Dear Old Hippy,
I was just wondering how would you get a commune together? And where would
you make it? What would you need and what really is it all about? Thanx!!
Peace, love and light,
A commune is a commitment to a specific way of life and a commitment to other people. It’s sorta like a marriage, but with lots of other people involved. It’s an extended family. Within a commune you get to set the goals and rules for a whole community. It’s needed by people who feel society’s goals and rules don’t fit their own. Rather than compromise one’s life for the sake of a lifestyle you can’t abide, you get to try your own ideas in a private utopia.
Starting a commune is no small task. You can’t just say I’m going to start a commune and viola! you have instant commune. The first hurdle is finding like-minded people to join you. You would have to have some friends or people you’ve already spent some time with and shared ideas. You would all have to agree on which principles your commune would be started. Right there you might run into trouble, but that is part of the process. The entire commune experience is an ongoing process. You would all have to commit to the process. The process is usually a very democratic one where consensus is used in decision-making.
However many communes have a very strong leader with a vision, and the members heed this person’s will. I have heard many horror stories of communes where one leader issued the orders and used all sorts of methods to achieve compliance. Let’s see, there’s Guyana (Jim Jones), Waco, Heaven’s Gate (the internet comet cult), that Swiss one, plus many others that haven’t ended in mass suicide, just mind control, sex control, dicipline by fear, etc. It’s a fine line between a commune and a cult, especially with a powerful charismatic leader whose authority is unquestioned. So I hereby warn those who would follow such a person. Much better to find a commune where there is no central authority figure, and power is shared equally among the members (good luck!).
The second hurdle is finding a place for the commune. Actually a commune can be anywhere, even in the middle of a city, depending upon those principles discussed earlier. If you’re a back-to-nature type you’d probably like to be out in the country somewhere. You’d could buy or lease an old farm, one where there hasn’t been too much soil contamination (again good luck). Old farms usually have lots of out buildings that can be usefully adapted to commune living. Old farms have another advantage, they’re old. That means they’re cheaper to rent or buy, and the commune can fix up the buildings.
It’s good to be in an area where the surrounding community won’t immediately be against you. It takes years to build trust in farm communities, and it would be easier if you had a measure of acceptance to begin. This would be the case if there is another good commune in the area. Some places where there are lots of communes are Oregon, and Tennessee. Of course there are many other places, and some communes are so low key, the neighbors might not even know it’s not a family.
I recommend if you are serious about starting a commune you go visit one, and maybe live there for awhile. This way you can really checkout the lifestyle, the commitment it entails and whether you could really dig it. In any case you would learn a lot, and maybe get some good ideas for your own commune. You can also get some ideas by reading up on Utopias and learn more about the philosophy behind the communal concept. Check out the Farm’s website to see how one of the more successful communes did it! You can also visit our Communal Living Forum and discuss this with others who’ve lived on communes. A good resource for finding existing communes is the Intentional Communities Website.
– The Old Hippy
Posted by: skip
Dear Mr Hippy
Love the web-site, but there’s one small thing that I’ve just gotta
Communism is opposed to the state in any form – unlike your answer to the
‘Stinking Hippy says.
Marx never actually provided a blue print for how a communist community was
supposed to look like or how it was specifically to act. The big idea was
for people, who are all equal, to work together in a harmony that was absent
from any great overarching power (like when French students and workers took
over an area of Paris and created their own artisan style community in
protest against oppressive politics – your own fellow hippies!). By not
leaving a blue print, Marx thought that people would be able to create a
communist community free from the prescriptions of an antiquated era, that
people would eventually evolve away from capitalism once it had reached its
peek and instead search for a better way of living where there was no
discrimination based on material wealth, race, colour or gender (the sort of
equality of living that resembles Star Trek I guess, no ones got a higher )
Unfortunately, by not providing a blue-print he left his ideals open to
interpretation by some pretty nasty guys (i.e.. China, Russia, Serbia etc.).
But that’s the problem with art – it generally can be interpretated by
people in line with their own self interest.
Basically he just saw a lot of corruption, poverty, inequality, bulling and
unnecessary pain in the 18th Century ( very anti-hippy behaviour!) and
wanted to motivate people to change things. Unfortunately the world was
still quite barbaric in those days and so Marx’s revolution was portrayed in
a way that people could associate with – namely a bloody uprising (aka
Russia, French revolution, China, Serbia etc.). I think that Marx gets
picked on a bit too much – after all he was only a guy with a concept that
the world needed to be improved for the benefit of all. And that is
something that were all familiar with (and remember there were a lot more
scary people in history with worse ideals than that).
So fellow hippy – do not judge those who you have not met – and never listen
to gossip coz it poisons your head.
Peace, love and mushrooms
What you are describing is more like anarchy than communism. Anarchy is anti-system, where as Marx just saw replacing one system with another. Much of Marx’s focus was on the economics of society, and even though he took a sociologist’s approach, he completely ignored human psychology (a new field at the time). And I was discussing communism in practice, more than theory. Communism in it’s pure form is something completely different, most closely resembling the communes of the 60s till the present. But just like chickens, humans tend to establish a pecking order which then invests more power in the hands of a few who then control the masses. It’s inevitable as long as humans remain self-centered and greedy.
By not providing a blueprint (which would always be unworkable anyway),
Marx copped out. He just put down the existing system without really
offering a viable alternative (as did many hippies). Fortunately many
hippies did explore alternatives, but these were limited to very small
communities of mostly like-minded individuals. And as you can see most of
these have failed for one reason or another. The only ones that remain are
those that launched capitalist enterprises that could bring in revenue
from outside the commune to keep it alive. And the politics of communes can
be just as fucked as those of the greater society. I know of many where the
leaders took advantage of their fellow communers, and exploited them –
these sometimes but not always had some kind of religious bent.
And if you think the world ISN’T barbaric anymore, you haven’t traveled
much, and aren’t keeping up with what’s happening in the world. In fact why
not look in your own backyard at the ANIMAL HOLOCAUST that is occuring just
for economic reasons. It’s completely unnecessary. This is capitalism
showing its true colors. Just wait until it’s a disease affecting humans.
You can expect a similar response. Unfortunately, THAT day is coming….
-The Old Hippy
Posted by: skip