Communal Living

August 6, 1969

Report Outline
Revival of the Communitarian Ideal
Communes in Other Places and Times
Outlook for Success of New Communes

Revival of the Communitarian Ideal

The communal living movement, which spawned scores of little utopias from Maine to California during the 19th century, is having a curious revival in the troubled late 1960s. Even more remarkable are indications that certain aspects of the communal living idea may be taking root at last in American society.

Communal living can take a number of forms, but one principle is basic: the individual works solely for the good of the group and all share alike in the proceeds of one another's work. Paradoxically, dedication to the common good is expected to be a boon to the individual. Not only is he to be assured the necessities of life from cradle to grave but, freed from the pressures of a competitive society, his personality may be expected to flower and his inborn creativity to find full expression. The hoped-for result is the creation of a social order in which men will live together in peace and harmony.

Many attempts at creating communal sub-societies have been made in the past. All, at least in the western world, either have failed or have survived as isolated enclaves, sheltered from contaminating influences of the main society. Today, however, a number of small communes have come into existence in cities as close neighbors of traditionally organized family units, and it is beginning to appear that a broadened base of family sharing (which is, in effect, what communal living consists of) may someday become a generally accepted part of the American style of life.

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