Jump to content

Communes


 Share

Recommended Posts

So I'm currently reading Walden Two by BF Skinner, and I ran across a book about modern-day conceptualizations of Walden Two, and investigated further. These communes are looking more and more interesting with each subsequent view, and my wife and I are discussing a visit.

Walden Two is a work of fiction in which BF Skinner outlines a community based on behavioral principles. In this situation, people work minimally, but all resources are shared across the community so that everyone benefits so long as everyone works. Because life is so comfortable and work is fairly minimal (2-4hrs/day), people are more than willing to work together for the common good. According to their website, Los Horcones is the only truly behavioral commune in existence, as Twin Oaks was founded on behavioral principles, but has since moved away (I would love to know more about why they broke from the primarily behavioral tradition, and intend to ask why if I ever get a chance).

Anyway, there are clearly socialist/green/egalitarian processes involved here, and I was wondering if anyone here had any input. I'm really curious about any experiences any of you have had with similar social structures, how prevalent these are in other countries, and basically, what people think about something that is so very alien to typical American culture. One thing that got my attention is how taxes are filed for the Twin Oaks group; they file in a manner similar to that of a monestary which made me consider it in a completly different way.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Interesting attempts. In God's paradise it will be similar. We should not labor and toil for endless hours, and others to enjoy the sweat of our face.

Damn the Socialist Party here in Greece that is adding unbearable burdensome taxes which the poor can pay only by working 24 hours per day. They are just speeding the countdown of the Greek people kicking them out! - If it is only kicking and not hanging for national treason. Because what they are achieving, besides angering the people is empowering extreme political parties...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't have any personal experience with communes, but they always seem to have problems due to their relationship with the outside world. Unless a commune produces everything it needs (which is extremely difficult), it will have to trade with the outside world in order to get various necessities. To trade with the outside world, the commune needs money. To get money, it needs to start playing by the rules of capitalism. And that's how communes start running into trouble and moving away from their original principles.

Did Los Horcones find some way to avoid this problem?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As Athan says, they export natural foodstuffs, handicrafts, etc., like Twin Oaks. They also use behavioral treatments for autism as a source of income, and summer camps, etc.

One difference from the monestary that Athan describes though, is that Los Horcones (and the community at Twin Oaks, from what I can tell) is at least nominally based upon behavioral and democratic (at least somewhat) processes, therefore, they work to produce capital, yes, but there is transparency regarding where that capital goes (although, to know just how much transparency there is, I would want to do more research).

You bring up an interesting point, Edric. I've always been interested in the idea of survivalism ("living off the land"). I disagree with the end of the world and militia-style purposes that most survivalist groups identify with, but really just finding a way to live in balance with nature, so that all that I do does not cost money or "take away" from the system; minimizing individual space etc., seems like an interesting and attractive way to live. It is interesting that in both of these situations they, by necessity, rely on external financial support, and therefore produce capital of one sort or another. This reminds me somewhat of a practice of coal mining operations to set up mining towns, where employees were paid in highly inflated corporation dollars (and thus, relatively less than those paid actual money) and had to work around the clock to make enough money to support their families.

I think that I would want to know more about the industry/capital side of the situation before anything else. Is someone "getting rich" off of the commune, and if not, where does excess capital go? On the other hand, what if a company set up just this situation? I think the biggest question at this point is, who rules? Is it top-down or bottom-up?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

News report on Twin Oaks' tofu and hammock industries. In the comments section, an alleged resident ("Paxus") says that profits from these businesses go to support the community and into savings. I would still want to see the numbers (call me distrustful, I just think that profiting on a commune is a little like voluntary slavery; now ask me what my definition of "voluntary" is ;) ).
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for link. This offers plenty food for thought:

"This new generation at Twin Oaks has embraced capitalism in a way their hippie brethren of the past would have held in contempt."

It is not only the who gets rich that we should do a research about. Does such a commune survive autonomous or does it function much more like a parasite: sucking from capitalism?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...

Hm, I'm not keen on that the section on autism at Los Horcones. Not sure if it qualifies as treatment, it's really an education programme to drill into autistic children how not to behave autistically. Seems a bit creepy. The Twin Oaks one looks reasonably positive, though, and yes, even if it's not explicitly anarchist or socialist, the right sort of political awareness is clearly there in the community. As Edric points out, Communes are limited, but I'll go further and say even - or especially - if they're 'self-sufficient' they risk drawing people away from the struggles that the rest of society faces without meaningfully challenging the system as a whole. On the other hand, they're useful as explorations of what's possible in more egalitarian societies, and can, if successful, be good examples.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...