Friday, October 10, 2008

Communes and Communism

Some intentional communities used to be known as communes. Communes got a bad name from poorly organized and self-serving (sometimes practically predatory) situations that occurred in the late '60s and early '70s--filled with drugs, and sex/'free love', and poor hygiene, and irresponsibility, and unwillingness to do the real work to build community. No one uses the word 'commune' to describe themselves these days, and few use the term 'communal'. Which is too bad because communal is the best way to describe communities (like the Egalitarian Communities that I will post on soon) that share income or are much more closely knit than co-ops or cohousing.

Communal means we share things. This is a way to live simply--if we share what we have, we don't need so much stuff. It can also mean living together. There are many degrees of how communal, but all community (broadly defined) is in some way communal. Certainly group living experiments such as communes, co-ops, and even cohousing, work toward this, but even people who want to live by themselves or in couples or nuclear families can be part of larger communities, networks of people sharing what they feel comfortable sharing. (This is what I tried to say in my original post on communities and cooperatives.)

This is also basically the old ideal of 'communism'. When I was in eighth grade in Catholic school a nun pointed out to us that the apostles were early communists. (A radical thing for a nun to be saying, but if you read the 'Acts of the Apostles' in the Christian bible, you will find it to be true. They tried sharing everything they had with one another.)

And when I began thinking of myself as an Egalitarian Communitarian, I realized that this wasn't so different from the old Communist Anarchists, back before the Marxists ruined the term 'communist'. (These day I think of myself as an 'Eco-communalist', but it's still a variant of Communist Anarchism...) The Emma Goldman quote below is from an essay entitled "There Is No Communism in Russia" where she analyzed the Soviet experiment and concluded what she saw there was not communism. Her words: "Soviet Russia, it must now be obvious, is an absolute despotism politically and the crassest form of state capitalism economically." Communism (or 'communalism') is about sharing, not about political dictatorship, no matter what happened in the USSR or China or Cambodia.

Quote of the day: "Communism is the ideal of human equality..." - Emma Goldman
Word (or phrase) of the day: Gynephilia and Androphilia
Hero(es) of the day: Michelle Cliff

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