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A commune is an intentional community of people living together, sharing common interests, property, possessions, resources, work and income. In addition to the communal economy, consensus decision-making, non-hierarchical structures and ecological living have become important core principles for many communes. Andrew Jacobs of The New York Times wrote that, contrary to popular misconceptions, "most communes of the 90's are not free-love refuges for flower children, but well-ordered, financially solvent cooperatives where pragmatics, not psychedelics, rule the day."[1]

Today most people are seeking to create a new type of community where the housing is more affordable and the people who are members are already known to each other.[citation needed] People who create and reside in the communities are seeking a return to a better way of life.[citation needed] There are many contemporary intentional communities all over the world, a list of which can be found at the Fellowship for Intentional Community's Online Communities Directory

Contents

Categorization of communities

Benjamin Zablocki categorized communities this way:[citation needed]

Of course, many communal ventures encompass more than one of these categorizations.

Some communes, such as the ashrams of the Vedanta Society or the Theosophical commune Lomaland, formed around spiritual leaders, while others formed around political ideologies. For others, the "glue" is simply the desire for a more shared, sociable lifestyle. Moreover, some people find it is more economical to live communally.[citation needed]

Core principles of communes

The central characteristics of communes, and the definition of what a commune is, have changed over the years. In the 1960s, almost any counter-cultural, rural, intentional community was called a commune.[citation needed] At the start of the 1970s, communes were regarded by Ron E. Roberts in his book, "The New Communes", as being a subclass of the larger category of Utopias.[citation needed] Three main characteristics were listed: first, egalitarianism - communes specifically rejected hierarchy or graduations of social status as being necessary to social order. Second, human scale - members of communes saw the scale of society as it was then organised as being too large. Third, communes were consciously anti-bureaucratic.[citation needed]

Twenty five years later, Dr. Bill Metcalf, in his book "Shared Visions, Shared Lives" defined communes as having the following core principles: the importance of the group as opposed to the nuclear family unit, a "common purse", a collective household, group decision making in general and intimate affairs.[citation needed] Sharing everyday life and facilities, a commune is an idealised form of family, being a new sort of "primary group" (generally with fewer than 20 people). Commune members have emotional bonds to the whole group rather than to any sub-group, and the commune is experienced with emotions which go beyond just social collectivity.[citation needed]

Communes around the world

With the simple definition of a commune as an intentional community with 100% income sharing, the online directory of the FIC lists 193 communes world wide (15th May 2009).[2] Some of these are religious institutions such as abbeys and monasteries, others are anthroposophic Camphill villages.

Many cultures naturally practice communal living, and wouldn't designate their way of life as a planned 'commune' per se, though their living situation may have many characteristics of a commune.

Germany

In Germany, a large number of the intentional communities define themselves as communes and there is a network of political communes called Kommuja with about 30 member groups (May 2009). Germany has a long tradition of intentional communities going back to the groups inspired by the principles of Lebensreform in the 19th. century. Later, about 100 intentional communities were started in the Weimar Republic after World War I, many with a communal economy. In the 1960s, there was a resurgence of communities calling themselves communes, starting with the Kommune 1 in Berlin, followed by Kommune 2 (also Berlin) and Kommune 3 in Wolfsburg.

In the German commune book, Das KommuneBuch, communes are defined by Elisabeth Voß as communities which:[citation needed]

  • live and work together,
  • have a communal economy, i.e. common finances and common property (land, buildings, means of production),
  • have communal decision making - usually consensus decision making,
  • try to reduce hierarchy and hierarchical structures,
  • have communalisation of housework, childcare and other communal tasks,
  • have equality between women and men,
  • have low ecological footprints through sharing and saving resources.

Israel

Kibbutzim in Israel is an example of officially organized communes. Today, there are tens of urban communes in Israel, called often urban kibbutzim. The urban kibbutzim are smaller and more anarchist[3]. Most of the urban communes in Israel emphasize social change, education, and local involvement in the cities where they live. Some of the urban communes composed by graduates of zionist-socialist youth movements, like HaNoar HaOved VeHaLomed, Hamahanot Haolim and Hashomer Hatsair[4].

Russia

In imperial Russia, the vast majority of Russian peasants held their land in communal ownership within a mir community, which acted as a village government and a cooperative.[citation needed]

United States

Although communes are most frequently associated with the hippie movement-- the "back-to-the-land" ventures of the 1960s and 1970s-- there is a long history of communes in America. Andrew Jacobs of The New York Times wrote that "after decades of contraction, the American commune movement has been expanding since the mid-1990's, spurred by the growth of settlements that seek to marry the utopian-minded commune of the 1960's with the American predilection for privacy and capital appreciation."[5]

A few notable examples include:

  • Fruitlands was a commune founded in 1843 by Amos Bronson Alcott in Harvard, Massachusetts. The tempo of life in this Transcendentalist community is recorded by Alcott's daughter, Louisa May Alcott, in her piece "Transcendental Wild Oats."
  • The Oneida Community was a commune that lasted from 1848 to 1881 in Oneida, New York. Although this utopian experiment is better known today for its manufacture of Oneida silverware, it was one of the longest-running communes in American history.
  • The commune Modern Times was formed in 1851 in Long Island.
  • The anarchist Home Colony was formed in 1895 across the Puget Sound from Tacoma, Washington on Key Peninsula, and lasted until 1919.

See also

Bibliography

  • Curl, John (2007). Memories of Drop City, The First Hippie Commune of the 1960s and the Summer of Love, a memoir. iUniverse. ISBN 0-595-42343-4. http://www.red-coral.net/DropCityIndex.html
  • Curl, John (2009) For All The People: Uncovering the Hidden History of Cooperation, Cooperative Movements, and Communalism in America, PM Press. ISBN 978-1-60486-072-6.
  • Fitzgerald, George R. (1971). Communes Their Goals, Hopes, Problems. New York: Paulist Press.
  • Horrox, James. (2009). A Living Revolution: Anarchism in the Kibbutz Movement. Oakland: AK Press.
  • Margaret Hollenbach. (2004)Lost and Found: My Life in a Group Marriage Commune. University of New Mexico Press, ISBN 0-8263-3463-6.
  • Rosabeth Moss Kanter. (1972) Commitment and community: communes and utopias in sociological perspective. Cambridge, Mass., Harvard University Press. ISBN 0-67414-575-5
  • Kanter, Rosabeth Moss. (1973) Communes: creating and managing the collective life. New York, Harper & Row. ISBN 0-06043-476-7
  • Lattin, Don. (2003, March 2) Twilight of Hippiedom. The San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved March 16, 2008, from http://www.sfgate.com/
  • Lauber, John. (1963, June). Hawthorne’s Shaker Tales [Electronic version]. Nineteenth-Century Fiction, Vol. 18, 82-86.
  • Metcalf, Dr. Bill. (1996) Shared Visions, Shared Lives, Findhorn Press, Scotland.
  • Meunier, Rachel. (1994, December 17). Communal Living in the Late 60s and Early 70s. Retrieved March 16, 2008, from http://www.thefarm.org/lifestyle/cmnl.html
  • Miller, Timothy. (1997) "Assault on Eden: A Memoir of Communal Life in the Early '70s", Utopian Studies, Vol. 8, 1997.
  • Roberts, Ron E. (1971). The New Communes Coming Together in America. New Jersey: Prentice Hall inc.
  • Veysey, Laurence R. (1978)The Communal Experience: Anarchist and Mystical Communities in Twentieth Century America
  • Voß, Elisabeth (1996): Was ist eine Kommune? Pages 17 to 26, in, Das KommuneBuch, by Kollektiv KommuneBuch, Göttingen: Verlag Die Werkstatt, 1996. ISBN 3-89533-162-7
  • Wild, Paul H. (1966 March). Teaching Utopia [Electronic version]. The English Journal, Vol. 55, No. 3, 335-337+339.
  • Zablocki, Benjamin. (1980, 1971) The Joyful Community: An Account of the Bruderhof: A Communal Movement Now in Its Third Generation (University of Chicago Press, 1971, reissued 1980), ISBN 0-226-97749-8. (The 1980 edition of the Whole Earth Catalog called this book "the best and most useful book on communes that's been written".)
  • Zablocki, Benjamin. (1980) Alienation and Charisma: A Study of Contemporary American Communes (The Free Press, 1980), ISBN 0-02-935780-2.

References

  1. ^ Jacobs, Andrew (1998-11-29). "Yes, It's a Commune. Yes, It's on Staten Island.". The New York Times (The New York Times Company): pp. 1. http://www.nytimes.com/1998/11/29/nyregion/yes-it-s-a-commune-yes-it-s-on-staten-island.html?scp=3&sq=twin%20oaks%20intentional%20community&st=cse. Retrieved 2009-07-21. 
  2. ^ FIC Directory
  3. ^ Horrox, James. "A Living Revolution: Anarchism in the Kibbutz Movement", pp.87-109
  4. ^ Horrox, James. "Rebuilding Israel's Utopia", Zeek: A Jewish Journal of Thought and Culture, October 2007
  5. ^ Jacobs, Andrew (2006-06-11). "Extreme Makeover, Commune Edition". The New York Times (The New York Times Company): pp. 1. http://www.nytimes.com/2006/06/11/weekinreview/11jacobs.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=twin%20oaks%20intentional%20community&st=cse. Retrieved 2009-07-21. 

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