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Lallante
August 17 2012, 11:56:44 AM
Today I've been doing some research into communal living, particularly income-sharing and shared land ownership.

It seems to me that a very large number of "communes" that start are created by passionate, impractical "hippy" types with strong views on politics, minimal business, management or even organisational experience and very little idea of how to implement their ideas practically. These communes inevitably fail when they realise that a bunch of middle class 20 year olds can't effectively run an organic vegan farm with no experience. The ones that have enough farming knowledge to get by usually collapse due to "drama" that would be familiar to any denizen of a shit 0.0 alliance - egos cause friction, creating drama over minor issues, causing ragequits, causing collapse. Sometimes when there is one, charismatic central figure things will limp on for a few years, but usually will then end in some kind of sexual scandal. Freeloading pervades these communes and many people see "doing only what you want to do" as some kind of moral goal. The people pushing hardest for equal sharing of resources are usually those who consider their ethical-tribal-bracelet making job to be equal effort to the guy plowing the fields.

A few communes, mainly religious (though this is an aside) in nature, are set up around much more structured concepts usually with strong rules on contributions, a right to reclaim capital on commune exit, strict trial periods, established dispute resolution procedures etc. These are not always religious, I think the trend can be explained by a religious groups access to a wide skillset and funding necessary for these kinds of ventures.

The majority of communes focus on self-sufficiency, eco principles, isolationism, some degree of rejection of technology or society etc.


What I was wondering is whether you could set up a commune which had the following properties (I cant find evidence that this has been done):
1. Not for hippies. Everyone able has a full time job, internal or external.
2. External Income goes to the commune.
3. All life essential are provided free by commune.
4. Anti-freeloading provisions, some kind of "payscale" for work, assessed collectively and not related to market value. This also necessitates 3.
5. Some kind of internal currency or barter system, but a strict prevention of accumulation of wealth/capital (perhaps make all currency and luxuries it could buy time-limited).
6. Technocratic approach. Aim to establish onsite e-businesses that could employ commune members while generating external income.

Once you have that basic framework in place you can experiement with more interesting progressive rules/setups (e.g. there is already a successful, large scale commune where there is a strict rule against criticism or complaint, public or private, outside of a formal group forum setting).

Could something like this work? What would be the minimum size for it to be interesting? What kinds of challenges would it face? How much seed capital would be needed?

Nordstern
August 18 2012, 02:15:53 AM
Could something like this work? What would be the minimum size for it to be interesting? What kinds of challenges would it face? How much seed capital would be needed?
Yes, it could work, and it does. Unfortunately, most societies that adopt this are somewhat primitive. See: Native Americans, aboriginals, Gypsies, Sami, etc. Someone who is more familiar with such cultures could better answer your questions.

I don't think that large communes will work unless you keep three things in mind.
1. There needs to be something to bind said people together. That "something" needs to separate the group from outsiders. Usually, it's language, faith, or some other aspect. Having a bunch of hippies saying "you can come and go whenever you want" doesn't build any sense of camaraderie or belonging. Political affiliation is tenuous at best, since there are so many schisms in every party.
2. The more complex the society becomes, the harder it will be to keep everyone committed. Ask 5 Americans today what holds them together, and you'll get a dozen opinions or more. A hundred years ago, it might have been 9. In 1776, it might have been 4. This could explain why fundamentalism is so successful.
3. There need to be some sort of authority or hierarchy. A bunch of weed smokers saying "everyone's equal in our society, man, we practice true democracy" might seem like a nice sentiment, but try to get anything done and you'll run into opposition from most other people. I'm not a proponent of authoritarianism, but someone does need to lay down the law from time to time, even in a unit as small as a family.

untilted
August 18 2012, 02:28:27 PM
What I was wondering is whether you could set up a commune which had the following properties (I cant find evidence that this has been done):
1. Not for hippies. Everyone able has a full time job, internal or external.
2. External Income goes to the commune.
3. All life essential are provided free by commune.
4. Anti-freeloading provisions, some kind of "payscale" for work, assessed collectively and not related to market value. This also necessitates 3.
5. Some kind of internal currency or barter system, but a strict prevention of accumulation of wealth/capital (perhaps make all currency and luxuries it could buy time-limited).
6. Technocratic approach. Aim to establish onsite e-businesses that could employ commune members while generating external income.

Once you have that basic framework in place you can experiement with more interesting progressive rules/setups (e.g. there is already a successful, large scale commune where there is a strict rule against criticism or complaint, public or private, outside of a formal group forum setting).

Could something like this work? What would be the minimum size for it to be interesting? What kinds of challenges would it face? How much seed capital would be needed?

the most important question (and challenge) would be:

WHY would anyone want to live in a company?

:P

tho' it should be said - your proposition looks quite similar to (many) modern religious orders. i wouldn't be surprised if all of these points you made are more or less applicable to most if not all monasteries in central europe.

at which point we are back again at the "not for hippies" argument. you make it sound like this community would be for economic purposes ONLY. usually people living in such an intentional community want to see specific religious, political and/or social ideas and concepts realized.

edit: an interesint example of a working (in every sense of the word) intentional community: Kommune Niederkaufungen (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kommune_Niederkaufungen)

The Kommune Niederkaufungen has a set of five main core principles. These were formulated in a pamphlet in 1983, the "Grundsatzpapier". They are:

left-wing politics,
consensus decision making,
a completely communal income sharing economy,
a reduction of hierarchical and patriarchal structures,
work in collectives.