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A commune is a kind of intentional community where most resources are shared and there is little or no personal property (as opposed to a community that only shares housing).

Since the term 'commune' currently conjures images of the hippie communes of the 1960s and '70s, the term 'intentional community' is more often used where 'commune' would have been forty years ago. There are many contemporary intentional communities all over the world, a list of which can be found at the Online Communities Directory.

Categorization of communes[edit | edit source]

Benjamin Zablocki categorized communes this way:

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

Some communes, like the ashrams of the Vedanta Society or the Theosophical commune Lomaland, formed around spiritual leaders; while some communes formed around political ideologies. For others, the "glue" is simply the desire for a more shared, sociable lifestyle. Moreover, some people find it is just more economical to live communally. Many contemporary squatters pool their resources in this way, forming urban communes in unoccupied buildings.

Communes in United States[edit | edit source]

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.

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 Society 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 anarchist Home Colony was formed in 1895 across the Puget Sound from Tacoma, Washington on Key Peninsula, and lasted until 1919.

Communes in the world[edit | edit source]

Beyond the United States, there have been other famous communes, such as the kibbutzim in Israel. Also, 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.

Bibliography[edit | edit source]

  • Margaret Hollenback, Lost and Found: My Life in a Group Marriage Commune (University of New Mexico Press, 2004), ISBN 0-8263-3463-6.
  • Timothy Miller, "Assault on Eden: A Memoir of Communal Life in the Early '70s", Utopian Studies, Vol. 8, 1997.
  • Laurence R. Veysey, The Communal Experience: Anarchist and Mystical Communities in Twentieth Century America (1978).
  • Benjamin Zablocki, 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".)
  • Benjamin Zablocki, Alienation and Charisma: A Study of Contemporary American Communes (The Free Press, 1980), ISBN 0-02-935780-2.

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

External links[edit | edit source]

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