Political-Economic-Religious Pluralism

Love and Wisdom in the Culture of the Religious Left

A. Allen Butcher • The School of Intentioneering • Denver, Colorado • November 11, 2020 • AllenInUtopia@consultant.comhttp://www.Intentioneers.net • over 3,600 words

For more depth see the 15,000 word, 5-part posts at Intentioneers.net blog and “Intentioneers” Facebook page, and the 1,000-page ebook The Intentioneer’s Bible at Amazon.com

Toward an Age of Equality and Ecology in Partnership Culture

Making our material lives consistent with our spiritual beliefs is the ideal of “material spirituality.” A material-spiritual lifestyle results from a mindful “intentioneering” of culture toward a preferred lifestyle, which includes the deliberate design of religion. Cultural self-determination through induced spiritual evolution is essentially the subject of James Davison Hunter’s Culture Wars: The Struggle to Define America. Hunter states that the dominant culture’s affirmation of its conservative moral authority is challenged by progressivism’s efforts to “resymbolize historic faiths according to the prevailing assumptions of contemporary life.” (Hunter, 1991, pp. 44-5) This is similar to Riane Eisler’s explanation in The Chalice and the Blade of the “re-mything” of the Creation and other ancient stories by the Hebrew priests who last rewrote the Torah or Old Testament of the Bible around 400 B.C.E. (Eisler, 1988, p. 85) In the same way, it is to us today to re-symbolize and re-myth patriarchal religion for the creation of an ecologically-responsible Material Spirituality and a socially-egalitarian Partnership Spirituality. We say it is true, then for us, truth it is!

Partnership Spirituality asserts that constructing a preferred culture of social and ecological responsibility requires a balance of patriarchal religion and women’s spirituality, in favor of environmentalism and of gender and racial partnership in an egalitarian religion. From such a cultural base of partnership, human society may best respond to the range of problems now aggregating into a potential perfect-storm of a 21st Century Dark Age, defined as a time when children can no longer be educated. Many educational systems around the world today are struggling against increasing challenges including: racism, sexism, climate change, and viral pandemic. Educating and inspiring people to cherish and safeguard equality is necessary for preserving the political equality of democratic governance, so easily challenged in and potentially lost by a free society.

Mutual-Aid, Socialism, the Social Gospel, and Social Capital

Intentioneering a partnership religion supporting non-traditional gender roles in which care-work often done by women is valued equally with labor traditionally done by men, affirms that women’s lives and intellects are equal to that of men. The Center for Partnership Studies founded by Riane Eisler asserts that nurturing our humanity through gender and racial equality, and saving our environment from the human “conquest of nature,” requires turning from systems of domination to partnership systems in which self-interest and empathy for others and nature are intended to be mutually supportive. (See: centerforpartnership.org)

Tribal mutual-aid has always existed, while democratic, egalitarian economics around the world is practiced in consumer and producer cooperatives. The cooperative movement began in each country with the rise of their Industrial Revolution. Beginning in England the ravages of industrialization inspired the rise of mutual-aid societies, adopting many different names, including Friendly Societies and Odd Fellows, providing mutual social services before government got the idea. As mutual-aid evolved into economic solidarity the term “socialist” was created to embrace consumer and producer cooperatives, worker-ownership, and communal colonies integrating all three. The term was first printed in The London Cooperative Magazine in 1827 (vol. 2; “socialism” appeared in 1837; Arthur Bestor, 1948, Evolution of the Socialist Vocabulary, pp. 277, 290).

Late in 19th century and early in 20th century North America the Social Gospel movement developed among Protestant Christians, similar to the liberation theology of the Catholic Base Communities in late 20th century Latin America, both as social reform movements addressing social justice and environmental issues.

Cooperative movements have brought economic independence to cultures around the world, such as to the ancient Basque culture of Spain’s Mondragon Cooperatives after the Spanish Civil War, and to building social capital among Black Americans by strengthening their “individual competencies and community capacities.”  (See: Jessica Gordon Nembhard, Collective Courage, 2016, pp. 24, 237, 302)  

Social-Democracy and Democratic-Capitalism against Communism

While socialism as a cultural movement originated during the early Industrial Revolution in England among the middle-class as a means of reforming laissez-faire capitalism, communism as a cultural movement originated in Paris, France among the ex-patriot German working-class as an illegal, underground, secret-society challenging both the old monarchist and the new constitutional republican conservatism. From the beginning, or at least after the 1848 publication of Marx’s Communist Manifesto, German-French communism was set in contrast with and against English socialism, with communist theory providing justification for class conflict between the workers (i.e., proletariat) and the middle-class (i.e., bourgeoisie). Two consequences arise from this socialist vs. communist dichotomy, first, English socialism is credited with providing needed outlets for the oppressed to organize for political-economic-social improvements without violent insurrection, while on the European continent communist agitation encouraged the trends toward civil war and violent revolution.

The second consequence of the English-socialist versus German-French-communist dichotomy, is the rather confusing usage today of the term “commune” in contemporary radical circles. The English definition of the term “commune” is the economic meaning of common-property ownership, while the French definition of “commune” is the political meaning of a local government subdivision, like a city ward, borough, neighborhood, or other district. The latter definition has been taken up by the Institute for Social Ecology (ISE), thanks to Murray Bookchin’s use of “commune” to refer to small-scale, decentralized, political-economic units, like a village or a neighborhood within a town, organized in mutual-aid networks utilizing democratic or other participatory governance systems. The choice of the term “commune” in this context was probably intended to emphasize the use of the theory in reference to the ten-week-long 1871 Paris Commune. The ISE’s use of the term now refers to social-libertarian cultural movements as in Barcelona and other Spanish cities, the Italian Emilio-Romagna region, Kurdish self-governing regions such as Rojava, Syria, the Mexican Zapatista region, and other places where the cooperative sector of the economy is significant, like the San Francisco Bay Area. In fact, these democratic-decentralist “communes” typically have no or very little actual common ownership of property, and instead represent small-scale, decentralized, democratic-capitalism.

In contrast, organizations outside of the ISE such as the Federation of Egalitarian Communities (FEC) emphasize the English definition of “commune” to mean strictly common-ownership of property, with almost no private property within their and similar small-scale, decentralized, communal societies, practicing various forms of participatory governance. While the oldest FEC group, Twin Oaks Community, has lasted over fifty years as a communal society, the ISE never mentions the Egalitarian Communities as examples of their “commune” theory. This is probably partly because the FEC groups are small-scale communal groups at only 100 adults plus children in the largest community, Twin Oaks in Virginia, although there are now in Louisa County, Virginia a number of separate communal and non-communal cooperative societies enjoying mutual-aid within their network, called by the present author the “Louisa County Commonwealth,” which together may constitute an “ISE commune.”

It is the opinion of the present author that the choice of the use of the term “commune” by Murray Bookchin and the ISE was and is to emphasize the political-economic model of the 1871 Paris Commune, which lasted only ten weeks. While the Paris Commune lasted such a short time and resulted in a terrible tragedy for nearly all the radical French who supported it, in comparison, the American egalitarian communities have now existed over half-a-century and continue to peacefully grow, although slowly.

There is a second potential reason why the ISE omits the FEC groups in their “commune theory.” This is a contemporary version of the conflict between utopian communal societies versus social-democratic movements like the ISE’s “communes.” In the same way that Karl Marx initiated the conflict by contrasting his Marxist-communist, working-class “scientific socialism” against the social reformist, middle-class “utopian socialism,” so now is the ISE perpetuating the communist bias against both working-class and middle-class intentional communities by omitting them from their lists of and discussions about “communes.”

Motivation for this conflict-of-terminology is rooted in the original German-worker meaning of the term “communism” as they developed the concept in the early 18th century Paris underground, to refer specifically to violent class-conflict. Marxist Communism specifies two stages of communist revolution, the first being the violent take-over of State power, followed by the second stage of construction of the “worker’s paradise” of non-monetary and therefore non-capitalist economics, presumably involving communal, common-ownership of all property, not just the means-of-production.

While Bookchin and friends in the ISE may have recognized that communal societies like those of the FEC represent a peaceful means of attaining communism’s communal “worker’s paradise,” without the intermediary step of class-conflict and the seizing of State power, their neglecting to present and discuss this truth indicates an ISE bias against communal society. Note that the ISE almost never mentions the FEC in anything they do. In this intellectual conflict, the ISE buries the truth of the matter under a pile of “Bookchin communes;” the truth being that small-scale, voluntary communal societies skip the violent part of communism’s first stage and go directly to communism’s second stage of non-monetary, time-based, communal economics.

Truth is that the nature of the second stage of Marxist Communism is utopian, and has been attained in small-scale communal society, best represented by Twin Oaks Community and the FEC. Therefore, it would be reasonable to cede the issue of the use of the term “commune” to the ISE, and restrict reference to the FEC and similar societies to the terms “communal” and “communalism,” while refusing use of the term “communism” in reference to any peaceful communal society. To clarify, in the School of Intentioneering: “communism” refers to violent, revolutionary militarism against capitalism and especially fascism; “commune” refers to ISE style decentralized, democratic-capitalism; and “communal” refers to common ownership of property in any form, from indigenous tribal traditions, to communal intentional communities, to the intellectual commons and open-source technology.

20th century neo-liberal market capitalism saw 19th century political-economic theory develop from the nation-state scale to a global economic system. Today, democratic-capitalism and democratic-socialism are essentially synonymous, both referring to various aspects of market capitalism regulated in the interest of social needs and economic justice, such as: “Keynesian economics,” the “welfare state,” the “Nordic model,” and the “social-market economy.” Another private-property oriented, capitalist reform movement is called “geonomics” or “Georgism,” named after Henry George, who based his economic reforms on the rather arcane yet essential foundation of capitalism called “economic rent.” Geonomics affirms that individuals own what they produce, while everything in nature, especially land yet also the electro-magnetic spectrum (i.e., “airwaves”), and the knowledge commons, is ethically “owned” in common by all humanity. The fairest method for sharing natural wealth is via the capture of economic rent for the use of society, rather than it being claimed by landowners and other capitalists. On the small scale, the land-value tax (LVT) and community land trusts (CLT), along with large-scale government programs such as auctioning the airwaves to broadcasters, utilize aspects of Georgist theory, all as forms of democratic-capitalism.

Gender Equality against Patriarchy and Property

The missing piece required for an Age of Equality is egalitarian religion, which then along with political equality can together support economic equality. The ultimate form of equality is communal society, and among these, the Federation of Egalitarian Communities goes the furthest in structuring time-based economies using no money internally, instead using labor systems for the production of both income for trade with the outside-world monetary economy, and for internal production of services including food, housing, transport, healthcare and childcare, valuing all labor which benefits the community equally. In this way domestic labor often performed by women is valued equally with all labor traditionally done by men. In fact, when “All Labor Is Valued Equally!” (ALIVE!) barn-cleaners are rewarded the same as business managers, as all members have the same access to community resources by virtue of their membership, which is conditional upon their observance of community norms and especially participation in the community’s labor system. In their statements-of-religious-belief the two largest Federation communities, Twin Oaks and East Wind, both affirm the intent to confront and eliminate: classism, racism, ageism, patriarchy and other forms of oppression. Through management by participatory governance of a time-based economy, egalitarian communalism shows the furthest extreme of the ideal of equality, in which governmental equality and egalitarian religion, in the forms of Material Spirituality and Partnership Spirituality, together support economic equality in society. (See: http://www.theFEC.org)

Since language affects thought, and it is helpful when our language reflects our values, the New York City feminist writer Mary Orovan proposed in 1970 that people replace the use of gendered pronouns, like he/him and she/her when not knowing or avoiding the gender or preferred gender reference for another person, with the gender-neutral pronoun “co.” Twin Oaks Community started this practice the year after Orovan suggested it, and it has been practiced sporadically over the decades by people in the Federation communities. The possessive version, replacing his and hers, is “cos.” When people use the pronoun as a noun, as in “All you good cos,” that use is considered to be slang. “Co” is particularly suited for use as it appears in the prefix of terms referring to different types of intentional community such as: cohousing, coliving, cohouseholding, and cofamily. Further supporting the use of the gender-neutral “co” is its appearance in the first syllable of many terms such as: coequal, coexist, cohere, cohort, colleague, collective, common, communal, commune, community, compassion, compersion, complicated, comrade, convoluted, cooperative, …

Time-Based Economics for the Common Good

While communalism provides an immersive experience in the sharing lifestyle, few people choose it for their lifetime. Like the Greek philosopher Plato visiting Pythagoras’ communal philosophical school when he was dispirited by Athenian politics, becoming inspired with Pythagorean political-social theory and returning to Athens newly energized to found his own philosophical school, the Academe, and write a study of political-philosophy called The Republic, many people today find similar inspiration upon visiting egalitarian communal society. For one example, after twelve years in the Federation communities the present author has founded the School of Intentioneering (SoI) to clarify and systematize the methods of teaching about intentional community, and has written The Intentioneer’s Bible (TIBible) as an alternative, non-competitive, non-capitalist history of Western tribalism and civilization, focused upon gifting and sharing cultures. The School of Intentioneering serves to set specific definitions of terms used for intentional communities in order to resolve the confusion caused by people playing fast-and-lose with the terminology, while the TIBible presents a history of utopian thought and movements through the ages.

The many economic forms of intentional community range from common-ownership-only communalism to economically-diverse community land trusts, to shared-private-property cooperatives, cohousing, and class-harmony intentional community. All of these use various forms of time-based economies when people work for the common good.

Time-based economics is also used outside of intentional community in the dominant culture as forms of labor exchanges, often as part of local currencies, and in structured Time-Dollar computerized accounting systems, and now in Mutual-Aid Networks (MANs) utilizing freely available Internet applications like Zoom for meetings, and Slack for mutual-aid work-group communication, education, and coordination, in the context of a group-communication process called “authentic relating.”

Cofamily Alternative to Marriage and the Nuclear Family

Small groups of adults who are not related, working, playing, and living together, typically form as a result of their common interests, needs, values, or ideals, a sense of “family” outside of the usual bonds of marriage and of shared family DNA. As such people develop a set of affinities, it may be said that a “cofamily” results.

Three-to-nine mostly unrelated persons (note: when they are all related that is an “extended family”) making commitments to each other similar to those in traditional families, can result in mutual-aid among unrelated adults for creating and maintaining clan-like support for child and elder care, housing, transportation, maintenance, and other needs. Such non-traditional families especially provide an alternative for women who may be considering an abortion due to a lack of traditional family support for their pregnancy, birthing, and child-raising.

The term “cofamily” is offered for referring to non-traditional family designs, as distinguished from the traditional forms of family, including: single-parent family, nuclear family, serially-monogamous, blended and extended families. While restricting use of the term to refer to three-to-nine persons, with or without children, the “co” prefix in “cofamily” is unspecified as it can mean: cooperative, complex, collective, compound, communal, composite, community, combined, compersion, or even complicated family! Also, a cofamily can be nested within a larger intentional community, such as an ecovillage, a housing cooperative, cohousing, a communal society, or a community land trust, as a “nested cofamily.” And further, a cofamily may be comprised of married couples, or of a polyamorous group, or of unattached individuals.

The following information compiled from U.S. Census reports and other sources provides background for the need to recognize cofamilies as a viable alternative to traditional family types:

1. For all households, including single-parents, the average number of family members dropped from about 3.6 people in 1967 to about 2.5 people in 2016.

2. About 23 percent of the population of the United States is children under the age of 18.

3. Over a third of all women with more than one child had them with more than one father, called “multiple-partner fertility.”

4. The number of married-adult households has been dropping to now about half of all households.

5. The number of adults living alone has been steadily rising to now nearly a third of all households.

6. Births to unmarried women comprised 40% of all births in 2014, resulting in about a quarter of all households being of single-parent families, with half of all single-parent children living in poverty.

(See: “Families and Living Arrangements.” United States Census Bureau. Retrieved December 17, 2016, from:  http://www.census.gov/hhes/families/data/adults.html, tables: AD-3a, and http://www.census.gov/hhes/families/data/households.html > Households > Table HH-6;

See also: “America’s Children in Brief: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2016.” Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics. Retrieved December 17, 2016, from: http://www.childstats.gov/americaschildren/glance.asp > America’s Children at a Glance > Demographic Background > Children as a percentage of the population; and http://www.childstats.gov/americaschildren/glance.asp

See also: Guzzo, K. B. (2014). New partners, more kidshttp://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4182921/; Logan, C., Manlove, J., Ikramullah, E., & Cottingham, S. (2006, November). Men who father children with more than one womanhttp://www.childtrends.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/2006-10MultiplePartnerFertility.pdf; Martin, M. (Host). (2011, April 19). Multiple partner families …National Public Radio News. Washington D.C. Retrieved October 9, 2015, from http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=135541549)

There is a clear benefit to society of the non-traditional cofamily in helping to keep children and their parents out of poverty, and potentially also in reducing the incidence of abortion, as people work together to support each other in what is sometimes called “partnership culture.” (See: Riane Eisler, The Partnership Way, 1998) There is also a clear benefit to the individual of having a clan-like home comprised of like-minded people who are mutually supportive, caring, and nurturing. In this way the cofamily becomes the basic building-block of the “Communitarian Dream.”

Integrating Immanence and Transcendence in Partnership Spirituality

The Judeo-Christian spiritual tradition has evolved over time, with a contemporary trend in the Religious Left toward an alignment with ecological and egalitarian values. While the Christian Religious Right affirms a patriarchal Trinitarian monotheism and the domination of nature by humanity, Partnership Spirituality affirms a Binarian monotheism emphasizing a balance of opposites. Such a balance involves elevating traditionally female gender-roles to parity with male gender-roles, such as through time-based economics, and especially by elevating management of the natural commons to parity with the management of the monetary economy, such as in: the Green New Deal, solidarity economics, Martinez-Alier’s ecological economics, and Bookchin’s social ecology.

Patriarchal Judaism was set against ancient matriarchal culture in part so that men could keep track of who were their own sons for purposes of inheritance, among other things; yet Hebrew women’s spirituality avoided being entirely subsumed by that patriarchy. While the Early Christian Church was initially substantially led by women, orthodox Catholicism later almost entirely subsumed women under their patriarchy. Today, the blending of the Judeo-Christian tradition with women’s spirituality and earth-centered pagan, Native American, and liberal-religious traditions serves to create a balance of patriarchy and matriarchy in a Partnership Spirituality. Balancing the traditions of transcendent, revelatory religion with immanent, mystical religion is the process of “intentioneering” a preferred spiritual-religious tradition affirming an ecological lifestyle within an egalitarian, partnership culture, while the common terms for such uniting of opposing principles are: synthesis and syncretism.

Political, Economic, and Religious Pluralism in Unitarian Universalism (UUism)

Liberal-progressive politics, economics, and religion working together uphold democratic governance, economic solidarity, partnership society, ecological sustainability, and individual and cultural self-determination. Dan McKanan of the Harvard Divinity School states in Prophetic Encounters: Religion and the American Radical Tradition that “religious ideas, institutions, and practices have always been intertwined with radical activism, …” The Religious Left, including interfaith groups, multi-faith UUism, progressive Protestants and Catholics, Jews, Moslems, Sikhs, Pagans, and others, has championed anti-slavery, anti-war, anti-death penalty, anti-nuclear power and energy, and pro-women’s rights, economic solidarity, ecological responsibility, and Earth-based spirituality. (McKanan, 2010, pp. 2-8, 11-15, 163, 187, 271, 276-77)

In the same way, the Religious Left, in particular Unitarian Universalism, can champion intentional community as methods of economic self-help and political self-determination. The Unitarian Universalist Association refers to its multi-faith spirituality as “religious pluralism,” while the idea of the UUA championing intentional community may be an expansion of its identity toward a political-economic-religious pluralism.

Egalitarian religion provides a balance of divergent concepts of spiritual ideals toward an age of equality and ecology. In this new age, partnership culture merges feminine and masculine religious expressions, and integrates the natural commons economics with monetary economics through democratic-capitalism or democratic-socialism, which ever term is preferred. Affirming both common-property and private-property systems in partnership culture provides for different lifestyle options during one’s lifetime, reducing stress and conflict by providing choice. Elevating women’s spirituality to partnership with male-oriented religion is a strategy for emphasizing environmental and social responsibility. Traditionally, “God is Love” and “Goddess is Wisdom,” and together they create a Partnership Spirituality. We say it is so, then for us, so it is!

www.Intentioneers.net

Toward an Age of Equality in Partnership Culture – Part 1

A Countercultural Religious Left response to the Dominant Culture’s Religious Right

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A. Allen Butcher • The School of Intentioneering • Denver, Colorado • November 4, 2020

http://www.Intentioneers.netAllenInUtopia@consultant.com • over 16,000 words in 5 Parts

For definitions of terms and explanations of concepts see the glossary at the end of Part 5.

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Toward an Age of Equality – Part 1 of 5 – Resolving Culture and Gender Wars with Partnership Theory

Partnership of Opposites: Common Solution to both Culture War and Gender Conflict

Gifting and sharing lifestyles through the millennia is a long and fascinating story. As a teenager I wanted to learn how people can live in cooperation as opposed to competition, yet as I looked for ways to learn about deliberate or intentional human community, in which people of similar values agree to live together as opposed to circumstantial community where people with differing values just happen to live in close proximity, I found that my interest was not taught anywhere in much depth. There were and are many gifting and sharing traditions in the world, and many stories about them, yet no comprehensive source on the topic, so I thought to create such a resource, a project which has now occupied much of my adult life.

It took me forty years to complete the first edition of a 1,000-page book (over a half-million words, available as an Amazon ebook) about human cooperation which I titled The Intentioneer’s Bible; hopefully someday to appear in print as a second edition with additional history and analysis. The most general and perhaps most profound practical and philosophical conclusion from that study is the concept of “Partnership” as a unified-field-theory of human culture.

While opposites and differences abound in human culture, leading to much rivalry and conflict, the solution of mutual respect and tolerance for differences is to focus upon the preference for unity, through practicing partnership-awareness. Partnership as a theory of preferred cultural design is advanced as a working or evolving solution to the greatest sources of anguish through the ages: patriarchy and property. As patriarchy must be balanced with matriarchy for a partnership culture, so also is gifting and sharing of labor and property balanced against private property and competition in the application of partnership theory in political-economic systems.

The second edition of The Intentioneer’s Bible will further explore partnership theory. While the German philosopher G. W. F. Hegel popularized his famous concept of process theory as thesis + antithesis = synthesis, partnership theory accommodates multiple perspectives, not just two forming a third. While Partnership theory can be used to resolve opposites, it can also be considered non-dual and without dichotomy, for realizing unity-in-diversity and holism. (See Eisler: centerforpartnership.org)

I searched for and included in The Intentioneer’s Bible all the best stories I could find about the counterculture and its use of time-based economics in intentional community, and contrasted that with a rendition of the dominant culture’s development of monetary economics. Of the great number of communitarian or intentioneering theories and experiences presented in The Intentioneer’s Bible, the best-known names associated with gifting and sharing lifestyles are Jesus and Marx. In my writing I associate Karl Marx with political-economic theories and systems, and Jesus of Nazareth with religion and family life (see the last section of Part V – Communitarian Mysticism).

Of course, Jesus and Marx approach the idea of a cooperative, collective, communal, sustainable, symbiotic, or solidarity lifestyle from different cultural orientations. While at the time of Jesus of Nazareth the Romans had invented concrete and had built massively impressive structures with it, even the simple technology of the wheel barrow had not yet been invented, and most people lived an agrarian lifestyle with many traditional forms of gifting and sharing. The Industrial Revolution was developing at the time of Karl Marx, with human culture becoming ever more isolated from the natural world and from humanity’s gifting and sharing traditions. Ethical and spiritual lifestyles were not seen to be relevant to competitive industrialism and so those values became increasingly hard to find and live, although never entirely forgotten in at least Western Civilization. In fact, the entire history of competitive Western Civilization has a culture of cooperation running parallel to it, one telling of which I have written in The Intenioneer’s Bible as an alternative history of Western Civilization.

Much has been learned about cooperation in the competitive world, and against all odds people have continually built upon the cooperative and communal theories and practices created before them, from that written in the Acts of the Apostles in the Bible to that of egalitarian-communal cultures, to where now there exist effective solutions to the two primary challenges of communal society, specifically: labor systems and family life.

How humans have organized work and family has changed through the ages. Through much of our prehistory female-centric matriarchal society was the norm, until men decided to turn the tables and create male-centric patriarchal culture. While women are credited with inventing agriculture and the domestic arts of weaving, pottery, food preparation, healthcare, and childcare, men were building buildings and other structures, and making weapons for hunting and for defending the buildings and other property they claimed, usually including their wives, children, and often also slaves. The Judeo-Christian-Islamic patriarch Abraham, who lived sometime between 2000 and 1900 B.C.E., is given credit for establishing the patriarchal tradition in Western Civilization.

While the paleo-anthropologists Richard Leakey and Roger Lewin explain in their book People of the Lake: Mankind and its Beginnings how primitive tribal cultures practicing “reciprocal altruism” in the late Neolithic Age of East Africa were cooperative rather than competitive (Leakey & Lewin, pp. 120, 136-9), and the archeo-mythologist Marija Gimbutas shows in The Living Goddesses that also during and after the late Neolithic era, circa 7000 to 3000 B.C.E. the human society of Southern and Eastern Europe was most likely matriarchal (Gimbutas, 2001, p. 112), the cultural historian and futurist Riane Eisler interprets in her book The Chalice and the Blade: Our History, Our Future the evidence that pre-patriarchal, matriarchal cultures may not have lived a female-dominate gender hierarchy, instead more likely a gender-partnership culture. (Eisler, pp. 24-5)

Social Change and the Culture Wars

Ethical teachings, both within and separate from religion, can serve to orient people to the joy of gifting and sharing lifestyles as opposed to the stress of competition, by identifying, advocating, and celebrating those political-economic-social systems and practices that uphold and advance our highest spiritual ideals and ethical values, whether within or separate from the dominant, competitive culture. Such systems and practices are typically found in the counterculture of alternative institutions, involving: ecological principles and sustainability in energy production, food, housing, etc; participatory forms of governance from consensus to democratic decentralism as practiced in public budgeting, neighborhood-level citizen councils, and intentional communities; commons-management as a political-economic model; credit unions and public banks replacing for-profit private banks; worker ownership and control of businesses; communal time-based, labor-gifting and labor-sharing systems replacing competitive monetary systems for making domestic services, income labor, and all other work that benefits the communal society equal for women and men; and the rejection of patriarchal culture including patriarchal religion, through affirming a gender-equal Partnership Spirituality.

The competitive, dominant culture is not divorced entirely from the gifting-and-sharing-lifestyles counterculture; it appreciates these alternatives at least to the degree that they uphold and perpetuate monetary economics, particularly during recoveries from natural and human-made disasters. Parallel to the dominant culture is always a counterculture creating gifting and sharing alternatives, and expressing values and world-views in ways that contrast with and even challenge the status quo of competitive culture. Essentially, there is a time for quiet organizing and for building cross-cultural, class-harmony coalitions of the dominant and the alternative cultures, and a time for nonviolent resistance to the dominant culture’s destruction of human cultural diversity and the ecological tragedy of species extinction. Whether there is also a time for civil disobedience and violent resistance to the self-destructive aspects of one’s own culture is a question of each person’s ethical limits and breaking points.

Cultural creativity generated by individuals and small groups of people to meet their needs or desires has historically been a primary driver of progressive change. This can be done in various ways, including: internal pressure by members of the dominant culture to evolve or subvert the destructive aspects of various institutions, such as by supporting life-affirming political platforms, or through the academic system where innovative instructors use the power of grades and degrees over students to direct their attention to alternatives; by people in the dominant culture appropriating or borrowing, then adapting and diffusing, social innovations developed in the counterculture, which may then become “counter institutions” which meet people’s needs when the dominant culture either cannot or will not; and by the power of the example of model societies which adopt and develop alternatives, whether already in the larger culture or actually originated by innovative, experimental societies, which is a strategy for change sometimes called “pre-figurative politics.”

In many cases, huge leaps from the status quo into the unknown of culture change is not practical, as such personal upheavals can lead to cognitive dissonance, causing unhealthy stress and anxiety when people, now in different circumstances, keep trying to hold on to familiar ways of doing things when those ways are no longer appropriate. In some cases, slow and steady incremental changes in consciousness, moving people only small steps at a time, can be the best way to make progress toward progressive goals. Failure to be sensitive to people’s level of cognitive awareness and emotional status when creating change can lead to counter-productive resistance and conflict, often called “reactionism.”

In other cases, some people may be ready and able to make flying leaps into experimental societies, applying their highest ethical values and spiritual ideals in their chosen lifestyle. The risk is of suffering the loss of idealism, time, and energy if the experiment fails, versus enjoying the most desirable lifestyle that humans can create should the cultural experiment succeed. Often, people leave communal society and other forms of intentional community when their personal needs and wants eclipse their attachment to the idealism that originally brought them to community.

The culture wars in at least America are typically fueled by the rise of cultural alternatives challenging the status quo, while for its part the status quo attempts to hold on to its prerogatives and hegemonic cultural dominance in the face of changing times. To avoid this problem, it can be helpful to encourage communication among people about social change on their own level of understanding or awareness, otherwise they are liable to simply turn their backs on and walk away from and ignore the messenger, or worse.

While it is not likely to be true in every case, reaching cultural conservatives of the Religious Right on their level may require the addressing of issues first on the basis of religious belief, and so building a Partnership Spirituality through the Religious Left becomes the method for the counterculture to express and advocate its egalitarian values in the face of the currently-dominant culture of patriarchal, authoritarian, unified-belief, religious conservatism.

The religious transition of the dominant culture from patriarchy to partnership may be most effectively carried out NOT by creating an entirely new and different awareness and experience of religious-based gender-partnership, instead it may be most effective to evolve the dominant religion toward gender-equality using appropriate aspects of the dominant culture’s established beliefs and practices. This is essentially how aspects of Judaism were spread through non-Jewish, polytheistic cultures like European pagans becoming Christian, and Middle-Eastern pagan Arabs becoming Islamic. While monotheism was likely a big change for pagans, the patriarchal aspects of Greco-Roman culture were not threatened and instead enhanced by the concept of a single male god.

At its origin, and as it grew, the Christian belief system adopted many aspects of other religious and philosophical traditions, including: Judaism, Stoicism, Gnosticism, Persian Dualism, and Paganism. In the same way, a non-Abrahamic, Partnership Spirituality may be created today out of the Judeo-Christian tradition similar to how Christianity grew out of the mixture of Judaism and other religious traditions.

The idea of induced religious evolution is similar to James Davison Hunter’s suggestion, written in his 1991 book, Culture Wars: The Struggle to Define America, that the dominant culture’s affirmation of its conservative moral authority is challenged by progressivism’s efforts, “to resymbolize historic faiths according to the prevailing assumptions of contemporary life.” Notice Hunter’s term, “resymbolize.” Riane Eisler uses a very similar term, “re-mything,” in her 1987 book, The Chalice and the Blade, in which she states that Judaism re-wrote the “sacred stories, along with the rewriting of codes of law [which] was still going on as late as 400 B.C.E., when scholars tell us Hebrew priests last rewrote the Hebrew Bible.” (i.e., The Old Testament of the Bible) In the same way it is now to us to resymbolize and re-myth patriarchal religion for the creation of Partnership Spirituality. (Eisler, p. 85; Hunter, pp. 44-5)

Around the eighth or ninth centuries B.C.E. as Eisler explains, the Elohim school of Hebrew priests in the northern Kingdom of Israel, and the Jahweh school in the southern Kingdom of Judea, had “reworked Babylonian and Canaanite myths, as well as Hebraic history, to suit their purposes.” Among those “purposes” was patriarchy, which was justified through the creation of a male-dominant monotheistic religion. It was the later Priestly school around 400 B.C.E. in Palestine which, as Eisler quotes the biblical scholars who annotated the Dartmouth Bible as saying, that the Jewish priests intended to “translate into reality the blueprint for a theocratic state.” In the same way it is now to us to re-symbolize and re-myth patriarchal religion for the creation of Partnership Spirituality. (Eisler, p. 85; Manuel & Manuel, 1979, p. 35)

N. K. Sandars suggests how the writers of the Torah, which became the Old Testament of the Bible, probably knew of earlier myths and likely adapted them for their design of Judaism. Considering the Great Flood in the Book of Genesis Sandars states, “There has been much controversy on the question of the relationship between the Genesis flood and that of the Assyrian, Babylonian, and Sumerian writers. … the view that it derives directly from a very old and independent history [i.e., independent of Jewish priests] has many supporters. … the Genesis account is probably best seen against a background of many very ancient flood stories, possibly but not necessarily relating to the same disaster …” Sandars notes that “the Sumerians were the first literate inhabitants of Mesopotamia,” and that the ancient stories comprising the Epic of Gilgamesh, including that of a Great Flood, were “probably written down in the first centuries of the second millennium B.C.” This is surprisingly about the same time that Abraham’s family left the City of Ur for the wilderness of Palestine. Sandars continues, “The Gilgamesh Epic must have been widely known in the second millennium B.C., for a version has been found in the archives of the Hittite imperial capital … while a small but important fragment from Megiddo in Palestine points to the existence of a Canaanite or later Palestinian version, and so to the possibility that early Biblical authors were familiar with the story.” (Sandars, pp. 8, 12, 14, 18, 105-10)

Joseph Campbell provides an example of an ancient myth that was later adapted for part of what we know as the Garden of Eden myth. Campbell states in The Power of Myth: Joseph Campbell with Bill Moyers, “We have Sumerian seals from as early as 3500 B.C.E. showing the serpent and the tree and the goddess, with the goddess giving the fruit of life to a visiting male. The old mythology of the goddess is right there.” (Campbell, p. 47)

As Jewish priests re-mythed the earlier matriarchal-culture foundations in their design of patriarchal culture, so can the Religious Left today re-symbolize the Judeo-Christian myths and culture to create egalitarian Partnership Spirituality.

While at present the dominant culture is conservative in religion, politics, and economics, things change as the pendulum-of-culture is always swinging from one extreme to the other. When the desire is to push the cultural pendulum to the left the need is to devise a world-view, a lifestyle, and a cultural paradigm to affirm at least: cooperation, intentional community, commons economics, ecological sustainability, racial justice, and partnership culture. To make such changes, all aspects of society and culture may be brought into play in a way that aligns each toward complimentary cultural goals.

To address cultural change on at least the levels of economics, politics, and religion there are a number of issues to be addressed. Considering these three aspects of culture together recognizes that they are interrelated, and so strategies for creating change simultaneously in each are needed. While there are many people working on political-economic changes toward a cooperative, egalitarian culture, there is not as much focus on creating and living a gender-equal religion to support those values. Thus, there is the need to affirm and build a Partnership Spirituality.

***

Glossary of Terms and Concepts used in the School of Intentioneering

Methods of Domestic Sharing:

Matriarchy — all or most property is owned by women who are head-of-the-household, inheriting family names and property. Typically, siblings grow up together in large households headed by a matriarch. Upon adulthood each young woman is given a bedroom in the household with one door opening to the outside and one door opening to an interior space or courtyard of the multi-room women’s house. Upon reaching adulthood the men live outside of the women’s household in smaller male-only housing, becoming male partners of any number of women, with children in different women’s households. The women would know their own children; while the men may never know which children are their own. Men run the businesses that support the family or extended family. (See: Goettner-Abendroth, 2009 & 2012).

Patriarchy — all or most property is owned by men who are head-of-the-household, inheriting family names and property. Typically, women leave their families to marry and live with their husband’s family, called patrilocal marriage. Monogamous marriage, serial-monogamy, blended families, polygamous families, and extended families, may all be headed by a patriarch. In some patriarchal cultures men essentially own women and girls like with all other property. In many patriarchal cultures women have to win and maintain their right to own property, own businesses, participate in governance, and lead religious institutions.

Partnership — property is owned by women, by men, or in common. Gender-equality is practiced in governance, business, and domestic home-life. Gender-equal or egalitarian marriage, serial-marriage, polyamory, or cofamily may be practiced.

Polyamorous families — women and/or men have two or more intimate partners, whether all of the involved adults live together or separately. The pleasure in seeing one’s partner enjoying being with their plural partners is called “compersion,” a term coined by the polyfidelitous Kerista Commune in 1970s San Francisco.

Cofamilies — three-to-nine, non-related people, with or without children, living in community. Women and men in cofamilies may or may not have polyamorous multiple intimate partners within the group. When a cofamily forms within or joins a larger intentional community, whether communal, cohousing, land trust, ecovillage, cooperative, etc, they are called a “nested cofamily.”

Cohousing — involves the sharing of privately-owned property with no or minimal commonly-owned property. The “common house” in cohousing is not owned-in-common, it is legally a form of private ownership called “undivided interest,” and is surrounded by the privately-owned housing units. The community is typically structured as a condominium or housing cooperative. Gender-equality is typically practiced in the governance structure of the cohousing community.

Ecovillage — a traditional village or an intentional community, either minimizing its impact on the natural world or enhancing the symbiosis of human and nonhuman living things, by incorporating ecological and sustainable features and practices, often called “permaculture.”

Methods of Sharing the Means-of-Production:

Communal—although this term has various dictionary definitions, in the School of Intentioneering it is used exclusively to refer to the common ownership of property and wealth, whether the governance structure is authoritarian or participatory.

Democratic decentralism—participatory governance for large numbers of people like towns divided into neighborhoods, with each having separate decision-making bodies, all sending representatives to a central coordinating body. This is basically how the Federation or FEC is organized, although those communities are not contiguous and instead are some distance from each other, while the largest communal societies tend toward subdividing in this way as well. Representatives of neighborhoods or communities may be delegated the authority to make decisions as they think is best for their constituents in delegate assemblies, or may be limited to only casting votes in representative assemblies according to instructions received from their constituents. Although they all mean the same thing, the term “democratic decentralism” is used in the School of Intentioneering in part to differentiate from the terms with the same meaning used by the Institute for Social Ecology, including: “confederal municipalism,” “democratic confederalism,” and the French meaning of “commune.”

Egalitarian Communalism — the furthest expression of gender partnership in which all property is owned and controlled in common by women and men, including the means-of-production. Community-ownership or common-ownership, with women and men sharing all domestic and other labor, and facilitating gender-equality in governance, is the most egalitarian social structure. Communal members may or may not form families, cofamiles, or polyamorous relationships within the communal society.

Worker-Ownership — the means-of-production, or capital, is owned in common and profits are shared. Shared governance with open bookkeeping or transparent accounting is usually practiced.

Land Commons — “the commons” is the natural and cultural resources shared by all. In traditional societies this may be practically everything, while for the present private-property system legal designs have been created to protect various forms of commons, from land, to the electro-magnetic spectrum, to open-source knowledge. The land commons may be protected: by governments, such as for maintaining parks and waterways, or by taxing for the public good via the land-value tax (LVT) that portion of land value created not by the land owner, instead by society through population density and government services; or by private organizations called conservation land trusts for keeping land wild; or by community land trusts (CLT) for housing, schools, businesses, self-reliant homesteads, etc.

Class-Harmony Community — the means-of-production and usually most property is owned by an individual or small-group, while others rent property from the (hopefully) benevolent owners. Tenants may be individuals, families, or cofamilies.

**End of Part 1 of 5**

Portions of this article were previously published in the author’s 2016 e-book The Intentioneer’s Bible

(see: Amazon.com), and other portions are to appear in the author’s forthcoming book.

References

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Butcher, A. Allen. (1991). Democracy and capitalism: Are they critical elements of a climax human culture? Self-published. Denver, CO: The School of Intentioneering. Retrieved April 16, 2020 from http://www.culturemagic.org/PDF/c1Democracy20Capitalism.pdf

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Wagner, Jon. (1982). Sex roles in contemporary American communes. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.

Walters, Kerry. (2011). Revolutionary deists: Early America’s rational infidels. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books.

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Weatherford, Jack. (2004). Genghis Khan and the making of the modern world. New York: Broadway Books.

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Toward an Age of Equality in Partnership Culture – Part 2

A Countercultural Religious Left response to the Dominant Culture’s Religious Right

***

A. Allen Butcher • The School of Intentioneering • Denver, Colorado • November 4, 2020

http://www.Intentioneers.netAllenInUtopia@consultant.com • over 16,000 words in 5 Parts

For definitions of terms and explanations of concepts see the glossary at the end of Part 5.

***

Toward an Age of Equality ­– Part 2 of 5 ­– The Communal Ideal

The Mix of Politics, Economics, and Religion

There is good reason to value the separation of church and state on many levels, in part because the two have very similar natures, and thus the two working together are able to concentrate great wealth and power. Both religion and politics range from authoritarian, unified-belief systems on the Religious Right, to diverse, inclusive systems on the Religious Left. The dichotomy is between orthodox, conservative religious culture aligning with centralized, plutocratic and oligarchic governance at one end of the spectrum, to multi-faith, liberal-religious pluralism with democratic decentralism and other forms of participatory governance on the other end of the spectrum. A quote by Mohandas Gandhi summarizes this basic dynamic: “I do not believe the spiritual law works on a field of its own. On the contrary, it expresses itself only through the ordinary activities of life. It thus affects the economic, the social, and the political fields.” (Breton & Largent, frontispiece)

When politics and religion work together they can be a strong influence upon the culture in many ways, especially negatively as through the oppression of political dissent and of lifestyle alternatives, since orthodox religion provides the justification for unified-belief systems, political authoritarianism, and patriarchal culture. Yet politics and religion can also be strong positive influences upon culture when used to uphold and advance participatory governance, economic solidarity, partnership society, ecological sustainability, and individual and cultural self-determination. This perspective on positive and negative influences is typically reversed by cultural conservatives.

Dan McKanan states in his 2011 book Prophetic Encounters: Religion and the American Radical Tradition that, “religious ideas, institutions, and practices have always been intertwined with radical activism. … Indeed,” McKanan writes, “leftist activism is almost a form of religion … [although] radicalism is best described as a sibling of religion rather than a form of religion.” (McKanan, pp. 4, 8)

Campaigns of the Religious Left can and have positively influenced culture, such as historically by: being against slavery and for women’s suffrage, anti-nukes, anti-war, anti-death penalty, for economic solidarity, ecological responsibility, and the acceptance of Earth-based spirituality. (McKanan, pp. 2-7, 11-15, 163, 187, 271, 276-77) Intentional community can certainly be added to the list of methods of economic self-help and political self-determination for a Religious Left campaign. As detailed in The Intentioneer’s Bible the Quaker religious tradition has been the second most engaged in the intentional communities movement, after Catholic monasticism with its nearly 2,000 years of monastic orders. Begun in 17th century England by George Fox, communal groups like the Shakers grew out of Quakerism, and other forms of intentional community afterward, including the community land trust at Celo in North Carolina and in at least the founding of the communal Alpha Farm in Oregon. Today the Quakers are not as actively involved in the communitarian movement, leaving opportunities for Unitarian Universalism to accept the communitarian baton and run with it as a social justice campaign of political-economic-religious self-determination.

Yet politics and religion do not mix perfectly, as it has been found in America that the greater force is politics. This was determined by some in the Religious Right in recent decades who expressed the realization that, “When you mix politics and religion, all you get as a result is more politics.” And this is not a new idea, since in the 1850s a group of Catholic bishops published a statement saying, “when religious leaders enter into electoral politics, it is more likely that religion will be debased than that politics will be elevated.” (Kramnick, 2001) Of course, none of that has prevented either religious conservatives or liberals from engaging in politics, yet it does suggest the need to be aware of the potential for both liberals and conservatives to sink ever deeper into the muck when either tries to drain the swamp. Recognizing the risk, it is helpful to analyze how cultural change has evolved in the past. For an introduction to that discussion consider first political-economic change, and then consider change in religious beliefs.

The same time that the American Declaration of Independence was written in 1776, Adam Weishaupt (1748-1830) in Europe published the founding document for an association which was then spread in secret through the Masonic Orders. Being a Mason, Thomas Jefferson, the third American president, was familiar with Weishaupt’s work. Weishaupt’s idea was for a third cultural power-center to arise in opposition to that of church and state. At the time, politics and religion were unified in the Holy Roman Empire (962 C.E.-1806), and to break that cultural monopoly Weishaupt and friends began an organization of newly-wealthy business owners wanting to resist Imperial power by creating a third economic power-center. Weishaupt taught Catholic church law at the University of Ingolstadt in Bavaria, Germany before founding a secret society which he named the “Order of Perfectibilists,” later to take the name “Illuminati.” Adam Weishaupt had been in the Catholic Jesuit Order, and designed his new order with similar grades or levels of initiation. (Durant & Durant, 1967, p. 507; Knauer. 26-7; Walters, p. 270)

Nearly two-and-a-half centuries later, global, transnational, corporate capitalism, more formally called “neo-liberal market capitalism,” is the greatest power in the world, due to those in the corporate hierarchy serving on interlocking corporate boards-of-directors, bending both church and state to the dictates of the economic imperatives defined by the “1%,” as those in the Occupy Movement of the post-Great Recession refer to the people comprising the corporate oligarchy, which can be said to be the modern Illuminati. Adam Weishaupt’s idea has become a global, monolithic force creating great wealth, ecological destruction, protest, poverty, and extinction.

While politics and religion can both be explained as ranging from unified to pluralist systems—which is part of why the two have historically been united—economics is different. As is taught in the author’s School of Intentioneering, the opposite poles of the different forms of economics have to do with the two different forms of ownership of property, ranging from private to common ownership systems. This economic-systems dichotomy of privately-owned versus commonly-owned property relates differently to authoritarianism as found in political oligarchy and religious orthodoxy, than it does to participatory governance practiced in democracy and liberal religion.

Another way to view the many different political-economic systems is to consider that economics involves the different methods of the ownership of property (i.e., private versus common), while politics involves the different methods of controlling property (i.e., authoritarian versus participatory systems). For a graphical representation of these relationships between politics and economics see the paper by the present author, Democracy and Capitalism: Are They Critical Elements of a Climax Human Culture? (Butcher, 1991)

Lamenting the Loss of Tribal Communalism

Communal sharing of material things and labor has always existed as an alternative to the dominant culture of taking things, from land to other forms of wealth, including enslaving people, and exchanging these formerly free and wild things as forms of private property.

The concept of the free and wild “noble savage” has been a romantic notion all through the history of Western Civilization, first recorded in the time of Ancient Greece as the Greeks had colonies on the north shore of the Black Sea where they encountered the nomadic Scythians, a confederation of nomadic tribes of Central Asia from about 700 B.C.E. to about 200 C.E. The Scythians “showed the national character of good temper, plain-living, and justice. … they are well-behaved towards one another, and have all things in common …”  (Morgan, 1946, p. 124)

In his 1946 book Nowhere was Somewhere: How History Makes Utopias and Utopias Make History Arthur Morgan, the founder of the Fellowship of Intentional Communities in 1948-9, quotes an earlier writing by authors Lovejoy and Boas titled Primitivism and Related Ideas (p. 289) explaining, “At least from the 4th century B.C. on, then, the Scythians apparently were to the ancients very much what the North American Indians were to the primitivists of the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries in modern Europe—except that, if anything, they were somewhat more realistically depicted than the American aborigines were.” (Morgan, 1946, p. 126)

Arthur Morgan explains the corruption of primitive cooperation and communalism through the property code and greed of civilization by quoting the Greek historian Strabo in his 1st century B.C.E. book, Geography, saying of the Scythian tribes north of the Black Sea that some of them were cruel while others were humane. Strabo quotes the earlier Greek writers Homer and Hesiod saying, “… life in our manner has spread to almost all peoples a change for the worse, introducing luxury among them, and pleasures and evil practices and countless selfish acts. Hence much of this type of evil has penetrated to the Barbarians …” (Morgan, 1946, p. 124)

Jack Weatherford relates a similar story in his 1994 book Savages and Civilization: Who Will Survive? from an even earlier time, going back to about 2000 B.C.E. The author explains that the ancient Sumerian myth of Gilgamesh presents the same theme of the primitive encountering civilization, to the loss of the former’s simple yet noble lifestyle. As king of the Sumerian city-state Uruk, the semi-mythical Gilgamesh befriends the wild man Enkidu, who succumbs to the ways of civilization, first learning agriculture, then destroying the forest and killing the wild animals to extend the range of cultivated land, until on his deathbed Enkidu regrets and laments “having abandoned his savage life for the luxuries of the city.” Weatherford states that the English word savage actually comes from the Latin word for forest. (Sandars, p. 31; Weatherford, 1994, pp. 113-5, 282)

The loss of communal tribalism is a very old story, continuing today, 4,000 years after the writing of the Epic of Gilgamesh. And the story is similar for people of the First World (i.e., market-based economies) who go native or who live for a while in communal society or other forms of intentional community, which is part of the Fourth World of locally-based economies. For my current book project I have collected statements of former members of communal groups who reminisce about what they experienced and have lost. One is from the late 20th century by an Israeli kibbutz member named Yael who lamented, “For several years now we have been undergoing a gradual process of dismantling the kibbutz. … What sort of place shall we become? What is the red line we shouldn’t cross? … The decisions are made by men, but the burden falls on women. Everything, everything is falling on women. … Now I hear people saying that they wish we could go back in time to have the kibbutz of twenty years ago. We want that old kibbutz! We lost many good things in the transition. Only after the changes were made did we realize how much we lost, the mistakes we made.” (Lieblich, pp. 63, 84)

Keep in mind that not all Late Stone Age nomadic cultures were patriarchal or matriarchal. Many were egalitarian, at least as much as Native American culture can be considered egalitarian. An example is the Scythians. The queen of one of the Scythian tribes, Tomyris, led a coalition of Scythian tribes against the Persian ruler, Cyrus the Great, who had created the greatest empire in the world up to that time, killing Cyrus and destroying his army in 530 B.C.E. Women have served as warriors and even as military leaders, like Tomyris, in many cultures throughout time. The earliest stories of women warrior societies called “Amazons” came from ancient Greek historians familiar with nomadic culture, reinforced today with discovery of ancient Asian nomad grave sites in which female skeletons are found next to weapons.

Jack Weatherford explains why the stories of female “Amazon” warriors came from the east European and Asian steppe, pointing out that while combat with sword and pole arms requires upper-body strength, which men have to a greater degree than women, archery requires more skill and control than strength, and so women can be just as effective mounted archers as men. Weatherford further explains that pastoral nomad children all learned at an early age to ride horses and to use the bow and arrow to protect their herd animals from wolves and other predators. While the girls typically looked after the smaller herd animals like sheep and goats closer to home, the boys would take care of the cows, yaks, and camels over a larger range. (Weatherford, 2010, pp. 120-1)

Girls and women of sedentary agricultural cultures did not usually have similar early training as mounted archers as among nomadic herders, and so fewer would have become women fighters, although there are accounts of women joining the military all through history. Women fighters today are most common in Israel where they are universally conscripted just like men, and among the Kurdish resistance in Syria and Iraq where they constitute an entire military corps called the Women’s Defense Units, comprising about forty-percent of the Kurdish military.

The idea of an all-women “tribe of Amazons” is unlikely in reality. More likely would be women-only warrior societies. Warrior or military societies among men were common, and some women probably joined them, or created their own. Warrior societies were usually created to protect a village or tribe and to attack its enemies, and so were not “tribes” in their own right. The best-known warrior society is the Cheyenne Dog Soldiers of the Northern Great Plains states. The term “dog” in this usage is not a derogatory epithet used by their enemies, it is a chosen name referring to the qualities of guarding, defending, and loyalty of village dogs. The Cheyenne Dog Soldiers played an important role in the defeat of General Custer at the Battle of the Little Big Horn in 1876, and later fought, probably along with other Native American warrior societies, in the American military in most conflicts from World War I and II through the Middle-Eastern Wars, perhaps, one might imagine, even at times supporting the Kurdish Women’s Defense Units. (Hoebel, pp. 38, 129, 131)

,

While the Scythians returned to the steppe after destroying Cyrus II and his army and did not try to conquer his empire, other nomadic and semi-nomadic barbarian peoples deliberately fought to destroy urban life and civilization, typically using, ironically, weapons of metal made in cities. After the Chinese built much of their Great Wall to keep out the barbarian tribes, the Huns turned westward, invading as far as central France by 375 C.E., fighting both the Eastern and Western Roman Empires. The Germanic tribes then finished off the Western Roman Empire by 476 C.E. Later, beginning about 1200, the united Mongol tribes arose from the Asian steppe to destroy several empires, some most people have never heard of, like the Khwarezm of Central Asia. The Mongols destroyed hundreds of cities, towns, and villages, often massacring all the inhabitants. Mongols killed ninety-percent of the Persian people and nearly destroyed the entire Persian culture, like they did the Khwarezm. By the mid-13th century the Mongols had conquered the largest empire ever, stretching from Finland to Korea and Vietnam, laying siege to at least one city on the Adriatic Sea coast of Dalmatia, a region of Croatia. The Mongol hordes had the benefit of Chinese siege weapons and expertise in taking cities, while a later semi-nomadic Turkic people, originally from the Central Asian steppe then pushed westward by the Mongols into Anatolia, now Turkey, called the Ottoman Turks, employed the new Chinese technology of gun-powder-activated cannon. The Ottomans pounded Constantinople day and night for nearly two months before taking the city in 1453, destroying the Byzantine Empire, which had succeeded the Eastern Roman Empire, and changing forever-after the methods of warfare in Western Civilization. (Weatherford, 2004, pp. 121, 167)

The strength of experienced and coordinated tribes of mounted archers was formidable. In America the Comanche, more than any other tribe, were comparable to the Mongols in their skill as mounted warriors and their use of terror as a weapon, as they are credited with preventing the Spanish from claiming the Southern Great Plains and connecting their western territories, California, Mexico, and New Mexico, with their eastern territory in Florida. The Spanish had conquered hundreds of Native American tribes and civilizations, yet could not defeat the Comanche. Santa Fe, New Mexico was settled about the same time as the English settled James Town, Virginia, so the Spanish had the time and motive to conquer eastward, yet the Comanche stopped them at the western edge of the Great Plains, while later also holding the American frontier in East Texas. While the Mongol tribes in Asia numbered about a million people, there were only about 20,000 Comanche, and both owe their success to the horse. It was not until the invention of multi-shot rifles and six-shooter hand-guns during the Civil War that the invading whites finally had a weapons parity with the Indians, who could shoot as many as ten arrows with deadly accuracy in the time that it took to reload a single-shot, muzzle-loaded weapon. (Gwynne, p. 27, 49, 55, 59-60, 71, 172; Weatherford, 2004, p. xviii)

The genocide of the indigenous peoples of the Americas by Christian civilization, was matched by the earlier genocide of civilized peoples by the pagan, tribal Mongols. Genocide is neither simply a civilized nor a primitive tribal problem; genocide is a problem of human competition, conflict, and intolerance. Jack Weatherford writes, “Civilization has produced a savagery far worse than that which we once imputed to primitive tribes. Civilization has made its worst fear come true; it has created the very savagery that it feared and projected onto others for thousands of years. The savages have become internal to civilization. … If we cannot change our course, then our civilization too may become as dead as the stones …, and one day the descendants of some alien civilization will stare at our ruined cities and wonder why we disappeared.” (Weatherford, 1994, p. 291)

***

Glossary of Terms and Concepts used in the School of Intentioneering

Communal—although this term has various dictionary definitions, in the School of Intentioneering it is used exclusively to refer to the common ownership of property and wealth, whether the governance structure is authoritarian or participatory.

Democratic decentralism—participatory governance for large numbers of people like towns divided into neighborhoods, with each having separate decision-making bodies, all sending representatives to a central coordinating body. This is basically how the Federation or FEC is organized, although those communities are not contiguous and instead are some distance from each other, while the largest communal societies tend toward subdividing in this way as well. Representatives of neighborhoods or communities may be delegated the authority to make decisions as they think is best for their constituents in delegate assemblies, or may be limited to only casting votes in representative assemblies according to instructions received from their constituents. Although they all mean the same thing, the term “democratic decentralism” is used in the School of Intentioneering in part to differentiate from the terms with the same meaning used by the Institute for Social Ecology, including: “confederal municipalism,” “democratic confederalism,” and the French meaning of “commune.”

Egalitarian Communalism — the furthest expression of gender partnership in which all property is owned and controlled in common by women and men, including the means-of-production. Community-ownership or common-ownership, with women and men sharing all domestic and other labor, and facilitating gender-equality in governance, is the most egalitarian social structure. Communal members may or may not form families, cofamiles, or polyamorous relationships within the communal society.

Worker-Ownership — the means-of-production, or capital, is owned in common and profits are shared. Shared governance with open bookkeeping or transparent accounting is usually practiced.

Land Commons — “the commons” is the natural and cultural resources shared by all. In traditional societies this may be practically everything, while for the present private-property system legal designs have been created to protect various forms of commons, from land, to the electro-magnetic spectrum, to open-source knowledge. The land commons may be protected: by governments, such as for maintaining parks and waterways, or by taxing for the public good via the land-value tax (LVT) that portion of land value created not by the land owner, instead by society through population density and government services; or by private organizations called conservation land trusts for keeping land wild; or by community land trusts (CLT) for housing, schools, businesses, self-reliant homesteads, etc.

Class-Harmony Community — the means-of-production and usually most property is owned by an individual or small-group, while others rent property from the (hopefully) benevolent owners. Tenants may be individuals, families, or cofamilies.

Methods of Domestic Sharing:

Matriarchy — all or most property is owned by women who are head-of-the-household, inheriting family names and property. Typically, siblings grow up together in large households headed by a matriarch. Upon adulthood each young woman is given a bedroom in the household with one door opening to the outside and one door opening to an interior space or courtyard of the multi-room women’s house. Upon reaching adulthood the men live outside of the women’s household in smaller male-only housing, becoming male partners of any number of women, with children in different women’s households. The women would know their own children; while the men may never know which children are their own. Men run the businesses that support the family or extended family. (See: Goettner-Abendroth, 2009 & 2012).

Patriarchy — all or most property is owned by men who are head-of-the-household, inheriting family names and property. Typically, women leave their families to marry and live with their husband’s family, called patrilocal marriage. Monogamous marriage, serial-monogamy, blended families, polygamous families, and extended families, may all be headed by a patriarch. In some patriarchal cultures men essentially own women and girls like with all other property. In many patriarchal cultures women have to win and maintain their right to own property, own businesses, participate in governance, and lead religious institutions.

Partnership — property is owned by women, by men, or in common. Gender-equality is practiced in governance, business, and domestic home-life. Gender-equal or egalitarian marriage, serial-marriage, polyamory, or cofamily may be practiced.

Polyamorous families — women and/or men have two or more intimate partners, whether all of the involved adults live together or separately. The pleasure in seeing one’s partner enjoying being with their plural partners is called “compersion,” a term coined by the polyfidelitous Kerista Commune in 1970s San Francisco.

Cofamilies — three-to-nine, non-related people, with or without children, living in community. Women and men in cofamilies may or may not have polyamorous multiple intimate partners within the group. When a cofamily forms within or joins a larger intentional community, whether communal, cohousing, land trust, ecovillage, cooperative, etc, they are called a “nested cofamily.”

Cohousing — involves the sharing of privately-owned property with no or minimal commonly-owned property. The “common house” in cohousing is not owned-in-common, it is legally a form of private ownership called “undivided interest,” and is surrounded by the privately-owned housing units. The community is typically structured as a condominium or housing cooperative. Gender-equality is typically practiced in the governance structure of the cohousing community.

Ecovillage — a traditional village or an intentional community, either minimizing its impact on the natural world or enhancing the symbiosis of human and nonhuman living things, by incorporating ecological and sustainable features and practices, often called “permaculture.”

**End of Part 2 of 5**

Portions of this article were previously published in the author’s 2016 e-book The Intentioneer’s Bible

(see: Amazon.com), and other portions are to appear in the author’s forthcoming book.

References

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Butcher, A. Allen. (1991). Democracy and capitalism: Are they critical elements of a climax human culture? Self-published. Denver, CO: The School of Intentioneering. Retrieved April 16, 2020 from http://www.culturemagic.org/PDF/c1Democracy20Capitalism.pdf

Butcher, A. Allen. (2016). The intentioneer’s bible: Interwoven stories of the parallel cultures of plenty and scarcity. Self-published e-book at Amazon.com. Denver, Colorado: The School of Intentioneering.

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Curl, John. (2012). For all the people: Uncovering the hidden history of cooperation, cooperative movements, and communalism in America (2nd ed.). Oakland, CA: PM Press.

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Eisler, Riane. (1987). The chalice and the blade: Our history, our future. San Francisco, CA: Harper & Row. http://www.centerforpartnership.org

Engels, Friedrich. (1935, original work published in 1878). Anti-Duhring: Herr Eugen Duhring’s revolution in science. Chicago: C. H. Kerr.

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Gimbutas, Marija. (1991). The civilization of the Goddess: The world of Old Europe. Joan Marler, editor. San Franciso, CA: Harper Collins Publishers.

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Goettner-Abendroth, Heide. (2012). Matriarchal societies: Studies on indigenous cultures across the globe. New York: Peter Lang Publishing, Inc.

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Hyams, Edward. (1973). The millennium postponed: Socialism from Sir Thomas More to Mao Tse-Tung. New York: Meridian New American Library.

Kinkade, Kathleen. (1972). A Walden Two experiment: The first five years of Twin Oaks Community (2nd Ed.). Louisa, VA: Twin Oaks Community, Inc.

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London Co-operative society. The London co-operative magazine. London, England: Knight and Lacey. Retrieved August 19, 2017 from https://catalog.hathitrut.org/Record/000516769

Manuel, Frank (Ed.). (1965). Utopias and utopian thought. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin.

Manuel, F. & Manuel, F. (1979). Utopian thought in the Western world. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press.

McKanan, Dan. (20100). Prophetic encounters: Religion and the American radical tradition. Boston, MA: Beacon Press.

Morgan, Arthur. (1944). Edward Bellamy: A biography of the author of “Looking Backward.” New York: Columbia University of Press.

Morgan, Arthur. (1946). Nowhere was somewhere: How history makes utopias and how utopias make history. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press.

Oved, Yaacov. (1988). Two hundred years of American communes. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Books.

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Tucker, Robert C. (Ed.). (1987). The Marx-Engels Reader (2nd Ed.). New York: W. W. Norton & Company.

Wagner, Jon. (1982). Sex roles in contemporary American communes. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.

Walters, Kerry. (2011). Revolutionary deists: Early America’s rational infidels. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books.

Weatherford, Jack. (1994). Savages and civilization: Who will survive? New York: Fawcett Columbine.

Weatherford, Jack. (2004). Genghis Khan and the making of the modern world. New York: Broadway Books.

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Toward an Age of Equality in Partnership Culture – Part 3

A Countercultural Religious Left response to the Dominant Culture’s Religious Right

*** Part 3 of 5

A. Allen Butcher • The School of Intentioneering • Denver, Colorado • November 4, 2020

http://www.Intentioneers.netAllenInUtopia@consultant.com • over 16,000 words in 5 Parts

For definitions of terms and explanations of concepts see the glossary at the end of Part 5.

***

Toward an Age of Equality ­– Part 3 of 5 ­– The Communitarian Dream

The Communal Ideal of 19th century Marxist Communism

Realized in 20th century Egalitarian Communities

The idea that monetary economics is designed to benefit the few to the detriment of the many is an old story. Ideas for fixing that problem go back to the first communal organizations, even before the early Christians adopted the communal lifestyle, which involves giving up the use of money and private-property within the communal society.

It was during the beginning of the Industrial Revolution that people began thinking of using the monetary system itself to create and preserve some degree of economic equality, and ever since then more and more ways for creating economic fairness within monetary economics have been devised and are being implemented and enjoyed. At the same time, people have also continued to perfect the practice of getting outside of monetary economics through communal economics, which has required the invention and development of some kind of economic system to replace money. Following is a condensed version of that story.

Arthur Bestor writes that the early cooperative and communitarian movements, inspired largely by the work of Robert Owen (1771-1858) in the British Isles and America, first used the term socialist in the London Cooperative Magazine (vol. 2) of 1827, nearly 200 years ago, making the term “their own distinctive label in the middle 1830s [when] socialism meant Owenism and nothing else.” By 1827 the English terms socialist and socialism meant class-harmony, while communist and communism, developed by underground secret societies in Paris by 1840, was used to refer specifically to class-conflict, or “revolutionary militancy.” (Bestor, pp. 277-80, 288, 290-1)

At the beginning of the Industrial Revolution in 18th century England the operative idea of the counterculture was to use time as a medium of exchange within a cooperative community, rather than use the official currency, believing that this was the best way for workers to realize the full benefit of their labor, rather than sell their labor to employers who take as much of the wealth generated by labor as they can get. After 140 years of intermittent experimentation with forms of paper scrip denominated in minutes or hours of done labor, to use in exchange for goods and services within the community group, a method was finally invented in 1967 for using time as a method for coordinating the sharing of labor, rather than the exchange of labor-for-labor. The distinction between sharing and exchanging labor defines the difference between communal and cooperative groups. For a detailed story of the history of communalism and cooperation see The Intentioneer’s Bible.

England was the first country to industrialize, and so it was also the first country to experiment with industrial cooperation, beginning with paternalistic business owners taking good care of their workers, evolving into workers organizing production on their own as member-owners of cooperatives. Cooperative and union organizing developed apace, and one person in England in particular is associated with all those movements: Robert Owen, a Welsh textile businessman.

On the European continent something else was brewing along with the rise of industrialism. This was a long-festering disdain and seething hatred for extreme economic inequality, leading to the justification for revolutionary violence, and one person in particular is associated with those movements: Karl Marx, a Prussian (German) ethnic Jew raised Christian, who studied law and philosophy before working as a journalist.

During the last century of the French monarchy, expatriate radical German workers and others in Paris created secret societies opposing the concentration of wealth and power in autocratic government, where they began an outlaw organization in 1836 originally called “League of the Just.” For reference to other 19th century Parisian underground secret societies see Arthur Bestor’s The Evolution of the Socialist Vocabulary. (Bestor, p. 291)

Among the influencers and leaders of the League of the Just were the French advocates of revolutionary violence, Francois Noel Babeuf (1764-1797) and Auguste Blanqui (1805-1881). Babeuf “was so virulent in his abuse of authority and so radical in his activities that in 1797 he was guillotined.” Blanqui was a violent direct-actionist imprisoned for his role in the October 1870 Paris uprising, just prior to the Paris Commune debacle of 1871. (Hertzler, pp. 188-9)

The most important influence upon the League of the Just seems to have been Wilhelm Weitling (1808-1871), a Catholic-school-educated German tailor who wrote Guarantee of Harmony and Freedom whom Karl Marx (1818-1883) initially appreciated, as he is mentioned in Marx’s Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844 as an “original German Socialist,” and in Marx’s Critical Marginal Notes (1844) where he refers to “Weitling’s brilliant writings.” However, Friedrich Engels (1820-1895) in his Socialism: Utopian and Scientific (1880) relegates Weitling to the status of despised utopian socialist for his joining an intentional community in America.

Kenneth Rexroth writes in his 1974 book, Communalism, that “Weitling is too little regarded in the history of revolutionary thought. Quite independently of Hegel, and before Marx, he developed a theory of human self-alienation as the primary evil of capitalist production, and some years before Marx or Proudhon he was an avowed communist. In a sense, Marx and Engels joined his communist movement and took it over.” Weitling wrote his Guarantee of Harmony and Freedom in1842, while Marx published his The Communist Manifesto in 1848. Note that “self-alienation” is translated as “selfishness,” and is explained in the philosopher G. W. F. Hegel’s work. (Rexroth, p. 294, emphasis in the original; Tucker, pp. 66-68, 129, 693)

Wilhelm Weitling is a particularly interesting character as he bridges communism and communalism. Sometime between 1846 and 1850, Weitling arrived in New York City after being expelled from Switzerland for political activity, following the publication of his Guarantee of Harmony and Freedom in 1842. A branch of the League of the Just already existed in NYC when Weitling arrived, which he renamed “The Emancipation League” soon after the League in Europe changed its name to “The Communist League” in 1847. This was an “Arbeiterbund” or Working Men’s League, which grew to twenty chapters in Eastern U.S. cities. In the Leagues, “labour-tokens” were used in place of money for labor and commodity exchanges, and at the 1850 Worker’s Congress in Philadelphia a resolution was adopted for “urging the promotion of colonies,” or what is called today “intentional communities.”  Weitling and other German radicals then joined a rural commune begun by experienced Swiss communalists in 1847 in Iowa, called “Communia.” Weitling was elected administrator of the colony, yet his autocratic rule led to disputes, a court case, and dissolution in1856. Weitling then returned to NYC where he invented a button-hole-attachment for sowing machines. (Fogarty, pp. 117-8; Morgan, 1944, p. 370)

Ironically, Wilhelm Weitling, one of the founders of European communism, a belief system taken over by those who were hostile to all forms of social innovations arising within communal and cooperative groups, himself actually joined a communal intentional community. In 1950 Carl Wittke wrote a biography of Weitling with the oxymoron title of, The Utopian Communist.

Paris had been a center of learning since at least the 13th century, and a center of radical thought since at least the early 18th century, many of the ideas of which the French monarchist authorities considered to be seditious; thus, driving them underground. In 1847 the League of the Just changed its name in order to use the new term coined in 1840 by French social reformers, becoming “The Communist League.” (Bestor, p. 279) This group commissioned their two new members, Karl Marx and his associate and benefactor Friedrich Engels, to write a manifesto for the group to introduce its new name. Both men authored submissions, and Marx’s called The Communist Manifesto (1848) was chosen. (Tucker, p. 469)

While Marx had earlier written in support of democracy and republicanism against oligarchy in his Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844, he was apparently influenced by the radical, secret, workers’ societies and their anger toward the rich and powerful, causing him to go over to the “Darkside” of advocating violence as a strategy for revolution, as opposed to peaceful reform. In The Communist Manifesto Marx writes, “The immediate aim of the Communists is … formation of the proletariat (i.e., wage-laborers) into a class, overthrow of the bourgeois (i.e., employers of wage-labor) supremacy, [and] conquest of political power by the proletariat. … the theory of the Communists may be summed up in the single sentence: Abolition of private property.” (Tucker, pp. 484) While this goal has now been achieved by peaceful experimentation and gradual reform, that is not the method advocated by Marxist communism, which is made clear in the last paragraph of Marx’s Manifesto stating, “The Communists … openly declare that their ends can be attained only by the forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions. Let the ruling classes tremble at the Communistic revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win. Working men of all countries, unite!” (Tucker, p. 500)

In his 1872 speech titled The Possibility of Non-Violent Revolution Karl Marx only goes so far as to say, “we do not deny that there are countries—such as America, England, and … perhaps also add Holland—where the workers can attain their goal by peaceful means. This being the case, we must also recognize the fact that in most countries on the Continent the lever of our revolution must be force …” (Tucker, p. 523) Friedrich Engels says essentially the same thing in his 1895 essay The Tactics of Social Democracy, in which he begins with an acceptance of the lesson of the Paris Commune that classic street-fighting on the barricades as a means of revolutionary class struggle is rendered obsolete by the advance of military technology, yet as Robert Tucker states, his “concluding discourse on tactics turns out to be by no means an endorsement of Social Democratic reformism.” (Tucker, pp. xxxvi-xxxvii)

Communist theory, as developed by Marx and Engels, affirmed two stages in the transition to a classless, free society, the first to be directed by a small vanguard, called the “Communist Party,” that would organize the overthrow of the state, whether monarchy, republic, or Weishaupt-like bourgeoisie, theoretically resulting in the second stage of Marxist communism of a classless society, and the subsequent withering-away in turn of the communist state itself. (Tucker, pp. 483-4) In all the attempts to enact this theory, no communist organization known to the present author has gotten to that ideal second stage, and no communist state has ever “withered away.” The best that Marx could do in describing the second “higher phase of communist society” was to present in his Critique of the Gotha Program (1875) Morelly’s Maxim of “From each according to ability, to each according to needs.” (Tucker, p. 531; see also: Hertzler, pp. 186-8; Durant & Durant, 1967, p. 81; Manuel & Manuel, pp. 707, 711, 715)

Not until the late 20th century would a non-monastic, communal society successfully create the dream of the second stage of Marxist communism, of the abolition of private-property in a common-property economy. The break-through was invented by Kathleen (Kat) Kinkade in 1967 at Twin Oaks Community in Virginia, called by the present author the “vacation-credit labor system.” Following is that story.

LIVE FREE! Labor Is Valued Equally ● For Realizing Economic Equality

Morelly’s Maxim has been revised by the present author from the original emphasis upon the individual, as in “from each according to ability; to each according to need,” to an emphasis upon the group, in Allen’s Axiom of “from all according to intent; to all according to fairness.” Allen’s Axiom also replaces Adam Smith’s “law of supply and demand” printed in his 1776 publication The Wealth of Nations, with the “law of intent and fairness,” first printed in the present author’s 2007 self-published Gifting and Sharing: Living the Plenty Paradigm in Cohousing and Communal Society (pp. 31, 57), available from the author.

It had long been believed that to create economic justice a society had to do away with the use of money and private property internally and substitute something else. However, finding something which would substantially serve the ideal took about 140 years of intermittent experimentation. From the mid-1820s to the early 1830s the idea of a time-based exchange currency was developed in England, with the principle designer, or to use the present author’s term “intentioneer,” being the Welsh industrialist Robert Owen. Owen had earlier been influenced by Gerard Winstanley’s 1652 book The Law of Freedom, and the works of other writers, including descriptions of American communal societies like the Shakers (Separatist) from England and the Harmonists (Pietist) from Germany.

Robert Owen’s and others’ ideas resulted in giving workers a form of paper scrip, sometimes called “labor notes,” stating the amount of time the worker had contributed to the community, which were then redeemed in a community store for goods and services, essentially comprising an alternative exchange system to that of the official currency. The “labour theory of value” is explained by John Curl in his 2009 book For All the People, quoting Robert Owen’s 1821 community proposal called Report to the County of Lanark, in which Owen writes that, “the natural standard of value is, in principle, human labour.” (Curl, p. 37)

Donald Pitzer in his 1997 edited work, America’s Communal Utopias, writes that, “In Britain, workers’ cooperatives and trade unions originated in Owenite activity.” Pitzer explains that Friedrich Engels was a “critic of Owenite utopian and communitarian socialism … [who] conceded that ‘all social movements, all real advance made in England in the interests of the working class were associated with Owen’s name’.” (Pitzer, pp. 123, 133 n. 109; Engels, pp. 296-7; Tucker, p. 693)

It is thought that because of the social reforms involving economic cooperatives and communitarian experimentation, the countries that Marx listed in which “workers can attain their goal by peaceful means” like England, America, and perhaps Holland, were able to avoid the kinds of violent revolution experienced by many continental European industrializing countries, including: France, Germany, Russia, Spain, and others. Because communist theory embraces violent revolution Friedrich Engels wrote in his 1880 pamphlet titled Socialism: Utopian and Scientific a succession of slurs and attacks against communitarian movements, calling them “utopian socialism” as opposed to the “modern socialism” or “scientific socialism” of Marxist communism. (Tucker, pp. 683, 700-1) Engels’ criticisms of communitarian experiments and social reforms include calling them: “model experiments … foredoomed as Utopian,” “phantasies, which today only make us smile,” “eclectic, average socialism,” and “a mish-mash of such critical statements, economic theories, pictures of future society by the founders of different sects, as excite a minimum of opposition …”  (Tucker, pp. 687, 688, 693, 694) Thus, “utopian socialism,” now called “intentional community” was added to the list of enemies of communism, along with social reformers, democratic socialists, anarchists, and others.

Frank and Fritzie Manuel probably wrote the most detailed criticism of Marx’ and Engels’ hypocritical attitude toward those whom they labeled “utopian socialists” in their 1979 book, Utopian Thought in the Western World. Like the communitarian scholar and kibbutz member Yaacov Oved, the Manuel’s use the term “sneer” in describing Marx’ and Engels’ comments about the communitarians. Oved writes about Engels that, “He openly sneered at utopian experiments,” while the Manuels state that Engels’ writing titled in short, Anti-Duhring (1878) is, “spotted with similar sneers.” That is, sneers like calling communitarian settlements, “optimum little republics.” (Manuel & Manuel, p. 700; Oved, p. 428) Ironically, Marxist communism’s second stage of communism is itself utopian, attained only after the violence of the first stage. Communitarianism skips the violence to go directly to the ideal!

**End of Part 3 of 5**

Portions of this article were previously published in the author’s 2016 e-book The Intentioneer’s Bible

(see: Amazon.com), and other portions are to appear in the author’s forthcoming book.

References

Bestor, Arthur E. (1948 June). “The Evolution of the Socialist Vocabulary,” Journal of the history of ideas, Vol. 9, No. 3, pp. 259-302. University of Pennsylvania Press. (www.jstor.org/stable/2707371)

Bookchin, Murray. (1977). The Spanish anarchists: The heroic years 1868-1936. NY: Harper Colophon Books.

Bookchin, Murray. (2015). The next revolution. Brooklyn, NY: Verso Press.

Breton, D. & Largent, C. (1991). The soul of economies: Spiritual evolution goes to the market place. Wilmington, DE: Idea House Publishing.

Butcher, A. Allen. (1991). Democracy and capitalism: Are they critical elements of a climax human culture? Self-published. Denver, CO: The School of Intentioneering. Retrieved April 16, 2020 from http://www.culturemagic.org/PDF/c1Democracy20Capitalism.pdf

Butcher, A. Allen. (2016). The intentioneer’s bible: Interwoven stories of the parallel cultures of plenty and scarcity. Self-published e-book at Amazon.com. Denver, Colorado: The School of Intentioneering.

Campbell, Joseph. (1988). The power of myth: Joseph Campbell with Bill Moyers. New York: Bantam, Doubleday, Dell Publishing Group.

Cress, Kit Firth. (1987). Communitarian connections: Josiah Warren, Robert Smith, and Peter Kaufmann. Communal Societies: Journal of the National Historic Communal Societies Association, 7, 67-81.

Curl, John. (2012). For all the people: Uncovering the hidden history of cooperation, cooperative movements, and communalism in America (2nd ed.). Oakland, CA: PM Press.

Dever, William. (2005), Did God have a wife? Archaeology and folk religion in ancient Israel. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing Company.

Dolgoff, Sam. (1974) The anarchist collectives: Workers’ self-management in the Spanish Revolution 1936-1939. New York: Free Life Editions.

Durant,W., & Durant, A. (1967). The story of civilization: Vol. 10. Rousseau and revolution. New York: Simon and Schuster.

Eisler, Riane. (1987). The chalice and the blade: Our history, our future. San Francisco, CA: Harper & Row. http://www.centerforpartnership.org

Engels, Friedrich. (1935, original work published in 1878). Anti-Duhring: Herr Eugen Duhring’s revolution in science. Chicago: C. H. Kerr.

Fogarty, Robert. (1980). Dictionary of American communal and utopian history. Westport, CN: Greenwood Press.

Gimbutas, Marija. (1991). The civilization of the Goddess: The world of Old Europe. Joan Marler, editor. San Franciso, CA: Harper Collins Publishers.

Gimbutas, Marija. (2001). The Living Goddesses. Miriam Robbins Dexter, editor and contributor. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. (Original work published 1999.)

Goettner-Abendroth, Heide (Ed.). (2009). Societies of peace: Matriarchies past, present and future. Toronto, Canada: Inanna Publications and Education, Inc.

Goettner-Abendroth, Heide. (2012). Matriarchal societies: Studies on indigenous cultures across the globe. New York: Peter Lang Publishing, Inc.

Hertzler, Joyce Oramel. (1926). The history of utopian thought. New York: The MacMillan Company.

Hunter, James Davison. (1991). Culture Wars: The Struggle to Define America. New York: Harper Collins.

Hyams, Edward. (1973). The millennium postponed: Socialism from Sir Thomas More to Mao Tse-Tung. New York: Meridian New American Library.

Kinkade, Kathleen. (1972). A Walden Two experiment: The first five years of Twin Oaks Community (2nd Ed.). Louisa, VA: Twin Oaks Community, Inc.

Knauer, Kelly (Ed.). (2010). Secret societies: Decoding the myths and facts of history’s most mysterious organizations. New York: Time, Inc.

Kramnick, Isaac. (2001, December 19). Is God a Republican? Why politics is dangerous for religion. The American Prospect. Washington, D.C.: American Prospect, Inc.

Leakey, R. & Lewin R. (1978). People of the lake: Mankind & its beginnings. New York: Avon Books.

Lieblich, Amia. (2002). “Women and the changing Israeli Kibbutz: A Preliminary three-stage theory” pp. 81-2. The Journal of Israeli history, vol. 21:1. pp. 63-84. 

London Co-operative society. The London co-operative magazine. London, England: Knight and Lacey. Retrieved August 19, 2017 from https://catalog.hathitrut.org/Record/000516769

Manuel, Frank (Ed.). (1965). Utopias and utopian thought. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin.

Manuel, F. & Manuel, F. (1979). Utopian thought in the Western world. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press.

McKanan, Dan. (20100). Prophetic encounters: Religion and the American radical tradition. Boston, MA: Beacon Press.

Morgan, Arthur. (1944). Edward Bellamy: A biography of the author of “Looking Backward.” New York: Columbia University of Press.

Morgan, Arthur. (1946). Nowhere was somewhere: How history makes utopias and how utopias make history. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press.

Oved, Yaacov. (1988). Two hundred years of American communes. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Books.

Patai, Raphael. (1967). The Hebrew Goddess. Detroit, MI: Wayne State University Press.

Pew Research. (2019, October 17). In U.S., decline of Christianity continues at rapid pace. Retrieved April 15, 2020 from https://www.pewforum.org/2019/10/17/in-u-s-decline-of-christianity-continues-at-rapid-pace/

Pitzer, Donald E. (Ed). (1997). America’s communal utopias. Chapel Hill, NC: Univ. of North Carolina Press.

Rems, Emily. (2003 winter). “Ecovillage people.” BUST magazine. http://thefec.org/about/media/bust–magazine

Rexroth, Kenneth. (1974). Communalism: From its origins to the twentieth century. New York: Seabury Press.

Sandars, N. K. (1965). The epic of Gilgamesh. Baltimore, MD: Penguin Books. (Original published 1960)

Skinner, B. F. (2005). Walden Two. New York: Mc-Millan. (Original work published 1948)

Tucker, Robert C. (Ed.). (1987). The Marx-Engels Reader (2nd Ed.). New York: W. W. Norton & Company.

Wagner, Jon. (1982). Sex roles in contemporary American communes. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.

Walters, Kerry. (2011). Revolutionary deists: Early America’s rational infidels. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books.

Weatherford, Jack. (1994). Savages and civilization: Who will survive? New York: Fawcett Columbine.

Weatherford, Jack. (2004). Genghis Khan and the making of the modern world. New York: Broadway Books.

Weatherford, Jack. (2010). The secret history of the Mongol queens: How the daughters of Genghis Khan rescued his empire. New York: Random House.

Toward an Age of Equality in Partnership Culture – Part 4

A Countercultural Religious Left response to the Dominant Culture’s Religious Right

***

A. Allen Butcher • The School of Intentioneering • Denver, Colorado • November 4, 2020

http://www.Intentioneers.netAllenInUtopia@consultant.com • over 16,000 words in 5 Parts

For definitions of terms and explanations of concepts see the glossary at the end of Part 5.

***

Toward an Age of Equality ­– Part 4 of 5 ­– Time-Based Economics

Non-Monetary Labor-Gifting and Labor-Sharing

Frank and Fritzie Manuel state that while Marx and Engels used the term “utopian socialist” as “an epithet of denigration to be splashed onto any theoretical opponent,” they then point out that Marx’ and Engels’ Communist Manifesto itself is utopian, and that, “on occasion even they might lapse into utopianglossolalia.” (Manuel & Manuel, p. 699) For an example there is Engels’ preface to the German 1883 edition of the Manifesto in which he states that the “… oppressed class … can no longer emancipate itself … without at the same time forever freeing the whole of society from exploitation, oppression and class struggles—this basic thought belongs solely and exclusively to Marx.” This is at the same time another slur against communitarian society, a cooptation or appropriation of utopian wishful thinking, and a justification for violent extremism by Marxist communists. (Tucker, p. 472)

Robert Owen brought the labor notes idea to America with his communal experiment at New Harmony, called by the present author a “class-harmony community” as it was comprised of one or a few owners [note: Owen answered to a board-of-directors] with others as workers. However, every attempt to use forms of labor notes in intentional communities through the 19th century in America (as in Canada, England, Wales, Ireland, and Scotland), such as at New Harmony in Indiana (1825-27), and at Kaweah (1885-92) and Altruria (1894-5) both in California, resulted in the labor notes system being the first thing to be abandoned as the communities began to fail.

It was Josiah Warren (1798-1874), called by his biographer the “first American anarchist,” who would be inspired by his time at Owen’s New Harmony community to develop the labor notes idea into a successful time-based economic system in America, although as a labor-exchange system as developed in England and not as a communal economy. Donald Pitzer refers to Warren’s labor exchanges as the “Time Store Cooperative Movement” (1833-63), involving first his time-store at New Harmony, then in Cincinnati (1827-30), then the Equity Community (1833-5) and Utopia (1847-51) all in Ohio, and Modern Times (1851-63) in Long Island, New York. Other people adapted Josiah Warren’s Time Store model in Ohio and in Philadelphia, PA, where it was called the “Producer’s Exchange of Labor for Labor Association,” yet always as exchange systems, not for communal economies. (Cress, pp. 72-3; Pitzer, pp. 120, 130 n.68, 489)

By Pitzer’s count, there were a total of 29 Owenite communities: nineteen in the U.S., one in Canada, and nine in England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales. They developed collective childcare systems and pre-schools, and at various times and to different degrees, experimented with communalism. At twelve years Modern Times was the longest lived. The intentional communities created by Owen and those applying his theories are called by the present author “class-harmony communities” since they involve both an owner-class and a worker-class, while most of the communities in which Warren participated were more like cooperatives or land trusts in which workers were also owners. (Pitzer, pp. 122-3) The class-harmony form of intentional community has existed since the time of the ancient Greek philosopher Pythagoras, with the largest class-harmony community today, known to the present author, being Ganas on Staten Island, New York.

As Kenneth Rexroth explains, Josiah Warren anticipated many of the French anarchist Pierre-Joseph Proudhon’s (1809-65) theories. Proudhon published What is Property? in 1840, popularizing the phrase, “property is theft.” Karl Marx’s criticism of Proudhon assured Proudhon’s reputation as the founder of anarchism. Yet as Rexroth explains, Warren’s work predated Proudhon’s, saying that, “Warren not only anticipated Proudhon, but he was a far clearer thinker and writer, and a man who believed in testing all of his theories in practice. Marx was right about Proudhon. He was a confused thinker and a confusing writer and far from being a practical man.” (Rexroth, pp. 226, 238)

Murray Bookchin writes that Proudhon’s anarchism envisioned the exchange of products without competition or profit, with small craftsmen and collectively-owned industries organized into local and regional federations with minimal or no delegation of power to a central government. This is the basis of Bookchin’s theories of “confederal municipalism,” which he later called “communalism” in his 2015 book The Next Revolution, confusingly using the French political definition of the term referring to governmental subdivisions like neighborhoods, city wards, or boroughs, as opposed to the more familiar English economic definition meaning commonly-owned property. The educational organization created by Bookchin and friends called the Institute for Social Ecology continues Murray Bookchin’s confusing word choice, probably intended to emphasize the first use of the theory in the 1871 Paris Commune.

Pierre-Joseph Proudhon created a “mutual credit bank” using “labor-value certificates” which neither charged nor paid interest, similar to Warren’s time stores which functioned as Rexroth writes as “an interest-free credit union [with] loans in labor and commodities and eventually money.” (Bookchin, pp. 20-1; Dolgoff, p. 67; Hyams, pp. 85-6; Rexroth, p. 238)

While Edward Bellamy never stated the sources for the ideas which he included in his utopian fiction Looking Backward published in 1888, it is entirely possible that he was familiar with Josiah Warren’s publications, primarily his 1847 book Equitable Commerce, since both lived in Massachusetts in the 1860s and ‘70s, and Bellamy was known to have an extensive library.

Not until Kat Kinkade developed the vacation-credit labor system at Twin Oaks Community in the summer of 1967 would a successful communal labor-credit system be invented. Edward Bellamy had included a time-based “credit card” system in his Looking Backward utopian fiction, and from this the Harvard psychologist B. F. Skinner got the idea that a community could use ledger accounts for managing individual labor contributions with no form of exchange of anything like coins or scrip [i.e., paper bills]. In his utopian fiction Walden Two (1948) Skinner wrote, “Bellamy suggested the principle in Looking Backward.” (Kinkade, p. 45; Skinner, 2005, p. 46)

Warren, Bellamy, Skinner, and others have also suggested rewarding labor differently for different types of work in communal society. For about ten years Walden House in Washington D.C., Twin Oaks Community in Virginia, and East Wind Community in Missouri all experimented with “variable-credit labor systems” from 1966 until about 1976, rewarding some work done with more labor-credits than other work, until members decided to value equally all labor that benefits the community. It is an important lesson to keep in mind that variable compensation for labor is an aspect of monetary economics, while being both impractical and anathema to time-based economics, which values all labor equally, from childcare to corporate governance.

Building upon Skinner’s idea of ledger accounts, Kat Kinkade’s brilliant innovation, called by the present author the “vacation-credit labor system,” involves the whole community agreeing to set for themselves a weekly work quota that all members agree to meet, with vacation time earned when a member works over-quota. Working “under-quota” requires making up the difference in following weeks. This time-based economy, called at Twin Oaks simply the “labor-credit system,” became as Twin Oaks member Mala stated to a reporter, “the glue that keeps this community together.” (Mala, quoted in Rems, 2003) Different versions of the vacation-credit labor system have since been adopted by other communal groups, many of which have been or are networked in the Federation of Egalitarian Communities (FEC).

It is phenomenal how for 140 years the thing that was usually given up first when communal groups failed, their time-based economy, became the most important thing that now makes them successful! Kat Kinkade essentially created the first complete alternative economic system to that of monetary economics, existing now over 50 years, with versions practiced in a number of different communal groups, and sadly, very few people outside of the egalitarian communities movement know anything about it! It would seem that such an achievement would be worthy of much pride and promotion, yet most people think nothing of it. Reporters, academicians, and even members of the communal societies come and go and rarely ever understand the significance of the vacation-credit labor system’s place in the centuries-long effort to enable economic and gender equality.

While feminism may be the primary organizational ideal of the communal societies comprising the Federation of Egalitarian Communities, as the Indiana University psychologist Jon Wagner wrote in his 1982 book Sex Roles in Contemporary American Communes, “They have deliberately eschewed charismatic leaders and monolithic ideologies in favor of a pluralistic ethos, rational social planning, and participatory democracy.” In her correspondence with Wagner, Kat Kinkade wrote, these communities “ … make a strong point of absolute sexual equality, … This idea is fundamental to our idea of ‘equality,’ and equality is fundamental to our approach to changing society. There is no platform of our ideology that is more central.” Wagner points out that these egalitarian communities make a point to avoid sexist language by using the gender-neutral word “co” and the possessive “cos” for third-person pronouns, as coined in 1970 by Mary Orovan, a feminist writer in New York City. Jon Wagner concludes, “These communities may be among the most nonsexist social systems in human history.” (Wagner, pp. 36-8)

Extending equality in America from the political system to the economic system was the whole point of Bellamy’s Looking Backward, which was immensely influential around the end of the 19th century. Today, the time-based, labor-credit system innovations made by Kat Kinkade have successfully enabled the very thing that has eluded social reformers and revolutionaries since the early Industrial Revolution—a truly egalitarian economic system—which would seem to be exactly what Winstanley, Morelly, Owen, Warren, Proudhon, Marx & Engels, Bellamy, Skinner, Bookchin, and many others have sought!

While the vacation-credit labor system is the most advanced form of time-based economy, there are also much less involved and structured time-based economies in use. Volunteerism can be considered the simplest time-based system, often justified as “giving back” and “paying it forward.” There are also many time-exchange systems, often computer-assisted, like Time Dollars, and many alternative currencies facilitating the exchange of services as well as commodities. During the Great Depression it was found that labor-exchanges were utilized far more than alternative currencies. (See chapter VI:7 in The Intentioneer’s Bible) At the beginning of the Industrial Revolution in England many self-help, solidarity, and mutual aid projects began among the population, since government had not yet understood the necessity of social welfare programs. These had various names, like “Friendly Societies” and “Odd Fellows.” What was so odd about the Odd Fellows? It was the practice of helping others for mutual benefit within a dominant culture of competition, thought to be odd even at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution in the 18th century! In response to the Industrial Revolution came the entire cooperative movement, including consumer, producer or worker cooperatives, the labor union movement, mutual insurance companies, and many more initiatives, many of which are still with us. One might expect that initiatives arising today will also become established anti-capitalist programs in the future, a likely contender being the Mutual-Aid Network (MAN), which is using easily accessed online tools such as Zoom for group communication and Slack for small and large work-group coordination.

Egalitarian Religion: Answer to the Anguish of the Ages Caused by Patriarchy and Property

In his 1965 book Utopias and Utopian Thought Frank Manuel compared the imagining of, and the attempts to build utopian or ideal societies, as being like “dreams generated by denied needs and repressed wishes.” In his analogy Manuel suggested that as people project their denied and repressed lifestyle desires into utopian fiction writings and into their designs for intentional community, they are essentially responding to the problems of their contemporary culture, saying “… the utopia may well be a sensitive indicator of where the sharpest anguish of an age lies.” (Manuel, 1965, p.70)

While repressed and denied cultural desires and needs have been expressed in different ways through the ages, much of the distress can be attributed to the anguish caused by the negative aspects of patriarchy and property. These two sources of personal anxiety and cultural stress are closely related, and it can be said that patriarchy as a lifestyle was specifically created to affirm and justify private property held by men, including women and children as well as material wealth.

The answer to the anguish of the ages is to provide the option of choosing a common-property lifestyle over the dominant culture’s emphasis upon the private-property lifestyle, or a specific balance of the two, and to provide the option of choosing a gender-partnership over the dominant culture’s emphasis upon patriarchy. People typically need to know that they have choices in order to be happy with whatever they choose. The freedom to choose is often more important than the particular choice, because people’s needs and desires change with time and circumstances.

In matriarchal cultures family names and wealth were both passed down from mother to daughter, while men often did not even know which children of the village were their own, since a woman’s brothers helped to raise her children, not the children’s biological fathers. While women ruled the domestic scene men ran the businesses. Evidently, not all men liked that cultural arrangement, so some adopted patriarchal culture to enable men to control women’s reproduction in order to assure that men would be able to pass their private wealth to their biological sons. This is a simplistic explanation for why the dominant culture is what it is today, while there is certainly much more to be said, although I’ll keep it brief in this paper!

While the switch from matriarchal to patriarchal culture happened at different times around the world, for Western Civilization the change is thought to have begun with three large migratory waves from about 4400 to 2800 B.C.E., of Proto-Indo-European, patrilineal, semi-nomadic, militaristic, mounted warriors from the Russian steppes north of the Caucasus Mountains into the lands of peaceful, sedentary, matrilineal cultures from Ireland to Chinese Turkestan. These invaders, named “Kurgans” by Marija Gimbutas after the Russian word for their burial mounds, where most of the evidence of their culture is found, imposed their hierarchical culture upon the “equalitarian Old Europeans” and other peoples they encountered. The only surviving indigenous Old European culture today is the Basques of the western Pyrenees Mountains of northern Spain and south-western France, home of the Mondragon Cooperatives, who have maintained much of their ancient language and culture. (Gimbutas, 1991, p. 348; Gimbutas, 2001, pp. xv-xvi, 53)

A little more recently, just after 2000 B.C.E., Abraham, from the polytheistic Sumerian city of Ur in Mesopotamia, joined a back-to-the-land movement headed for Palestine, where his descendants, the Hebrew Tribes, Israelites, or Jewish people, made patriarchy into a monotheistic religion, later to inspire patriarchal Christians, Islamics, and others.

With the change from matriarchy to patriarchy the cultural pendulum essentially swung from one extreme to the other, while today we may hope for a happy medium in order to enjoy a cultural partnership of the genders. For men, DNA tests now take care of the need for proof-of-paternity, while women are continually making advancements in their rights and freedoms, such as with the recent “MeToo” movement.

In the same way that more than two millennia ago the Jewish priests, in order to replace matriarchy with patriarchy, re-mythed earlier stories of the Goddess, the Creatress of the Earth and Queen of Heaven (Eisler, p. 85), who according to myth instructed women in the domestic arts of agriculture, food processing, pottery, weaving, healthcare, child-raising, and language, people may now re-myth the Judeo-Christian-Islamic stories and traditions to affirm a gender-partnership culture affirming a Partnership Spirituality. Such a gender-equal culture may combine all the masculine aspects of God, Jesus, and priests, along with the feminine attributes of the Goddess and priestesses found in women’s spirituality, to create a new binarian monotheism in the same way that trinitarian monotheism (i.e., Trinitarian Christianity) was created: We say it is so, then for us, so it is!

Women and men creating a partnership culture have the potential for ending the anguish of the ages caused by the imbalances of male-gender-dominance and exclusive male property ownership. Gender equality is not a new idea since many traditional cultures had a form of binarian polytheism, as they honored both gods and goddesses, such as the Mongols and some Native American tribes affirming both a male sky-god and a female mother-earth goddess. (Weatherford, 2004, pp. 20, 33)

With an egalitarian, binarian spiritual-religious foundation, people may more likely be able to construct and enjoy an egalitarian political-economic system, with or without the use of money. As explained in the previous section “LIVE FREE!,” non-monetary, time-based economies go the furthest toward valuing income-generating labor and domestic labor equally.

In the earlier section, “The Communal Ideal of 19th century Marxist Communism Realized in 20th century Egalitarian Communities,” I explained that the second stage of Marxist communism as a projected classless, moneyless utopia already exists in the Federation of Egalitarian Communities, with member communities now over fifty years old. Marxists typically do not accept that communal societies like those in the FEC represent what Marx and Engels talked about with regard to the second and end stage of communism, since they disparaged intentional communities of all types, and because the largest FEC groups are only about a hundred adult members. The scale of intentional communities is much smaller than that of nation-states, and even smaller than any micro-state like Vatican City (population 800), so it could be said that Twin Oaks and other intentional communities are nano-states nested within nation-states. Yet since utopian communal societies are internally moneyless and classless they are the closest thing to Marxist utopianism, attained without a prior stage of violent revolution!

The Federation of Egalitarian Communities (FEC) skipped the violence of Marxist communism and went straight to the second level of the proverbial Marxist classless society and moneyless economy, which is essentially the model of the non-monastic communal society inclusive of children.

**End of Part 4 of 5**

Portions of this article were previously published in the author’s 2016 e-book The Intentioneer’s Bible

(see: Amazon.com), and other portions are to appear in the author’s forthcoming book.

References

Bestor, Arthur E. (1948 June). “The Evolution of the Socialist Vocabulary,” Journal of the history of ideas, Vol. 9, No. 3, pp. 259-302. University of Pennsylvania Press. (www.jstor.org/stable/2707371)

Bookchin, Murray. (1977). The Spanish anarchists: The heroic years 1868-1936. NY: Harper Colophon Books.

Bookchin, Murray. (2015). The next revolution. Brooklyn, NY: Verso Press.

Breton, D. & Largent, C. (1991). The soul of economies: Spiritual evolution goes to the market place. Wilmington, DE: Idea House Publishing.

Butcher, A. Allen. (1991). Democracy and capitalism: Are they critical elements of a climax human culture? Self-published. Denver, CO: The School of Intentioneering. Retrieved April 16, 2020 from http://www.culturemagic.org/PDF/c1Democracy20Capitalism.pdf

Butcher, A. Allen. (2016). The intentioneer’s bible: Interwoven stories of the parallel cultures of plenty and scarcity. Self-published e-book at Amazon.com. Denver, Colorado: The School of Intentioneering.

Campbell, Joseph. (1988). The power of myth: Joseph Campbell with Bill Moyers. New York: Bantam, Doubleday, Dell Publishing Group.

Cress, Kit Firth. (1987). Communitarian connections: Josiah Warren, Robert Smith, and Peter Kaufmann. Communal Societies: Journal of the National Historic Communal Societies Association, 7, 67-81.

Curl, John. (2012). For all the people: Uncovering the hidden history of cooperation, cooperative movements, and communalism in America (2nd ed.). Oakland, CA: PM Press.

Dever, William. (2005), Did God have a wife? Archaeology and folk religion in ancient Israel. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing Company.

Dolgoff, Sam. (1974) The anarchist collectives: Workers’ self-management in the Spanish Revolution 1936-1939. New York: Free Life Editions.

Durant,W., & Durant, A. (1967). The story of civilization: Vol. 10. Rousseau and revolution. New York: Simon and Schuster.

Eisler, Riane. (1987). The chalice and the blade: Our history, our future. San Francisco, CA: Harper & Row. http://www.centerforpartnership.org

Engels, Friedrich. (1935, original work published in 1878). Anti-Duhring: Herr Eugen Duhring’s revolution in science. Chicago: C. H. Kerr.

Fogarty, Robert. (1980). Dictionary of American communal and utopian history. Westport, CN: Greenwood Press.

Gimbutas, Marija. (1991). The civilization of the Goddess: The world of Old Europe. Joan Marler, editor. San Franciso, CA: Harper Collins Publishers.

Gimbutas, Marija. (2001). The Living Goddesses. Miriam Robbins Dexter, editor and contributor. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. (Original work published 1999.)

Goettner-Abendroth, Heide (Ed.). (2009). Societies of peace: Matriarchies past, present and future. Toronto, Canada: Inanna Publications and Education, Inc.

Goettner-Abendroth, Heide. (2012). Matriarchal societies: Studies on indigenous cultures across the globe. New York: Peter Lang Publishing, Inc.

Hertzler, Joyce Oramel. (1926). The history of utopian thought. New York: The MacMillan Company.

Hunter, James Davison. (1991). Culture Wars: The Struggle to Define America. New York: Harper Collins.

Hyams, Edward. (1973). The millennium postponed: Socialism from Sir Thomas More to Mao Tse-Tung. New York: Meridian New American Library.

Kinkade, Kathleen. (1972). A Walden Two experiment: The first five years of Twin Oaks Community (2nd Ed.). Louisa, VA: Twin Oaks Community, Inc.

Knauer, Kelly (Ed.). (2010). Secret societies: Decoding the myths and facts of history’s most mysterious organizations. New York: Time, Inc.

Kramnick, Isaac. (2001, December 19). Is God a Republican? Why politics is dangerous for religion. The American Prospect. Washington, D.C.: American Prospect, Inc.

Leakey, R. & Lewin R. (1978). People of the lake: Mankind & its beginnings. New York: Avon Books.

Lieblich, Amia. (2002). “Women and the changing Israeli Kibbutz: A Preliminary three-stage theory” pp. 81-2. The Journal of Israeli history, vol. 21:1. pp. 63-84. 

London Co-operative society. The London co-operative magazine. London, England: Knight and Lacey. Retrieved August 19, 2017 from https://catalog.hathitrut.org/Record/000516769

Manuel, Frank (Ed.). (1965). Utopias and utopian thought. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin.

Manuel, F. & Manuel, F. (1979). Utopian thought in the Western world. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press.

McKanan, Dan. (20100). Prophetic encounters: Religion and the American radical tradition. Boston, MA: Beacon Press.

Morgan, Arthur. (1944). Edward Bellamy: A biography of the author of “Looking Backward.” New York: Columbia University of Press.

Morgan, Arthur. (1946). Nowhere was somewhere: How history makes utopias and how utopias make history. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press.

Oved, Yaacov. (1988). Two hundred years of American communes. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Books.

Patai, Raphael. (1967). The Hebrew Goddess. Detroit, MI: Wayne State University Press.

Pew Research. (2019, October 17). In U.S., decline of Christianity continues at rapid pace. Retrieved April 15, 2020 from https://www.pewforum.org/2019/10/17/in-u-s-decline-of-christianity-continues-at-rapid-pace/

Pitzer, Donald E. (Ed). (1997). America’s communal utopias. Chapel Hill, NC: Univ. of North Carolina Press.

Rems, Emily. (2003 winter). “Ecovillage people.” BUST magazine. http://thefec.org/about/media/bust–magazine

Rexroth, Kenneth. (1974). Communalism: From its origins to the twentieth century. New York: Seabury Press.

Sandars, N. K. (1965). The epic of Gilgamesh. Baltimore, MD: Penguin Books. (Original published 1960)

Skinner, B. F. (2005). Walden Two. New York: Mc-Millan. (Original work published 1948)

Tucker, Robert C. (Ed.). (1987). The Marx-Engels Reader (2nd Ed.). New York: W. W. Norton & Company.

Wagner, Jon. (1982). Sex roles in contemporary American communes. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.

Walters, Kerry. (2011). Revolutionary deists: Early America’s rational infidels. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books.

Weatherford, Jack. (1994). Savages and civilization: Who will survive? New York: Fawcett Columbine.

Weatherford, Jack. (2004). Genghis Khan and the making of the modern world. New York: Broadway Books.

Weatherford, Jack. (2010). The secret history of the Mongol queens: How the daughters of Genghis Khan rescued his empire. New York: Random House.

Toward an Age of Equality in Partnership Culture – Part 5

A Countercultural Religious Left response to the Dominant Culture’s Religious Right

***

A. Allen Butcher • The School of Intentioneering • Denver, Colorado • November 4, 2020

http://www.Intentioneers.netAllenInUtopia@consultant.com • over 16,000 words in 5 Parts

For definitions of terms and explanations of concepts see the glossary at the end of Part 5.

***

Toward an Age of Equality ­– Part 5 of 5 ­– Communitarian Mysticism

So Here We Are In Utopia! 😊

Welcome to a lifestyle expressing your highest ideals and most cherished values! People can make any kind of agreements they like, creating many different forms of intentional community. Designing and living in a communal society presents four primary challenges of communal organization: governance, economics, children and family life, and land and legal structure. A fifth, optional challenge is religion and spirituality, unless the communal society is incorporated as a Religious and Apostolic Association (IRS 501(d)), in which case a statement of religious belief is required. Aspects of these five challenges are characteristic of other non-communal intentional communities as well.

• Participatory governance: consensus, sociocracy, planner-manager, democracy, and democratic decentralism. There are communal societies, like monasteries, using authoritarian decision-making processes yet those are not participatory and therefore are not egalitarian.

The planner-manager system, similar to sociocracy, involves the whole group delegating responsibility for decision-making in particular areas of the community to individuals, crews, or committees, which may be self-selecting rather than elected positions, yet open communication, agreement-seeking, petition, overview, and recall make this a participatory form of governance.

Democratic decentralism provides participatory governance for large numbers of people like towns divided into neighborhoods, with each having separate decision-making bodies, all sending representatives to a central coordinating body. This is basically how the Federation or FEC is organized, although those communities are not contiguous and instead are some distance from each other, while the largest communal societies tend toward subdividing in this way as well. Representatives of neighborhoods or communities may be delegated the authority to make decisions as they think is best for their constituents in delegate assemblies, or may be limited to only casting votes in representative assemblies according to instructions received from their constituents. Although they all mean the same thing, the term “democratic decentralism” is used in the School of Intentioneering in part to differentiate from the terms with the same meaning used by the Institute for Social Ecology, including: “confederal municipalism,” “democratic confederalism,” and the French meaning of “commune.”

• Communal economics: income-generating and other production labor, such as construction, agriculture, maintenance, governance etc., and domestic or reproduction labor such as food service, cleaning, childcare, education, recreation, and healthcare, are all integrated within one time-based, non-exchange, non-monetary economy. In the time-based economy called by the present author the “vacation-credit labor system” all labor is valued equally [see the last four paragraphs of the section “LIVE FREE”]. In this way, no money or any other exchange system is used within the communal society, and all domestic labor or “women’s work” is valued equally with all other kinds of work, including income-generating labor.

Since no community is totally self-reliant, engaging with the outside world’s monetary economy is necessary for everything the community needs or wants yet cannot produce for itself. Typically, half of the community’s on-system labor supply (number of working members x weekly work quota = labor supply) is devoted to income-producing labor, either in the community’s own businesses or in jobs outside of the community.

            Distribution of commodities or services within the communal society does not require setting a value on the commodity or service, instead, a member’s right to access to services and things simply depends upon the availability, with shortages requiring additional production. To provide things to members, the community simply plans the production of them, or plans to make the money to acquire services and things, usually through annual planning processes, which includes adjusting the labor quota as desired. Distribution may be: according to need like healthcare; or according to chance like rolling dice or drawing straws; or first-come-first-served for things “up for grabs;” or by more sophisticated processes like the “double-blind preferences matrix,” in which particular things, like private rooms, are assigned to members by matching individuals to the available things in the way that assures that the greatest number of applicants possible receive their first or second choice. The “double-blind” aspect involves a set of things like rooms being given names of something like flowers, then the people desiring them are given names of something like animals, then someone who does not know how the rooms or people are coded arranges the matrix so that as many as possible of the animals gets their first or second choice of flower.

Community-owned businesses, generating income for the community, are technically owned by all the members, not just by those who work in them, so they are not simply “worker-owned business,” yet the workers are part of the ownership group and so in this way communal societies are part of the worker-owned business movement.

• Children and family life: Communal childcare is a wonderful thing for children and parents when it works, and it works best in small groups. There are at least two major problems in large-group communal childcare programs, the first being that parents tend to leave the community with their children by the time they reach school age, and the second being that if the family does stay in the community the children will usually leave once they become adults, and so community members who do not have children tend to not want to support children in the community, or tend to want to limit the number of children in the community. Part of the reason for parents taking their children out of communal society is to avoid having to struggle through annual planning processes for the support they want for their children, causing some to think it is easier to leave communal society and take their chances in the outside world. Another problem in large communal childcare programs, involving many children and adult caregivers, is the turn-over in children, parents and other caregivers as adults come and go with their children, often resulting in the whole group having to renegotiate many childcare issues with each new caregiver. The obvious solution is then to design small-group childcare around each child or family or age cohort, involving less than ten children and adults, called by the present author a “cofamily.” This is the childcare model now in use at Twin Oaks and East Wind communities. Both of these communities ended their large-group childcare programs in the mid-1990s and evolved the cofamily design, although they may not yet be using that term to describe their current model of communal childcare.

            Cofamily communities of three-to-nine persons of any age exist as either small intentional communities in their own right, or as a “nested cofamily” when joining or arising within a larger intentional community, like a communal, cooperative, cohousing, land trust or other form of intentional community.

            The cofamily concept adds to the existing forms of “family” based upon marriage or blood relations, including: single-parent, nuclear, serially monogamous, blended, and extended families. The “cofamily” then is a different type of family created around a set of affinities and agreements among the cofamily group.

Communal societies may be said to include a housing cooperative, food cooperative, childcare cooperative, etc., however, they cannot be said to include or be a cohousing community. Cohousing communities are typically designed specifically for families with children, with a particular space-use design involving each individual or family having their own apartment or house, including a private kitchen and bath, while also sharing a central building providing community services, usually including a kitchen and dining space large enough for the whole community, a childcare space, and maybe a community office, healthcare clinic, library, greenhouse, workshop, or any other amenity the community decides to provide for itself. Unlike communal societies, cohousing communities have no commonly-owned property, instead they share privately-owned property usually through a condominium or other homeowners association.

• Land and legal structure: land in a communal society could be said to be in a form of community land trust (CLT), yet the legal ownership structure is different from the basic CLT model, which typically uses a state non-profit corporation, and sometimes a federal tax-exempt organization. The legal structure designed specifically for communal societies is the IRS 501(d) Religious and Apostolic Association. This is essentially a form of partnership, in which the total annual community net income is divided equally on paper for each member, who then claims the income on their personal tax return. If the average personal net income is less than the taxable amount, and it usually is, then the community pays no taxes. Because the community shares so much it does not need as many cars or as much of hardly any consumer commodity that a similar number of people would have in the outside world, and so communal sharing enables practically a lower-middle-class lifestyle on poverty level income.

Communal societies emphasizing self-reliance in food, building materials, energy and other forms of self-reliance often refer to themselves as ecovillages, which is a separate network of intentional communities. The Global Ecovillages Network or GEN is comprised of communities using a range of different legal structures and design formats, including some cohousing, housing cooperatives, community land trusts, communal societies, class-harmony communities, etc. Ecovillages emphasize ecological sustainability through permaculture and related design concepts. The particular value of communalism is that the lifestyle can be one of the most efficient in the use of resources, therefore enabling one of the most environmentally responsible lifestyles.

            The IRS does require each 501(d) organization to file a “Statement of Religious Belief,” which can say practically anything since religion cannot be defined by the government. Federation communities using the 501(d) incorporation status typically write a one-page religious statement including a range of spiritual ideals and values, usually drawing from religious traditions such as: Unitarian Universalism, Native American Spirituality, Eastern religions, Christianity, Paganism, Humanism, and other sources.

An ironic aspect of egalitarian community is that while religions usually develop first and then seek to inspire and support communal expressions of their values, in the case of the Federation of Egalitarian Communities, the communal application of equality as a lifestyle was created first, with its religious expression developing as an afterthought. The design of egalitarian communalism provides a model of communal society representing the furthest expression of egalitarian religion, which then inspires people to create forms of egalitarian community in their lives providing for various degrees of private versus common property, whether communal, collective, cooperative, cohousing, coliving, cofamily, class-harmony, ecovillage, land trust or other. Any of these forms of intentional community can practice at least gender equality in governance and labor-gifting, without also being economically communal.

Mysticism and Revelation Blended in Partnership Spirituality

Egalitarian religion affirms a balance between different beliefs and lifestyle preferences, such as between private and common property ownership, between patriarchy and matriarchy, and between mysticism and revelation, all to be balanced in Partnership Spirituality. Generally, the idea of equality requires or assumes differences between at least two things, such as the two forms of property, common and private, the two primary genders, female and male, and the two forms of spirituality, mysticism and revelation. The intent is to not emphasize any one thing to the exclusion of the other, as in subsuming a lesser thing into a dominant thing, whether belief or lifestyle, yet instead to affirm and highlight opposites, such that the holistic perspective of balancing differences creates a strength greater than either alone.

With respect to religious beliefs and spiritual convictions, transforming the dominant religion in America from the Trinitarian monotheism of Christianity to a Binarian monotheism of Partnership only requires looking into how the Judeo-Christian tradition was developed and model that for creating a Partnership religion.  As discussed in the second section of Part 1, “Social Change and the Culture Wars,” in the same way that earlier matriarchal traditions were re-mythed in service to patriarchal religion, so can patriarchal religion be re-mythed in service to Partnership Spirituality. In the same way that Jesus was deified as a co-equal part of Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit, so also can Jesus’ partner Mary Magdalene be deified as Maid, Mother, and Elder. We say it is so, then for us, so it is!

Regarding Partnership Spirituality in the Old Testament, consider that Hebrew women worshipped for centuries the Canaanite mother-goddess Asherah, often quietly at home since women were excluded from many of the rites of patriarchal Judaism. William Dever explains in Did God Have a Wife? that Asherah was a patroness of women, and many terra cotta female figurines which may have been representations of the Goddess have been excavated in Palestine. (Dever, pp. 176-180) As Raphael Patai explains in The Hebrew Goddess, “of the 370 years during which the Solomonic Temple [dedicated to Yahweh] stood in Jerusalem, for no less than 236 years [nearly 2/3 of the time] the statue of Asherah was present in the Temple, and her worship was a part of the legitimate religion … opposed by only a few prophetic voices crying out against it at relatively long intervals.” (Patai, p. 50) Asherah worship often took place in hilltop groves of trees, or with the Goddess Asherah represented by a single tree, or even a simple pole in the ground, so it is not known exactly how she was represented in Solomon’s Temple. “Asherah remained in the Temple, at home alongside Yahweh, where many Israelites (perhaps most) thought she belonged.” (Patai, p. 212) There are many representations of female aspects in Judaism, often with respect to wisdom as a female trait. The most provocative is Proverbs 8:1-36. “Can’t you hear the voice of wisdom? She is standing at the city gates and at every fork in the road, and at the door of every house. … I, Wisdom, give good advice and common sense. … For whoever finds me finds life and wins approval from the Lord.” (Proverbs 8:1-3, 14, 35) Bible passages are explained in different ways, and for those seeking her the Goddess can be found among them.

With regard to property, while the goal of Marxist communism may be a communal equality, which is now realized in egalitarian communalism, what has been found is that communal societies need the alternative of the private-property system of the dominant culture, as much as that dominant culture needs the alternative of egalitarian communalism. With respect to gender, the goal of androgyny or sexual ambiguity is one way of balancing female and male, while another way is valuing, honoring, and celebrating the differences between the genders such that neither overlords the other. With an appreciation for religious tolerance and pluralism a Partnership Spirituality balances the revelation of a transcendent patriarchal God with the mysticism of an immanent matriarchal Goddess, such that together the feminine and masculine aspects of spiritual and religious ideals and beliefs reflect the nature of gendered sentient life on the planet!

With the range and speed of changes occurring today this is a particularly good time to suggest alternatives to the values and systems of the dominant culture, including lifestyle, political-economy, and religion/spirituality. In 2018 and 2019 the Pew Research Institute conducted a survey of religion in America and found that significant changes are under way. The report titled “In U.S., Decline of Christianity Continues at Rapid Pace” shows that people are moving away from organized religion to “none of the above.” The report states, “65% of American adults describe themselves as Christians when asked about their religion, down 12 percentage points over the past decade. … Both Protestantism and Catholicism are experiencing losses of population share. Currently, 43% of U.S. adults identify with Protestantism, down from 51% in 2009. And one-in-five adults (20%) are Catholic, down from 23% in 2009. … Meanwhile, the religiously unaffiliated share of the population, consisting of people who describe their religious identity as atheist, agnostic or ‘nothing in particular,’ now stands at 26%, up from 17% in 2009. Self-described atheists now account for 4% of U.S. adults, up modestly but significantly from 2% in 2009; agnostics make up 5% of U.S. adults, up from 3% a decade ago; and 17% of Americans now describe their religion as ‘nothing in particular,’ up from 12% in 2009. Members of non-Christian religions also have grown modestly as a share of the adult population.” (Pew Research, 2019)

Clearly, the research shows that there is a significant ongoing shift in religious attitudes in America, so this is the time to offer a belief structure that builds upon what already exists, toward a spirituality that reduces conflict between the genders, between those who are attached to private property and those who prefer common property, and between those who only care for a patriarchal, transcendent sky-God known by revelation coming from outside our mind, and those who appreciate a matriarchal, immanent earth-Goddess known by the mysticism of intuition coming through the Earth into our body and mind.

While there is a large amount of written material about and experience of the dominant, transcendent, patriarchal religion, the conservative perspective of which is called the “Religious Right,” there is less about its opposite, the countercultural, gender-equal, Earth-based, immanent spirituality indwelling or inherent to the universe, comprising part of the “Religious Left.” Generally, the Religious Left includes forms of Christianity focused upon social justice, which would include: the Catholic Worker communities; the Protestant “social gospel” movement; and the traditions that came out of Christianity including the Quaker’s concept of the “inner light,” Transcendentalism’s “inner divinity,” and Unitarian Universalism’s religious pluralism. 

One way for a person to appreciate Partnership Spirituality would be through the common religious experience of a sudden realization or self-actualization, such as through Abraham Maslow’s concept of a “peak experience,” yet in the absence of an epiphany reorienting one’s entire perspective on reality, people can simply affirm Partnership Spirituality with the affirmation, “We say it is so, then for us, so it is!”

***

Glossary of Terms and Concepts used in the School of Intentioneering

Communal—although this term has various dictionary definitions, in the School of Intentioneering it is used exclusively to refer to the common ownership of property and wealth, whether the governance structure is authoritarian or participatory.

Democratic decentralism—participatory governance for large numbers of people like towns divided into neighborhoods, with each having separate decision-making bodies, all sending representatives to a central coordinating body. This is basically how the Federation or FEC is organized, although those communities are not contiguous and instead are some distance from each other, while the largest communal societies tend toward subdividing in this way as well. Representatives of neighborhoods or communities may be delegated the authority to make decisions as they think is best for their constituents in delegate assemblies, or may be limited to only casting votes in representative assemblies according to instructions received from their constituents. Although they all mean the same thing, the term “democratic decentralism” is used in the School of Intentioneering in part to differentiate from the terms with the same meaning used by the Institute for Social Ecology, including: “confederal municipalism,” “democratic confederalism,” and the French meaning of “commune.”

Egalitarian Communalism — the furthest expression of gender partnership in which all property is owned and controlled in common by women and men, including the means-of-production. Community-ownership or common-ownership, with women and men sharing all domestic and other labor, and facilitating gender-equality in governance, is the most egalitarian social structure. Communal members may or may not form families, cofamiles, or polyamorous relationships within the communal society.

Worker-Ownership — the means-of-production, or capital, is owned in common and profits are shared. Shared governance with open bookkeeping or transparent accounting is usually practiced.

Land Commons — “the commons” is the natural and cultural resources shared by all. In traditional societies this may be practically everything, while for the present private-property system legal designs have been created to protect various forms of commons, from land, to the electro-magnetic spectrum, to open-source knowledge. The land commons may be protected: by governments, such as for maintaining parks and waterways, or by taxing for the public good via the land-value tax (LVT) that portion of land value created not by the land owner, instead by society through population density and government services; or by private organizations called conservation land trusts for keeping land wild; or by community land trusts (CLT) for housing, schools, businesses, self-reliant homesteads, etc.

Class-Harmony Community — the means-of-production and usually most property is owned by an individual or small-group, while others rent property from the (hopefully) benevolent owners. Tenants may be individuals, families, or cofamilies.

Methods of Domestic Sharing:

Matriarchy — all or most property is owned by women who are head-of-the-household, inheriting family names and property. Typically, siblings grow up together in large households headed by a matriarch. Upon adulthood each young woman is given a bedroom in the household with one door opening to the outside and one door opening to an interior space or courtyard of the multi-room women’s house. Upon reaching adulthood the men live outside of the women’s household in smaller male-only housing, becoming male partners of any number of women, with children in different women’s households. The women would know their own children; while the men may never know which children are their own. Men run the businesses that support the family or extended family. (See: Goettner-Abendroth, 2009 & 2012).

Patriarchy — all or most property is owned by men who are head-of-the-household, inheriting family names and property. Typically, women leave their families to marry and live with their husband’s family, called patrilocal marriage. Monogamous marriage, serial-monogamy, blended families, polygamous families, and extended families, may all be headed by a patriarch. In some patriarchal cultures men essentially own women and girls like with all other property. In many patriarchal cultures women have to win and maintain their right to own property, own businesses, participate in governance, and lead religious institutions.

Partnership — property is owned by women, by men, or in common. Gender-equality is practiced in governance, business, and domestic home-life. Gender-equal or egalitarian marriage, serial-marriage, polyamory, or cofamily may be practiced.

Polyamorous families — women and/or men have two or more intimate partners, whether all of the involved adults live together or separately. The pleasure in seeing one’s partner enjoying being with their plural partners is called “compersion,” a term coined by the polyfidelitous Kerista Commune in 1970s San Francisco.

Cofamilies — three-to-nine, non-related people, with or without children, living in community. Women and men in cofamilies may or may not have polyamorous multiple intimate partners within the group. When a cofamily forms within or joins a larger intentional community, whether communal, cohousing, land trust, ecovillage, cooperative, etc, they are called a “nested cofamily.”

Cohousing — involves the sharing of privately-owned property with no or minimal commonly-owned property. The “common house” in cohousing is not owned-in-common, it is legally a form of private ownership called “undivided interest,” and is surrounded by the privately-owned housing units. The community is typically structured as a condominium or housing cooperative. Gender-equality is typically practiced in the governance structure of the cohousing community.

Ecovillage — a traditional village or an intentional community, either minimizing its impact on the natural world or enhancing the symbiosis of human and nonhuman living things, by incorporating ecological and sustainable features and practices, often called “permaculture.”

**End of Part 5 of 5**

Portions of this article were previously published in the author’s 2016 e-book The Intentioneer’s Bible

(see: Amazon.com), and other portions are to appear in the author’s forthcoming book.

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Congregations of Activists: The Countercultural Partnership of Intentioneers and Unitarian-Universalists

A. Allen Butcher • The School of Intentioneering • http://www.Intentioneers.netAllenInUtopia@consultant.com • 2-20-2020

 

Countercultural activism needs a spiritual home, while religious pluralism needs cultural visionaries, dissenters, and organizers. In some ways such a religious-activist partnership already exists, needing only to be affirmed and nurtured. While there is said to be about 200,000 Unitarian Universalists in the U.S.A., there is no complete accounting of the number of persons living in intentional community, although it is believed that that number is somewhere between 100,000 and 125,000 in the U.S.A, including members of the largest communitarian movement, the Catholic monastic orders. In the definitions used by the School of Intentioneering, “communitarian” and “intentioneer” are the same thing.

 

Unitarian Universalism (UU) has far fewer members than Catholicism, and fewer than most Protestant denominations. Universalists organized their denomination in America in the 1790s, and Unitarians organized theirs in 1825. The two merged their denominations in 1961 to create the Unitarian Universalist Association. Robert Broderick states in his The Catholic Encyclopedia that the Unitarians’ rejection of the Catholic doctrines of the divinity of Christ and of the Most Holy Trinity, and the Universalists’ belief that “all persons will be saved” from eternal damnation, are heretical. Evangelical, fundamentalist Christians condescendingly, arrogantly, and ironically sometimes call UUism a “cult.” (Broderick, pp. 590-2)

 

Last year I re-joined my local Unitarian Universalist church after being gone many years, and since the beginning of 2020 I have begun a project which I call “Gifting and Sharing Lifestyles,” setting up a table display at the Sunday services of the First Unitarian Society of Denver about intentional communities (ICs), worker-owned businesses, and similar cooperative and solidarity economy initiatives in the area. I plan to begin a discussion group and other related projects for our Faith-In-Action program. I define ICs as simply people practicing common agreement and collective action while usually living together in either one building or in an “intentional neighborhood.” I have been pleasantly surprised at the number of UU folks who have talked with me about their interest in and experience with intentional community, and the potential for a Unitarian Universalist–communities movement partnership. A primary example of such a partnership is the UU folks in Boston, MA, home of the UU denominational headquarters, who have created an urban community land trust, now with two large buildings, one 11-bedroom and another 15-bedroom, called the UU Community Cooperatives (UUCC).

 

Also near Boston was the famous 19th century utopian society named Brook Farm (1841-47), founded by a Unitarian minister named George Ripley. Ripley helped develop the concept of New England Transcendentalism, which is defined as there being an inherent divinity within each person which enables thoughtful reasoning as the source of truth and a guide to action. This is opposed to the Christian concept of an external Holy Spirit which must come into the individual, although Transcendentalism is in agreement with the concept in women’s spirituality of immanence, or of grace and wisdom coming from within or through ourselves, grounded in nature.

 

The second part of the Gifting and Sharing Lifestyles initiative is to encourage people in the IC movement to engage with their local Unitarian Universalist church or fellowship to create UU-IC partnerships, focused initially upon educating UUs and others about ICs in general, and specifically about communities and worker-owned businesses in their particular area. Teaching intentioneers about UUism is also a priority, while creating new UU ICs like UUCC would be a possible later step. In the mean time, my focus is upon further developing the educational initiative I call the “School of Intentioneering.”

 

It is a problem that different people use the same words to mean different things when talking about intentional communities, and so the School of Intentioneering serves, among other things, to clarify and standardize the terminology. For example, the use by the UUCC of the phrase “community cooperative” confuses the question of how exactly the UUCC houses are legally structured. Since they are incorporated as nonprofit organizations and not as legal cooperatives, they are actually a community land trust, although I have not seen them use that term in their descriptions. They probably use the term “cooperative” because that term is in the name and mission of their primary funding organization, the Cooperative Fund of New England. To resist such confusion in the communities movement I have developed a set of definitions of terms, theories about intentional community versus the dominant culture, an alternative history of gifting and sharing societies in Western Civilization, and various materials on specific concerns such as children in ICs and legal structures used by various types of communities. All of this and more I am making available for a UU educational, networking, and organizing initiative through the Gifting and Sharing Lifestyles project.

 

Whether or not liberal-religious persons live in community, they develop a partnership between Unitarian Universalists and some of the many socio-cultural movements creating intentional communities when they help to educate people about and support those who are living in community. At the same time there have been efforts on the part of intentioneers to initiate partnerships with UU congregations, since many are supportive of gifting and sharing lifestyles. Good examples of such partnerships are the current UU Community Cooperatives in Roxbury, MA, and the aid given by the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Church Unitarian Universalist in Charlottesville, VA to help build a UU meeting hall at Twin Oaks Community in the early 1970s called the Ta’Chai Living Room.

 

Many religions, major and minor, have countercultural off-shoots founding intentional communities, like Catholic monasticism and the Protestant/Anabaptist Hutterites, both of which exist today. Many other intentional communities are not as religious as were most of the earlier groups, and today are typically cooperative or collective rather than communal, such as: community land trusts; cohousing communities; and most ecovillages.

 

A good discussion about the connection between religious traditions like UUism and countercultural radicalism is provided by Dan McKanan in his 2011 book, Prophetic Encounters, in which the author states that, “religious ideals, institutions, and practices have always been intertwined with radical activism. American radicals drew inspiration from religious community … It is common nowadays to speak of a ‘religious Left’ that is distinct from secular radicalism …” McKanan lists several historic campaigns of the American religious Left, including: the abolition of slavery; women’s rights; labor organizing; racism and civil rights; nuclear power and weapons; war; and environmentalism. Intentioneering, or advocating, supporting, and building intentional community, can certainly be added to that list. (McKanan, pp. 4, 8, 55-9, 97-111, 192, 213-14, 231, 253-4, 260-1, 274, passim)

 

Unitarianism and Monotheism, Christian verses Christian, and the Question of Evil

 

Although “unity” is an aspect of both unitarianism and of monotheism, the difference between the two is that while unitarianism is monotheist, monotheism is not necessarily unitarian, since monotheism can refer to a multi-part God like Trinitarian Christianity’s Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and like the Triple Goddess: Maid, Mother, Elder.

 

There are books explaining why Catholicism settled on the patriarchal Church doctrine of the Holy Trinity, and two of them, by Davis and Pelikan, are in the references. However, before the Council of Nicaea a large part of the Early Christian Church was led by women, with women founders and prophets. The orthodox Catholics wanted women silenced, so to serve the patriarchy the women leaders of the Early Christian Church were pushed aside although not totally forgotten. In the same way, the Jewish communal society called the “Essenes” is rarely mentioned in Jewish or Christian writings of the period. Whether deliberate or not, the Christian-Trinity concept would have overshadowed the much more ancient concept of Goddess-Trinities, comprised of the three life stages of the feminine: maid, mother, and elder; or maid, bride, mother, also reflected in the three phases of the moon: waxing, full, and waning. Elaine Pagels writes that “probably as late as the year 200 virtually all the feminine imagery for God had disappeared from orthodox Christian doctrine.” Christianity succeeded in silencing women within the patriarchal Church, subsuming women’s spirituality in the same way that it adopted many aspects of Paganism. (Durant, 1950, pp. 75, 746; Eisler, p. 25; Gimbutas, 1989, pp. 316; Goettner-Abendroth, pp. 21-2; Harrison, pp. 262, 286-292, 647; Pagels, 1979, p. 57)

 

Certain religious ideas appear periodically throughout history in different contexts, such as: the idea common to most religions that “God is Light;” the fact that most all religions have an expression of the Golden Rule; the idea that all of humanity exists as a single blessed family; and the idea that all religions come from the same source. While ideas are expressed in different ways, and contexts change over time, essential truths remain relevant. We say it is true, then for us, truth it is!

 

Some people may believe that unitarianism began with the monotheistic idea of the oneness of God, in response to polytheism’s innumerable gods and goddesses. The Jewish patriarch Abraham and his family may have originated the monotheism idea around 1900 B.C.E. (i.e., Before the Current Era) while living in the ancient Mesopotamian city-state of Ur. They then joined the back-to-the-land movement leaving city life to settle in rural Palestine, with their descendants becoming known as Hebrews or Jews, with a large number residing in Egypt. Later in Egypt the monotheist idea arose again, as the worship of the sun god Ra gradually overshadowed the worship of all other gods and goddesses in polytheist Egypt, until around 1340 B.C.E. when the Pharaoh Akhenaten mandated belief in a single god named Aten. This Egyptian experiment with monotheism ended with the Pharaoh’s death. No connection is asserted between the god Aten and the Hebrew god Yahweh, although for a while both belief systems existed in Egypt at the same time.

 

The Judeo-Christian concept of evil in the world grew out of the simple dichotomy of good and bad. In Zoroastrian Persian dualism, beginning about 500 B.C.E., a supreme deity creating goodness and justice is named “Ahura Mazda,” and a secondary deity creating greed, anger, lies and other forms of evil is named “Ahriman.” In Zoroastrianism, as in the Judeo-Christian tradition, good overcomes evil. It is believed that Judaism picked up aspects of Persian dualism when the Hebrew people were held captive in Babylon by the Neo-Babylonian Empire from about 605 to 520 B.C.E. The later Jewish Temple-rites dissenters, the Essenes, further developed the dualist concept into a great battle between Light and Darkness to occur at the end of time. Many aspects of Persian dualism entered Christianity, including the names of the angels, the concept of Paradise, the Three Kings of the Orient or Magi in the Jesus’ birth story, and the idea of an End Times battle between Light and Darkness called Armageddon. Manichaeism, which started in Persia in 230 C.E. (i.e., Current Era), “thought to reconcile Christianity and Zoroastrianism, and was bitterly buffeted by both.” (Durant, 1950, p.47) Manichaeism would later influence the Cathari of South France from the 11th to the 14th centuries, against whom the Catholic Church created the Inquisition.

 

The influence of Persian dualism upon the Judeo-Christian tradition addresses the question of evil with an entity named “Lucifer,” meaning “light-bringer” in Latin (Isaiah 14:12). In The Origin of Satan Elaine Pagels explains that Lucifer was the name of a fallen angel subsequently renamed “Satan,” which Richard Broderick says means “the opponent” or “adversary.” In the Old Testament Book of Job, Satan is God’s obedient servant testing Job’s faith (Job 2:1-7 ). Then in the Book of Zechariah, Satan’s role changes from a servant to an opponent of God. (Zech. 3:1-2) Christianity later picked up this evil Satan concept, added Persian dualism, and created the New Testament “Devil” who is much more powerful and independent than the earlier Jewish concept of a fallen angel still serving God. Both Judaism and Christianity are considered to be monotheistic rather than dualist religions, even though both affirm an evil spiritual entity opposed to a positive, virtuous, righteous spiritual entity. (Broderick, p. 542; Pagels, 1995, pp. xvii, 39)

 

Many forms of Christianity were created in the Early Christian Church, including unitarianism, later opposed by Trinitarian doctrine as affirmed at the Council of Nicaea in 325 C.E. Since Early Christian unitarianism and later Catholic Trinitarian Christianity are both monotheistic, the issue in this case is not monotheism versus polytheism or dualism, instead the issue is Trinitarian monotheism versus unitarian monotheism. Confusing?

 

At the Council of Nicaea, Arius, a priest in Alexandria, Egypt, rejected the Catholic doctrine of the Trinity (i.e., Father, Son, Holy Spirit), insisting through rational argument that God the Creator is a spiritual being and that his creation, Jesus, was a material creature. In response, Saint Athanasius, the Bishop of Alexandria, rejected Arius’s ideas and his Arian Christianity and championed the Trinity and the divinity of Christ to affirm the primacy of faith over reason. Arius was subsequently excommunicated from the Catholic Church by the Nicaean Council. (Davis, p. 50; Pelican, p. 194)

 

It was Athanasius who said, as the historian Will Durant writes, “Reason must bow to the mystery of the Trinity.” (Durant, 1944, p. 660) During the Reformation the Protestant reformer Martin Luther said the same thing in his comment that, “Reason is the greatest enemy that faith has.” (Durant, 1957, p. 370) The Arian controversy split the growing Christian Church with the two sides sometimes fighting each other to the death in the streets. Will Durant writes, “The great debate between Athanasius and Arius had not ended with the Council of Nicaea. … for half a century it seemed that Christianity would be Unitarian, and abandon the divinity of Christ. … Probably more Christians were slaughtered by Christians in these two years (342-3 C.E.) than by all the persecutions of Christians by pagans in the history of Rome.” (Durant, 1950, pp. 7-8) It was Arian Christianity that converted the pagan Goths and other Germanic tribes to Christianity, such as the Vandals who later raided and sacked Catholic Rome during the fall of the Empire.

 

Universalist Christianity and its Stoic, Phoenician, and Minoan Antecedents

 

Universalism does not have as clear a starting point as does unitarianism. Something similar to universalism may have originated in the ancient Minoan Civilization, which itself was influenced by ancient Egyptian culture. The evidence for a Minoan universalism is implied and plausible given the story of Stoicism, although tenuous and unproven.

 

Aspects of universalist thought can be found in Stoicism as portrayed in the Christian New Testament through Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. Saint Paul, as Griscom Morgan wrote in “World View of the Galiliean” in his 1988 publication called Guidebook for Intentional Communities (Morgan, pp. 29-31), was from the “Stoic university city of Tarsus” in what is now south-central Turkey.

 

Stoicism as a philosophical school-of-thought was founded in Athens, Greece about 300 B.C.E. by Zeno of Citium. Zeno was of Phoenician ancestry, and in his time he was called “the Phoenician” by the Greeks because he never lost his Phoenician accent. (Freke & Gandy, p. 228n) Phoenician culture was likely influenced by the earlier peaceful, non-militaristic, non-patriarchal, partnership-culture of Minoan Civilization, stretching back to 2,500 B.C.E. (Platon, p. 51) In her book The Chalice and the Blade, Riane Eisler uses the term “partnership model” to describe a “gender-holistic perspective,” as opposed to the assumption that pre-patriarchal cultures were matriarchal, when instead many seem to have been egalitarian, enjoying the political-economic-social equality of women and men. (Eisler, pp. xvii, xix)

 

Minoa was the first European civilization, developing on the Isle of Crete as a Bronze Age matriarchal trading culture, very unlike the patriarchal, warrior culture of the later Mycenaean Greeks whom the Minoans influenced. The Minoans built extensive, maze-like “palaces” housing large numbers of people, with no fortifications anywhere on their island, suggesting a peaceful, gender-partnership culture. The Minoans did make bronze weapons and armor since they traded with many war-like cultures, including the exceedingly cruel Assyrians. (Mellersh, pp. 178-9) Minoan art featured women in public rather than domestic activities, with both women and men enjoying peaceful pursuits rather than the war-like pursuits of men in other cultures. See the color reproduction of the “Prince of the Lilies” plaster-relief fresco from the Great Corridor of the palace of Knossos on the cover of Rodney Castleden’s book, Minoans. (Alexiou, pp. 24, 30-9, and appendices; Eisler, pp. 32-8)

 

The Semitic people at the Minoan trading ports-of-call around the Mediterranean Sea seem to have adopted the peaceful aspects of Minoan culture, like an emphasis upon trade as opposed to the warlike culture of the Mycenaeans and Assyrians. Beginning around 1800 B.C.E. the Phoenician city-states began to grow at some of these Minoan ports-of-call along the Levant, at Carthage in North Africa, and elsewhere, and they likely received Minoan refugees following earthquakes on Crete, the eruption of the volcano on the Isle of Thera (now Santorini), and subsequent tidal waves about 1628 B.C.E., all thought to have inspired Plato’s “Atlantis” myth. (Gimbutas, 1991, p. 148)

 

Later invasions of Crete by Iron Age Dorians and Mycenaeans beginning about 1450 B.C.E. drove out or subsumed the Minoans. The archaeologist Marija Gimbutas states that the early, peaceful, matriarchal cultures found in southern Europe and Asia Minor after the last Ice Age and later on Crete expressed an egalitarian culture. If the Minoan culture on Crete and elsewhere extended their gender-partnership concept to include all people, then the universalist idea that all of humanity is of the same blessed family is potentially more ancient than the “God’s chosen people” concept of Judaism. (Eisler, pp. 14, 24-8; Gimbutas, 1991, pp. 94, 324, 331, 347-8; Gimbutas, 1999, pp. 3, 112, 158; Platon, p. 51)

 

In his article cited above, Griscom Morgan, son of Arthur Morgan who served as vice-president of the American Unitarian Association, writes that the, “Stoics were the first to urge obedience to the holy spirit in the hearts of [people] rather than merely to the laws of nations. … The Stoics bade [people] live simply in accord with nature; Jesus gave this its most beautiful expression in such of his sayings as, ‘Consider the lilies, how they grow’.” (Morgan, p. 30) Whether or not Jesus actually said this, it is clear that the Early Christian Church was significantly influenced by Greek Stoicism, which had developed the concept of Natural Law as distinct from the human-made laws of cities and nations, called “positive law” by political scientists.

 

In the 1st century C.E. the Stoic philosopher and freed slave, Epictetus, taught the universalist concept that “You are a citizen of the universe.” While some ancient Stoics were much like the countercultural Hippies of the 1960s and since, for which the term “counterculture” was first coined, Stoicism was also the belief system of the “philosopher kings” as expressed in the 2nd century C.E. Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius’ writing called Meditations. (Morgan, p. 30)

 

The Spiritual Home of the Counterculture

 

Both unitarianism and universalism are countercultural as both have been in opposition to aspects of the dominant culture, and both have essentially been congregations of cultural visionaries, principled dissenters, and radical activists.

 

UUism, however, is not the only countercultural religion, as most religions developed in contrast with, or in opposition to, or were otherwise derived from an earlier religion. The Quaker religion, or Society of Friends founded in England in the 1640s by George Fox, has probably a greater experience of persecution by the dominant culture than UUism, and has founded or inspired far more intentional communities than UUism, particularly the Shakers yet also many smaller communitarian groups. Differences between UUism and Quakerism include the former having more of a non-dogmatic, non-Bible-centered, pluralistic-belief structure, including even atheism and humanism. While UUism includes Christians and came from Christianity, some people no longer consider UUism to be a Christian denomination. In contrast, Quakerism is more confrontational with regard to opposing injustices in the dominant culture, and has a more formalistic method of worship based upon the Judeo-Christian Bible. Quakers affirm a personal “inner light” which is more like Transcendentalism’s inner divinity than Catholicism’s Holy Spirit.

 

In many parts of the U.S.A. and other countries today there are Unitarian Universalist congregations of liberal, progressive activists coming together weekly to practice the gifting and sharing functions that reinvigorates members for the coming week of work to sustain themselves, their community, and their political, economic, and cultural ideals. In the region around many UU congregations exists a counterculture comprised of people living and working in small to medium-sized intentional communities in a decentralized network, who often know very little about and rarely see each other. These two countercultural networks, one built upon centuries and even millennia of opposition to the dominant culture, and the other arising as contemporary alternatives to it, could each benefit from a closer association between them. Yet for the most part there is little awareness or affirmation of their ethical, philosophical, and spiritual commonalities, or of the potential for mutual aid and support between them.

 

Many communitarians know about Unitarian Universalism and sometimes attend UU churches, while some UU members know about and even live in intentional community. In some cases UU fellowships exist, or formerly existed, within intentional communities. Given the ideological affinities and historical interconnections between Unitarian Universalism and communitarianism, there is clearly a significant potential for these two entities or networks to enjoy a closer association. Together both can be more than either alone.

 

In a recent article by Michael Bones in the Australian Canberra Times about the counterculture needing a spiritual home titled The Left Needs to Change the Way it Thinks About Protest, the author writes that while street protests are necessary there are other “less eye-catching but incredibly powerful ways to organize for social change.” Bones makes the point that street protests are “inherently unsustainable—as the Occupy movement showed, you can’t protest forever.” Organizing through churches may affirm not only resistance against injustice of all kinds yet also a commitment to building just and joyous lifestyles. “Churches offer belonging and meaning,” Bones writes. “While we progressives stoke our anger, vent on social media and get more stressed and depressed, they use ancient practices to care for souls. They make music, share food, read, pray and play, all the while reinforcing their core beliefs. … Don’t blame right-wing religious people for being more organized, generous and active than us. We need to get smarter. Let’s learn from how they build spiritual community, and start doing it. Because it’s good for wellbeing, and it works.” (Bones, 2020)

 

To respond to Michael Bone’s question, “can we find a grand narrative, faith or practice to draw a larger circle … [to] unify typically fragmented, issue-based groups into an open, belief-accepting community?” the answer is yes we can, through Unitarian Universalism! (Bones, 2020) Further, Dan McKanan quotes Jim Wallis, of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and the Sojourners Community and magazine of the same name, saying that “most of the important movements for social change in America have been fueled by religion.” Given the history of the religious Left’s engagement in social issues, a partnership between Unitarian Universalism and intentional communities is potentially of great importance in this time of rapid, unsettling change. In fact, such a cultural-religious partnership could be developed with other liberal religious traditions as well, such as with the United Methodists or the United Church of Christ. (McKanan, pp. 239, 265; Wallis, p. 19)

 

Unitarian Universalism is particularly suited to being the spiritual home of intentional communities of all kinds because the nature of the UU association is to accept differences among people, and the intentional communities movement is very diverse in how different groups structure their gifting and sharing processes. That diversity tends to keep each community and their related community movement in its own silo, separate from the others, and so a neutral common ground, like meeting in the context of the acceptance of differences practiced in Unitarian Universalist churches, can help bring various intentional communities together for mutual aid, not only among communities yet also in how those communities relate to the larger, dominant, outside-world culture.

 

In Colorado in the latter half of the 1990s a couple organizers, including the present author, founded a regional network of intentional communities called the “Community Network of the Rocky Mountains.” We met several times for a few years at different communities. Sixty-five people came together for our first gathering at a cohousing community, about one-third being from established or forming intentional communities while the rest were interested in learning about community. After a few years the network went dormant as only a few communities had the space for such large groups of people, and we did not want to keep imposing upon them. Having such local networks forming around UU congregations could make UU churches the home of ongoing local associations of intentional communities, keeping up with the changes in the communities, assisting local communities in working together for mutual aid, helping new communities to form and grow, helping the “outside world” to understand intentional community, providing the space for periodic gatherings of intentioneers, and increasing the awareness of those UU members who are not familiar with intentional community. As a consequence, some intentioneers may very likely become members of their local UU church since many want to be involved in social justice issues, and perhaps get involved in other forms of activism through the church, and generally help to build the UU church community.

 

Versions of Gifting and Sharing Lifestyles

 

Some intentional communities focus upon providing a comfortable, cooperative lifestyle for their members, while others are actively engaged in social service programs. The hospitality offered by Catholic Worker communities to poor and working-class people is an example of how intentional communities help people survive in an inhospitable world.

 

An example of therapeutic intentional communities is the Camphill Village movement begun in Scotland and others like it, such as L’Arch begun in France, which both create communities around differently-abled children and adults. These communities pool the social security funds received by their members with developmental and other disabilities, along with donations from their families and income from their cottage businesses, to build intentional communities welcoming normally-abled people as “co-workers,” to live with and provide support for the differently-abled “villagers.” Visiting such communities a person sees how positive and able the disabled can be when they are not institutionalized and instead are appreciated for who they are in their village. Hopefully the effort to create a Colorado Camphill Village will be restarted.

 

Another example of a social service community is one started in the Denver Metro Area focusing upon providing a home for foster teens. Angelica Village adapts the Camphill model to serve family-less teenagers, relying upon the same means of support of government assistance plus donations of money and time from families and friends.

 

However a person grows up, college or trade school can be an ordeal. Many community college students rely upon food banks and some are homeless. Shared rental houses, or student housing collectives, require appropriate zoning laws to be more common. A very helpful step in Denver is currently being made in which the city planning office itself began a process for revising city ordinances to provide more housing options for “residential care” such as community-based corrections, shelters, and transitional housing, for more “congregate living” such as tiny-home villages and single room occupancy units, and for increasing the number of unrelated people who can live together from two to eight in housing cooperatives, collectives, and cohouseholding. There are no restrictions in Denver or in most cities upon how many people who are related to each other can live together, and so revising the city’s zoning code to permit cooperative housing is justifiable. Supporting cooperative housing would be a positive response for any city in which the cost of housing has increased or is increasing. The City of Boulder has a long-standing regulation providing for cooperative housing (ordinance no. 5806, 1996) which may serve as a model. (See: https://denverite.com/2020/02/06/do-you-know-denvers-rules-about-living-together)

 

A program of supporting student housing cooperatives in Denver may seek aid from local nonprofit housing organizations like the Boulder Housing Coalition, and from the national student organization named the North American Students of Cooperation (NASCO). NASCO has regular conferences and co-op development programs, and some observers have noted that the student co-ops are the most racially integrated of all intentional communities.

 

These are difficult times for teens becoming adults. You are born onto a planet with a dying biosphere. The economics of the dominant First World, market-based economy is enriching a few and impoverishing many, including you. Politics is trending toward abhorrent fascism, and religious war is ludicrously anti-Golden Rule. Denver currently has an increase in teen-on-teen violence and other juvenile delinquency, including teen suicide. Colorado Public Radio says teen suicide in the state is higher than the national average, increasing 58% from 2016 to 2019, and is now the cause of 1-in-5 adolescent deaths. (Colorado Public Radio, 9-17-2019)

 

Juvenile angst provides easy targets for radical-right youth outreach and recruitment campaigns. The German youth movement growing up after the German defeat in World War One was both anti-religious and apolitical, making it easy for the German fascists to define their religion and politics for them, and then draw them into World War Two. Today groups from neo-fascists to international terrorists are proselytizing and recruiting our youth. To counter such influences an activist congregation can provide a communitarian pathway for young adults from student housing co-ops to worker-owned businesses and community land trusts, all using participatory management and governance processes for building abilities and confidence in people. The assurance of these organizations’ values statements affirming racial, gender, economic, political, and cultural justice would hopefully allay parental anxiety about what influences are attracting their children.

 

A UU young-adult outreach program could be developed similar to or perhaps in cooperation with the existing NuMundo (“New World”) initiative providing “transformational experiences” for youth having the resources for traveling among a “decentralized network of ecovillages, intentional communities, permaculture farms, social projects and retreat centers.” (See: http://www.numundo.org) This is similar in concept to a countercultural Peace Corp or Americorp. For young adults without the resources to travel, learning about the opportunities in their locality for visiting and joining intentional communities could be facilitated by a UU Gifting and Sharing Lifestyles project.

 

A common legal structure for student housing cooperatives and other groups is the community land trust (CLT). CLTs provide for economic justice by the de-commodification of land and housing, by removing it from the speculative market to hold down the cost of access. The three-neighborhood group, the Globeville, Elyria-Swansea Coalition in north Denver, is inspired in part by the older and much more developed Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative in Roxbury, Massachusetts, which happens to be the same neighborhood as that of the two Unitarian Universalist groups organized under the CLT called, UU Community Cooperatives.

 

Worker-owned and controlled businesses, social entrepreneurialism, and benefit or B-corporations all affirm economics for the people, as their bottom line is no longer profit. Instead the corporation can choose any priority desired for its bottom line, such as providing benefits to workers, practicing environmental stewardship, or benefiting community organizations. An example of a community organization providing services to its neighborhood is the Re:Vision organization in the Westwood Neighborhood of Denver. Re:Vision has begun a food cooperative to serve people in the local food desert, a community-led Nutrition and Cooking Education program, and a community-oriented healthcare program called Community Health Equity Champions employing local residents trained to assist others with options for healthy living, such as encouraging urban agriculture.

 

Cohousing is a specific form of intentional community susceptible to much misunderstanding. The term “cohousing” has been used as an eponym, identifying all forms of intentional community with just that one form, such that a person can mean any kind of community when they say “cohousing.” Many people assume that the term “cohousing” can refer to a shared household, which is more appropriately called “cohouseholding.” Some people even use the term “communal” when talking about cohousing. Rather, cohousing involves many households, each with its own kitchen, along with an industrial kitchen, dining room, childcare space, and other amenities, all arranged around a pedestrian-only land-use design in the center of the community, resulting in an “intentional neighborhood.” The term “common house” is another confusing use-of-terms in cohousing since there is no commonly-owned property in cohousing. Instead, “classic cohousing” communities are legally structured as condominiums, and so they are sharing privately-owned property. Every year the U.S. cohousing movement has a national open-house day offering tours of cohousing communities. In 2020 that is Sunday, April 26. (See: http://www.cohousing.org)

 

While it is a very good thing that the middle-class now has a form of intentional community designed for it, the problem is that cohousing communities are very expensive. New cohousing developments require people to purchase a condominium unit, typically via mortgage financing. Older cohousing communities may have rental units which working-class persons may be able to afford. Yet many cohousing residents realize that most of their children growing up in cohousing simply will not be able to or cannot now afford to purchase a cohousing unit, and therefore cohousing children and their parents often look for other kinds of community which the young adults can or will be able to afford, like housing cooperatives, cohouseholding, and the for-profit, long-term hostels called “coliving.”

 

Ecovillage is another term which has become an eponym for the larger communities movement. There are no specific criteria for ecovillages as there is for cohousing, since the term only refers to the intention, presumably accompanied by appropriate actions, to create ecologically sustainable, cooperative lifestyles. Given such a generic description, practically any community can be called an “ecovillage” simply by expressing the intention to be one. And so the ecovillage movement has grown quickly, now with an Ecovillage Design Education course created by the Global Ecovillage Network (GEN), headquartered in Edinburgh, Scotland (see http://www.gaiaeducation.org). Gaia Education is an international non-governmental organization (NGO), and GEN’s North American affiliate is called GEN-North America or GENNA. GEN’s youth program is called “NextGEN.” The present author’s School of Intentioneering is similar to part of the Gaia Education curriculum and the two may someday collaborate. (Gaia Education, 2012; see: http://www.ecovillage.org/our-work/nextgen).

 

Class-harmony community is a term created by the present author for the School of Intentioneering, to represent the model of a community involving one or more landlords and tenants. Typically, people have not thought of such a power imbalance among members to be appropriate for an intentional community, yet the model is very common. In the communities Directory (see: http://www.ic.org for print and online versions) about twenty-percent of the listings state that one person or a small group owns the land and buildings while other members rent housing from them. A unique example of class-harmony community is Ganas Community on Staten Island, New York, where a communal core-group of about ten people own eight houses in which about seventy people rent rooms.

 

Historically, class-harmony intentional communities are what Karl Marx called “utopian socialism,” which he contrasted with his idea of “scientific socialism,” which was supposed to eventually result in some form of communalism. Marx and Engels were only able to describe communalism using Morelly’s Maxim; “from each according to ability; to each according to need.” While the term “communitarianism” can be associated with either “community” or “communism,” using instead the terms “intentioneer” and “intentioneering” denies association with the class-conflict of Marxist communism while affirming, inspiring, and advocating the utopian socialist ideal of class-harmony through collaborative, co-creative solidarity among those with and those without money.

 

Today there are multi-faith communal societies of up to a hundred adults existing around fifty years using time-based, labor-sharing economies with no money exchanged internally, such as the vacation-credit labor system,  so ways have been found to make communalism practical. However, many communal groups have restrictions on how many children they will support, such as Twin Oaks and East Wind communities, causing some members who want to have children to leave the community. Since cohousing is too expensive for working-class families, that leaves class-harmony community as one of the few options for the working poor with children who want to live in community.

 

Cofamily community is another term created by the present author for the School of Intentioneering. Cofamilies are small groups of from three-to-nine people, with or without children. Since small communities often do not have a defined structure, it is convenient to simply call them a cofamily since the “co” prefix can refer to: communal-, collective-, cooperative-, complicated-, complex-, convoluted-, or simply community-family (although not consanguine-family). While cofamilies can stand alone, when they are part of a larger intentional community they are called “nested cofamilies,” regardless of the type of that larger community; whether communal, land trust, cohousing, ecovillage, etc. The cofamily represents a kind of “family” that is not comprised of people who are related via blood or marriage, instead they choose to live together based upon their commonalities or affinities. This adds a fifth form to the existing forms of family including: single-parent, nuclear (regardless of gender), extended, blended, and now cofamily.

 

In 2016 I researched American families in U.S. Census reports and found some startling statistics which suggest failings of the “American Dream,” for which the need for a new “Communitarian Dream” featuring the cofamily is indicated:

 

  • The number of married-adult households has been steadily dropping to now about half of all households. (“Families and Living Arrangements” Table AD-3b)

 

  • The number of adults living alone has been steadily raising to now nearly a third of all households. (“Families and Living Arrangements” Tables AD-3a and HH-4)

 

  • Births to unmarried women comprised 40% of all births in 2014, resulting in about a quarter of all households being of single-parent families, with half of all single-parent children living in poverty. (“America’s Children in Brief: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2016” Family and Social Environment and List of Tables; also, “Families and Living Arangements” tables HH-1 and CH-1)

 

  • Over a third of all women with more than one child had them with more than one father, called “multiple-partner fertility.” (Guzzo, 2014; Logan, Manlove, Ikramullah, & Cottingham, 2006; Martin, 2011)

 

Countercultural Congregations

 

The two countercultures of Unitarian Universalism and of intentioneers have much to offer each other for addressing their common interests and concerns, now as always. Interactions between the two have been common, although rarely recognized, yet for both there are likely benefits to be realized as the two begin to work together in partnership. The basic idea of UU faith-based intentional community is not a new idea as there are several that have been lived in America over the last two centuries and currently in 2020. These include: Brook Farm, MA, 1841-47; Harmonia, NY, 1853-63; Altruria, CA, 1894-5; New Clairvaux, MA, 1900-1909; Fellowship Farm, MA, MO, CA, 1912-27; The Vale, OH, 1946-present; Twin Oaks, 1967-present, Springtree, 1971-present, and Shannon Farm, 1972-present, all in Virginia; Lucy Stone Co-op, 2011-present, and Margaret Moseley Co-op, 2016-present, both in Massachusetts. For the very diverse network of intentioneers, Unitarian Universalism offers the perfect spiritual home, as UUism is just as diverse in the composition of its form of spirituality. The need for and benefit of an intentioneers-UU partnership is expressed by Arthur Morgan, a Unitarian himself, as he was surely thinking about this when he wrote, …

 

Any vital social program is possible only if it is the expression of a religion which calls on the whole loyalty of [women and] men … The more adequate the interpretation of life which is provided by a political or economic philosophy, the better foundation does it constitute for a social and economic program … [and that interpretation needs] a religious motive to vitalize the program. —Arthur Morgan, founder of the Fellowship of Intentional Communities, wrote this view of the importance of religion in his study of utopian theory, fiction, and practice in: Edward Bellamy: A Biography of the Author of ‘Looking Backward’. (Morgan, 1944, pp. 302-3)

 

In the quote above, Arthur Morgan presents the case for making our spiritual or religious identity consistent with our cultural intentions. Extrapolating from this; when people want to live in a gifting and sharing culture outside of the dominant, competitive culture, then a religious expression which respects non-traditional lifestyles is helpful.

 

It seems like there’s a new convergence of religious and secular groups that hold the same values and are able to comfortably hold differences in belief. This feels like a new and important development, like everyone did a lot of throwing out babies with bathwater, and now it’s time to bring it back together to help the world see a different vision for humanity living in peaceful, sustainable community. —Sky Blue, former Executive Director, Foundation for Intentional Community, In Community, On the Road: Dispatch #7 – Taos Initiative for Life Together, April 17, 2019.

 

In the second quote above, Sky Blue suggests that the ideal of peaceful, sustainable community through the future can be served by reuniting corresponding secular and religious values. Writing 75 years apart from each other, these two leaders of the same network of intentional communities, originally called the “Fellowship” and now the “Foundation,” can be interpreted to be saying nearly the same thing; that a society without spiritual expression or religious myth lacks the vitality critical to the alignment of a people’s commitment to a lifestyle ideal.

 

Community is important and necessary for preserving and developing our humanity in both good times and bad. While some are enjoying good times today, others are not, and many of those having good times worry that it may not last for themselves or their children. Unitarian Universalists and intentioneers can together create a Gifting and Sharing Lifestyles partnership that can make for all a material life consistent with our highest spiritual beliefs and ethical ideals.

 

***

References:

 

Alexiou, Stylianos. (1969). Minoan Civilization (Cressida Ridley, Trans). Spyros Alexiou Sons: Heraklion.

 

“America’s Children in Brief: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2016.” Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics. Retrieved December 17, 2016, from: http://www.childstats.gov/americaschildren/glance.asp > America’s Children at a Glance > Family and Social Environment, and List of Tables > Table FAM2.B at: http://www.childstats.gov/americaschildren/tables.asp; or http://www.childstats.gov/americaschildren/tables/fam2b.asp?popup=true

 

Blue, Sky. (2019, April 17). In community, On the road—Dispatch #7—Taos Initiative for Life Together, archived at https://www.ic.org/in-community-on-the-road-dispatch-7-taos-initiative-for-life-together/

 

Bones, Michael. (2020, January 14). The left needs to change the way it thinks about protest. Canberra Times. Retrieved January 26, 2020, from http://www.canberratimes.com.au/story/6575960/protests-arent-working-the-left-needs-to-learn-from-churchgoers/

 

Broderick, Robert. (Ed.). (1987). The Catholic encyclopedia. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

 

Colorado Public Radio. See: https://www.cpr.org/2019/09/17/the-rate-of-teen-suicide-in-colorado-increased-by-58-percent-in-3-years-making-it-the-casue-of-1-in-5-adolescent-deaths/

 

Davis, Leo Donald. (1983). The first seven ecumenical councils (325-787): Their history and theology. Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press.

 

Durant, Will. (1944). The Story of Civilization: Vol. 3. Caesar and Christ. New York: Simon and Schuster.

 

Durant, Will. (1950). The Story of Civilization: Vol. 4. The Age of Faith. New York: Simon and Schuster.

 

Durant, Will. (1957). The Story of Civilization: Vol. 6. The Reformation. New York: Simon and Schuster.

 

Eisler, Riane. (1987). The chalice and the blade: Our history, our future. San Francisco, CA: Harper & Row (1988 edition).

 

“Families and Living Arrangements,” United States Census Bureau. Retrieved December 17, 2016, from: http://www.census.gov/hhes/families/data/adults.html > Living Arrangements of Adults > Table AD-3a at:

http://www.census.gov/hhes/families/files/graphics/AD3a.pdf; and http://www.census.gov/hhes/families/files/graphics/AD-3b.pdf; also > Households > Table HH-4 at: http://www.census.gov/hhes/families/files/graphics/HH-4.pdf

 

“Families and Living Arrangements” United States Census Bureau. Retrieved December 17, 2016 from: http://www.census.gov/hhes/families/data/households.html > Households > Table HH-1; and “Families and Living Arangements” > Living Arrangements of Children > Table CH-1.

 

Freke, T. & Gandy, P. (2001). Jesus and the lost Goddess: The secret teachings of the original Christians. New York: Three Rivers Press.

 

Gaia Education, (2012). Teacher’s Guide: Design for Sustainability (Ver. 5). The Park, Forres, Scotland: Findhorn. http://www.gaiaeducation.net See also: Gaia Youth Activities Guide.

 

Gimbutas, Marija. (1991.) The language of the Goddess (Joan Marler, ed.). San Francisco, CA: Harper San Francisco.

 

Gimbutas, Marija. (1991.) The civilization of the Goddess: The world of old Europe (Joan Marler, ed.). San Francisco, CA: Harper San Francisco.

 

Gimbutas, Marija. (1999.) The living goddesses (Miriam Robbins Dexter, ed.). Berkeley, CA: Univ. of California Press.

 

Goettner-Abendroth, Heidi. (2012). Matriarchal societies: Studies on indigenous cultures across the globe (Karen Smith, transl).New York: Peter Lang.

 

Guzzo, K. B. (2014, July). New partners, more kids: Multiple-partner fertility in the United States. Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. Retrieved October 9, 2015, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4182921/

 

Harrison, Jane. (1903). Prolegomena to the study of Greek religion. New York: Meridian Books.

 

Logan, C., Manlove, J., Ikramullah, E., & Cottingham, S. (2006, November). Men who father children with more than one woman: A contemporary portrait of multiple-partner fertility. Child Trends research brief. Publication #2006-10 4301 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Suite 350, Washington, DC 20008, 202-572-6000. Retrieved October 9, 2015, from htttp://www.childtrends.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/2006-10MultiplePartnerFertility.pdf

 

Martin, M. (Host). (2011, April 19). Multiple partner families: More common than you think. (Radio broadcast) with Cassandra Dorius and Maria Cancian (Guests), National Public Radio News. Washington D.C. Retrieved October 9, 2015, from http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=135541549

 

McKanan, Dan. (2011). Prophetic encounters: Religion and the American radical tradition. Boston, MA: Beacon Press.

 

Mellersh, H.E.L. (1970). The destruction of Knossos: The rise and fall of Minoan Crete. New York: Barnes & Noble.

 

Morgan, Arthur. (1944). Edward Bellamy: A biography of the author of “Looking backward.” New York Columbia University: Press.

 

Morgan, Griscom. (1988). Guidebook for intentional communities. Yellow Springs, OH 45387: Community Service.

 

Pagels, Elaine. (1979). The Gnostic Gospels. New York: Random House.

 

Pagels, Elaine. (1995). The origin of Satan. New York: Random House.

 

Pelikan, Jaroslav. (1971). The Christian tradition, A history of the development of doctrine: The emergence of the Catholic tradition (100-600). Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

 

Platon, Nicolas. (1966). Crete. New York: The World Publishing Company.

 

Wallis, Jim. (2005). God’s politics: Why the Right gets it wrong and the Left doesn’t get it. San Francisco, CA: Harper.

Egalitarian Religion: Re-mything the Patriarchy for Gender-Equality in Partnership Spirituality

A. Allen Butcher • The School of Intentioneering • Denver, CO • 4thWorld@consultant.com • Nov. 2019

http://www.Intentioneers.net

Any vital social program is possible only if it is the expression of a religion which calls on the whole loyalty of [women and] men … The more adequate the interpretation of life which is provided by a political or economic philosophy, the better foundation does it constitute for a social and economic program … [and that interpretation needs] a religious motive to vitalize the program. —Arthur Morgan, founder of the Fellowship of Intentional Communities, wrote this view of the importance of religion in his study of utopian theory, fiction, and practice in: Edward Bellamy: A Biography of the Author of ‘Looking Backward’. (Morgan, 1944, pp. 302-3)

 

It seems like there’s a new convergence of religious and secular groups that hold the same values and are able to comfortably hold differences in belief. This feels like a new and important development, like everyone did a lot of throwing out babies with bathwater, and now it’s time to bring it back together to help the world see a different vision for humanity living in peaceful, sustainable community. —Sky Blue, Executive Director, Foundation for Intentional Community, In Community, On the Road: Dispatch #7 – Taos Initiative for Life Together, April 17, 2019.

 

In the first quote above, Arthur Morgan presents the case for making our spiritual or religious identity consistent with our cultural intentions. Extrapolating from this; when people want an egalitarian, feminist culture to replace patriarchal culture, then a religious expression is needed which respects gender equality. In the second quote above, Sky Blue suggests that the ideal of peaceful, sustainable community through the future can be served by reuniting corresponding secular and religious values. Writing 75 years apart from each other, these two leaders of the same network of intentional communities, originally called the Fellowship and now the Foundation, can be interpreted to be saying nearly the same thing; that a society without spiritual expression or religious myth lacks the vitality critical to the alignment of a people’s loyalty to a lifestyle ideal. The challenge today is to transition our culture from the patriarchal Abrahamic faiths to one affirming the equality-of-the-genders, through remaking the foundational Judeo-Christian myths justifying patriarchy to instead affirm the partnership of women and men in an egalitarian religion. As Riane Eisler writes in The Chalice and the Blade that the Garden of Eden story was re-mythed from the earlier story of the Gifts of the Goddess, so again our cultural myths can be re-mythed for a “Partnership Spirituality.” (Eisler, pp. 63-6, 85)

 

 

Considering where to start in the creation of a Partnership Spirituality, begin with identifying who is already doing something similar, and the largest such group may be the Unitarian Universalists (UU). Arthur Morgan served a time as the vice-president of the American Unitarian Association (from the back cover of “Edward Bellamy”), before it merged with Universalism in 1960, both originally being liberal Christian denominations.

 

Arthur Morgan and family founded Community Service, Inc. in 1940 (now Community Solutions), and The Vale community in 1946, both in Yellow Springs, Ohio, and sponsored the founding of the Fellowship of Intentional Communities (FIC) in 1948-9 (Morgan, 1942, p. 9). The FIC changed its name in 1986 to the Fellowship for Intentional Community, then changed it again in mid-2019 to the Foundation for Intentional Community.

 

Unitarian Universalism in Community

 

Unitarians and Universalists inspired and supported several intentional communities in America during at least the 19th and 20th centuries. The founder of the famous Brook Farm community, George Ripley, was a Unitarian minister in Boston, Massachusetts. Ripley contributed to transcendental thought, hosting the first meeting of the Transcendental Club in his home in 1836, which later became the organizational theory of Brook Farm (1841-47). Robert Fogarty called Brook Farm, “By far the most well-known of all the ‘utopian’ societies.” (Fogarty, pp. 99, 183; Oved, pp. 142-3)

 

A member of Brook Farm, John Orvis, became a leader in the Universalist minister John Murray Spear’s Harmonia community (1853-63) in southern New York. In 1858 they sponsored a convention with the theme “Feminine Equality.” (Fogarty, pp.107-8, 197)

 

The Altruria community in Fountain Grove, California lasted only one year (1894-5). Its founder, Edward Biron Payne, was a Unitarian minister who preached a social gospel, eventually becoming a Christian Socialist advocating gradual change, interdependence, and mutual obligation. Although Altruria attracted many competent people who started several different income projects, the group failed to focus upon any one to scale it up sufficiently to support the community. (Fogarty, p. 127; Hine, pp. 102-4)

 

 

Early in the 20th century two community projects were started by Unitarian ministers in Massachusetts, one in 1900 in Montague by Edward Pearson Pressey called New Clairvaux, and the second in 1908 in Haverhill by George Littlefield called Fellowship Farm. Both of these groups were homesteading communities focused upon rural self-sufficiency and cottage businesses, taking inspiration from the arts and crafts movement which decried urbanization and industrial mass production. New Clairvaux had a printing press, a school, and up to twenty-nine residents, yet dissolved by 1909 due to financial problems. (Miller, pp. 54-5)

 

Fellowship Farm had about forty members, a printing press and craft businesses, although it is unclear how long it lasted. Littlefield’s community idea inspired several other groups, including homesteader/arts and crafts communities in Norwood, MA, Kansas City and Independence, MO, and in Los Angeles, CA where twenty families comprised the LA Fellowship Farm from 1912-27. In all about three-hundred families lived in Fellowship Farms. (Fogarty, pp. 228, 230; Miller, pp. 107-8)

 

Later in the 20th century three intentional communities in central Virginia were associated with the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Church Unitarian Universalist in Charlottesville, Virginia: Twin Oaks (1967-present), Springtree (1971-to present), and Shannon Farm (1972 -to present). Springtree and Shannon both started after their founders attended a summer Communities Conference at Twin Oaks Community. Early on, Twin Oaks had its own UU Fellowship, which carried on exchanges with the UU Church in Charlottesville, members of which helped Twin Oaks build a UU meeting hall with labor and money donations, called the Ta’chai Living Room. Over the decades various Twin Oaks members have attended UU services and other events in Charlottesville and at various UU churches in the Washington D.C. area.

 

Partnering an Egalitarian Christianity with Women’s Spirituality

 

Notice in the timeline above of intentional communities that the Unitarian Universalist influence has been a significant part of the communities movement, now evolved into the Foundation for Intentional Community. There are as well many other religious and spiritual organizations comprising aspects of the communities movement, with the Quakers having the longest association with communitarianism. While in the past people founded utopian societies or intentional communities for expressing their religious ideals, in the case of Partnership Spirituality the communities expressing feminist values have existed prior to the creation of an egalitarian religion consistent with feminist culture and lifestyle. Various forms of intentional community today express equality-of-the-genders, not just some communal societies. The list generally includes cohousing and ecovillage communities, and may even include some religious and spiritual traditions, although usually without overtly presenting feminist egalitarianism as a primary value as does identifying with Partnership Spirituality.

 

Unitarian Universalism is likely to be friendly to the idea of developing a Partnership Spirituality movement since it has already an earth-based, women’s spirituality affirmation in its independent affiliate called the “Covenant of UU Pagans” or CUUPS. The origin of this affiliation is said to be in 1977 when the UU Association passed at its General Assembly a “Women and Religion Resolution.” In 1988 the UUA General Assembly granted CUUPS an affiliate status, “honoring goddess-based, earth-centered, tribal and pagan spiritual paths.” CUUPS provides a theological orientation and a liturgical tradition (i.e., the rites of public worship) consistent with the idea of combining the spiritual traditions of transcendence and immanence, Goddess and God, male and female. (See: cuups.org) Traditionally, God is associated with love, and Goddess with wisdom.

 

 

Merging an egalitarian expression of Christianity with women’s spirituality may not be considered polytheistic when it affirms a “binarian monotheism.” In the same way that Trinitarian Christianity (i.e.: Father, Son, Holy Spirit) is considered to be monotheist, so also may Binarian Partnership Spirituality of male and female (or any other genders) be considered monotheist when affirmed as one entity. That is, we say it is so, then for us, so it is! Such is the malleable nature of spiritual and religious beliefs.

 

Creating a Binarian Partnership Spirituality will involve extensive dialogue and deliberation, and so Unitarian Universalists are the perfect group to carry out the vision, not only because their tradition is one of careful thought and inclusive discourse, yet also because they have woven into their tradition the values of peace through social and economic justice, sustainable ecological stewardship of the environment, and the shared leadership of women and men.

 

Partnership Spirituality and the Internal Revenue Service

 

In particular, it would be well that Twin Oaks Community and other groups utilizing the 501(d) tax status for what the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) calls “Religious and Apostolic Associations,” consider taking their primary organizational tenant of feminist egalitarianism to an affirmation of a religious belief, because having a spiritual or religious orientation is a requirement of that favorable tax status. We know that the IRS and conservative government in general has a bias against communalism, and any time these forces desire to do so they can challenge again Twin Oaks’ or other community’s claim to meet the requirements of the 501(d) tax status, as they did in the late 1970s.

 

While Twin Oaks had been filing its taxes for many years under the 501(d) subsection of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) tax code they did not formally request the status. When the IRS discovered in 1977 that Twin Oaks did not have the formal 501(d) designation they said that the community was not tax-exempt and had to pay a quarter-million dollars in back taxes. Because Twin Oaks does not have a vow-of-poverty, meaning surrendering all personal assets to the organization upon joining and receiving none back upon leaving like churches and monasteries filing under the tax-exempt 501(c)(3) status, the IRS made the spurious statement that in 1936 when the U.S. Congress created the 501(d) status they intended to include a vow-of-poverty requirement like that of the  501(c)(3) churches and monasteries. To challenge this contrived argument Twin Oaks appealed the IRS ruling in Tax Court and won the case! (Twin Oaks Community, Inc., versus Commissioner of Internal Revenue, 87th Tax Court, No. 71, Docket No. 26160-82, Filed 12-3-86)

 

Given that such a spurious legal challenge happened once, it could happen again to any Federation or other community using the 501(d) tax status, and the obvious charge next time could be that the community is not actually a religious organization, instead it is secular. In the past it has been argued that since “religion” is not or cannot be defined by the IRS, any statement-of-religious-belief will suffice. Yet the United States Post Office made an adverse determination against East Wind Community in 1979 when the community applied for the non-profit bulk rate mailing permit. The USPO St. Louis Office denied East Wind’s request saying, “The bylaws submitted by the East Wind Community makes no mention of any religious worship or religious activities.” (Postmaster, USPO Mail Classification Center, St. Louis, MO, January 4, 1979 to the Postmaster, Tecumseh, MO 65760)

 

In another case, East Wind Community was attempting to set up an “Earned Leaving Fund” (ELF) to enable members to leave the community by letting them work in the community businesses to earn personal funds for resettlement costs in the outside world. This is clearly contrary to 501(d) requirements, so the community retained a legal firm, which responded saying that the ELF be “treated as an outside employee both for accounting and tax purposes. One way to do this would be to set up a separate bank account  … into which the Earned Leaving Fund is deposited as earned.” (Collins Denny, III, letter of 9-4-87, Mays & Valentine, Richmond, Virginia)

 

This separate bank account plan could and perhaps should be used especially by new communal groups that have a significant amount of income from outside jobs as opposed to community-owned businesses. While the community business income is exempt under 501(d) outside job income is not, and so the two need to be separated. Having two separate community bank accounts, one tax-exempt for community-business income and the other non-exempt for outside-work income, with the two taxed differently, would likely facilitate a new community’s application for 501(d) status, since the problem of establishing community-owned businesses has prevented some groups from adopting the 501(d) communal structure.

 

Collins Denny wrote in his concluding remarks to East Wind that, “I believe that the Internal Revenue Service still maintains an internal bias against 501(d) organizations which do not have a vow-of-poverty. In saying this, however, I must point out that I have not made any inquiries or seen any IRS publications which support my feelings that a bias exists.” (Collins Denny, III, letter of 9-4-87, Mays & Valentine, Richmond, Virginia)

 

There may come a time when Federation communities will want or need to dust off their statements of religious belief which they have filed with the IRS and make witness of their lifestyle as justification for their claim that they are indeed religious organizations. Both East Wind and Twin Oaks include in their statements-of-religious-belief filed with the IRS the quote from the Book of Acts in the Bible about all believers holding property in common, along with various ideals about sharing and oneness. Yet the most prominent aspect of their existence and structure is egalitarianism, and so adding the equality of women and men as a central aspect of their stated religious beliefs could make Partnership Spirituality their saving grace.

 

 

The 2027 Convergence of Religious and Secular Community

 

As there are in existence examples of egalitarian lifestyle and culture in various types of community, not just communal, affirming a religious or spiritual expression of egalitarianism builds upon the ideals and experience of women and men in partnership. Sky Blue called for such an egalitarian religion when he was inspired to write, “there’s a new convergence of religious and secular groups that hold the same values . . .” This is a “New Age” level of transformation of our culture through which we may anticipate many rippling affects, among these being the congruence of religious and secular expressions of egalitarian partnership culture in the year 2027. This date will be the bi-centennial of the first printing of the term “socialist,” in the London Cooperative Magazine of 1827 (v. 2), and is roughly the bi-millennial of the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, the exact date of which, like everything else in his life or myth, is contested. Celebrating the concern for peace through social justice in Jesus’ ministry earlier gave rise to the 19th century community movement of Christian Socialism (Fogarty, pp. xxiv, 5, 91, 134, 220), while today the concern for egalitarian religion inspires Partnership Spirituality.

 

Partnership Spirituality may be considered a gender-equal form of Christian Socialism, emphasizing the caring and loving message of Jesus’ “Sermon on the Mount” (Matthew 5:3-7:27) through advocating all of the forms of intentional community lived today. During Jesus’ ministry, it is said that both he and his audience knew of the communal counterculture of the time, called the Essenes, although mention of the sect is conspicuously omitted from the Judeo-Christian Bible. Only the class-harmony of rich and poor practicing mutual aid was emphasized in Jesus’ ministry. Today, Partnership Spirituality advocates all non-violent forms of the gifting and sharing counterculture through an educational initiative called the “School of Intentioneering,” with the newest terms for describing particular forms of community being “class-harmony” and “cofamily.”

 

The School of Intentioneering teaches that class-harmony community involves sharing privately-owned property among people with different levels of income and ownership in either large or small communities, while cofamilies are small communities of three-to-nine adults with or without children. The cofamily extends the number of standard types of “family” to include intentional families comprised of non-related adults choosing to live together. Along with single-parent, nuclear, extended, blended, and same-gendered families, add the cofamily. Cofamilies have shared ideals, goals, or affinities binding people to each other, unlike the other forms of family based upon blood-relations or marriage. One of those binding commitments may be children, with the cofamily formed as a small-group-support collective around each child, reducing the need for women to resort to abortion or to giving their child up for adoption as friends commit to helping to raise a child or children in community. When such a collective forms within or joins a larger intentional community, like cohousing, an ecovillage, a land trust, or a communal society, the result is a “nested cofamily.”

 

The convergence of secular and religious concerns for social justice and ecological sustainability in the year 2027 encourages an assessment of the patriarchal era, toward an affirmation of a new era of partnership-of-the-genders. A good ally in that assessment and projection is the Center for Partnership Studies (CPS) created in 1987 by the author Riane Eisler. The CPS website states that it serves as a, “catalyst for cultural, economic, and personal transformation—from domination to partnership, from control to care, from power-over to empowerment. CPS’s programs provide new knowledge, insights, interventions, and practical tools for this urgently needed shift.” (See: centerforpartnership.org)

 

The identification of the partnership model and the domination model as two underlying social configurations requires a new analytical approach that includes social features that are currently ignored or marginalized, such as the social construction of human/nature connections, parent/child relations, gender roles and relations, and the way we assess the value of the work of caring for people and nature. (Wikipedia.org, Riane Eisler, Partnership and Domination Models)

 

Riane Eisler’s Partnership Center would likely be an excellent resource for Unitarian Universalists and others in the creation of new stories of partnership culture and spirituality. A New Age of Partnership, however, will require more, it will need a new Bible and new forms of liturgy and ritual. For a new Bible I offer an alternative history of gifting and sharing societies through the ages, focusing upon women’s stories within tribal and communitarian cultures, currently available as an Amazon.com ebook titled, The Intentioneer’s Bible: Interwoven Stories of the Parallel Cultures of Plenty and Scarcity, with a revised second edition to appear in print. For egalitarian liturgy and rituals see the teachings of the Reclaiming Tradition of Witchcraft and of the Covenant of UU Pagans.

 

Egalitarian religion arose with the Early Christian Church as women comprised a second apostolic group following Jesus, with his partner Mary Magdalene becoming a leader of the Christian sect in his stead. Many women leaders followed until the movement institutionalized under patriarchal, orthodox Catholicism, making women second-class to men as proscribed by the patriarchal laws of the Old Testament or Hebrew Torah and carried into the Christian New Testament, especially in Saint Paul’s writings. Partnership Spirituality reclaims and resumes the momentum of egalitarian religion and culture, furthering the inclusive nature of the syncretic Christian religion comprised of Judaism, Persian dualism, Stoicism, and Paganism, now to emphasize women’s spirituality. For discussion on the re-mything for the egalitarian religion of “Partnership Spirituality” see the Facebook page with that name. As patriarchy is justified through religion, so partnership may be affirmed in spirituality: When we say it is so, then for us, so it is!

 

References:

Eisler, Riane. (1987). The Chalice and the Blade: Our History, Our Future. San Francisco, CA: Harper & Row.

 

Fogarty, Robert. (1980). Dictionary of American communal and utopian history. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.

 

Hine, Robert. (1953). California’s utopian colonies. New York: Norton & Company.

 

Miller, Timothy. (1998). The quest for utopia in twentieth-century America, volume 1: 1900-1960. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press.

 

Morgan, Arthur. (1942). The small community: Foundation of democratic life. Yellow Springs, OH: Community Service, Inc.

 

Morgan, Arthur. (1944). Edward Bellamy: A biography of the author of “Looking backward.” New York: Columbia University Press.

 

Oved, Yaacov. (1988). Two Hundred Years of American Communes. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Inc.

 

 

Ancient “Old Europe” Culture of Peace

“We can dream of a culture of harmony and peace in balance with nature” . . .

Marija Gimbutas tells an origin story that at the very beginning of Western Civilization lay cultures that were peaceful and long-lasting, which she named “Old Europe.” This was the Late Stone Age or Neolithic time of southeastern Europe (Greece, Italy, the Balkans) of 10,000 years ago, give or take a few centuries, when our European ancestors lived in a female-centered culture in which the settlements had no fortifications and the people made no weapons of war. Learn how this peaceful culture existed and how it ended in the video:

Take an hour out of your life to learn of Marija Gimbutas’ lifetime of work in archeological mythology to awaken us to what we lost, by watching the video “Signs Out Of Time” by Donna Read and Starhawk.

Today the idea of “partnership” is to create an egalitarian culture which is neither matriarchal nor patriarchal in a Partnership Spirituality.

Class-Harmony Community

Class-Harmony Community:

 

The Private-Property Sharing, Cross-Class Model of Intentional Community

 

A. Allen Butcher

 

***

For presentation at the thirteenth triennial International Communal Studies Association (ICSA) Conference, July, 2019, Hudson, NY • Portions of this paper first appeared in the author’s 2016 book The Intentioneers’ Bible ([book:chapter] II:5, III:10, V:3, V:5, V:6, VI:15), and in the article “Class-Harmony Community” in Communities: Life in Cooperative Culture (issue 178, spring 2018, pp. 61-3) .

 

About 4,500 words in the body of text.

 

***

 

From Bias Against to Recognition of Class-Harmony

 

Among the various forms of intentional community, the common practice of mutual aid among rich and poor is an old story; although not well understood and rarely emphasized. Typically, community movements focus upon either the ideal of class-less communalism, as in the egalitarian communities’ processes of labor-sharing and their sharing of commonly-owned property, or they focus upon class-homogeneity as in cohousing communities comprised mostly of middle-class people enjoying the processes of labor-gifting and the sharing of privately-owned property. Yet there have also always been forms of intentional community in which people of different economic classes have shared either privately-owned or commonly-owned property, or both, which is the class-harmony community model.

 

Disparities in wealth and privilege need not divide people when those of different socio-economic status develop ways to communicate for common understanding, and thereby gain trust in each other for gifting and sharing in community. This is not a new idea. Class-harmony is a common form of both religious and secular intentional community; it simply has not been recognized, named, and advocated until recently, as people’s attention has been monopolized by communalism, historically, and more recently by cooperatives, land trusts, cohousing, and ecovillages. In the same way that these various forms of intentional community attracted interest and involvement into separate movements, so also may class-harmony community develop its own community movement as people learn about, understand, and practice the lessons of a fascinating story of communitarianism, which has existed from ancient times to the present.

 

Class-harmony community is often discounted as a presumptive, specious, pretentious pseudo-community. Many activists within and watchers of the intentional community movements, including the present author, have tended to disregard class-harmony communities as pretenders to an ideal they cannot achieve, rather than as a genuine, authentic, legitimate expression of sharing and cooperation. For example, probably the first author to directly address the class-harmony community model is Diana Leafe Christian in her 2003 book titled, Creating a Life Together, in which she wrote,

 

If you’re a property owner seeking to create community on your land, … Be willing to release total control and find ways for people to become fully participating, responsibility-sharing fellow community members. And if you cannot or don’t want to release full control but still want  [to] live in close proximity with others, please do so and enjoy it—but don’t advertise it as a “community.”! (Christian, p. 24)

 

Ten years later, Jennifer Ladd quoted Christian’s comments above in what may have been the first article presenting class-harmony community, and the various challenges and lessons of the model. In her Communities magazine article titled, “Yes, Wealthy People Want to Live in Community in Sustainable Ways Too! Fourteen suggestions from those who are trying it,” Ladd called the upper-class owners of the shared property “primary funders,” and the community model “cross-class projects.” Ladd explains the motivations of the primary funders in writing that,

 

Many people with wealth are looking for ways to leverage their resource for good—to help heal the environment and to support the emergence of a new culture based on cooperation and collaboration. And so wealthy people are playing a role, with others, in the growth of intentional communities and other collective working and living projects. (Ladd, 2013, p. 36)

 

Five years after that article, Jennifer Ladd presented in a 2018 Communities magazine article a little about the work she and her cofounder, Felice Yeskel, had done through their company called Class Action (see: http://www.classism.org) to help a just-forming (2005) cohousing community, Rocky Hill (MA), resolve their class and money issues. Their process involved: identifying four goals for the process; having each person answer two questions about personal attitudes toward money and class; and identifying a number of next steps.

 

Interestingly, one of the exercises the two Class Action facilitators put the Rocky Hill community members through in 2005 had also been used to help the communal Twin Oaks Community (VA) clarify its issues involving their community design in 1976. While at Twin Oaks the group-process facilitators had members line up “according to the way they saw their ideological relationship to each other—close, if they agreed, and distant, if they disagreed” (Komar, p. 94), at Rocky Hill Cohousing the facilitators asked members to line up “according to their self-defined class background when they were 12 years old” (Ladd, 2018, p. 27). In some way, evidently, physically standing in line close to those with whom one shares similar ideals and socio-economic backgrounds, and further from those one considers to be of different orientation and experience, helped these two very different communities along their respective paths to finding unity in the problematic diversity of their ideological attachments and socio-economic class status.

 

Yana Ludwig expresses the importance of cross-class solidarity, or class-harmony, in her 2019 Communities article “Cross-Class Cooperation and Land Access.” She recognizes the problem that not being able to acquire land and housing prevents the accumulation of both financial assets or wealth, and social capital in the form of community.

 

I think it is increasingly important to not only talk about the role class privilege plays in our movement, but also celebrate the ways that cross-class cooperation can be a form of solidarity that is very much needed at this time. Land access is a fundamental barrier to many things in the US: being able to grow your own food, being able to build equity and wealth, being able to have a direct and daily relationship with the natural world, and being able to start an intentional community are just a few areas in which lack of enough wealth to own property further limits our capacity to have our dreams become realities. (Ludwig, p. 25)

 

While Diana Christian, Jennifer Ladd, and Yana Ludwig are all talking about very different forms of intentional community, class-harmony, cohousing, and community land trusts, respectively, the common themes are the problems of land acquisition and tenure: who buys it and who controls it. Ludwig’s land trusts place their land in a form of legal common ownership with parcels or units (whether land, houses, apartments, or rooms) leased to individuals and families. Ladd’s cohousing communities place the land in a form of “undivided” private-property ownership, and Christian’s landlords rent rooms, apartments, or houses to individuals and families. While Diana Christian expresses a bias against landlord-owned communities, it can be difficult for working class people to afford to build a house on land leased from a trust or to buy into a cohousing community, leaving renting the only option for the working class to enjoy intentional community.

 

Community for Working-Class Nuclear and Single-Parent Families, and Young Adults

 

For working-class people, especially if they have children, renting is often the only way they can live in community. Communal groups, particularly secular ones, often do not accept new members with children. East Wind Community (MO) votes on each of its members’ announced pregnancies as to whether or not the community will support the child, with those losing the vote having to get an abortion or leave the community. While a working-class family may be able to rent a unit in a cohousing or land trust community they often cannot afford to purchase or build a housing unit in one of those communities. What remains open to working-class nuclear and single-parent families is class-harmony community where someone else provides the funding for land purchase and construction so that all the family has to do is pay rent.

 

An estimate of the extent of the class-harmony community format within the intentional communities movement is seen in the Communities article (fall 2017, no. 176)  by Sky Blue and Betsy Morris titled, “Tracking the Communities Movement: 70 Years of History and the Modern FIC.” The authors include a category in their analysis of the 2016 FIC Communities Directory listings which they call “Shared House/Cohousehold/Coliving,” yet they do not explain this category as they do the other forms. The authors report that this type of community accounts for 31 percent of the Directory listings. Only cohousing had a larger showing at 39 percent. (Blue & Morris, p. 17)

 

In the 2016 Communities Directory Sky Blue and Betsy Morris count 738 U.S. intentional communities, of which 194 or 26% are forming (i.e., < 4 adults existing < 2 years), leaving 544 or 74% “established” communities. Of the 544 groups with 4 or more adults existing two years or more, 170 or about 31% are classified by Blue and Morris as “Shared House/Cohousehold/Coliving.” (Blue & Morris, p. 17)

 

Another way to count the number of class-harmony communities in the FIC Directory is to simply count the number of groups reporting that just one person or a small group owns the land. Of the 738 total U.S. communities in the 2016 Directory, 154 communities or 21 percent indicated that their land is owned by an individual or a subgroup of members.

 

What accounts for the difference above between Blue’s and Morris’ 31 percent Shared House/Cohousehold/Coliving groups and the present author’s 21 percent individual or subgroup ownership in class-harmony community? Part of the discrepancy is how groups are listed and counted, and part is the different definitions that people use for terms like “shared-housing” and “coliving.” Hopefully the 2020 Communities Directory will be redesigned for easier analysis.

 

Consider the issues of the definitions of terms and of the classification of communities. Most likely Blue and Morris did not include Ganas Community (NY) in their category of Shared House/Cohousehold/Coliving communities, while the present author does consider Ganas to be a class-harmony community. Ganas has a unique structure in which a communal subgroup of about ten people own the houses and rooms rented to about 70 other people. Clearly there are two classes of Ganas members, the owners and the renters, with the owners functioning as communal-capitalists in this unique form of class-harmony community.

 

Along with the Ganas model of a small communal-ownership subgroup renting to a larger number of non-owner members is another form of class-harmony community with the reverse of the Ganas model. Consider that in the Camphill Village communities the members live communally, sharing commonly-owned property controlled by non-profit, tax-exempt organizations and supported by a large group of funders who contribute money and time while generally not living in the communal society. The summer 2019 Camphill Foundation newsletter reported that this year over $357, 000 was granted to eighteen Camphill groups around the world. Since its founding in 1966 the Camphill Foundation has made $9.3 million in grants and low-interest loans to Camphill communities. Clearly, the Camphill community model involves a class of funders supporting a class of less-wealthy members. The Camphill financing model provides an excellent model for what Matthew Bishop and Michael Green call “philanthrocapitalism” in their 2008 book by that title, encouraging the use of private wealth for the public good. (Bishop & Green, p. ix; Camphill Foundation, 2019, see: https://camphillfoundation.org/grantmaking/#grantees).

 

The class-harmony community category is comprised of a broad range of different ownership forms. While Blue’s and Morris’ category of “Shared House/Cohousehold/Coliving” communities probably does not include Ganas or Camphill, and none of Blue’s and Morris’ three types of communities perfectly fit the present author’s small community comprised of four apartments called the Dry Gulch Ecovillage (Butcher, pp. 61-3), it is unclear exactly what all is included in the term “coliving.”

 

Consider the article in the July 8, 2019 San Francisco Chronicle by J.K. Dineen titled “Co-living Tower in SOMa [i.e., South Market] could Usher in Wave of Innovative Housing Projects,” which describes a “270-bed co-living building … [The] $90 million project will be 16-stories tall. Residents will pay $2,000 to $2,400 [per month] for the market-rate rooms … The idea is to create an instant community for the young workers flocking to jobs in San Francisco … [City-wide] there are about 3,700 co-living beds in operation and 9,300 in the pipeline … This doesn’t include … collectives that have long thrived in the Bay Area.” That is $2k to $2.4k per month just for a bed-space, not even a room with a door, with shared bathroom, lounge, and kitchen. While people appreciate the long-term-hostel-like experience for a while, there is evidently a high turn-over rate of coliving residents. Other cities with large coliving projects include Chicago, New York and Los Angeles. (Dineen, 2019)

 

Property-Sharing Spectrum

 

As with any growing social movement, the expressions of class-harmony community and the names describing them can be many and varied, actually causing confusion around and therefore limited understanding of the social phenomenon of a continually developing life-style pattern. The most common names for the class-harmony model of intentional community include: coliving, cohouseholding, cross-class community, and shared-housing.

 

Property-Sharing Continuum (i.e.: real estate, chattels, and money)

 

Shared Commonly-Owned Property                                                     Shared Privately-Owned Property

____________________________________________________________________________________

⃒                                        ⃒                                       ⃒                                  ⃒

Communal Society:        Economically-Diverse:      Equity-Sharing:        Class-Harmony:

• Monasteries                  • indigenous tribalism      • housing co-ops       • coliving

• Hutterites/Bruderhof  • community land trust      • cohousing             • cohouseholding

• Twelve Tribes                                                                                                  • shared-housing

• Federation of Egalitarian Communities                                                     • cross-class comm.

• Ganas Comm. (NY)

• Camphill comm.

 

The term “class-harmony community” is offered as an umbrella term inclusive of others, as it is descriptive of the basic concept of including two or more economic classes of participation or involvement, while at the same time emphasizing what class-harmony is not; specifically disassociating the class-harmony communitarian model from communist class-conflict.

 

Classical communism emphasizes class-war as a necessary first phase toward what Marxist-communist theory traditionally considers the ideal of non-class or class-less communalism in its projected second phase. In contrast, class-harmony is affirmed as the primary aspect of the form of intentional community first disparaged and disrespected by Karl Marx (1818-1883) and Friedrich Engels (1820-1895) as “utopian socialist.” While the late 18th century and early 19th century utopian theorists such as Count Claude Henri de Rouvroy de Saint-Simon (1760-1825), Robert Owen (1771-1858), Charles Fourier (1772-1837), and Etienne Cabet (1788-1858) all expressed different versions of class-harmony community, Marx and Engels attacked class-harmony as naïve and simplistic. (Butcher, 2016, V:6)

 

In the section of Marx’s 1848 The Communist Manifesto called, “Critical-Utopian Socialism and Communism” he refers to communitarians such as the followers of Owen, Fourier, and the others as “mere reactionary sects,” saying that they are in opposition to the progressive historical development of the proletariat or working-class. (Ebenstein, p. 740; Tucker, p. 499)

 

They, therefore, endeavor, and that consistently, to deaden the class struggle and to reconcile the class antagonisms. They still dream of experimental realization of their social Utopias … and to realize all these castles in the air, they are compelled to appeal to the feelings and purses of the bourgeois [i.e., capitalist ownership class]. (Ebenstein, p. 740; Tucker, p. 499)

 

One of the biggest problems for intentional communities, particularly the communal form, is earning or attracting sufficient financing. While communal groups like East Wind and Twin Oaks communities have to build businesses to support themselves, other groups like cohousing communities attract people who can qualify for 20-year mortgages to build the community. This access to financing results in cohousing communities being built in a matter of a few years, while communal community takes a few decades to build a similar size community. Thus, class-harmony communities, like cohousing sharing privately-owned property while borrowing from banks or credit unions, and like Camphill sharing commonly-owned property donated by individual funders, can grow at a rate ten times faster than communal groups having to earn development capital in their own businesses. Access to development capital is not the only reason why communities sharing private property are more numerous and grow faster than communal groups sharing common property, yet it is an important factor.

 

Frank and Fritzie Manuel probably wrote the most detailed criticism of Marx’ and Engels’ hypocritical attitude toward “utopian socialists” in their 1979 book, Utopian Thought in the Western World. Like the communitarian scholar and kibbutz member, Yaacov Oved, the Manuel’s use the term “sneer” in describing Marx’ and Engels’ comments about the communitarians. Oved writes about Engels in his 1988 book, Two Hundred Years of American Communes, that, “He openly sneered at utopian experiments,” while the Manuels state that Engels’ writing titled in part, Anti-Duhring (1878) is, “spotted with similar sneers.” That is, sneers like calling communitarian settlements, “optimum little republics.” The Manuels point out that Marx’ and Engels’ Communist Manifesto is utopian, and that, “on occasion even they might lapse into utopian glossolalia.” (Manuel & Manuel, pp. 699-700; Oved, p. 428)

 

Historical and Future Class-Harmony

 

Class-harmony community is an old idea used by both religious and secular groups. The oldest such recorded community may be Homakoeion at what is now Crotone in south Italy, founded about 530 B.C. by the Greek mystic and mathematician Pythagoras (581-497 B.C.).

 

At about age fifty Pythagoras created a philosophical school after traveling around the Ancient World learning from various cultures, including women’s spiritual traditions at the Oracle of Delphi. At Crotone, Pythagoras’ school accepted women as well as men, giving both training in philosophy and literature, such that “Pythagorean Women,” who were also instructed in the domestic arts, were “honored by antiquity as the highest feminine type that Greece ever produced.” Intentional communities designed around schools has been a reoccurring theme ever since, with Findhorn in Scotland being the best contemporary example. (Durant, 1939, p. 162; see also Butcher, 2016, II:5)

 

The rise of Christianity in the Western World provides a number of later examples of class-harmony community. Christianity itself has always been welcoming of people of all socio-economic backgrounds, from slaves to property-owners.

 

An early example of Christian class-harmony community is the mid-15th century Unity of Brethren in Bohemia (now in the northwestern part of the Czech Republic), later called the Moravian Church. The Moravian Brethren were Christians who separated from the Catholic Church to live closer to the ideals of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, thus earning their persecution by the Church. Christian Pietism grew from the idea of unifying various Christian sects surviving the persecutions against the Anabaptists, with the German Pietist Count Nikolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf (1700-1760) inviting the remnants of the Moravian Brethren to settle on his estate in Saxony, Germany, founding Herrnhut in 1722, meaning “under the Lord’s watch.” Many of the Moravian Brethren later immigrated to America creating communal communities in Pennsylvania and elsewhere. (Butcher, 2016, III:10)

 

The best-documented Christian class-harmony communities are those of the Anabaptist Hutterites. Several times in their history they were invited to settle on the estates of nobles who avoided control by the higher powers of the day, specifically the Holy Roman Empire, which persecuted the Hutterites for their practice of “re-baptizing” adults. Because they were industrious in developing their communal villages, and because there was not a strong union between church and state in Moravia (now the eastern part of the Czech Republic) the Hutterites were invited soon after their founding in the 16th century by some of the lords of Moravia to build colonies on their land. Eventually succumbing to the dictates of the Holy Roman Emperor the Moravian lords ejected the Hutterites from their land. In the early 17th century some Hutterites were abducted from Moravia to live on and develop land owned by a Transylvanian prince in Romania. Jesuit persecution of the Hutterites there pushed the 18th century Hutterites into what is now southern Romania, then part of the Ottoman Empire controlled by Moslem rulers practicing religious tolerance. When the Russian army pushed the Ottomans out of the region one of the Russian generals invited the Hutterites to settle on his land near Kiev in the Ukraine. When later Russian officials decided to take away their earlier assurance that the Hutterites would not be conscripted for military service, the Hutterites began moving to the Northern Plains American states and Canadian provinces in the later 19th and early 20th centuries. (Butcher, 2016, III:10)

 

With the Industrial Revolution class-harmony community became a means for the working-class to benefit from the rise of mechanized industry. During the early Industrial Revolution in first England then later in France, Germany, America and elsewhere, both class-harmony and class-conflict arose in response to the resulting poverty and debasement of the dispossessed and deprived underclass. When there was no social safety net like welfare the British people created by at least the 1790s various mutual aid societies like “trade clubs” and “voluntary mutual sickness and life insurance companies” referred to as “Friendly Societies.” (Garnett, pp. 11-2)

 

With the Friendly Societies and earlier cultural solidarity practices arose the cooperative movement; one of the primary leaders and organizers being the Welsh industrialist Robert Owen (1771-1858). Owen and others sought to expand social solidarity functions into forms of non-capitalist economics via forms of labor exchanges and alternative currency systems. Owen’s New Lanark mill-town community in Scotland attracted much attention at the time, as did his most famous later experimental community New Harmony in early 19th century Indiana. While Owen lost a large portion of his wealth in New Harmony trying to create a communal society, a non-monetary economic tradition was begun by Josiah Warren at New Harmony which Donald Pitzer calls the “Time Store Cooperative Movement” lasting from 1833 to 1863. Warren’s labor-exchange communities all involved private property with no or little common ownership, the largest and longest-lived being Modern Times (NY) lasting twelve years. (Pitzer, pp. 123, 133, n. 109). Warren’s ideas later appeared in different forms in Edward Bellamy’s 1888 utopian fiction Looking Backward, then B. F. Skinner’s 1948 book Walden Two, which inspired Kathleen Kinkade’s vacation-credit labor system developed at Twin Oaks Community in 1967 for their communal economy, still used today at Twin Oaks and in other groups of the Federation of Egalitarian Communities.

 

While Owen’s inspiration was creating class-harmony communities in Great Britain and America, in France a different type of class-harmony community was being developed. Edward Spann explains in his 1989 book Brotherly Tomorrows that while Owen’s communities tended to be paternalistic, making members dependent upon the owners of their communities’ real estate and investment capital while idealizing communal ownership, Charles Fourier’s influence in France emphasized private property. Charles Fourier (1772-1837) invented the term “feminism” and wrote that “the extension of the privileges of women is the fundamental cause of all social progress.” (Beecher & Bienvenu, p. 196; Butcher, 2016, V:3; Riasanovsky, p. 208; Spann, p. 84)

 

Inspired partly by Charles Fourier’s concept of “passional attraction,” which included the idea of making work as attractive as possible, Jean Baptiste Godin (1817-1888) began as a blacksmith then “made a fortune as a manufacturer of iron stoves in Guise, northeast of Paris …, began in 1859 to build a … ‘Social Palace’ … Godin instituted a system of profit-sharing based on the Fourierist formula for the division of profits among capital, talent, and labor. [The Social Palace] he intended would eventually be managed and owned by the workers.” (Spann, pp. 164-5)

 

Dolores Hayden includes drawings of the Social Palace in her 1981 book The Grand Domestic Revolution, and points out that 350 workers and their families lived in the Social Palace in Guise, France, buying supplies from cooperative shops and enjoying the community’s restaurant, café, theater, developmental nursery and schools, profit-sharing, and sickness and old-age insurance. Marie Stevens Case Howland translated Godin’s writings, and wrote in her own book about the Social Palace, first called Papa’s Own Girl later re-titled The Familistére, ideas which Hayden says seems to have influenced Edward Bellamy in his 1888 utopian fiction Looking Backward. (Butcher, 2016, V:5; Hayden, pp. 37, 96-100, 136)

 

The historical examples above provide highlights in the history of class-harmony community. Another highpoint to acknowledge is the origin of a term which encompasses the entire range of Owenite theory from class-harmony to communalism, and that of many other cultural theorists, reformers, and commentators ever since. While today there are different definitions for the term “socialist,” an understanding of the original definition can be interpreted from its first use in the Owenite journal The London Cooperative Magazine (see accompanying graphic).

 

In his 1948 article, “The Evolution of the Socialist Vocabulary,” printed in the Journal of the History of Ideas, Arthur Bestor writes that the noun “socialist” was first printed in 1827, while “the form ‘socialism’ did not appear in England until 1837.” Note in the graphic below that “socialists” is juxtaposed with the term “communionists,” which Bestor interprets as a religious term originating in 1644 to refer to intentional community members or communitarians. The term “communitarian,” Bestor states, was first printed November 13, 1841 in the London Times. (Bestor, pp. 277, 278 n. 103, 280; see accompanying graphic)

 

Socialism 1827

 

While today the term “socialism” is resurgent in concepts like “democratic socialism,” referring to a political-economic design of nation-states, its original use was for describing alternative, civil-society constructs outside of Church and State. As such, cooperative and communitarian societies which originally inspired the terms “socialist” and “socialism” have an etymological “ownership” of them. With the bi-centennial of the first use of “socialist” coming up in less than a decade this provides an opportunity for the communities movements to reclaim their own history in a way that will bring the tradition of alternative, radical, counter-cultural, civil-society experimentation and development to the public consciousness in order to contribute to the current and future desire and need to build post-capitalist political-economic structures.

 

The coming 2027 Socialist Bi-Centennial provides an opportunity for the communities movements to create educational campaigns to support the continuing need to construct political-economies that respect social justice, which began in early Christianity and developed along with the Industrial Revolution and now the Information Age, along with the more recent concern for ecological sustainability. While all forms of intentional community fit the original meaning of the term “socialist,” the class-harmony form may be the best for attracting financial support from philanthrocapitalists.

 

A 2027 Socialist Bi-Centennial educational campaign highlighting the concept of class-harmony may be an important method for carrying on resistance to both rapacious capitalism and to cultural conservative’s sneer that gifting and sharing societies are Marxist-communist. Much has changed in the last two-hundred years, yet much remains the same. There is today the same need as ever to build political-economic-social structures which respect people’s highest ideals and ethical standards; and if anything, the need is becoming increasingly urgent. If a socially just and sustainable utopia is not achieved before the coming 21st Century Dark Age, perhaps at least the foundation can be laid for a utopian renaissance after the apocalypse of the 6th Great Extinction, now threatening human civilization.

 

References:

 

Beecher, Joathan and Bienvenu, Richard (Eds.). (1971). The utopian vision of Charles Fourier. Boston: Beacon Press.

 

Bestor, Arthur E. (1948 June). “The Evolution of the Socialist Vocabulary,” Journal of the History of Ideas, Vol. 9, No. 3, pp. 259-302. University of Pennsylvania Press. (www.jstor.org/stable/2707371)

 

Bishop, Matthew, and Green, Michael. (2008). Philanthrocapitalism: How giving can save the world. London: A & C Black.

 

Blue, Sky and Morris, Betsy. (2017, fall). Tracking the communities movement: 70 years of history and the modern FIC. Communities: Life in cooperative culture, no. 176. Rutledge, MO: Fellowship for Intentional Community.

 

Butcher, Allen. (2016). The Intentioneer’s Bible: Interwoven Stories of the Parallel Cultures of Plenty and Scarcity. Denver, CO: Self-published at Amazon.com

 

Butcher, Allen. (2018, spring). Class-harmony community. Communities: Life in cooperative culture, no. 178. Rutledge, MO: Fellowship for Intentional Community.

 

Camphill Foundation. (2019, summer). Your donations at work: 2019 grant awards. Camphill Foundation Newsletter. Chestnut Ridge, NY: Camphill Foundation.

 

Christian, Diana Leafe. (2003). Creating A Life Together: Practical Tools to Grow Ecovillages and Intentional Communities. Gabriola Island, B.C., Canada: New Society Press.

 

Dineen, J. K. (2019, July 8). Co-living tower in SoMa could usher in wave of innovative housing projects. San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved July 10, 2019, from https://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/article/Co-living-tower-in-SoMa-could-usher-in-wave-of-14074532.php?fbclid=IwAR0K-ggbkMcqgDN4rvELHQMKuVMnTutbFU3ulR62T9N5AoEGwzw_34Zm-ZI

 

Durant, Will. (1939). The Story of Civilization: Vol. 2. The Life of Greece. New York: Simon and Schuster.

 

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Garnett, Ronald George. (1972). Co-operation and the Owenite socialist communities in Britain, 1825-1845. Manchester, England: Manchester University Press.

 

Hayden, Dolores. (1981). The grand domestic revolution: A history of feminist designs for American homes, neighborhoods and cities. Cambridge, MA.: MIT Press.

 

Komar, Ingrid. (1989). Living the dream: A documentary study of Twin Oaks Community (2nd Ed). Louisa, VA: Twin Oaks Community.

 

Ladd, Jennifer. (2013, summer). Yes, wealthy people want to live in community in sustainable ways too! Fourteen suggestions from those who are trying it. Communities: Life in cooperative culture, no. 159. Rutledge, MO: Fellowship for Intentional Community.

 

Ladd, Jennifer. (2018, spring). Reflections on class from a newbie at Rocky Hill Cohousing. Communities: Life in cooperative culture, no. 178. Rutledge, MO: Fellowship for Intentional Community.

 

Ludwig, Yana. (2019, spring). Cross-class cooperation and land access. Communities: Life in cooperative culture, no. 182. Rutledge, MO: Fellowship for Intentional Community.

 

Manuel, F. & Manuel, F. (1979). Utopian thought in the Western world. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press.

 

Oved, Yaacov. (1988). Two hundred years of American communes. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Books.

 

Pitzer, Donald E. (Ed.) (1997) America’s communal utopias. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press.

 

Riasanovsky, Nicholas. (1969). The teaching of Charles Fourier. Berkeley and Los Angeles, CA: University of California Press.

 

Spann, Edward K. (1989). Brotherly tomorrows: Movements for a cooperative society in America 1820-1920. New York: Columbia University Press.

 

Tucker, Robert C. (Ed.) (1978). The Marx-Engels reader (2nd ed.) New York: W. w. Norton & Company.