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Modern "Utopias" or Modern..Communism?
April 11, 2008 4:33 PM   Subscribe

This whole "money" thing got you down? Two artists in their late twenties moved to NYC for a few years and freaked out by the cost of living, so they decide creating an American kibbutz, minus the dining hall wiener schnitzels, up state is the way to go.
posted by bondgirl53001 (34 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
The six kvutzah-dwellers, three women and three men, aged 22 to 26, share meals and decisions--and as of six months ago, a bank account. "We want to share our money to break down some of the walls of capitalism," says member Daniel Roth.

I think I've spotted the point at which they will look back and say, "That was where we fucked up."

I don't mean just to snark. Communes can produce legacies of real and lasting value. They produce lots more cautionary tales, but nonetheless I wish there were more American kibbutzim.
posted by Countess Elena at 4:56 PM on April 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


Only slacker communes succeed at sharing values, because they don't have the burden of sharing each other's goods and services.
posted by Brian B. at 4:57 PM on April 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


metafilter: minus the dining hall wiener schnitzels
posted by ornate insect at 4:58 PM on April 11, 2008


oh, my fond memories of kibbutz wiener schnitzels. really.
posted by gnutron at 5:03 PM on April 11, 2008


This sounds hellish. But, I am old.

*measures out some life with coffee spoon*
posted by everichon at 5:08 PM on April 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


They lost me at vegan.
posted by brain cloud at 5:13 PM on April 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


The connection with online freelancing is interesting. I've heard a lot of stories of earlier communes that failed precisely because the members had trouble finding paying work in the rural area they'd settled in.
posted by nebulawindphone at 5:24 PM on April 11, 2008


The rest of Forbes' coverage has titles like The Seeds Of Their Own Destruction - All utopian ventures are hobbled by the ideals that inspire them and Utopia Will Kill Us All - Has politics doomed mankind?. So I'm thinking their view of the issue might be a bit narrow.

On the other hand, it makes me happy to know that Arcosanti and The Farm are still going strong, even though their hippie commie vibes are too puny to penetrate our Superior Capitalist Defense Systems.
posted by sneebler at 5:47 PM on April 11, 2008


I once had an apartment situation where we shared food expenses. It was fucking retarded, and it was my fault for agreeing to it.

This could be interesting, for a spate. I wonder if these communities might work better if you came into it not for an indeterminate amount of time, but for a pre-negotiated "tour of duty." It could be easier to hold to those initial principles if you know that, after x months, if you really want more y, you'll get it, but at this moment in time, you've agreed to put up with some bullshit.
posted by Sticherbeast at 5:48 PM on April 11, 2008


To each according to their need, from each according to their -- no wiener schnitzels?
posted by Astro Zombie at 5:51 PM on April 11, 2008


I forgot to add that our local communists are doing fine, and basically out-competing the non-Hutterite family farmers. No word on whether the average colony is a utopia, though.
posted by sneebler at 5:55 PM on April 11, 2008


Who will bring home the bacon?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:55 PM on April 11, 2008


I approve this post.
posted by Kibbutz at 5:58 PM on April 11, 2008 [3 favorites]


Who will bring home the bacon?

not mention, fry it up in a pan.
posted by jonmc at 5:59 PM on April 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


Two artists in their late twenties moved to NYC for a few years and freaked out by the cost of living, so they decide creating an American kibbutz, minus the dining hall wiener schnitzels, up state is the way to go.

Worst sentence ever on Metafilter today.
posted by paddysat at 6:02 PM on April 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


But many American communards hope to have an outsize impact on society.

Communards? Seriously, communards?
posted by brain_drain at 6:05 PM on April 11, 2008


Yeah, too many 'tz's.' It's all futzed up.
posted by jonmc at 6:05 PM on April 11, 2008


why not?

You could even form a corporation and build up an appropriate operating agreement to establish the commune legally within the capitalist system.

Communes should work well on a small scale with consensual groups of like-minded people.


Personally, though, I'll stick with the cold, heartless, dehumanizing capitalism that I've known and loved all my life.
posted by b1tr0t at 6:14 PM on April 11, 2008


Yes, it's a perfectly fine word in France. In the U.S., it carries a little baggage (unlike, say, the word "baggage").
posted by brain_drain at 6:19 PM on April 11, 2008


I'm always surprised that there aren't thousands upon thousands of happy and thriving places like this, until I remember that we've all been taught that life in a community like this consists of brown rice and sexual jealousy and dirt-smeared diaperless infants and weird guys from Flagstaff with Pancho Villa mustaches who sleep until two and smoke all the Acapulco Gold and seven-hour discussions designed to come to a non-hierarchical consensus on the pressing question of whose turn it is to do the dishes.

Stupid media caricatures of stupid hippies.
posted by dyoneo at 6:28 PM on April 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


Why should I care; nothing bad ever happens to me....
posted by Senator at 6:30 PM on April 11, 2008


I've been assigning Dewey Decimal numbers all goddamn day--can I get some of that Acapulco Gold?
posted by box at 6:43 PM on April 11, 2008


Or at least some brown rice with sriracha and Bragg aminos?
posted by box at 6:44 PM on April 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


I always thought the Shakers did communism right. Too bad on the no-sex thing, though.
posted by marble at 6:48 PM on April 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


Most people live in communes -- as a family, either nuclear or extended. I guess we don't get coverage in Forbes because we aren't ex-NYC vegan artistic 20-something hipsters. But, and this is the best part about my commune: I got wieners in the fridge right now.
posted by seanmpuckett at 6:52 PM on April 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


Most people live in communes -- as a family, either nuclear or extended.

"Commune" doesn't mean "a group of people living under one roof."
posted by dyoneo at 6:58 PM on April 11, 2008


Cool! Who's up for a DC suburbs kibbutz?
posted by anotherpanacea at 10:00 PM on April 11, 2008


"you abstain from capitalism by getting things for free or [by] barter[ing]"

I hate to be the one to break this to them, but bartering can still be a form of capitalism. If Starbucks starts accepting payment in chickens and eggs then it's still capitalism, just a messier variant. He probably means more than he said, but he still screwed it up.

Sigh. Kids these days. Can't they even get communism right anymore?
posted by Leon-arto at 11:43 PM on April 11, 2008


bartering can still be a form of capitalism.

In order for it to become capitalism, there has to be a common currency, which means it's not bartering anymore. The thing that makes capitalism work is the commodity-fetish, that one commodity (cash money) for which everyone will trade the fruits of their labor. The commodity fetish makes it possible to alienate someone from their labor without them noticing: it makes a market theory of value possible, it makes speculation and market bubbles possible, (why are we building all these houses again?) it makes labor inequities invisible or less noticeable, (like the infamous second shift for women) and it makes capital accumulation possible. (Try stockpiling eggs.) I'm not even a communist, but I think it's important to know why a communist would think like they do, and why we might want to preserve some spaces, the family and the neighborhood, at the very least, from the commodifying sway of capitalism.
posted by anotherpanacea at 12:37 AM on April 12, 2008 [3 favorites]


@antoherpanacea

Capitalism refers primarily to private ownership and private control over the means of production. You can have capitalism without currency and currency without capitalism. If I own my own land, raise my own hens, and trade the eggs I produce for whatever goods that other people are offering then I'm still participating in a capitalistic society. I'm just doing so with a far less convenient means of exchange.

In other words, money is not the root of all evil.
posted by Leon-arto at 12:18 PM on April 12, 2008


In other words, money is not the root of all evil.

Decentralized consensus driven resource allocation is?
posted by b1tr0t at 4:01 PM on April 12, 2008


By this argument, there is nothing -but- capitalist markets, which may be true but certainly doesn't indicate a particularly deep understanding of communist economic theory. Private property, the alienation of labor, and expropriation are the results of the commodity-fetish, not the other way around.
posted by anotherpanacea at 5:11 PM on April 12, 2008


By this argument, there is nothing -but- capitalist markets

Quite the opposite. If the state (i.e., the people as a whole) owns the means of production and dictates who gets what then there's not a capitalistic system. The state could use a fixed ration of money per citizen to dictate who gets how much stuff, in which case there would be currency without capitalism. Or the state could use ration cards, in which case there'd be neither.
posted by Leon-arto at 10:41 PM on April 12, 2008


What you've just described is totalitarian state capitalism. Contemporary communists largely reject that model, despite our tendency to refer to the USSR as a former communist country. Look, read some Marx, okay? There's a reason he wanted, and expected, the state to wither away. I just object to your 'communists today don't understand communism' line when -you- don't understand communism. Good luck!
posted by anotherpanacea at 8:47 AM on April 13, 2008


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