Prima concept was devised, the political campaign (within Britain) waged to achieve them, how the first Prima were set up, how they work and the results that Prima produce in the people who live, work and grow up within them.
The three parts of the novel take us through; first, the development of the Prima concept, second, the democratic campaign to establish the first 400 Prima in Britain and, thirdly, presents a picture of everyday life in Prima society – a hundred years from now. It covers the time period (in a ‘broken narrative’ format) from the 1950s, telling the story of the early life of James Hartley (‘father of Prima’), up to the year 2130, the centenary of the first 400 Prima.
James Hartley came from a highly dysfunctional family. In part one, his chaotic childhood and adolescence are contrasted with those of his name-sake (and great great grandson), living in a Prima a hundred years later. These episodes are interspersed with the first James Hartley’s blogs (from 2016), in which he develops the concept of Prima.
In part two, we follow the British political campaign for Prima, during the period 2016 to 2025. We meet; the billionaire business tycoon, the ‘rising-star’, woman, Labour politician and other key figures who support Hartley in this campaign. We attend the tv debates, with religious leaders and academic experts, and read the campaign papers promoting Prima, written by; a psychotherapist, an architect, an economist and a neuroscientist. We party with the ‘Family Democrat’ Party to celebrate their election night victory. In between we read the diary of the first James Hartley
In part three, we enter a Prima with Peter Hartley (James’s fifth generation descendent) and his pregnant wife. Peter is using his five and a half years in Prima to write a history of the Prima movement, to be published as part of the celebrations for the centenary of the first 400 Prima. We read excerpts from the book and attend as his wife gives birth, in the Prima, to their baby. Plus, we live through a typical day in the life of the Prima. These scenes are interspersed with Peter Hartley’s diaries, in which he records the pleasures and satisfactions of his Prima life plus the struggles and inspirations he experiences in writing his Prima history.
This is a novel for all of those; who long for the psychological security of genuine, functioning communities, who long to escape from the dead-end of conventional, ‘consumerist’ politics, and for all those who haven’t lost faith in a long-term, progressive vision for the future of our species.