Political communes in 21st century Germany
Political communes in 21st century Germany
All intentional communities are to some extent political. Whether ecovillages or monasteries, hippy land communes or urban co-housing, all have political aspects, political directions and political effects on the behaviour of the members. Some groups are more capitalistic or conservative in their values, others are collectivist, cooperative and practice Mutual Aid. Some intentional communities promote freedom, others preach obedience to a dogma, an ideology or/and a leader.
Political……… communes in 21st century Germany
The communes in the Kommuja Network of political communes are mostly made up of communitarians who believe in emancipation, egalitarianism, solidarity and cooperation. They are green, libertarian communists whose left-wing ideas are based on a little Marxism (alienation at work), some of the sixties/seventies New Left ideas, writings and actions (extra- and anti-parliamentary opposition), lots of Feminism, Anti-militarism and Environmentalism, some late twentieth century counter-culture and some anarchism. In contrast to the militant german communes of the late nineteen sixties and early seventies, non-violence has become a major core value and political strategy.
Most of the nearly thirty Kommuja groups have income sharing and a communal economy as their ideal. About two thirds of the network are rural communes. With a few exceptions, the communes have less than twenty adult members.
In the German commune book, “Das Kommune Buch”, communes are defined by Elisabeth Voß as communities which:
live and work together,
have a communal economy, i.e. common finances and common property (land, buildings, means of production),
have communal decision making – usually consensus decision making,
try to reduce hierarchy and hierarchical structures,
have communalisation of housework, childcare and other communal tasks,
have equality between women and men,
have low ecological footprints through sharing and saving resources.
With the simple definition of a commune as an intentional community with 100% income sharing, the online directory of the FIC lists 169 communes world wide (August 2010). Some of these are religious institutions such as abbeys and monasteries, others are anthroposophic Camphill villages.
Income sharing is no guarantee of complete equality in a community, as other (hierarchical) factors such as patriarchal structures or racism may work against it. Thus, it is possible to have conservative, authoritarian and right-wing communes, and there are a number of historical examples and some modern ones. The Völkische settlements such as Donnershag, Heimland and Eden are examples of how right-wing ideas, such as anti-semitism and anti-bolschevism, and the conservative idea of the sexual division of labour could combine with cooperative enterprises and communal life on the land.
The AAO-Aktionsanalytische Organisation Friedrichshof commune in the nineteen eighties is an example of a formerly left-wing commune coming under the increasingly authoritarian influence of a leader and his elite circle willing to financially, psychologically and sexually exploit the commune members.
In 1995, the extreme right-wing German lawyer, Jürgen Rieger, purchased a 18 room manor farm with 650 hectares of land at „Sveneby Säteri”, in southern Sweden. He wanted to create a land-community of pure-blooded, blond aryans who could bring up their children free from the bad influences of multi-cultural society, “indoctrination”, and drugs, and who would help with farming the land organically. He advertised in right-wing newspapers for young couples, but found hardly anyone who was interested.
The Network……..of political communes
The Kommuja Network communes are also in contact with a number of intentional communities and eco-villages outside the network and with other networks. However, there is a certain amount of scepticism about the sense in having contact with groups which have a radically different view of the world from our own or, indeed, whose ideas are in opposition to ours, just because they are intentional communities.
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