Modern Times

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Modern Times

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Modern Times was a utopian community on Long Island, New York (now Brentwood). It existed from 1851 until the late 1860s.

Contents

Foundation and ideology:

The community was started on March 21st. 1851 by Josiah Warren and Stephen Pearl Andrews on 750 acres of land in Suffolk County, New York. As both Warren and Andrews were individualist anarchists, the community had, from the start, a clearly individualistic ideology and little commonly shared property. The community was said to be based on the ideas of individual sovereignty and individual responsibility. Formerly influenced by Robert Owen, Warren had visited New Harmony in
1825, and had returned to Cincinatti in 1827 convinced that only complete individualisation of interests could lead to co-operation. He rejected the Owenite experiment as communism. At Modern Times there was no system of authority, no police, no courts and no jails. The freedom of the individual was seen as highly important and it was thought that if everyone followed their self-interests it would lead to a society without coercion and without crime. Indeed, there are no reports of any crime within the community, but the moderate size of the project may have also played a part in this.

The economics of Modern Times:

Both Warren and Andrews supported the idea of private property and the system of employment for wages, and they can be seen as extreme libertarian capitalists. At Modern Times, all land was bought and sold at cost, and the maximum purchase was limited to 3 acres. All land was private property. (At the start, the alley-ways were common property, but they were later privatised.) All products of labour were the property of the producers. There was a local community currency based on labour exchange, and Warren had already experimented with a “labour for labour store” in Cincinnati before the foundation of the community – The Cincinnati Time Store. The local currency was used to trade goods and services. Some of the ideas held by Warren and Andrews were close to the ideas of Mutualism proposed by Proudhon.

The end of Modern Times:

There were two main influences which lead to the eventual end of the community: The Civil War, and the growth in membership of people who did not share the individualistic and economic ideas of Warren and Andrews.

Sources:

Modern Times in the Wikipedia: List_ of_anarchist_communities

Articles in Wikipedia about Warren, Andrews etc . (linked within the text.)

External Text link:

Positive community of Modern Times by Gerrit Smith The plans for a later community.

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