Collectivize! From Wall Street Banks to Ecovillages

The Solution to Economic Collapse for both Wall Street Banks and Ecovillages

A. Allen Butcher • The School of Intentioneering • Denver, Colorado • April 18, 2022

AllenInUtopia@consultant.comhttp://www.Intentioneers.net • 3,500 words

Whatever may be the differences, a common threat will bring together the staunchest rivals. The story I am about to tell, however, is not about banks and ecovillages working together, it is about collectivization being the strategy employed separately by the big banks, which are normally competitors, when faced with the common threat of the Great Recession, and similarly, the collectivization into ecovillages of people faced with the threat of economic collapse: past, present, and future. There is a connection in this story between big banks and small ecovillages, yet before getting to that let’s start with the story of when Wall Street banks had to suspend competition and embrace collectivization. This is instructive because something like this history is likely to repeat in our lifetime.

Nomi Prins is a financial writer talking about the next big economic fall she calls the “Great Distortion.” She uses a graph showing a bifurcation and divergence beginning in 1971, from when President Nixon ended the gold standard and instituted fiat money in which the real-world economy carries on with a gradual increase, while the financial economy takes off on a much steeper climb upward. It was a stumble of that “financialized” part of the economy that caused the Great Recession of December 2007 to June 2009, which subsequently recovered and resumed its climb toward what she and many others believe will be the next major stumble of the economic system.

The classic problem of capitalism is called “overproduction,” which is when the capacity to produce outpaces the markets’ ability to sell, due to market saturation, or consumers’ inability to purchase, or simply abundance reducing demand. From the 1970s on, overcapacity resulted in investment capital, having no place else to go, beginning to be continually reinvested in the financial sector of the economy, causing the divergence in the First World between a stagnant real economy and a “hyperactive financial economy.” The two then became ever more disconnected, as Nomi Prins’ graphic depicts, up to and then ever since the financial economy imploded with the Great Recession.

Consider the contemporary spectacle of the richest people in the world launching themselves into space. This is an indication of big money looking for something spectacular to do. While there is the Giving Pledge advocated by people like Warren Buffett and Bill Gates for the rich to give away large amounts of their fortunes, and the idea of “philanthro-capitalism” involving corporations creating solutions for social problems, not enough of those instances of social responsibility are happening. (Bishop & Green, passim)

Fortunately, there was one person involved in international finance in the 1980s who used his wealth not for luxury homes and yachts, instead to nurture the rise of the Global Ecovillage Network. Before telling that story, the context of his earlier work needs to be presented.

***

Susan Strange was the Professor of International Political Economy at the University of Warwick in England, and Emeritus Professor at the London School of Economics. In her 1986 book Casino Capitalism she states, … “The Western financial system is rapidly coming to resemble nothing as much as a vast casino. … As in a casino, the world of high finance today offers the players a choice of games. Instead of roulette, blackjack, or poker, there is dealing to be done—the foreign exchange market and all its variations; or in bonds, government securities or shares. In all these markets you may place bets on the future by dealing forward and by buying or selling options and all sorts of other recondite [i.e., obscure] financial inventions. Some of the players—banks especially—play with very large stakes. There are also many quite small operators. There are tipsters, too, selling advice, and peddlers of systems to the gullible. And the croupiers in this global financial casino are the big bankers and brokers. They play, as it were, “for the house.” It is they, in the long run, who make the best living.” (Strange, p. 1)

Practically any event in the real world could snowball into something that would affect the credit and foreign exchange markets, requiring transnational corporations along with importers and exporters to carefully protect themselves from such risks. The need is then to diversify a company’s capital assets and liabilities, and the best way to do that is by “geographical diversification,” meaning having corporate offices in different countries with different currencies. The result of that long-run strategy, Strange points out, is the tendency of a firm, “to increase their short-term needs for hedging against exchange rate risks, thus adding still further to the volume of transactions in the financial casino.” (Strange, pp. 12-3)

In his 2010 book, On the Brink: Inside the Race to Stop the Collapse of the Global Financial System, the U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson explained that the stress of the ongoing crisis was weighing upon him.

“Back in my temporary office on the 13th floor [of the New York Federal Reserve bank], a jot of fear suddenly overcame me as I thought for a moment of what lay ahead of us. Lehman [bank] was as good as dead, and American International Group’s (AIG) problems were spiraling out of control. With the U.S. sinking deeper into recession, the failure of a large financial institution would reverberate throughout the country—and far beyond our shores. I could see credit tightening, strapped companies slashing jobs, foreclosures rising ever faster: millions of Americans would lose their livelihoods and their homes. It would take years for us to dig ourselves out from under such a disaster. (Paulson, p. 214)

“All weekend I’d been wearing my crisis armor, but now I felt my guard slipping as I gave in to anxiety. I knew I had to call my wife, … (Paulson, p. 215)

““What if the system collapses?” I asked her. “Everybody is looking to me, and I don’t have the answer. I am really scared.” (Paulson, p. 215)

““You needn’t be afraid,” Wendy said. “Your job is to reflect God, Infinite Mind, and you can rely upon Him.”” (Paulson, p. 215)

Friday, September 12, 2008, Treasury Secretary Paulson called a meeting at the New York Federal Reserve of Wall Street CEOs to come up with a rescue for Lehman Brothers bank. They had to work together to save one of their competitors, because otherwise the impact upon the financial markets and their own companies could be disastrous. Everyone in the room knew that AIG was now in trouble, and the CEOs asked why they should weaken their companies to help one competitor, if the next rescue to be crafted was going to be an even bigger problem, with more problems beyond that successively impacting the financial industry? Tim Geithner, president of the New York Fed responded, “Let’s focus on Lehman.” (Paulson, pp. 192-3)

For a room full of convinced free-marketers beset by the “classic question of collective action,” the issue became at what point does the good of the group overrule individual needs? If each company now had to be prepared to help its competitors, how then can the worth of any particular company be accurately gauged by the market? (Paulson, p. 198)

The world had suddenly gone topsy-turvy. It was no longer business-as-usual. It was a very unusual business when the assumptions of the capitalist free-market had to be replaced by the necessity of collective survival. The CEOs working with Geithner and Paulson that weekend at the New York Fed were being asked by the government to set aside their individual concerns for the long-range good of their industry. Jamie Dimon of J. P. Morgan pointed out that his bank would act responsibly in this crisis, yet that he “ran a for-profit institution and had an obligation to his shareholders.” The stated goal was to create a private-sector consortium that presumably would be able to aid any other financial-industry corporation that might need it next, like Merrill Lynch or Morgan Stanley. Lloyd Blankfein of Goldman Sachs asked, “Do you think this makes sense? … Goldman will act responsibly. We’ll do our part, but this is asking a lot, and I’m not sure it makes sense.” (Paulson, p. 201)

Lehman Brothers bank collapsed in September 2008 and the government bailout of Wall Street was well underway. The Great Recession was challenging many people to step outside of the free-market box. In the process of responding to a macro-economic threat to the entire country and the globalized financial system, the U.S. Government was trying hard to rescue major corporations without nationalizing them, while the corporations themselves were having to change their competitive skins to begin to look and function like they were part of a collective intentional banking community practicing mutual aid.

Tuesday, September 16. It was learned that AIG needed $85 billion. Paulson writes, “AIG’s incompetence was stunning.” The previous Sunday that figure had been (only) $50 billion, so how could AIG be sinking so rapidly? They needed $14 billion by the close of the next business day! (Paulson, p. 229)

Secretary Paulson admitted that the proposed solution was essentially to bail out Wall Street. The Fed chairman, Ben Bernanke, explained to President Bush, “We are past the point of what the Fed and Treasury can do on their own.” Now it was up to Congress to revise the nation’s fiscal policy to save the economy, and raise the nation’s debt limit to do it. In his phone conversation with Secretary Paulson, President Bush naively commented, “Someday you guys are going to have to tell me how we ended up with a system like this and what we need to do to fix it.” Friday, October 3 congress passed the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 (EES Act). (Paulson, pp. 237, 256-7, 328)

Monday, October 13. The heads of nine of the largest U.S. banks arrived at the U.S. Treasury building, compelled to attend a meeting where they would have to work together. They waded through a cordon of photographers and reporters on the steps of the Treasury building, entered the conference room, and sat on one side of the Department’s twenty-four-foot-long mahogany conference table, in alphabetical order according to the names of their banks: Bank of America, Bank of New York Mellon, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, J. P. Morgan, Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, State Street Corporation, and Wells Fargo. Together they held over half of all bank deposits in the U.S. Facing them was: Henry Paulson, Treasury Secretary; Tim Geithner, president of the New York Federal Reserve Bank; Ben Bernanke, Federal Reserve chairman; Sheila Bair chair of the FDIC; and John Dougan, Comptroller of the Currency. (Paulson, pp. 359, 363)

Secretary Paulson began with saying that they had been summoned because they and their institutions had to work together to save the country’s financial system, their companies, and their own jobs. He explained the solution that the government had devised, of the $250 billion that would be divided among them, and they were to sign a paper before they left agreeing to accept the capital infusions from the Treasury into their banks. (Paulson, pp. 362-3)

Richard Kovacevich, chairman of Wells Fargo resisted. ““I’m not one of you New York guys with your fancy products. Why am I in this room, talking about bailing you out?” … For a moment no one said a word, and then the room suddenly broke out in pandemonium, with everyone talking over one another.” (Sorkin, p. 525)

John Thain of Merrill Lynch asked what all the bankers wanted to know yet that no one else would question, “What kind of protections can you give us on changes in compensation policy?” His concern was that once the government had a stake in their companies, could a populist campaign force changes in the CEO’s pay? (Sorkin, p. 525)

Ben Bernanke interjected, “I don’t really understand why there needs to be so much tension about this, [think about] the collective good. Look, we’re not trying to be intimidating or pushy. …” (Sorkin, p. 526)

In late November Citigroup requested government aid for insuring $300 billion of its toxic assets of mortgage securities and corporate loans, even though in October the Citigroup CEO Vikram Pandit had received $25 billion of the EES Act funds. Without a rescue, Citigroup with $3 trillion in assets, would run out of cash by the following week. (Paulson, pp. 365, 410-1)

Andrew Sorkin states in his book, Too Big To Fail, that before the financial crisis Citigroup had been the largest American financial institution, and as it kept coming back to suck more and more money out of the government, Treasury officials began calling it the “Death Star.” (Sorkin, p. 530)

Secretary Paulson later wrote, “I had become the Treasury secretary who would forever be associated with government intervention and bank bailouts. The speed with which the crisis hit had left me no other choice, and I had set aside strict ideology to accomplish the higher goal of saving a system that, even with all its flaws, was better than any other I knew—I had been forced to do things I did not believe in to save what I did believe in.” (Paulson, p. 408)

There was plenty of criticism to go around. In 2009 Congress created the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission to analyze what went wrong and how to fix the causes of the Great Recession, publishing its report in 2011 titled, The Financial Crisis Inquiry Report. In their book, All the Devils are Here, Bethany McLean and Joe Nocera wrote, “[I]t was very hard to find the line between delusion, venality, and outright corruption. Much of what took place during the crisis was immoral, unjust, craven, delusional behavior―but it wasn’t criminal.” (McLean and Nocera, pp. 361-2)

Even if his actions were not technically criminal, the person who most deserves to be held responsible for the Great Recession is Robert Rubin, the U.S. Treasury Secretary who “lobbied from his government post in 1999 to repeal Glass-Steagall,” then who as a consultant at Citigroup made $40 million as he worked to help the mega-bank take advantage of the relaxed regulations, then in 2000 he opposed the government regulation of derivatives. Ralph Nader says of Rubin in his 2014 book Unstoppable that, “He has not yet recanted from the gigantic folly of his concoctions. … Rubin experiences no shunning and is on the social circuit in New York and Washington, D.C.” (McLean & Nocera pp. 105-7; Nader, p. 157)

What Bethany McLean and Joe Nocera express, of course, is what is called, “business as usual.” Financialization is essentially the creation of ever more risky, high-stakes games in casino capitalism. Paul Volker, former chair of the Federal Reserve, explained at a Wall Street Journal conference in 2009 his view about financialization that it did practically nothing for the economy. “I have found very little evidence that vast amounts of innovation in financial markets in recent years have had a visible effect on the productivity of the economy.” (McLean & Nocera, p. 363)

Andrew Ross Sorkin states in his book, Too Big to Fail, about the unregulated financial instruments called securitized mortgages, collateralized-debt obligations, and the various “derivatives” such as credit default swaps and stock options contracts that, “Warren Buffett called them weapons of mass destruction.” (Sorkin, p. 156)

One thing that is not mentioned by any of the authors cited in this story (except Ralph Nader, pp. 142-3), neither Henry Paulson, nor Andrew Ross Sorkin, nor Bethany McLean and Joe Nocera, in any of their conclusions and lists of lessons about the Great Recession, is that credit unions had none of the problems of the banks, either before, during, or after the massive economic dislocation of the corporate capitalist system. The only significant impact of the Great Recession upon the credit unions is that membership in the movement substantially increased as people learned that credit unions are safer, have their own government-backed deposit insurance, and are more fiscally responsible than banks. This may be one of the most important lessons to keep in mind about the Great Recession, because there are many who believe that the next great economic calamity will be too big for the U.S. Congress to bail out.

***

While the corporate dinosaurs were stumbling drunk and crashing, deathly poisoned by financialization, furry little financial cooperatives and ecovillages were nimbly avoiding being squashed in the milieu. Consumer financial cooperatives, called credit unions, had long been established, while the ecovillage movement was just evolving within the intentional communities movement, at the time that a benefactor found them.

J. T. Ross Jackson had worked as what Karen Litfin states as an international currency trader, who designed computer software to facilitate the business of his profession. In his 1996 Communities magazine article, “The Global Eco-Village Network (GEN): Encouraging Model Ecovillages Worldwide,” Jackson describes his background as having been in “operations research and international finance.” (Jackson, p. 40; Litfin, p. 12)

Evidently, Ross Jackson was one of those people who helped to create the infrastructure supporting the financialization of the international monetary system. Between 1984 and ’86 Jackson designed and sold computer software for the foreign exchange currency markets, managing to get himself in the right place, at the right time, with the right skills, to help bring on the greatest crisis in neo-liberal market capitalism since the 1930s Great Depression. Surely, if Ross Jackson had not done it, someone else would have.

What probably no one else would have done, however, is rather than live a life of leisure with his earnings, Ross Jackson started a foundation named Gaia Trust to fund the nascent ecovillage movement. As Jackson explains in Kali Yuga Odyssey, a spiritual experience he had with Swami Muktananda inspired him to use his skills and resources to support what at the time was a very young ecovillage movement, just being created. Ross and partner Hildur had early-on been involved in the beginning of the cohousing movement in Denmark, living twenty years in the community they helped found.

Redeeming himself for having participated in bringing-on the greatest financial evil in a century, Ross Jackson co-created a movement, the Global Ecovillage Network (GEN), that promises the best hope for survival through not only economic collapse, yet also potentially though the ecological collapse which is daily growing ever more imminent.

In the 2016 Communities magazine article, co-authored by Ross and Hildur Jackson titled, “The Global Ecovillage Network: Focal Point for a Global Movement,” the authors state, …

“Whether the global economy collapsed or we were able to make a planned transition to a sustainable future, I understood that it would be necessary in either case to build a new culture. At the foundation of this culture must necessarily be sustainable human settlements, and for this we needed good models. I believed that a network of ecovillages that provided such models would be an extremely valuable base on which to build.” (Jackson & Jackson, p. 14)

For sixteen years, from 1987 to 2003, the Gaia Trust funded the start-up of Global Ecovillage Network centers around the world, changing its emphasis then to support ecovillage training programs, including the “Sustainability Wheel” method of teaching the many related topics, published in Hildur Jackson’s and Karen Svensson’s 2002 book, Ecovillage Living: Restoring the Earth and Her People. (See: http://www.Gaia.org)

As the forces of financialization continue to build toward the next global economic implosion, potentially far more significant than any before, the work of Ross Jackson may help us all to follow his keen visionary foresight through the present and coming tribulations, to support the next step of humanity out of the Anthropocene and into the Symbiocene.

References:

Bishop, M., & Green, M. (2010). Philanthrocapitalism: How giving can save the world (2nd ed.). London, England: A & C Black Publishers Ltd.

Jackson, J. T. Ross. (1996, summer). The Global Eco-Village Network (GEN): Encouraging Model Ecovillages Worldwide. Communities: Journal of cooperative living, 91. Rutledge, MO: Fellowship for Intentional Community.

Jackson, J. T. Ross & Jackson, Hildur. (2016, summer). The Global Ecovillage Network: Focal point for a global movement. Communities: Journal of cooperative living, 127. Rutledge, MO: Fellowship for Intentional Community.

Litfin, Karen T. (2014). Ecovillages: Lessons for sustainable community. Cambridge, UK; Polity Press.

McLean, B., & Nocera, J. (2010). All the devils are here: The hidden history of the financial crisis. New York: Portfolio Penguin Group.

Nader, Ralph. (2014). Unstoppable: The emerging left-right alliance to dismantle the corporate state. New York: Nation Books, Perseus Books Group.

Paulson, Henry M. (2010). On the brink: Inside the race to stop the collapse of the global financial system. New York: Business Plus, Hachette Book Group.

Sorkin, Andrew Ross. (2009). Too big to fail: The inside story of how Wall Street and Washington fought to save the financial system—and themselves. New York: Viking Press.

Strange, Susan. (1986). Casino capitalism. Manchester, England: Manchester University Press.

The Collective Dream and the American Dream

A. Allen Butcher • The School of Intentioneering • Dry Gulch Ecovillage • Denver, Colorado • March 20, 2022 • AllenInUtopia@consultant.comhttp://www.Intentioneers.net

Two Parallel Cultures of Cofamily Partnership and of Nuclear Family Patriarchy

A cultural ideal of plenty has always existed in parallel with the dominant culture of scarcity. There are many forms of plenty-paradigm lifestyles of gifting and sharing, as opposed to taking and exchanging in the scarcity-paradigm of the dominant culture, accessible to anyone wishing to live their highest spiritual beliefs and ethical values. Among these are the cofamily alternative to the nuclear family, along with ecovillages, cohousing community, co-operative housing, community land trusts, communal societies, class-harmony communities, and other forms of intentional community, each representing a form of the Collective Dream.

People seek in the small-group cofamily the gentle strength, security, and meaningful engagement in the company of like-minded friends, afforded in collective methods of survival through uncertainty. This can be found in the patriarchal nuclear family as well, yet for those who have not had such good fortune in their experience of family, building a small-group cofamily of less than ten adults and children of both unrelated and related people is a viable and accessible alternative. In the best survey of intentional communities in the U.S.A., 40% of the listings in the 2010 Communities Directory are of 3-to-9 adults and children, or cofamilies.

Collectivization is an effective method for creating a lifestyle of mutual aid amongst a group of people sharing common affinities, understandings, and agreements, as well as a natural response to threat. While much may be taken for granted among relatives in the patriarchal lifestyle, creating a collective family, or cofamily, requires deliberate effort with regard to finding compatible friends and making and keeping necessary agreements among them. Such cofamilies have always existed. Using the partnership culture model developed by Riane Eisler of the Center for Partnership Systems and other sources, there is much information and assistance available for creating and enjoying the cofamily lifestyle. (Eisler, passim; http://www.ic.org; http://www.centerforpartnership.org)

The Religious Left and the 7th Wave of Intentioneering in the 4th World

In my study of communitarian movements I recognize our current time as another period of awakening to the community ideal, with the 2020s evidencing the 7th wave of communitarian “intentioneering” in at least the U.S.A. I believe a good indicator of this new wave is the increasing confusion in the use of terms referring to specific forms of community, which can be considered an indication that a lot of new people are talking about and getting involved with intentional community.

Intentional communities are typically village-scale, gifting and sharing cultures, often created as ideal societies or utopias in reaction to or separate from perceived inadequacies of the dominant culture. All of us have tribal culture in our ancestry, and intentional community is neo-tribalism in which people choose their preferred tribe. Indigenous peoples comprise the largest part of the Fourth World decentralized, locally-based economics, governance and culture, with the smaller part being of people who have at least figuratively left the First World, global, market-based, dominant culture, to join the non-indigenous, intentional community wing of the Fourth World.

Expressing the ideals of social and of environmental responsibility results in varieties of the ecovillage lifestyle, which is simply intentional community with a sustainable, regenerative, ecological focus. Mutual aid among a group of people reinforcing the rights and responsibilities of community, evidences social permaculture when emphasizing the ecofeminist idea that gender roles in partnership culture are best designed to emphasize sharing and cooperation among people, and a human stewardship of creation, or a symbiotic co-existence with nature.

The cofamily concept of small groups of people formed around shared affinities creates the partnership form of family for the Religious Left, contrasting with that of the patriarchal nuclear, extended, and blended families. Gender-equal, partnership-oriented cofamilies of both non-related and related persons enjoying gifting and sharing lifestyles, provide the partnership solution to abortion, as alternative to the patriarchal family solution advocated by the Religious Right. As another storm is brewing over abortion, clashing again in America’s culture war in the present election cycle, the Religious Left’s partnership spirituality can offer the cofamily as an additional or optional form of family to help reduce the need or demand for abortions.

The issue of abortion, as well as the issues of racial justice and of environmental concern, are all tied to the economic well-being of individuals and the population in general. In particular, abortions are more likely to be sought when times are hard and the American Dream appears unattainable. Issues of family design and lifestyle aspirations are likely to be part of the reason why the patriarchal Christian religion is in decline in the U.S.A. In 2015 the Pew Research Center reported that, “… the percentage of adults who describe themselves as Christian has dropped by nearly eight percentage points in just seven years, from 78.4% in … 2007 to 70.6% in 2014. Over the same period, the percentage of Americans who are religiously unaffiliated—describing themselves as atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular”—has jumped more than six points, from 16.1% to 22.8%.” These changes in the religious attitudes of Americans suggest opportunities for a partnership spirituality ministry, an Early Christian Church revival, or even religious crusades emphasizing gender-equal partnership spirituality in the Religious Left! (Pew Research Center, 2015, p. 1)

Co-Evolution of the American Dream and of the Collective Dream as Parallel Cultures

The United States is in a long-running period of economic challenges, making the American Dream ever more elusive for much of the population. In 2020 the Pew Research Center reported that while the number of lower-income American households stayed around 10% from 1970 to 2018, in each intervening decade the number of adults living in middle-income households shrank, from 61% in 1971 to 51% in 2019. Thus, prior to the Covid pandemic, the war in Europe, and corporate-greed-induced economic inflation, the middle class has been shrinking while the upper classes have been growing, such that, “The richest families are the only group to have gained wealth since the Great Recession.” (Pew Research Center, 2020, p. 20)

Suggesting that the American Dream co-evolves with the Collective Dream as two parallel cultures is not so radical an idea considering that the definitions of both the American Dream and the Collective Dream have continually evolved with the development of the country.

In the Gale Student Resources paper How the American Dream Has Changed Over Time it is explained that the concept of the American Dream began with the founding of the country on the premise that, “people could break free from class restrictions and pursue the life they chose … [and] people had the chance to work their way up through their own labor and ingenuity.” This was justified by a seemingly limitless frontier, until the early 20th century when the Great Depression sandwiched between two World Wars revised the American Dream, to involve government assistance in helping citizens to “work together to make life better for the American masses.” (Gale Student Resources in Context, p. 1)

Around the turn of the 19th century into the 20th century there were two American Dreams, one for the patriarchal culture “closely tied to home ownership … with products to help improve life at home,” as explained in the 2016 Gale Student Resources paper, and another described by Dolores Hayden in her 1984 book Redesigning the American Dream. Hayden coined the term “material feminist” to refer to those who believed that, “women must create new kinds of homes with socialized housework and child care before they could become truly equal members of society.” (Hayden, p. 29)

Between 1870 and 1920 there were many experimental “neighborhood networks” in theory and practice in which women shared domestic work, yet none survived the 1930s Great Depression and 1940s World War II. While in the 1960s the common-property, communal egalitarian communities created a successful balance of common and private space, in which men and women shared both domestic-household labor and income-generating labor, it was not until the late 1980s in the U.S. with the arrival from Denmark of the cohousing community design, that the private-property community “intentional neighborhood” created the same kind of balance of private and common space-use and shared gender-roles. It is amazing that just a few years after Dolores Hayden published her book everything that the material feminists wanted began to be realized in the cohousing movement! At the same time, the terminology used to describe the evolving Collective Dream changed, transforming terms such as “socialism” and “material feminism” into: “social ecology;” “ecofeminism;” and “social permaculture.” (Hayden, pp. 67, 72-3)

With the increase of working from home during the Covid pandemic, home-based income labor has become much more common, making the gender-equal Collective Dream lifestyle much more attainable. In the 2010 Communities Directory, 28% of the listings claimed the cohousing identity (i.e., 192 classic cohousing plus other groups using the cohousing name ÷ 679 U.S. listings = 28%), with a total population of 7,967 cohousers in 2010.

Today, in the early 2020s, there are about 165 classic cohousing communities in the U.S. (www.cohousing.org), with the typical classic cohousing community comprised of about 35 households each. The average U.S. household is now comprised of only about 2.5 persons (Pew Research Center, 2019). Doing the math: 165 classic cohousing groups x 35 households each x 2.5 persons = 14,438 people in classic cohousing community in 2022.

As there are currently as many cohousing groups in development as there are established communities, and as it takes five-to-seven or more years to build the classic cohousing model using the condominium legal, land-use, and space-use designs, then by 2030 there will likely be 30,000 people in classic cohousing communities in the U.S. However, since the term “cohousing” is being used synonymously with “intentional community,” the cohousing numbers game could explode in the same way as has the ecovillage movement. Reasons why the term “cohousing” is being used to refer to a wide range of intentional communities include: people new to the communities movement do not know about the classic cohousing design; people want to associate their community with a dynamic movement; and the people who grew up in cohousing can not afford it for their own families, so their parents recommend less expensive forms of community and call them “cohousing” regardless of their design.

Comparison of the American Dream Nuclear Family with the Collective Dream Cofamily

After World War II the growing middle-class affluence was invested in the American Dream housing design of the isolated nuclear-family home. In the early 1970s the economy started to weaken due to the assaults against the labor union movement, and due to the economic changes which effectively devalued the U.S. Dollar by leaving the determination of international currency exchange rates to the markets. These changes were explained by the British economist Susan Strange saying that “the casino capitalism that emerged in the mid-1980s was the creation of American policies and preferences.” (Strange, pp. viii, 5)

In his 2015 book When Corporations Rule the World David Korten explains American economic “policies and preferences” as being that corporations have become the dominant governance institutions, such that, “Increasingly, it is the corporate interest rather than the human interest that defines the policy agendas of states and international bodies. …The Nobel Laureate economist Joseph Stiglitz suggests that economics as currently taught and practiced is less a science than it is “The West’s prevailing religion.” Economists bear major responsibility for promoting what Pope Francis calls “the idolatry of money and the dictatorship of an impersonal economy lacking a truly human purpose.”” (Korten, pp. 34, 76)

The trend toward purchasing the American Dream on credit was enabled by rising home equity, until the Great Recession beginning in 2007 drastically reduced middle-class family wealth. The upper classes became the primary beneficiaries of the American worker’s digital-revolution-enabled, increasing productivity rate, until the concentration of wealth among the top 1% of the population in the early 21st century began to resemble that of the Gilded Age “robber barons” of the early 20th century. As stated in the Gale Student Resources paper the shrinking of the middle class causes the younger generations struggling to get started in life to think that “the American Dream is dead.” (Gale, 2016; http://www.thoughtco.com/robber-baron-definition-1773342)

The 2016 U.S. Census snapshot of American family statistics reveals the recent state of the American Dream:

• 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)

These points about declining marriage rates, living alone, and single-parenting indicate a trend of the increasing atomization of society, and the growing isolation of people in the contemporary American Dream. The devolution of American culture into the smallest possible units suggests the need for a Collective Dream featuring the gender-partnership of the cofamily, as an available alternative to the cultural assumptions and experiences of the patriarchal American Dream.

To find out how prevalent are the small-group communities of 3-to-9 people, considering that there is no cofamily community movement, one must turn to the Communities Directory published by the Foundation for Intentional Community (FIC). (For an online version of the FIC directory see: http://www.ic.org)

As the FIC directory is the only representative sample of the intentional communities  movement, omitting Catholic monasticism, Hutterite, Amish, and most other Christian and other religious communities, I have done a statistical analysis of the 2010 FIC directory to see the occurrence of cofamily community in the movement. I skipped the 2016 FIC directory since the FIC has been generating sufficient cashflow lately to print a new directory sometime soon, as their 2021 annual report stated they are planning. Following is what I found:

• 40% of the community listings in the 2010 printed FIC directory reported membership of 3-to-9 people (presumably adults + children). That is 268 cofamilies out of the total 679 U.S. intentional community listings, with the total of 1,523 people in the 268 cofamilies. (Fellowship for Intentional Community, 2010).

• Of the 268 cofamilies: 29% said they are spiritual; 19% share income, either total or partly; 35% involve the land owned by one person or a small group (called “class-harmony community”); 36% are community land trusts; 21% said they are “cohousing” communities; and 7% rent their land. These do not add up to 100% because there is overlap of the categories, and some groups did not answer all the questions. (Fellowship for Intentional Community, 2010)

• Consider the 55 cofamily groups (21% of the total 2010 directory) claiming to be “cohousing.” Originally, what I call the “classic cohousing“ community design had a definition involving six criteria having to do with decision-making processes, and specific land-use and space-use parameters, usually using the condominium legal design. Today, people use the term “cohousing,” like “ecovillage,” and “coliving,” and even “commune,” to mean what ever they want, or whatever type of community is at hand. (Fellowship for Intentional Community, 2010)

Since the classic cohousing communities are comprised of about 35 housing units each, the only way that small groups of 3-to-9 people can be called a cohousing community is by stretching the definition. To understand something about the 55 cofamilies listed among those groups claiming to be cohousing communities in the 2010 Directory, consider how they hold their land:

» 38% had an individual or small group owning the land (which I call “class-harmony community”);

» 16% said that their community owned their land, usually as a nonprofit organization although also a few as cooperative corporations;

»  11% said they are land trusts, which is a specific form of nonprofit or cooperative organization;

»  35% said other or unknown.

These total to 100% of the 55 “cohousing” cofamilies.

Using the term “cofamily” to refer to 3-to-9 people living in community works around having to define a group until it grows to 10 or more people, since the nature of a community can change substantially in its first few years. By the time a community group reaches ten people it will likely developed sufficient agreements to fairly clearly define itself as one of the pre-existing forms of intentional community listed in the first paragraph of this paper.

The ideal of the Collective Dream being a non-patriarchal, partnership lifestyle addresses the concerns of: mutual aid reducing the need for abortions through the support of a cofamily; ecological responsibility through designing our material world to be sustainable, renewable and regenerative; cultural awareness and inclusiveness of diverse races, genders, ethnicities, and abilities; economic cooperation following the cooperative principles; and sharing resources and skills in community.

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. Intentioneers of the Collective Dream can co-create gifting-and-sharing lifestyles that can make available to all a material and social life consistent with our highest spiritual beliefs and ethical ideals.

***

References:

“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

Eisler, Riane & David Loye. (1990). The partnership way: New tools for living and learning, healing our families, our communities, and our world. New York: Harper Collins Publishers.

“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.

Fellowship for Intentional Community. (2016). Communities directory: The guide to intentional communities and cooperative living. Rutledge, MO: The Fellowship for Intentional Community.

Gale Student Resources in Context. “How the American Dream Has Changed Over Time.” Gale in context online collection, Gale, 2016. Gale In Context: High School, link.gale.com/apps/doc/EJ2181500191/SUIC?u=clov94514&sid=bookmark-SUIC&xid=76f376d4. Accessed: 8 Dec. 2016.

Hayen, Dolores. (1984). Redesigning the American Dream: The future of housing, work, and family life. New York: W. W. Norton & Company.

Korten, David C. (2015). When corporations rule the world (2nd Ed.). Oakland, CA: Berrett-Koehler Publishers.

Pew Research Center. (May, 2015). America’s Changing Religious Landscape. Retrieved March 19, 2022. https://www.pewforum.org/2015/05/12/americas-changing-religious-landscape/

Pew Research Center. (October, 2019). The number of people in the average U.S. household is going up for the first time in over 160 years. Retrieved March 20, 2022.  https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/10/01/the-number-of-people-in-the-average-u-s-household-is-going-up-for-the-first-time-in-over-160-years/

Pew Research Center. (January, 2020). Most Americans say there is too much economic inequality in the U.S., but fewer than half call it a top priority. Retrieved March 10, 2022. htttps://www.pewresearch.org/social-trends/2020/01/09/most-americans-say-there-is-too-much-economic-inequality-in-the-u-s-but-fewer-than-half-call-it-a-top-priority/

Strange, Susan. (1986). Casino Capitalism. Broughton Gifford, Great Britain: Cromwell Press Ltd.

Return to the Garden of Eden and Partnership Culture at Rainbow Gatherings

A. Allen Butcher • The School of Intentioneering • Denver, CO • http://www.Intentioneers.net AllenInUtopia@consultant.com • about 4,000 words • March 16, 2022

Maybe it was an intention for Rainbow Gatherings from the beginning, or maybe we can only see it now that we know the truth of the matter, yet we can justifiably affirm that Rainbow Gatherings are recreations of the partnership culture of the Garden of Eden.

It may seem obvious to some that Rainbow Gatherings recreate aspects of our pre-history, before the existence of money and even before writing was invented, yet not everyone can justify that belief. So, let’s go back in time and see for ourselves!

Amazingly, we have a cultural memory in Western civilization, coming down to us through various traditions, of a time when the living was so easy and the people so wonderful, that we have never completely forgotten how marvelous human society can be!

There are two primary sources for the story of a time of peace, harmony, and abundance, and both are couched in so much myth that the truth is hard to see. One telling is the story of a “Golden Age,” coming to us from Greco-Roman traditions. Look up that term to find that story, as for this article the focus is upon the other primary source, which we know as the story of the Garden of Eden.

We have the Jewish people and their traditions to thank for bringing down to us today the story of a marvelous time during the late Stone Age or Neolithic Age. The hunter-gatherer lifestyle would have been nasty and brutish at times, judging from how people act today in “civilization,” yet we now know that it was not always so.

Consider the time after humans left Africa and had settled six continents. This was after the last Great Ice Age ended, when what is now the Persian Gulf between Iran and the Arabian Peninsula was above sea level. While the climate changed several times prior to 6,000 B.C.E., it was here, between 6,000 and 4,000 B.C.E., that humans lived such an amazing quality-of-life that we remember it today. (Hamblin, pp. 129, 133)

The Judeo-Christian patriarch Abraham is said in the Bible to be from the Sumerian city of Ur (Genesis, 11:27-31), in what later was named Mesopotamia, just east of the Persian Gulf, in what is now called Iraq. He and his clan seem to have joined a back-to-the-land movement headed for the frontier land of Palestine about 1,200 B.C.E, eventually becoming the Hebrew tribe, then Jewish people. Centuries later, in 587 B.C.E. the Assyrians destroyed the first Jewish Temple in Jerusalem, called Solomon’s Temple. Between 597 and 582 B.C.E., the invading Neo-Babylonian Assyrians marched about 18,000 Hebrews to the outskirts of their capital city, and settled them as the song goes, “By the waters of Babylon.” This was standard procedure for the Assyrians, mixing up conquered peoples by relocating many of them to different parts of their empire, so that their different languages and cultures would keep them from working together to resist Assyrian rule. (Gardner, pp. 57, 77, 143-4)

The Babylonian Exile lasted about 50 years during the 6th century B.C.E. Here the Jewish people learned many ancient Mesopotamian stories about great floods, about an ongoing war between good and evil, and about a long-lost time of happiness and plenty. When the Hebrews were permitted to return to their homeland in Palestine, they took those stories with them, and as the Levite priests wrote their sacred texts to comprise the Torah, they drew from those ancient stories to write morality tales designed to instruct the Jewish people to live a patriarchal lifestyle under a theocratic government. While Jewish monotheism had long affirmed one god, often called “Yahweh,” the new influence of Persian dualism added lesser, evil spiritual influences. In the Book of Genesis the Hebrew Levite priests wrote their own version of creation to justify patriarchy, adapting from a more ancient memory the story of the Garden of Eden. (Stone, pp. 217-8)

A Sliver of Truth in a Haystack of Fiction

The Rainbow Family of Living Light is a multi-faith spiritual tradition, welcoming all religions, and at the larger, annual Rainbow Gatherings there is usually a Jerusalem Camp, practicing Jewish traditions, several Christian camps with their traditions, and many other religious groups, all open to Rainbow folks walking in to their camps to learn of those faiths. Of course, they all claim that their sacred books are entirely truth without error, yet understanding where biblical stories come from shows that typically, while there is often at least a sliver of truth involved in Bible stories, much morality-tale fiction is built around and upon it, to the point that the reader cannot tell truth from fiction.

The Book of Genesis gives clues to where the Garden of Eden had been, yet it was not until the 1980s that the mystery was solved by researchers at the Southwest Missouri State University in Springfield, led by the archaeologist Juris Zarins. Dora Jane Hamblin wrote about Zarins’ work and theories in her 1987 Smithsonian magazine article titled “Has the Garden of Eden been located at last?”

Juris Zarins places Eden at the northwestern end of what is now the Persian Gulf, in eastern Iraq. Genesis mentions four rivers flowing out of Eden (Genesis 2:10-14), two of them being the Tigris and Euphrates which still flow, and two others which no longer flow, one from the south, long before the Arabian Peninsula became desert, and one from the mountains of Iran to the north. As Zarins stated, where there is abundant fresh water there will be a lot of vegetation, and with a verdant landscape there will be a lot of animals, all providing an abundance of food for humans. With the help of satellite ground imaging, Zarins found the courses of the two lost rivers, solving the mystery of the location of Eden, while at the same time showing an error in the Bible.

It is an open question as to whether it was a Levite writer error or a later translator or transcriber error that turned things around to say that the rivers ran out of Eden when in fact they flowed into Eden. In this error we can see that sacred texts are as fallible as the people who write them.

The story of the Garden of Eden and other parts of the Old Testament of the Bible were re-written from older stories to justify and support the religious ideals and lifestyle of patriarchal theocracy. For discussion of issues, problems and errors in the New Testament of the Bible see Bart Ehrman’s books: Lost Christianities (2003); Misquoting Jesus (2005); Forged (2011).

In her book, When God was a Woman, Merlin Stone quotes the mythologist Joseph Campbell writing about the Garden of Eden story in 1960 that, “This curious mythological idea, and the still more curious fact that for two thousand years it was accepted throughout the Western World as the absolute dependable account of an event that was supposed to have taken place about a fortnight after the creation of the universe, poses forcefully the highly interesting question of the influence of conspicuously contrived, counterfeit mythologies …” (Stone, pp. 7-8)

Juris Zarins affirms that the biblical story of the banishment of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden is based upon a great turning in human history. This was the turning from the hunter-gatherer lifestyle to agriculture and civilization. As the Persian Gulf flooded, the people pushed westward out of Eden and others began to build agricultural towns, then cities, and empires, with the first Mesopotamian city of Eridu founded about 5,000 B.C.E. A second great turning in human history also took place at about the same time, this being from matriarchal or partnership culture to patriarchy. (Hamblin, pp. 128, 133)

Dora Jane Hamblin quotes other researchers to explain that the term “Eden” did not come from the Sumerians of Mesopotamia, who created the first written language called “cuneiform” about 3,000 B.C.E. The names “Eden” and “Adam,” along with some place names of rivers and cities, come from an older, unknown language, possibly from the pre-Sumarian Ubaid culture. In Sumerian “Eden” meant “fertile plain” while “Adam” meant “settlement on the plain.” The Sumerians recorded the old stories that came down to them, while the Jewish priests later re-wrote those stories for their own purposes. Hamblin explains that the name “Eve” does not appear in Sumerian texts, and so came some time later. She writes that the Genesis story of Eve being fashioned from one of Adam’s ribs, most likely comes from a re-written story of the Sumerian Mother Goddess Ninhursag, in which the Sumerian god Enki’s rib was healed. (Hamblin, pp. 130, 132-3)

Merlin Stone and Dora Jane Hamblin both state that some names of trades “like weaver, leatherworker, basketmaker” and “like potter and coppersmith” used by the Sumerians were also from that unknown, possibly Ubaidian, pre-Sumerian language. It is said that women invented the domestic crafts of weaving, sewing, pottery, and even agriculture, learning these as Gifts of the Goddess, perhaps during or at least soon after the Garden of Eden. The Greek Goddess Athena is said to have taught crafts to humans, which is another version of the Neolithic “Gifts of the Goddess” story. In the book, The Power of Myth with Bill Moyers, Joseph Campbell states that, “We have Sumerian seals from as early as 3,500 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.” This is one of several ancient stories that were re-written by Jewish priests as late as 400 B.C.E. for the Book of Genesis to justify patriarchal culture. (Campbell & Moyers, p. 47; Eisler, p. 85; Gimbutas, 1989, p. 67; Gimbutas, 2001, p. 158; Hamblin, p. 130; Stone, p. 84)

Barter at Rainbow as a Wilderness Training Experience in Basic Market Economics

There are several ways that Rainbow is reminiscent of the Garden of Eden. First, consider that just like in the Garden of Eden primitive camping at Rainbow is easy-living for a few weeks before and after July 4th in the U.S.A., and at other times of the year around the world, as people bring to the Gatherings kitchen equipment to prepare donated food to be shared by all. Such gifting and sharing among people must be much like sharing the natural abundance of creation in the Garden of Eden!

8,000 years ago, people already knew how to make fire and drums, and so drumming and dancing around bonfires were very likely enjoyed in the Garden of Eden, much like at Rainbow Gatherings. While agriculture was not yet invented, the wolf had already long before domesticated us humans, while the horse would not yet be domesticated until a few thousand years later.

Whatever things people had learned to make during the late Neolithic era, it is likely that they also learned to barter those things amongst themselves. These would be articles of clothing and adornment, and probably things with which to carry other things, like woven baskets. In the midst of a natural world of plenty, the processes of bartering found-things and human-made things was likely already being developed and practiced.

While there is no use of money for buying and selling at non-commercial Rainbow Gatherings, there is almost always a Barter Lane, where people lay out blankets on either side of a trail displaying their offerings, then carry-on incessant haggling over the comparative value of different desirable articles, whether found in nature or crafted by skilled people. Coming together for bartering private property very likely predated agriculture, and was probably as much of an enjoyable pastime in the Garden of Eden as it is at contemporary Rainbow Gatherings!

Many Rainbow folk dislike the prevalence of Barter Lanes at Gatherings, since it involves an incursion of private property and competition into a gifting and sharing culture, yet the anarchist nature of Gatherings enables bartering, which is one of the main attractions at Rainbow Gatherings. Nearly every sunny day of the Gathering, the Barter Lane is a bustling, colorful feature of Rainbow, involving hundreds of people at a time.

Even young children enjoy barter, as they learn how to take a few simple things, like a hand-full of smooth quartz or other stones, and through a succession of clever barter exchanges, haggle their way up to ever more valuable items, until they can obtain an article of clothing or a knife or other commodity they desire. Essentially, the Barter Lane at Rainbow provides for children a wilderness training experience in basic market economics, as they learn to buy-low and sell-high, the discerning of comparative advantage for assigning value, supply-and-demand, commodity monopoly, and market crash.

Two of the most valuable commodities at Rainbow Barter Lanes are typically the consumables: cigarettes and chocolate. In particular, the value of chocolate tends to become so great in its scarcity that someone will buy up all the chocolate bars they can find in local towns, then bring them in a big clear-plastic bag to Barter Lane to hand out freely, in order to emphasize gifting over bartering, causing a Rainbow market crash in the value of chocolate!

Everyone, even children, can usually understand what is happening in the Barter Lane chocolate market. It under-mines the intent of Rainbow gifting, yet while some Rainbow folk complain, even their attempts to thwart the chocolate market end up teaching a lesson in market economics, as well as subversive market disruption.

The economic process of the Rainbow chocolate market is a reoccurring example of precisely the process that evolved from simple barter to indirect-barter, using commodities such as grain or cattle rather than chocolate, and then metals like gold, silver, and copper. Later, coins were minted, then paper bills were printed, then electronic forms of money created global neo-liberal market capitalism, and now digital currencies.

As it was in the Garden of Eden, so it is at Rainbow Gatherings

Over and over again, Rainbow Gatherings recreate the conditions of the Garden of Eden, and thereby the very processes that set us on the road to civilization as we know it today. Anyone can experience this dynamic simply by attending a Rainbow Gathering.

The fact that even the most dedicated countercultural people attending Rainbow Gatherings engage in barter shows that people compartmentalize different cultures, easily switching between common and private, sharing and competing, as desired. Contemporary secular and spiritual communal groups attend Rainbow Gatherings, explaining how we can live communally in spite of the tendency toward property and competition. Yet during our time in the Garden of Eden, communal sharing must have given way to possessiveness, property, and competition as invariably as it does today.

There is another way that some parts of the Rainbow Gatherings are reminiscent of the Garden of Eden. There are often Goddess camps and Pagan groups at Rainbow, and among them the concept of the Goddess Trinity of Maid, Mother, and Elder is well known.

Jane Harrison explains in her book, Prolegomena to the Study of Greek Religion,that in women’s spirituality the nature of the Goddess mirrors the lives of women on Earth, not the other way around as in the patriarchal Judeo-Christian tradition. Harrison credits the philosopher and mathematician Pythagoras with relaying this to us through his revival of women’s spirituality, following his schooling by Themestoclea, a priestess of Gaia at the Oracle of Delphi. (Harrison, pp. 262, 645-67)

The Triple Goddess concept is exceedingly old. In her book, The Language of the Goddess Marija Gimbutas states that Goddess Trinity images have been found in western Europe from as far back as the pre-Neolithic era Magdalenian epoch, lasting from 17,000 to 12,000 years ago. This predates the Garden of Eden, suggesting that the “ancient mysticism” of the Triple Goddess, as Riane Eisler calls the concept, could have been known to people in the Garden. (Eisler, pp. 25, 112; Gimbutas, 1989, p. 97; Goettner-Abendroth, p. 21)

In prehistoric, Neolithic, Stone Age Europe, writes Heidi Goettner-Abendroth, there were no male gods only female goddesses as “visualized divinity.” Joseph Campbell writes that, “We have found hundreds of early European Neolithic figurines of the Goddess, but hardly anything there of the male figure at all.” From this we can get an idea of how much of an effort it had to be for Jewish priests to turn people from the extremely ancient Goddess worship to the creation of an all-powerful male God. (Campbell, p. 167; Goettner-Abendroth, p. 21)

The Hebrew Levite priests were not the first to “re-myth” the old stories, as Riane Eisler calls it, in order to justify the turning from matriarchy and partnership to patriarchy. In her book The Chalice and the Blade, Eisler writes that many Middle Eastern myths were created to cause or support the change to patriarchy, explaining that some of them involved the Goddess being slain, or subdued and humiliated by being raped, or otherwise subordinated as a consort or wife to a more powerful male god. Role-reversals were also used, with some goddesses like Athena taking on martial attributes, while original attributes of goddesses, like writing, were reassigned to gods, with male scribes subsequently emphasizing masculinity. (Eisler, pp. 85, 92-3)

In her books, Marija Gimbutas explains that once the horse was domesticated, successive waves of patriarchal nomads from the eastern grasslands invaded Europe between 4300 and 2800 B.C.E. (Gimbutas, 1989, p. xx), eventually replacing the goddess worship they found with the worship of the male gods they brought with them. These are called the “Kurgan” people by Gimbutas, with their language and war-like culture replacing the peaceful, partnership cultures of what Gimbutas calls “Old Europe.” The merging of the two cultures, Old European and Kurgan, resulted in what is called the Indo-European culture. Only a few European goddess cultures were able to avoid being subsumed by Indo-European culture, primarily those on the fringes of Europe, enabling them to keep their ancient languages and partnership ways. These are today the descendants of the Celts in the British Isles, the people of Finland today, and the Basque people of the mountainous region on the border between France and Spain. (Gimbutas, pp. 321; Gimbutas, 1991, p. 348; Gimbutas, 1999, pp. 130, 172, 175)

However much it may be said that Rainbow Consciousness includes the cultural attribute of gender-equality, Rainbow Gatherings today are another revival of the gender partnership ideal originating long before the rise of patriarchal culture.

Intentioneering a Preferred Lifestyle

People often think that if a culture is not patriarchal then it must be matriarchal, yet a female-centric culture does not rule men in the way that men own and rule the lives of women in patriarchy. Various writers make this point, including Marija Gimbutas and Heidi Goettner-Abendroth. One of the best terms for use in reference to the Garden of Eden, to indigenous cultures, and to Rainbow Consciousness, is “partnership,” referring to gender equality throughout society, and especially in our political-economy. (Eisler, p. 24; Gimbutas, 1991, pp. x-xi, 324; Goettner-Abendroth, pp. xv-xvi)

Partnership spirituality involves a Binarian monotheism as opposed to the Trinitarian monotheism of Christianity. While there is likely no gender in the spiritual world, there are the different views on the source of virtue and grace as coming to us through two different processes of transcendence (male) and of immanence (female). Gender equality is then expressed in the pairing of the Pagan Lord & Lady, the Christian Jesus & Mary, and the Jewish Yahweh & Shekinah/Sophia/Asherah. Such a binary religion continues the syncretizing or fusion of different spiritual traditions, which began in Christianity with its incorporation of aspects of Judaism, Stoicism, Dualism, and Paganism, now adding aspects of women’s spirituality for a balance of feminine and of masculine religious expressions.

Patriarchal culture came about as men wanted to assure that their own sons inherited their property, and as sons wanted to know whose property they would inherit. This could not be easily tracked in a matrilineal culture in which women would typically have children with more than one man. Today this is called “multiple-partner fertility,” which involves about one-third of all women with more than one child in the U.S.A. With DNA testing, establishing paternity can be done today without resort to patriarchy. (Guzzo, 2014; Logan, Manlove, Ikramullah, & Cottingham, 2006)

In matriarchal cultures, which still exist in Asia especially, women own property and can marry and divorce as they wish, typically not choosing a life-long partner. Family clans are headed by women, and a council of women serve as the governing body of the village. Men typically build the housing and engage in business to support women and children, while they do not live with their own children. Instead, men are closest to their sisters’ children, supporting their mother’s clan household while helping to raise and educate their nephews and nieces. With partnership culture we can enjoy gender-equality today without resort to matriarchy. (Gimbutas, 2001, pp. 112, 114, 124; Goettner-Abendroth, pp. 471-2)

While the Rainbow Family is neither an indigenous culture nor a matriarchal culture, many Rainbow folk live a gender-equal partnership lifestyle, with similarities to indigenous cultures. For detailed information on traditional and contemporary non-patriarchal cultures, see the chapter summaries “Understanding the structure of matriarchal societies” in Heide Goettner-Abendroth’s book, Matriarchal Societies: Studies on Indigenous Cultures Across the Globe.

Knowing the truth about the Garden of Eden and what that says about how to understand the Bible, can help us to see that religion, like economics and governance, are all human-created features of our chosen way-of-life. Through our will to create, we can “intentioneer” a gender-equal society, involving social permaculture, a balance of private and common property systems, governance by an indigenous-culture-inspired democratic decentralism, and a partnership spirituality affirming that virtue and grace can come from either an innate aspect of life called “immanence,” or from an acquired aspect originating in an external source called “transcendence.”

While Rainbow Consciousness accepts all religions, it tends to emphasize Native American spirituality, which is more gender-equal, or partnership oriented, than the patriarchal Judeo-Christian tradition. The occasion of the 50th Annual Rainbow Gathering in North America, July 2022, provides a good occasion for presenting how Rainbow culture is a continuing re-creation of primitive, partnership society of the Garden of Eden, available to anyone to observe and enjoy today.

References:

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

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

Gardner, Joseph L. (Ed.). (1981). Atlas of the Bible: An illustrated guide to the Holy Land, Pleasantville, NY: Readers Digest Association.

Gimbutas, Marija. (1989). The language of the Goddess (Joan Marler, ed.). San Francisco, CA: Harper & Row.

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 and Los Angeles, CA: University of California Press.

Goettner-Abendroth, Heidi. (2013). Matriarchal Societies: Studies on Indigenous Cultures Across the Globe. 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/

Hamblin, Dora Jane. (1987, May). “Has the Garden of Eden been located at last?” Smithsonian, vol. 18, no. 2. 127-135)

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

Stone, Merlin. (1976). When God was a woman. New York: Harcourt Brace.

Riding-Out the Storm in the Ecovillage

Ecology as the global networking and outreach identity for the Intentional Community Movement

A. Allen Butcher • The School of Intentioneering • Dry Gulch Ecovillage • Denver, Colorado • Intentioneers.net • 4thWorld@consultant.com • February, 2022 • 4nd Edition • 19,813 words

Parts of this paper were first published in the author’s The Intentioneers’ Bible, and portions will appear in a future book by the author.

Prologue

Intentional community is a counterculture, organizing ideal societies separate from and in reaction to perceived inadequacies of the dominant culture. There are, however, exceptions to this rule, as the kibbutz movement played several important roles in the establishment of the State of Israel. Then, too, the cohousing and ecovillage movements both work to integrate themselves into the dominant culture, similar to how worker and consumer cooperatives are generally accepted by the establishment. Yet it can be said, without reservation, that intentional communities develop and model methods for responding to the challenges and opportunities of changing times. Frank Manuel recognized this in his 1965 edited collection of essays, Utopias and Utopian Thought, in saying, “… the utopia may well be a sensitive indicator of where the sharpest anguish of an age lies.” (Manuel, p. 70)

Contents

Prologue . .           .           .           .           .           .            .           .            1

Intentioneering Ecological Lifestyles             .           .           .            .           .             3

Ecological Spirituality and Biosphere Consciousness           .            .           .             7

Bioregionalism and Ecofeminism       .           .           .           .            .           .             8

Fourth World              .           .           .           .           .           .            .           .          10

Community Land Trust          .           .           .           .           .            .           .           16

Cohousing                   .           .           .           .           .           .            .           .         20

Gaia Trust                   .           .           .           .           .           .            .           .           23

Global Ecovillage Network                .           .           .           .            .           .           26

Ecovillage Education            .           .           .           .           .            .           .        29                   

Utopian Studies                      .           .           .           .           .            .           .          36

First Fellowship of Intentional Communities            .           .            .           .           38

Second Fellowship for Intentional Community         .           .            .           .          40

The Foundation for Intentional Community              .           .            .           .          41

Sustainability Statistics          .           .           .           .           .            .           .           45

Ecovillages in the FIC Communities Directories                   .            .           .           50

References                  .           .           .           .           .           .            .           .          53

Intentioneering Ecological Lifestyles

While escapism is one of many attractions of intentional community, one may think instead of living in an ecovillage as a pro-active response to the existential threats of climate change, resource-extraction overreach, cultural homogenization, contagion, extinction, injustice, violence, and other problems of the “outside world.” Collectivization is a natural response to threat, and it is developing in many ways among the various forms of intentional community.

People seek in community the gentle strength, security, and meaningful engagement in the company of like-minded friends, afforded in collective methods of survival through uncertainty. Such communities attract to them hopeful, innovative ideas, and the people who come up with them, often refining those ideas then diffusing them as social or technological innovations throughout the dominant culture. Ecovillages and other intentional communities are both influenced by the dominant culture, and in turn actively influence that larger, outside-world culture. Each individual in community, socializing, raising children, working for the good of the community, or working for oneself first to then be able to contribute to the community, is part of the dynamic of building and maintaining not just one’s home community, yet by extension also both the ecovillage network and the larger Intentional Community Movement.

There needs to be a societal pressure-release, a place for people who cannot acculturate to, or who refuse to assimilate within the dominant culture. Intentional community provides that. While many people want to live and work within a cultural system that is structured enough that they do not need to think about how the system is organized or how to change it for the better, others are simply unable to work or live within that system and need to be able to create or find a social system more suited to their temperament. Such freedom is typically found in land trust communities, which for the most part only stipulate how the land is to be used.

While for some people the need is to be their own boss and not have to answer to anyone else, which is the sort of environment found in less-structured intentional communities, others want to engage with many like-minded people using more structure to create a shared culture of community. As taught in the School of Intentioneering, the issue of sharing versus privacy is answered differently in different types of intentional community. In communities like cohousing which share privately-owned property one begins with the assumption of privacy and asks, “How much am I willing to share?” In contrast, in communities which share commonly-owned property, like communal societies, one begins with the assumption of sharing and asks, “How much privacy do I need?” The difference is in the often-expressed conflict between individuality and collectivity, and each community design finds an appropriate balance between these levels of consciousness, such that ideally neither the individual nor the group is submerged by the other.

I once conducted an email survey of former members of the communal society called East Wind Community (EWC) asking exEWers (i.e., former or ex-members of East Wind) why they joined EWC and why they left. Nearly all the responders said essentially that they joined for idealistic reasons, like to live more ecologically in the country, or in a feminist, egalitarian society, or in a non-capitalist, non-authoritarian culture, and left for personal reasons, like to return to college, to travel, or to do kinds of work and develop careers not available in community, or to have and raise their children close to their supportive grandparents.

Other reasons for leaving at least communal society are to either find a partner with whom to have the kind of intimate relationship which one cannot find in the communal group, or once they have found such a partner in community, to leave and enjoy an exclusive nuclear-family relationship outside of community. The relationship issue, like the work-options issue, is partly a function of the size of the intentional community. In some ways, small communities or “cofamilies” of 3-to-9 mostly unrelated adults and children provide closer, more intimate lifestyles, while larger more impersonal communities may provide more opportunities for finding a partner. This partner-search is one of the primary reasons why people move from one group to another, then another, and another; community-hopping around the country or around the world.

Some people spend their entire adult lives searching for or working to create the fabled “beloved community.” For some, community is the last resort, or their last great hope for a sense of belonging. Others do find something like utopia, or the best approximation of utopia they can help create, and live happily-ever-after in community.

A very common dynamic found in communitarianism is that people join when they have reached their rope’s end in the dominant culture, and have become thoroughly disgusted with the status quo of “the establishment.” Upon joining intentional community, they internalize communitarian values, and become heartened by experiencing that we humans really can live in harmony, cooperation, and mutual aid, sharing personal responsibility for self, society, and nature. This is such a positive revelation for many people that they then return to the outside world to apply what they have learned from their community experience, and subsequently make a positive impact upon that larger society, or at least become accepting enough of it to survive more-or-less happily within it, where-as previously they regarded that culture in the most negative way. Call this the “Pythagoras-Plato Effect,” named after two ancient Greek philosophers.

The Greek philosopher Plato (427 to 347 B.C.E.) was living in Athens, Greece and becoming ever more disgusted with Athenian politics. He wanted out of the drama and so traveled to Italy to learn from the philosopher Pythagoras, the 6th century B.C.E. mathematician who discovered a geometric theorem named after him, and the mathematical ratios of musical intervals, and who first coined the term “philosopher” to mean “lover of wisdom.” Pythagoras had died about a century earlier, yet the work he had done and the cultures he had influenced were continuing his ideas about society and governance, which can be summarized as “philosopher kings,” which Plato later carried on. Pythagoras disliked popular sovereignty and democracy, yet he had learned other feminist values and ethics from a priestess at the Oracle of Delphi named Aristokleia or Themistoclea. Pythagoras taught women as well as men in his school-community called “Homakoeion,” founded at Crotone in south Italy about 530 B.C.E., which is considered to be the first known intentional community in Western civilization. (Eisler, p. 112; Harrison, p. 646; Metcalf & Christian, p. 671)

In her book on Ancient Greek religion Jane Harrison reports that the cynic philosopher Diogenes, a contemporary of Plato, credits Pythagoras with passing down to us “primitive theology,” or as Riane Eisler calls it the “ancient mysticism” of Neolithic societies, probably including the Goddess Trinity of Maid, Mother, Elder, which he had learned from Themistoclea. (Eisler, pp. 25, 112; Harrison, p. 262)

Pythagoras was a superstar in his era, when wisdom and teaching was honored about as much as was strength in the warrior culture. Plato’s experience in Pythagorean community was so inspirational to him that he returned to Athens in 387 B.C.E. and started a philosophical school called “The Academy,” admitting, as did Pythagoras, female students. Plato wrote his political utopia The Republic in 375 B.C.E., still taught today in philosophy and political science classes.

The present author had an experience of the Pythagoras-Plato Effect after growing up in the dominant culture during the end of the Vietnam War and the Watergate Era. Having become disheartened by establishmentarianism, a word to which we were introduced by our 6th grade teacher, I blamed “The System” for all the travails of the time. When in college the first time I had no interest in studying business or governance, thinking that those were the problem. I was studying philosophy yet could see no future in it, so I dropped out and joined rural communal societies: first East Wind Community (E.W.), then Twin Oaks Community (T.O.).

After twelve years in communal society I returned to college, and earned degrees in business and political science, the very subjects I had earlier spurned. What changed in my thinking? I had learned in community that politics and economics, much like religion, are not the problem, they are tools used to shape society and culture, and so like anything else they can be used for good or for evil. In egalitarian community we designed participatory forms of governance and time-based economic systems to support our highest values and ethical ideals in communal cultures that continue to thrive today, more than half-a-century after their founding.

I am aware of former members of East Wind and Twin Oaks who left community to become computer programmers, construction contractors, fire-fighters, emergency medical technicians, nurses, doctors, business consultants, and even investment bankers. In the 20th century members of Israeli kibbutzim became military generals and at least one prime minister. During the European Middle Ages there was essentially a revolving door for people between life as titled royalty and as leaders of Catholic monastic orders. The experience of self-organization in intentional community has helped many people to live in the outside, dominant culture, often applying communitarian values in their beliefs, professions, passions, and lifestyles.

Reversing ecological degradation and establishing harmony between humans and the world we inhabit is a recent countercultural motive for intentional-community organizing. In prior ages, other cultural stresses provided the inspiration for the social innovations which subsequently arose within intentional communities. Responding to concerns about the dominant society through building intentional community, whether the issue involves religion or spirituality, politics, economics, technology, sociology, psychology, or philosophy, is called by the present author, “intentioneering.” Many different types of intentional community result from the different designs for community developed for responding to various concerns.

While in earlier times the generic term for people living in intentional community was “communitarian,” there is now available for use the shorter term “intentioneer,” which emphasizes the individual’s commitment to designing and building intentional community.

Regardless of the focus of the particular community, the increasing adoption of the term “ecovillage” within the larger Intentional Communities Movement, by many different types of communities, is now making the terms “intentional community” and “ecovillage” synonymous. A similar dynamic has evolved with the term “kibbutz,” as originally it meant specifically communal society. In recent decades, due to the privatization of three-quarters of the nearly 280 rural kibbutzim, resulting in their transformation into cohousing-like communities on government land trusts, and due to younger generations of kibbutznics forming different kinds of urban intentional communities, the term “kibbutz” is now also synonymous with the term “intentional community.” Similar usage of the terms “cohousing,” “coliving,” and others add to the confusion. Although these terms may have once had clear definitions, people tend to use the terms indiscriminately to mean whatever kind of community is at hand. The result of people using communitarian terminology to mean different things in different contexts is that it can be very confusing and difficult to understand exactly what kind of intentional community people are talking about. Although such obfuscation, or mash-up of terms, is not helpful for explaining the design of individual communities, at least the term “ecovillage” serves to add an emphasis absent from the terms “cohousing” and “coliving.” (“Cohousing,” 2020; Marks, p. 62)

Ecology grew to become the global networking focus for the intentional communities movement during the last part of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st century, since any community wanting to use the concept for describing itself can call itself an “ecovillage,” regardless of the community’s prior economic, governance, social, philosophical, or other identity. There is no minimum requirement for adopting the ecovillage name or identity, only an intention to live lightly on the land, in right-relationship with all living beings sharing it, and there is no single right way of doing that. Terms like “sustainable” and “regeneration” are often used to describe aspects of at least the physical processes and energy systems, and sometimes the social systems, developed or adopted by ecovillages.

The wide and growing acceptance of the term “ecovillage” suggests that climate change, species extinction, and other aspects of global warming are becoming greater concerns for ever more people, as we look for ways to survive or “ride-out” the storms and other dangers of the present and coming tribulations.

Ecological Spirituality and Biosphere Consciousness

Ecological consciousness becomes a spirituality as people revere as sacred the components and dynamics of environmental systems, and recognize in them a life-energy they choose to consider to be divine. Such a view of divinity can be overlaid upon any living organism, ecosystem, bioregion, or planetary ecosphere, with the latter represented by the name Gaia, an ancient Greek earth goddess, the mother of time and of creation, imparting wisdom to commoners and kings through the Oracle at Delphi. In a similar way, the Gaia Hypothesis, as developed by James Lovelock in his 1979 book Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth, imparts an understanding of how life is sustained on the planet, which is as Jeremy Rifkin wrote in The Empathic Civilization, a “self-regulating entity that maintains itself in a steady state conducive to the continuance of life.” In both The Empathic Civilization and in The Green New Deal Rifkin presents this awareness as a “biosphere consciousness.” (Rifkin, 2009, pp. 26, 593, 598; Rifkin, 2019, pp. 212, 244)

The awakening to a biosphere consciousness in America can be said to have begun around the first Earth Day in 1970. Through the 1960s, ‘70s, and ‘80s various appropriate-technology-focused communities or alternative-technology centers—these terms were used as keywords in the descriptions of some of the communities included in directories printed by the Fellowship for Intentional Community (FIC)—developed more-or-less independently the concepts of renewable resources and sustainable technologies. These research and development communities were called “planetary villages” by Corinne McLaughlin and Gordon Davidson in their 1985 book, Builders of the Dawn: Community Lifestyles in a Changing World. Corinne and Gordon had spent time at Findhorn community in Scotland, and cofounded Sirius community in Massachusetts partly from that inspiration. (McLaughlin & Davidson, pp. 335-8)

Among the early alternative or appropriate technology centers in the United States were:

●  Arcosanti near Cordes Junction Arizona, begun in 1970;

●  Cerro Gordo near Cottage Grove, Oregon in 1973;

●  Farallones Institute founded in 1969, with its Integral Urban House started in 1974 in Berkeley, California;

●  High Wind near Plymouth, Wisconsin in 1981;

●  Meadowcreek Project near Fox, Arkansas in 1979;

●  New Alchemy Institute founded in 1969 near East Falmouth, Massachusetts, becoming the Alchemy Farm Cohousing community in the 1990s; and

●  New Life Farm near Drury (later near Brixey), Missouri, founded 1978.

In the 1970s the first “ecovillages” were developed in the U.S. and Europe, called ökodorf in Germany, sometimes as long-term protest encampments, such as at the anti-nuclear-energy-waste site at Gorleben, Germany in the late 1970s, and at the anti-nuclear weapons action at the Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp in Berkshire, England between 1981 and 2000. (Bates, p. 423; Christian, 2009, p. 1)

In 1975 the back-to-the-land magazine Mother Earth News began building an educational center with passive-solar buildings and organic gardens near its offices in Hendersonville, North Carolina, calling it an “ecovillage” by 1979. (Bates, p. 424; Christian, 2009, p. 1)

In the mid-1970s Bill Mollison, ecology instructor at the University of Tasmania and a student David Holmgren, together developed the idea of “permaculture,” drawing from the earlier works of: Eugene Odum of the University of Georgia, publishing Ecology in 1963 and later Fundamentals of Ecology; Wes Jackson teaching at the California State University in Sacramento, later of the Land Institute in Kansas publishing New Roots for Agriculture in 1980; and Masanobu Fukuoka in Japan, publishing The One Straw Revolution in 1975. The book Permaculture One was published in 1978, and Permaculture Two in ’79. The first permaculture design course (PDC) was taught in 1981. Many of those involved in the founding of the Global Ecovillage Network (GEN) had been trained in or were themselves permaculture designers. (Bang, pp. 44, 49-50, 261)

The magazine Ökodorf Informationen (Ecovillage Information) began publishing in 1985, later becoming the German magazine Eurotopia, with a series of European community directories by the same name published at Sieben Linden Ecovillage beginning in 2000 (English versions in 2001 and 2014).

Bioregionalism and Ecofeminism

The growing ecological awareness was fashioned into a movement called “bioregionalism,” beginning in 1975 with the coining of the term by Allen Van Newkirk (Canadian), and the advocacy for bioregional mapping by Peter Berg of Planet Drum in San Francisco. Others included: Kirkpatrick Sale author of Human Scale (1980), Dwellers in the Land, (1985), and The Green Revolution (1993); and David Haenke of New Life Farm in Missouri, organizing the first Ozark Bioregional Congress in 1980. As of 2020, the Ozark Area Community Congress (OACC) has held forty-one annual autumn Congresses, and continues to be an important countercultural networking organization for the Ozarks. (Bioregionalism, 2021; Sale, 2021)

The 1983-84 annual report of New Life Farm by Vinnie Wittenberg explains the bioregional mission.

“The Bioregional Project of New Life Farm, Inc. was created in July, 1982 to aid in the development and coordination of the Bioregional movement in North America. In the long term we work towards the establishment of sustainable human societies designed according to ecological laws and principles, and functioning in mutually beneficial cooperation with the larger “Earth community.” The Earth community is made up of all the living and non–living parts of the ecosystems in which we live. …

“The Ozark Area Community Congress (OACC), with support and coordination provided by New Life Farm, has had four yearly convenings, with … average attendance of 200, with about 100 organizations represented … The OACC resolutions of 1980 constitute the first comprehensive bioregional/green platform written. (New Life Farm, pp. 4-5)

“Organizing the first North American Bioregional Congress (NABC I) was our largest project so far. NABC I convened from May 21-25, 1984 northeast of Kansas City. It brought together 217 participants from 130 organizations, and from 32 U.S. states, two Canadian provinces, as well as England, Australia, West Germany, South Africa, and four native North American tribes.

“The major purposes of NABC I were to bring continental bioregionalists together along with those also working in political ecology, sustainability, and the broad scale green movement; help unify the bioregional movement; seed new bioregional congresses and organizations; help focus green movement energies towards new coalitions and impact on existing political/electoral systems; explore the great common ground between bioregionalists and native/indigenous peoples; constitute NABC as an ongoing event and continuing organization; and celebrate North America.” (New Life Farm, p. 4-5)

Among other bioregional organizations and events is the 1991 conference of the Sisters of Saint Frances’ Farm in Oldenburg, Indiana, hosting the Ohio River Watershed Bioregion Congress and Festival. This event is one indication that both Catholics and Protestants had begun to see the need to steward God’s creation, as opposed to the Old Testament (Genesis 1: 26-8) view that God encourages humanity to take “dominion” over all of the earth, as a result typically despoiling it rather than respecting that humanity is part of a web-of-life.

The North American Bioregional Congresses took place every two years from 1984 to 1996, beginning in northwest Missouri in 1984, then: Michigan (Great Lakes ’86); British Columbia, Canada (Cascadia ’88); Maine (Gulf of Maine ’09); Texas (Edwards Plateau ’92); Kentucky (Ohio River Valley ’94); and Mexico (Cuahunahuac ’96). After that the NABC events happened less frequently. The Kansas Area Watershed (KAW Council) hosted NABC IIIV (Prairie 2002), and Katuah Council hosted NABC IX in 2005 at Earthaven Ecovillage in North Carolina. This list is from a website created in 2010, so whether more NABCs have occurred since then is unknown to the present author. (Bioregional Congress, 2010)

Judith Plant explains that bioregionalism “responds to a recognition that we are floundering without an adequate overall philosophy of life to guide our action toward a sane alternative. It is a proposal to ground human cultures within natural systems, to get to know one’s place intimately in order to fit human communities to the earth, not distort the earth to our demads.” (Warren, quoting Judith Plant, p. 132)

In the book Ecofeminism: Women, Culture, Nature Judith Plant writes that, “Feminist bioreginal organizing is inclusive; it embraces differences. . . . Bioregionalism is attempting to rebuild human and natural community . . . There is room for men in this process, men who are willing to cultivate gentleness, caring, and cooperation, and this movement must have the leadership of women. . . . [T]he bioregional movement, the move toward ecocommunity, must be feminist. For without feminism, we will not have the consciousness to truly bring us to the better world humanity must have if our species is to survive.” (Warren, quoting Judith Plant, pp. 133-4)

Ecofeminist critics of bioregionalism, like Ynestra King, point out that it omits analysis of human oppression, pointing out that “the ecological crisis is inseparable from the many social crises.” (Greta Gaard quoting Ynestra King in Eaton & Lorentzen, pp. 209, 213)

Ecofeminism emphasizes the “personal/political connection” (Gretta Gard in Eaton & Lorentzen, p. 213), such that “what is valued personally is the same as what is valued politically.” (Judith Plant in Warren, p. 133)

Rosemary Radford Ruther in her book Godesses and the Divine Feminine recognizes that the “male hierarchical concept of the divine is a major ideological reinforcement of these patterns of social domination . . . military violence, economic exploitation, and ecological collapse.” She conclude that “new myth-making today” intended to reforge the relationships between the earth, humans, and the divine, can affirm a convergence of different interpretations to result in an “ecumenical and interreligious common ground of ecofeminist theology and spirituality.” (Ruether, pp. 307-8)

Rosemary Radford Ruther’s suggestion of the need for an inter-religious common ground suggests the value of multi-faith spiritualities such as those found in most major religions, including Unitarian Universalism in the Christian tradition, Ba’hai and Sufism of the Islamic tradition, Integral Yoga from the Hindu tradition, and others.

Fourth World

In economics, the First World is the dominant culture of market-based economies. The Second World is state-planned economies, of which few remain, while the Third World is comprised of developing countries becoming either First or Second World. The Fourth World is comprised of societies that are happy with their local economies and are not trying to become part of the First or Second Worlds. While traditional, tribal cultures are considered to be part of the Fourth World, many Fourth World cultures are comprised of people who were born into the First World, who then decide to leave it, or at least to create alternative cultures, to become Fourth World. This includes all intentional communities, bioregional congresses, transition towns, and various regional associations such as: the Zapatista region of southern Mexico; the Emilio-Romagna region of Italy; the Basque and Catalonia regions of Spain; the collectives of the San Francisco Bay Area of California; and the Kurdish region of northeast Syria.

The Institute for Social Ecology (ISE) in Vermont champions regional democratic-decentralist associations like those listed above, often using the term “democratic confederalism” to describe them. While these are not primarily, and may not even be explicitly organized from an ecological imperative, ecological awareness is typically as much a focus for these regional associations as it is for many ecovillages.

ISE uses the French political definition of the term “commune” to mean local or regional self-organized political organization. This was begun by Murray Bookchin, presumably to emphasize the Paris Commune of 1871 as a model of popular sovereignty, during which the city was briefly free of control by the French state and church, only lasting however, ten weeks and ending in disaster. (Bookchin, pp. 98-100)

In contrast, the English economic definition of “commune” refers to communal intentional communities, the best example of which for secular or multi-faith communities in the U.S.A. is Twin Oaks Community (T.O.), in existence over a half-century and often accepting visitors. Using the 501(d) IRS status, T.O. has the required “statement of religious belief” affirming their multi-faith culture, while like other egalitarian communities T.O. self-identifies as secular. An opportunity exists for egalitarian communities to make gender-equal partnership culture a religion, as a form of Partnership Spirituality. T.O has used “co/cos” for gender-neutral pronouns, while other methods of applying the ideal of partnership culture have been developed and are advocated by Riane Eisler of the Center for Partnership Studies (see: centerforparnership.org).

One of the co-founders of Twin Oaks, Kathleen Kinkade, invented in 1967 a non-exchange, time-based economy of sharing called by the present author the “vacation-credit, labor-sharing system,” now in use over fifty years, with different versions adopted by other communal groups.

Kathleen Kinkade’s income-sharing, labor-credit economy represents perhaps the best example of the second stage of Marxist communist theory, following the first stage of class-conflict. Marx and Engels could only define the nature of that second stage of communist theory by calling it the “administration of things” in Engels’ 1880 pamphlet, Socialism: Utopian and Scientific, and by using Morelly’s 18th century maxim, “from each according to ability; to each according to need” in Marx’s 1875 letter, Critique of the Gotha Program. Avoiding the violence of Marxist class-war, Kinkade’s labor-credit system, which values all labor equally that benefits the community, represents a collective update of the individualist Morelly’s Maxim to Allen’s Axiom of, “from all according to intent; to all according to fairness.” Egalitarian communalism skips class-conflict to go straight into the fabled “worker’s paradise.” (Tucker, pp. 531, 689)

As a movement the Fourth World includes, as written in the announcement for the First Assembly of the Fourth World in 1981, “the whole spectrum of the alternative movement … for a human scale and a non-centralized, multi-cellular, power-dispersed world order.” (Fourth World, 1981)

“The whole spectrum of the alternative movement” is a very broad and varied picture of a decentralized, human-scale culture. As with many things, it is easier to state what the Fourth World is not than to explain what it is. Along with traditional indigenous cultures, the Fourth World essentially involves everything that is not First World. Since the Third World comes out of indigenous culture and is becoming First or Second World it is in the middle, with aspects of many or all of the other political-economic worlds. The Fourth World can be described as including everything that is not of the current, dominant, First World global cutlure, often called “neo-liberal market capitalism.”

Any alternative economic system may be considered to be Fourth World, including economic reform programs like the land-value tax, which preserves the economic value of land for the benefit of society as a whole rather than going as rent to land owners. Alanna Hartzok explains in her book The Earth Belongs to Everyone that if we, “apply the common heritage principle to land, then it follows that ground rent, which is a measure of natural resource value, must be treated as “common property.” The next step which three-factor (i.e., land, labor, and capital) economists take is to link this insight with the public finance system. Voila! The policy imperative becomes clear. A way to affirm the equal rights of all to the common heritage is to collect the ground rent for the benefit of the community as a whole, a policy frequently referred to as “land value taxation”.” (Hartzok, pp. 138-9)

The justification for programs such as the land-value tax is called “natural law,” as opposed to human-made laws called “positive law.” Positive law is typically intended to benefit certain populations or individuals over others. In contrast, the natural law perspective is explained by one of the primary advocates of the land-value tax, Henry George, saying, “The equal right of all men and women to the use of land is as clear as their equal right to breathe the air. It is a right proclaimed by the fact of their existence. For we cannot suppose that some men and women have a right to be in this world and others do not.” (George, book VII chapter 1)

The same natural law concept applies to many other areas in which a few people strive to benefit from restricting access by the many to the abundance of the natural world, like natural resources such as minerals, water, the magnetic spectrum including broadcast frequencies, and even extra-terrestrial resources like the limited number of geo-stationary orbits above the planet. Fourth World political-economics affirms most if not all of the values and ideals of natural law.

Other economic alternatives included in the Fourth World are local currencies and crypto currencies. Local currencies clearly respect the value of decentralism, while crypto currency technology uses the World Wide Web with no centralized structure like that of a central bank.

Thomas Greco explains the process involved in creating alternative “exchange systems to carry heavy economic loads within local bioregions and to operate them according to sound business principles. … 1. Institute measures that promote import substitution; 2. Provide an alternative payment medium, …; 3. Issue a supplemental regional currency; 4. Develop basic support structures that strengthen the local economy …; 5. Develop an independent value standard and unit of account. … The credit clearing exchange is the key element that enables a community to develop a sustainable economy under local control and to maintain a high standard of living and quality of life.” (Greco, pp. 173-4; emphasis in the original)

The Fourth World Movement was begun in England in 1966 by John Papworth, who founded in that year Resurgence: Journal of the Fourth World, which later merged with The Ecologist. Papworth founded in 1980 the Fourth World Review: For Small Nations, Small Communities & The Human Spirit, and began working with Nicholas Albery on organizing annual Fourth World conferences. In the announcement for the First Assembly Albery explained that the Fourth World, “has been variously defined to embrace small nations, groups working for their autonomy and independence at all levels from the neighborhood to the nation, minority groups, whether ethnic, linguistic, cultural or religious, and those groups in the fields of peace action, ecology, economics, energy resources, women’s liberation and the whole spectrum of the alternative movement, who are struggling against the giantism of the institutions of today’s mass societies and for a human scale and a non-centralized, multi-cellular, power-dispersed world order.” (Nicholas Albery, quoted in Fourth World, 1981, emphasis in the original)

The First Assembly of the Fourth World took place at the City University in London, England in 1981. Over 400 people attended presenting over 200 papers in 22 different discussion forums addressing human-scale, decentralist, confederal alternatives to the dominant culture. In 1984 Nicholas Albery and Mark Kinzley published a book titled, How to Save the World: A Fourth World Guide to the Politics of Scale, which included Albery’s definition of the Fourth World presented above. (Fourth World, 1981)

The Fourth World Assemblies enjoyed a substantial amount of trans-national development through the decade of the 1980s. Then after ten Assemblies of the Fourth World the network went dormant in the 1990s.

Since the last of the Fourth World Assemblies in the 1990s at least two new forms of the Fourth World have arisen within the First World. These are Transition Towns, and the municipal organizing of the Democracy Collaborative, which has been connecting with Native American tribes.

The global Transition Initiatives movement began in a course taught by the permaculture designer Rob Hopkins in Kinsale, County Cork, Ireland in 2004. Two students, Louise Rooney and Catherine Dunne coined the term “transition town,” and in 2006 Hopkins founded the first transition town project in Totnes, Devon, England. (See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transition_town)

The Transition Town website presents a list of seven aspects of Transition groups (paraphrased):

•  Good group process;

•  Present a vision of the desired future;

•  Connect with those of similar interest beyond your natural allies;

•  Collaborate with like-minded organizations;

•  Find and develop programs that are doable and inspirational;

•  Connect with the Transition Network, and be creative in outreach to the larger culture;

•  Evaluate the results of your actions, and celebrate successes!

(See: http://www.transitionnetwork.org to download the “Essential Guide to Doing Transition” or go to: https://transitionnetwork.org/resources-essential-guide-transition/

Rather than being a form of intentional community, Transition Towns are a way of organizing within the circumstantial community of people who happen to live in proximity by chance, not by intention. One of the projects sometimes developed is the mapping of local resources for self-reliance, such as sustainable or regenerative projects in health, education, energy, food and other economic sectors. Transition Initiatives emphasize: social justice, the circular economy, and distributed governance. The idea of “distributed governance” is similar to what is called “democratic-decentralism” in the School of Intentioneering, and to what is called “democratic confederalism” or perhaps “confederal municipalism” in the Institute for Social Ecology.

In Cleveland, Ohio there is a project called “The Evergreen Cooperative Initiative” inspired by the Spanish Mondragon cooperatives. The Evergreen co-ops were begun by the Democracy Collaborative, comprised of the Cleveland Foundation, the Ohio Employee Ownership Center, the City of Cleveland, and the city’s major hospitals and universities. Evergreen is considered to be “a new model of large-scale worker-owned and community-benefiting businesses.” Part of “The Cleveland Model” involves collaboration with public and non-profit organizations, such as city agencies, universities, and hospitals, to replace the non-local corporations which have been providing services to these “anchor institutions” with local worker-owned cooperatives providing the same services. The model is to redirect the cash flow going to out-of-state corporations to instead support locally responsible businesses and jobs. The Evergreen cooperatives receive exclusive contracts for food production in urban greenhouses, laundry services, solar energy systems, and energy conservation retrofits, which they then use for securing funding for the growth and development of the co-ops. (See: http://www.community-wealth.org/cleveland)

The Democracy Collaborative has developed an ongoing initiative for identifying a preferred economy called “The Next System Project,” involving conferences, essay contests, publications, and much more toward an equitable, nurturing, and sustainable culture. (See: http://www.thenextsystem.org)

At least one Native American tribe has recognized the similarities between the values inherent in worker-owned businesses and their own cultural traditions and are building them on their reservations. In an article on the community-wealth.org website dated July 7, 2014 Sarah McKinley and Marjorie Kelly reported that the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation of the Oglala Lakota tribe of the Great Sioux Nation, one of the poorest communities in the country, is the site of a federally funded “Regenerative Community” being built by the Thunder Valley Development Corporation, praised by President Obama in a public speech for its planned energy self-reliance and social enterprises intended to support the Native residents. (McKinley & Kelly, 2014)

Elsewhere on the Pine Ridge Reservation the Native American Natural Foods company is a Native-owned buffalo meat and apple, cranberry, and other fruit snacks company which received help from the Democracy Collaborative for converting their business to an employee-owned company (found on the web at: http://www.tankabar.com). In their article titled, Indian Country the Site of New Developments in Community Wealth Building, McKinley and Kelly explain that these are two of five Native American projects supported by The Democracy Collaborative and the Northwest Area Foundation through their “Learning/Action Lab for Community Wealth Building.” (McKinley & Kelly, 2014)

The Learning/Action Lab arranged visits of members of the Pine Ridge Reservation and other tribes to existing social enterprises such as urban farming projects, an employee-owned cleaning company in the Bay Area, an employee-owned solar energy company in Denver, a Native-owned grocery in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, and the Evergreen Co-operatives in Cleveland, Ohio, the network of three employee-owned cooperatives which The Democracy Collaborative also helped to create. As practiced in these initiatives “wealth building” involves the development of local assets for the creation of enterprises that anchor jobs in the community. (McKinley & Kelly, 2014)

“The Democracy Collaborative has come to a heightened awareness of the profound intersection between Indian values and the principles and vision of the community wealth building approach. As one [Native American] participant put it, “What we perceive as a paradigm of building a new economy is really about returning to what our ancestors knew.” (McKinley & Kelly, 2014)

As some Native Americans see cooperative organization as a return to ancestral knowledge and practices, one wonders what they may think of the non-monetary, non-exchange, time-based, labor-sharing communal economy.

Community Land Trust

Mildred Loomis (1900-1986) of the School of Living suggests in her 1980 book Alternative Americas that the term “back-to-the-land,” in the sense of people deliberately choosing to live an agrarian as opposed to an urban lifestyle, may have originated in Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s publication in 1762 of Émile, a treatise on education in the form of a novel. In Émile, Rousseau affirms that people living in nature learn and experience the ideal of the sinless, un-fallen human lifestyle, as opposed to the sinful aspects of living in the dominant culture. (Loomis, 1980, p. 57)

The Old Testament Jewish view of land is markedly different from the later Roman law of “dominium,” in part because the Jewish concept arose prior to the invention of the more sophisticated forms of money and markets of the Roman Empire. Prior to the development of Roman property law, which remains the basis of land tenure in Western Civilization today, the ownership and control of land was dependent upon either one’s ability to defend one’s private holdings (whether peasant or king), or in the case of the Jewish nation, upon one’s adherence to the pronouncements of religious authorities.

In her 2008 book, The Earth Belongs to Everyone, Alanna Hartzok of the Earth Rights Institute explains that in “Talmudic rabbinical discussions” the Jewish rabbis decided among themselves how to apportion the conquered land of Canaan among the various Hebrew tribes. Recipients of fertile land received less land than the recipients of poor land, and those with land closer to the city paid a tax to the treasury that was then give to those with land far from the city, in recognition of the advantage of location, since transportation of produce to market over long distances was a great expense. “In this, then we see affirmed the doctrine that natural advantages are common property, and may not be diverted to private gain.” (Hartzok, p. 98)

Ralph Borsodi (1886-1977) had written This Ugly Civilization (1928) and Flight From the City (1933), and was invited by the Council of Social Service Agencies in Dayton, Ohio to consult in the planning of a President Roosevelt-inspired New Deal community project. The Council was attempting to relieve unemployment in the city and in 1932 had developed a series of “Cooperative Production Units,” devoting urban buildings to food, clothing, and other production cooperatives, bartering their production among the units for either raw materials or finished goods. About a dozen such units involved 350 to 500 families. The Council wanted to expand into rural production units, hoping that getting people out of the city and onto the land would make it more possible for them to have self-reliant occupations as small farmers and craft workers through the Great Depression. This was the basic idea of many of the New Deal community projects, and with Ralph Borsodi’s help, the Dayton projects became one of the first federal subsistence homestead projects of the Farm Resettlement Agency (FRA), called “Liberty Homesteads” or “Dayton Homesteads.” Fifty homestead colonies were planned for around Dayton, offering leases to families for 3-acre plots, rather than ownership, in order to avoid speculation in the price of land. This anti-inflationary-speculation arrangement was later part of what became called “limited equity,” yet in the 1930s it was unacceptable to the local investors to whom Ralph Borsodi marketed his idea for financing, which was the issuing of “Independence Bonds.” With the failure of local financing, partly due to attacks against the project by local newspapers, the Liberty Homesteads members democratically decided to apply, evidently with Borsodi’s reluctant help, for federal grants. Tim Miller states that this was through the National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA), while Robert Fogarty states it was the FRA. By 1933 the Council had received $309,000 in federal funds. Then in 1934, Harold Ickes, Secretary of the Interior, under whom was administered both the FRA and the NIRA, federalized all the homestead projects under the Division of Subsistence Homesteads (DSH). The resulting confusion, delays, increased costs, and decreased local control brought the entire project to a halt, which ended Ralph’s faith in government assistance. (Fogarty, 1980, p. 17; Loomis, 1980, pp. 59, 94; Miller, 1998, pp. 129-31; Questenberry, p. 118)

Significantly, Joseph Knapp arrives at the same conclusion about government assistance in the context of 1930s farm cooperatives that, “cooperative enterprise thrived best from internal strength free from external bureaucratic controls.” (Knapp, p. 144)

By 1936 the last homesteading families left Liberty Homesteads, and among them was Mildred Loomis, later writing in her book Alternative Americas,

“I was part of a cooperative homestead-household. I remember the shock we all felt when Borsodi explained among some new principles community title, rather than individual title, to land.

“Land, like people, should not be subject to buying and selling,” Borsodi said simply. “Land is not a humanly-produced product: land is everyone’s common heritage.” We would-be homesteaders, to put it mildly, were startled. … We had long and vigorous discussions; fear and anger frequently cropped up. Borsodi was sure of his approach. Factions developed, for and against “community lands tenure.” Delays and no action. Some said this time was filled with “bickering”—I called it “mis-communication” and inept group-process, stemming from our woeful mis-education in land-ethics.” (Loomis, 1986, p. 86; emphasis in the original)

The experience of Liberty Homesteads turned Borsodi against any kind of government involvement in decentralized, cooperative projects, causing him to develop a new focus upon educating people for small, local self-reliant communities. “If American people are to develop wisdom about their lives and their problems—what to use government for, where to live, how to be healthy—a new education is needed. Let us build a School of Living for this.” (Ralph Borsodi, 1933, quoted in Loomis, 1986, p. 87)

The School of Living (SoL) was founded in 1934 and continues today as both an educational organization and a regional community land trust (RCLT) in the Mid-Atlantic States, holding land for residential communities in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia. As a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) educational organization SoL holds each parcel of land under a separate Title-Holding Corporation 501(c)(2). This legal structure was first advocated by Robert Swann for land trusts.

Robert Swann (1918-2003) served time in prison for his conscientious objection to war, where he subscribed to the correspondence course on decentralism and community-building offered by the School of Living. The texts used were Borsodi’s books and Arthur Morgan’s The Small Community.  This course was created by two former Methodist missionaries to India, Ralph Templin and Paul Keene, who believed that the School of Living was, “the closest thing to Gandhi in America.” (Loomis, 1980, p. 77)

In 1960 Robert and Marjorie Swann created the Committee for Non-Violent Action (CNVA) in Voluntown, Connecticut, on a community land trust called the CNVA Farm. CNVA served the peace movement by supporting protests, boycotts, marches, pickets, and civil disobedience against the military-industrial complex. In the mid-1960s the Swanns were working to rebuild bombed and burned out churches in Mississippi during the Civil Rights Movement, and realized that part of the helplessness of the black population was due to their landlessness. Working with Slater King, cousin to Martin Luther King, with organizers of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and other civil rights organizations in the South, they created New Communities, Inc. in Tennessee in 1969, a community land trust serving the dispossessed poor. Beginning in 1967 Swann and Borsodi together, with assistance from Loomis and others involved in the International Independence Institute (III), wrote and published in 1972 The Community Land Trust: A Guide to a New Land Tenure in America. Then in 1973 the III was renamed the Institute for Community Economics (ICE), merging the models of the moshav settlements of the Israeli Jewish National Fund, beginning in Palestine in 1890, with the Indian Gramdan movement, and the School of Living land trusts, and thereby beginning the first community land trust organization and network in America. (Loomis, 1980, pp. 61-2, 77, 125-8)

As Dan Questenberry of the Fellowship for Intentionaal Community (FIC) writes, Bob Swann’s contribution to the design of community land trusts (CLTs) is the provision that CLT directors be comprised of activist community organizers along with legal, financial and other technical experts from the larger, surrounding community, not just residents of the CLT. This bylaws provision transforms a private land trust into a community land trust, with the “community” being not just those living on the land. Bob Swann’s design was used in the design of the Community Land Trust of the Southern Berkshires. In his article Tools for Community Control of Development Bob writes that having non-residents on the board is a good way to assure that the residents could never by themselves dissolve the trust and take private possession of the land. Better yet, the regional community land trust (RCLT) model, such as the SoL-RCLT, substitutes people living in multiple, non-contiguous plots of entrusted land for Bob Swann’s idea of non-residents on the board-of-directors. (Questenberry, p. 120; Swann, p. 2)

Cohousing

Denmark is a progressive country originating many cultural innovations, some of which have spread to other countries, particularly the cohousing community design, called in Danish, bofœllesskaber (pronounced: bow-fess-cobb-er) and translated as “living communities.”

Another Danish invention that has inspired community organizations, particularly those forming alternative community schools in various countries including the U.S.A., is the Danish Folk School Movement. In 1806 Reverend Grundtvig published a translation of the poetic Viking sagas, from which he developed for his own teachings an emphasis upon the old Norse tradition of the power of the spirit. In response to the periods of German occupation of Denmark, first under the Prussians beginning in 1864 then the Nazis in the 1930s, the Danes relied upon their traditions, thanks in part to Grundtvig’s work, in creating a Danish cultural renaissance. Many Danish youth left the cities for rural communities to found folk schools for teaching new agricultural techniques, cooperative organization, and Danish poetry and art, much as the young anarchists during the Spanish Civil War (1936-39) organized their rural population. (Kinney, pp. 2-3; Morgan, Arthur, p. 138)

The cohousing community design was imported from Denmark to the United States by, “a husband-wife design and consulting team … Charles [Durrett] has a professional architecture degree from California Polytechnic University in San Luis Obispo [California] and Kathryn [McCamant] holds her degree in architecture from the University of California, Berkeley.” Katie and Chuck published Cohousing: A Contemporary Approach to Housing Ourselves in 1988.(McCamant and Durrett, p. 203)

While attending Cal Poly, Charles Durrett may have been exposed to the space-use designs of egalitarian communalism, as a now retired professor of architecture at Cal Poly was Henry H. Hammer, a former member of Twin Oaks Community. In a personal conversation with the present author in 1990, Henry stated that a friend of his had earlier introduced him to the Cohousing book, and they determined that he was teaching at Cal Poly the same years that Charles was likely taking classes there. Henry also made informal presentations at Cal Poly about his architectural designs for passive solar heating in communal households at Twin Oaks.

While Henry Hammer taught that particular space-use designs can encourage specific desired behaviors, he was not the first person to recognize this potential for the built environment. Charles Fourier (1772-1837) wrote about this in 1822 via his concept of “passionate attraction” (see: Traite de l’Association Domestique Agricole), which influenced the 19th century Associationist communities in the U.S., including Brook Farm, a center of New England Transcendentalism. A little earlier, in Report to the County of Lanark: A New View of Society printed in 1813, Robert Owen (1771-1858) presented his belief that the primary influences upon the development of a person’s character is one’s physical and social environment, and therefore through deliberate design of the environment positive character traits can be engineered, especially individual happiness. (Garnett, pp. 7, 14; Hayden, pp. 150-1, 154, 218, 353)

Excellent sources of information about space-use design for community is Dolores Hayden’s books, Seven American Utopias: The Architecture of Communitarian Socialism, 1790-1975, and Redesigning the American Dream. A Hayden quote is found at the beginning of chapter 15 in the Cohousing book. (McCamant & Durrett, pp. 195, 206)

Of the various regional cohousing networks in the U.S.A. in the 1990s, the Rocky Mountain Cohousing Association (RMCA) was chosen for expansion into Cohousing-U.S.A. about 1996. The choice of RMCA was partly due to the network having been actively organizing for several years, and partly due to Katie McCamant being from Colorado. Around the time of the transition of RMCA to Cohousing-U.S.A., two former members of Twin Oaks were on the RMCA board-of-directors, Velma Kahn and Allen Butcher, and over the decades former members of Twin Oaks and other groups comprising the Federation of Egalitarian Communities (FEC) joined cohousing communities. Another community network, the Fellowship for Intentional Community (FIC), aided the cohousing movement by staffing and stocking a book-sales table at “coho” conferences, and especially by aiding cohousing groups with designing their decision-making and conflict resolution processes, through the FIC’s network of meeting-facilitation and group-process trainers.

As the cohousing movement grew in the U.S.A. various types of intentional communities began calling themselves “cohousing,” in the same way that some of those and other communities began calling themselves an “ecovillage,” to the point that practically any type of intentional community, other than communal societies, sometimes use the term to describe themselves. On the cohousing.org website there is a page presenting the “common characteristics” of cohousing communities and the “types of cohousing,” along with the statement, “We trust that as knowledge of cohousing grows creativity will expand and more and more methods for achieving community will arrive.” Both the cohousing and ecovillage ideas are growing the intentional community movement, while some groups use both terms in their description. (Cohousing, 2020)

As Kathryn McCamant and Charles Durrett explain, the Danish bofœllesskaber communities began with meetings of friends in 1964, from inspirations that the architect Jan Gudmand-Hoyer and friends found in utopian fiction, especially Thomas More’s Utopia written in 1516, and in historical Danish cooperative housing.  In his Encyclopedia of Community article “Cohousing,” Charles Durrett explains that Gudmand-Hoyer graduated from Harvard University with a graduate degree in 1964, and while in the U.S. he “studied U.S. ‘utopias’ such as Shakertown, Drop City, Twin Oaks, and many more, …”  Gudmand-Hoyer’s first community attempt was stopped by its neighbors from being built by their purchase of the property required for access to the site. The community group gave up the project in 1965. In 1968 Jan Gudmand-Hoyer wrote an article for a national publication about his ideas and experiences titled, The Missing Link Between Utopia and the Dated One-Family House, presenting the design of private dwellings around common facilities. Over a hundred people responded to the article with interest in living in such a community, from which a group formed to plan new community projects. Another article that helped to inspire the bofœllesskaber movement was published in 1967 by Bodil Graae titled, Children Should Have One Hundred Parents. Over fifty people responded who wanted a child-oriented community; one of whom was Hildur Jackson, later of Gaia Trust. (Durrett, p. 195; Jackson, p. 43; McCamant and Durrett, pp. 133-5)

Gaia Trust

In 1987 Ross (Canadian) and Hildur (Danish) Jackson in Denmark created the Gaia Trust to provide grants to ecovillage trainers and organizers around the world, with money that Ross had made from selling computer software he designed between 1984 and ‘86 for the foreign exchange currency markets. Karen Litfin states in her 2014 book, Ecovillages: Lessons for Sustainable Community, that Ross explains in his 2000 writing, We ARE Doing It: Building an Ecovillage Future, that “a spiritual experience he had with Swami Muktananda inspired him to create Gaia Trust.” Ross writes further about his spiritual path in, Kali Yuga Odyssey. (Jackson & Jackson, p. 14; Litfin, p. 12)

Ross Jackson created Gaia Trust from beliefs similar to those from earlier in the 20th century of Ralph Borsodi of the School of Living (New York City, NY), and Arthur Morgan of Community Service (Yellow Springs, OH), both organizations active today in the community land trust movement. Jackson writes:

“Whether the global economy collapsed or we were able to make a planned transition to a sustainable future, I understood that it would be necessary in either case to build a new culture. At the foundation of this culture must necessarily be sustainable human settlements, and for this we needed good models. I believed that a network of ecovillages that provided such models would be an extremely valuable base on which to build. (Jackson & Jackson, p. 14)

“Community” has always been the essence of human culture from time immemorial. But by adopting a new name, “ecovillage,” the basic concept became infused with new energy.” (Jackson & Jackson, p. 15)

Hildur Jackson, a social activist, wrote in a 2005 Communities magazine article titled, From Cohousing to Ecovillge: A Global Feminist Vision? (emphasis in the original) that she found with her husband Ross, five other families to help purchase a farm near Copenhagen and create a bofœllesskaber called “Hoejtofte” in 1970. In her 2005 article Hildur answers Sigmund Freud’s question, “What do women want?” saying, “I believe the answer is community.” (Dawson, p. 12-3; Jackson, pp. 42-5, 48; Jackson & Jackson, p. 14)

In 1990 the Jackson’s bought a second property near the northwestern Danish coast, using its original name, Fjordvang, to create a conference center and ecovillage much like that at Findhorn Community in Scotland. Yet the local authorities refused their applications for additional housing constructed on the property, so after several years of frustrating negotiations the Jackson’s gave up and returned to the Copenhagen area. In the mean time, the Jackson’s invited Robert and Diane Gilman (American) in 1991 to visit Fjordvang, “to build an ecovillage and work on our common cause,” and the two couples hosted two ecovillage conferences at Fjordvang. The Gilman’s were founders of the Context Institute and publishers of the magazine founded in 1983 called, In Context: A Quarterly of Humane Sustainable Culture. After thirteen years, in 1996, In Context evolved into the magazine named, Yes!: A Journal of Positive Futures as alternative to all the negativity of anti-war, anti-nuclear energy, anti-pollution and other protest movements. (Bang, p. 23; Jackson, pp. 47-8; Jackson & Jackson, p. 14; Mare, p. 4)

The Gilmans’ first project commissioned by Gaia Trust was to gather information about various ecologically sustainable human settlements worldwide. In May of 1991 the Gilmans’ report on ecological settlements was published with the title, Ecovillages and Sustainable Communities. In this work the Gilman’s printed their now commonly used definition of “ecovillages” as being,

“Human scale, full-featured settlements which integrates human activities harmlessly into the natural environment, supports healthy human development, and can be continued into the indefinite future.” (Christian, 2003, p. 143; Dawson, p. 13; Gilman & Gilman, 1991; Jackson & Jackson, p. 14; Mare, p. 4)

September 1991 the Gaia Trust invited to Fjordvang twenty community organizers and “broad thinkers” to “discuss how Gaia Trust could best use its funds.” Three of those who subsequently maintained a long-term involvement with ecovillages and Gaia Trust were Max Lindegger, Declan Kennedy, and Albert Bates. (Jackson & Jackson, p. 15)

At the Fjordvang center the Jacksons, along with the Gilmans, hosted the first international ecovillage conferences in September, 1991 and again in 1993, the later date at which was formed the Danish Network of Ecovillages, the first national ecovillage network. (Dawson, p. 13; Jackson, p. 47; Jackson & Jackson, p. 15; Litfin, p. 12; Mare, pp . 4-5)

The Gaia Trust continues to fund a range of ecovillage-support projects. Jan Martin Bang explains Ross Jackson’s operative theory in his 2005 book, Ecovillages: A Practical Guide to Sustainable Communities, as being, “that relatively small amounts of money could most effectively be used in getting the right people together to share ideas and inspirations, who would then go back to their projects more motivated and stimulated.” (Bang, p. 22)

Besides conferences and network meetings the Gaia Trust provided grants to over 300 projects in more than 40 countries, until 2003 when its funds ran low. Ross Jackson explained the positive aspect of this funding cut-off being that the regional associations would thereby not become dependent upon Gaia Trust. Since then the Trust has focused upon funding its own projects, such as Gaia Education, and making small awards to individuals.

The December, 2012 issue of Ecovillages Newsletter, produced by Diana Leafe Christian, reported that Gaia Trust made awards of 10,000 Danish Kroner (about $1,700) to five ecovillage activists that year: Max Lindeger (Australia); Declan Kennedy (Germany), Albert Bates (USA); Kosha Joubert (South Africa, Germany, Findhorn); and May East (Brazil, Findhorn). Max, Declan, and Albert were instrumental in creating GEN networks on five continents between 1995 and 2000. Kosha helped set up the GEN-Africa organization, and May directed Gaia Education and its Ecovillage Design Education (EDE) courses worldwide for seven years, obtaining endorsement for Gaia Education from the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR). May taught EDE in her native Brazil while creating a Gaia Education network in South America, named “CASA” in 2013. (Christian, 2012, p. 1; Jackson & Jackson, p. 16)

The 2012 awards were given to the early initiators of the ecovillage movement as tokens of reverence for all those who midwifed the new culture, in honor of the progression of the Mayan calendar to the fifth Sun cycle in December, 2012. (Jackson & Jackson, p. 17)

Another GEN missionary, Jan Martin Bang (British/Norwegian) relates the story in his 2005 book, Ecovillages, about his involvement in the evolution of the Green Kibbutz movement in Israel. Jan learned biodynamic agriculture from having lived at a Camphill Village in Norway, where differently-abled children and adults or “villagers” live in community with non-disabled “co-workers.” Camphill is a global network of therapeutic communities, growing out of the philosophical tradition called “Theosophy,” based upon the Austrian Rudolf Steiner’s (1861-1925) version called “Anthroposophy.” The first Camphill school-community was founded in 1939 in Scotland. (Miller, pp. 23-4)

Jan and wife Ruth moved to kibbutz in 1992, Jan (pronounced “yawn”) explains that, “Within this movement I was trying to create an explicitly environmental agenda.” With other kibbutznics interested in organic agriculture the group set up in 1994 an office called the “Green Room” to encourage and support environmental projects in kibbutzim. In 1995 Jan and Albert Bates of The Farm in Tennessee met at a conference, and Albert explained that he was on a mission to find someone or a group in kibbutz to train for and then teach and organize permaculture projects in the kibbutz, and that he had funding for the training. Jan was soon on a plane to The Farm to take their permaculture design course. Soon after, Jan writes, he “found himself at Findhorn in Scotland” attending the 1995 conference which initiated the Global Ecovillage Network. Returning to Kibbutz Gezer, Jan and David Lehrer of Kibbutz Ketura began the Green Kibbutz Group, teaching ecovillage design, desert ecology, and permaculture at Kibbutz Gezer and Kibbutz Lotan, working with individual kibbutzim, the kibbutz movement offices, and the Israeli Ministry for the Environment. By 1996 there were seven kibbutzim in the Green Kibbutz Group and more expressing interest. (Bang, 1996, p. 45; Bang, 2005, pp. 17, 37)

Global Ecovillage Network

There was no imperative compelling enough to provide sufficient reason for global community-movement networking beyond affinity networks and regional associations, until the advent of the ecovillage concept. No political, economic, or social concern or identity ever motivated cross-movement networking of communities as has the concern for the environment and the desire to live in harmony with it, and so appreciation for those who developed the idea and who nurtured the ecovillage movement must be expressed, for the brilliance of the idea and the dedication of those who contributed their time and resources to it.

In 1995 the Findhorn Foundation in Scotland hosted a conference on the theme, “Ecovillages and Sustainable Communities: Models for 21st Century Living.” Over four-hundred people attended the “Ecovillages and Sustainable Communities” conference, with three-hundred more refused due to lack of space. The conference proceedings were published in 1996 by Findhorn Press.

E. C. Mare of the Village Design Institute at The Farm listed in the article A Concise History of the Global Ecovillage Movement five ecovillage movement issues recognized at the 1995 Findhorn conference (from the conference video “Ecovillages and Sustainable Communities”):

●  The appropriate scale for creating a new culture is neither the individual nor the society, instead it is the sustainable-community level of ecovillages. [Note: this is essentially what Ralph Borsodi, founder of the School of Living, and Arthur Morgan, founder of what is now Community Solutions, said in the 1930s, and what their organizations have taught ever since.]

●  Ecovillages must not become insular, exclusive, or sheltered, yet must interact and integrate with the surrounding culture in order to survive and advance the movement.

●  Ecovillages must be the “necessary yes,” a positive solution to mounting global problems, in contrast with organizations like Greenpeace which are the “necessary no.”

●  Sustainability is not enough in itself since it is “only about stabilizing the global phenomenon through applied negative feedback. The ecovillage was envisioned as the setting from which human potential could leap to new heights unforeseen, with abundant love, cooperation, and creativity—as a leap in quality of life.” (emphasis in the original)

●  The “Global South” and its many traditional villages is to be included along with the intentional communities of the “Global North,” for a “global solution, answering global problems, requiring a truly global perspective.” (emphasis in the original) (Mare, p. 6)

Immediately after the Findhorn conference, twenty people from various ecovillages met for five days and created the Global Ecovillage Network (GEN). The communities initially forming GEN include: Crystal Waters, Australia; Danish Ecovillage Association; Ecoville, St. Petersburg, Russia; The Farm, TN, USA; Findhorn, Scotland; Gyurufu, Hungary; Lebensgarten, Steyerberg, Germany; The Ladakh Project, India; and the Manitou Institute, CO, USA. (Bang, p. 22)

Initially, three autonomous regional networks were created, including: the Ecovillage Network of the Americas (ENA) coordinated by Albert Bates at The Farm in Tennessee, GEN Europe/Africa coordinated by Declan Kennedy at Lebensgarten in Germany, and GEN Oceania & Asia (GENOA) coordinated by Max Lindegger at Crystal Waters in Australia, with funding for these centers provided by Gaia Trust for the next several years. Hamish Stewart served as the International Secretary at Fjordvang in Denmark, providing an umbrella organization called GEN International. Additional plans were to create an educational program for the ecovillage movement, and to participate in the United Nations’ Human Settlements Program called “UN-Habitat.” (Jackson & Jackson, p. 16)

Rashmi Mayur at the 1995 Findhorn conference passionately encouraged GEN to attend UN Habitat II planned for Istanbul, Turkey in 1996. Dr. Mayur, leader of the International Institute for a Sustainable Future in Mumbai, India, attended UN conferences as a GEN ambassador, presenting speeches and workshops. Attending the Johannesburg UN Earth Summit in 2002 Dr. Mayur suffered a stroke and never fully recovered. (Jackson & Jackson, pp. 15-6)

Inside the 1996 UN Habitat II conference venue GEN built a straw-bale wall plastered with clay to illustrate ecological building materials, with photos mounted on it of ecovillages around the world. Hildur Jackson produced 5,000 copies of a booklet handout titled The Earth is Our Habitat. GEN offered over forty workshops addressing issues concerning ecovillages and global politics, and invited forty spiritual leaders to attend them, who then praised the ecovillage as an important new concept in their concluding statement. Outside the conference venue an architect from Auroville, India built an earthquake-resistant house from mud bricks produced on-site, and GEN coordinated local Turkish builders in building a traditional Harran beehive-shaped stone house. GEN was invited to address the UN delegates, and as Ross Jackson writes, “Istanbul put GEN firmly on the global map.” The Global Ecovillage Network received UN non-governmental organization (NGO) status in 2000. (Jackson & Jackson, pp. 15-6; Joseph, p. 1)

In 2003 the Gaia Trust cut back its funding for GEN, resulting in the regional centers having to become more self-reliant. In 2008 Kosha Joubert, then residing at Sieben Linden in Germany, was elected GEN president. Kosha had been one of the thirty educators who developed the Gaia Education curriculum, getting financial support from the German government for teaching it at Sieben Linden for both local and foreign participants. Kosha was then involved in supporting the emergence of the African ecovillage network in 2012, successfully attracting funding from the German Foreign Ministry. (Jackson & Jackson, pp. 16-7)

Kosha and others represented the involvement of a new generation of activists and organizers in GEN, “inspiring increasing momentum in all regions.” GEN’s youth wing, NextGEN, attracted many to the movement, such as Cyntia Tina, the North American representative for NextGEN at the GENNA Alliance meetings beginning in 2014. (Jackson & Jackson, p. 17; Tina, p. 14)

Ecovillage Education

GEN’s educational mission began to develop in 1998 with Hildur Jackson’s invitation to fifty-five educators from within the ecovillage movement to meet at Fjordvang, Denmark to brainstorm methods for combining in one educational program instruction in organic farming, permaculture, renewable energy, wastewater treatment, ecological building, green business and economy, meeting facilitation, conflict resolution, and more. The method of instruction was to be the “Living and Learning” concept, in which people live the community lifestyle while learning to design their ecovillage. In 2002 Hildur Jackson and Karen Svensson published Ecovillage Living: Restoring the Earth and Her People, which included the “Sustainability Wheel” method of teaching the many related subjects. In 2004 thirty educators met at Findhorn, Scotland to discuss Hildur’s and Karen’s teaching idea, and the following year at the GEN+10 Conference the Gaia Education project was founded as a separate entity from GEN. May East of Findhorn took the lead and soon created the four-week course called “Ecovillage Design Education” (EDE), now taught around the world. In 2008 EDE was made into an online course with aid from the Open University of Catalonia in Barcelona, Spain, becoming a masters-level course offered online in ten languages. (Jackson & Jackson, p. 16)

Global Ecovillage Educators for a Sustainable Earth (GEESE) is a multi-disciplinary educational initiative for sustainable community. The first GEESE meeting took place in 1998 at the Gaia Trust’s Fjordvang conference center in Denmark. GEESE’s first product was the “Ecovillage Design Education” curriculum presented at the 2005 GEN conference at Findhorn. In 2008 came “Gaia Education Design for Sustainability” (GEDS), now an online masters degree program offered in English, Spanish, and Portuguese, intended to support the implementation of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. In 2012 the 5th edition of the Teacher’s Guide: Design for Sustainability and the Gaia Youth Activities Guide were published. In 2014 the community-led “Project Based Learning” vocational courses were developed as four-week long intensives. Gaia Education is recognized by the United Nations as a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), active with 146 partner organizations in 55 countries on six continents, with over 25,000 graduates worldwide.  (Gaia Education, 2021)

The Gaia Education Outreach Institute (GEO) started the Geocommons College Year program at Derbyshire Farm in New Hampshire in 1991, teaching community, ecology, and mindful living, through taking small groups of eight-to-twelve college students to a few ecovillages around the world, for college credit through the University of New Hampshire. In 1991 the first cohort of college students spent the fall semester studying and experiencing community on the Derbyshire campus, and touring intentional communities in the U.S.A. for two-to-three weeks. Spring semester the students visited, studied, and worked on two-to-four intentional communities in Europe, at Findhorn in Scotland and Plum Village in France, and in India, at Mitraniketan and Auroville. Summer semester the students worked on the design and implementation of an educational ecovillage of twelve households being created at Derbyshire Farm, called the Monadnock Geocommons Village. (Geocommons College Year, 1995)

The Geocommons program inspired a similar academic experience called Living Routes, which assumed management of Geocommons’s ecovillage-emersion program in 2000. Living Routes was created by Daniel Greenberg with Monique Gauthier and others based at Sirius Community in Shutesbury, Massachusetts. Living Routes’ mission was, “to develop accredited, ecovillage-based educational programs that empower participants to help build a sustainable future.” Living Routes added more sponsoring institutions to those of Geocommons, including: Pacific Lutheran University, Greenfield Community College, and Cornell University. Additional community site visits included: Sirius Community, Merriam Hill Center, and Ecovillage at Ithaca, U.S.A.; Green Kibbutzim Lotan and Gezer, Israel; and Crystal Waters, Australia, with plans for more in Russia, South America, and southern Africa. (Greenberg, 2000, Let’s Go!, p. 28; Living Routes, 2000)

College courses about and field trips to intentional communities is common. Daniel Greenberg compiled such a list of courses related to community taught at various colleges and universities in the fall 2000 Communities magazine. These courses were offered through a range of academic fields, including: anthropology; religious studies; political science; and international studies. (Greenberg, 2000, College Courses on Community, pp. 53-5)

While an entire academic year studying and experiencing community for college credit is unique to Geocommons and Living Routes, these opportunities ended in 2014 for a couple reasons, including student and instructor concern about the “carbon footprint” of air travel.

In 2016 Dan Greenberg began a consulting project for aiding ecovillages and other intentional communities in creating their own, on-site educational programs, called “Custom Academic Programs in Ecovillages” (CAPE). (See: http://www.cape.consulting)

Affiliated with Gaia Education at Findhorn, Scotland, Gaia University in Morales, Mexico, offers free courses, diploma programs, and undergraduate and graduate degree programs online, supporting “world-changers to create strategic projects and regenerative livelihoods” and “training leadership for ecosocial regeneration,” at: http://www.GaiaUniversity.org

Some of the first ecovillage training centers outside of the U.S.A. are: Ecovillage Training at Findhorn in Scotland; Center for Appropriate Technology in Wales, UK; Lebensgarten, Sieben Linden, and Z.E.G.G. in Germany; Torii Superiore in Italy; Kibbutz Gezer and Kibbutz Lotan in Israel; O.U.R. Ecovillage in British Columbia, Canada; and Ecological Solutions at Crystal Waters, Australia. (Christian, 2007, p. 36)

In the U.S.A. there is a growing number of ecovillage training centers, including: Lost Valley Education Center, OR; Earth Island Institute at Berkeley, and Occidental Arts & Ecology Center at Occidental, CA; Thrive Ithaca EcoVillage Education Center, NY; Dancing Rabbit Center for Sustainable and Cooperative Culture, Rutledge, MO; the School of Integrated Living (SOIL) at Earthaven Ecovillage, Black Mountain, NC, and Ecovillage Training Center at The Farm, TN. (Christian, 2007, p. 36)

The Farm in Tennessee, U.S.A., founded in 1970, began with a series of lectures called the “Tuesday Night Class” by Steven Gaskin, attracting hundreds of people at San Francisco State University. 320 of those people decided to create a communal intentional community, settling in Tennessee then growing to over a thousand people. Later, with privatization to a land trust the community population fell to about 150 adults with 40 businesses employing 85% of the community’s wage earners. The Farm focused upon ecofeminism, organic farming, renewable energy, sustainability, and the integration of traditional cultures, beginning The Farm’s Ecovillage Training Center and the ecovillage.org website in 1994.  (Bates, p. 424; Mare, p. 3)

The Los Angeles Ecovillage (below) acquired a single-family house and a near-by apartment building with common space. “We try to reduce our environmental impacts while raising the quality of neighborhood life. We share our processes, strategies and techniques with others through tours, talks, workshops, conferences, public advocacy, and the media.” (Los Angeles Eco-Village, quoted in Christian, 2007, p. 30)

EarthArt Village in Moffat, Colorado, was co-founded by the partners Linda Joseph and Kailash, acquiring land in 1998 in the San Luis Valley. EarthArt is described on its website as “Dedicated to promoting sustainable community in all its aspects – environmental, social and spiritual.” 

Linda Joseph (1952-2021) early on had become engaged in the ecovillage movement as what Albert Bates called, in his contribution to the Communities magazine eulogy article for Linda, a “global cultural change strategy.” Working with the Manitou Foundation, Linda facilitated the compilation of the first digital list of ecovillages around the world in 1991, a project commissioned by the Gaia Trust. The Manitou Foundation managed land trust grants to spiritual organizations, including Native American, Buddhist, and Catholic, in the huge Baca Grande land grant in the San Luis Valley of south-central Colorado and nearby Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Linda attended the 1993 Gaia Trust meeting in Denmark, and convened many subsequent GEN meetings around the world. By 1994 Linda served as the Executive Director of the Manitou Foundation, acquiring land in the area for EarthArt ecovillage in 1998. (Christian, 2021, pp. 65-66)

The Ecovillage Network of the Americas (ENA) was formed at a meeting at The Farm in 1996, with Linda Joseph becoming its secretary-treasurer. The first hemisphere-wide ENA meeting took place at the Sasardi rainforest protection project in Columbia, South America in 2000. By the 2009 ENA meeting at EarthArt Village, Linda was a member of the GEN Board. In 2012 Linda supported May East in creating of the Council of Sustainable Settlements of Latin America (CASSA), leading to the creation of the Global Ecovillage Network–North America (GENNA), and then GEN-US. Diana Leafe Christian recommended GEN-US as a preferred host for Communities magazine when the FIC wanted to pass it along, and in 2019 Linda facilitated much of the financial and legal structure to make it happen. (Christian, 2021, pp. 64, 67)

The material-spiritual concept of making our lifestyle consistent with our greatest values and highest ideals includes the intention of living, as Robert and Diane Gilman wrote in Ecovillages and Sustainable Communities, in ways that integrate “human activities harmlessly into the natural environment.” The Gilman’s state very insightfully that, “There is hardly anything more appealing, yet apparently more elusive, than the prospect of living in harmony with nature and with each other.” (Gilman & Gilman, 1991)

Utopian Studies

Another form of ecovillage education, or one could say of education for intentioneering, is utopian studies. There are continental academic intentional community studies organizations in at least North America, Europe, and Isreal, which welcome participation by representatives of contemporary communities of all kinds, not just communal societies, as well as academicians studying them and/or the historic intentional communities. The oldest of these is the Communal Societies Association (CSA) located in the U.S.A., founded in 1975 with the name, National Historic Communal Societies Association (NHCSA). (Ovid & Bang, p. 11)

Global intentional communities networking began in the Israeli kibbutz movement, the largest national network of intentional communities in the world. There are several kibbutz federations, and in one of them, Kibbutz Ha’Artzi, Mordechai Bentov, cofounder of Kibbutz Mishmar Haemek, founded the International Communes Desk (ICD) for responding to inquires from around the world for information about the kibbutzim. In 1981 ICD sponsored a global communities movement conference in Israel, called the first international conference of communities, although there had been a series of European international conferences prior to that, involving mostly contemporary communitarians with few academicians, presented in the paper An International Network of Communities by the present author. (Butcher, 1989)

The proceedings of the 1981 ICD conference were published in a book titled, The Alternative Way of Life: The First International Conference on Communal Living, edited by Yehudit Agasi and Yoel Darom. Fifty community delegates from outside of Israel attended this conference from Europe, North America, Australia, and New Zealand, along with thirty delegates from the kibbutzim. For many years ICD published a journal called Communes At Large Letter (C.A.L.L.), now mostly distributing information online. (Butcher, 1989, p. 1; Yagasi & Darom, pp. A, B)

Various intentional communities in the United Kingdom had been meeting from the mid-1970s through an organization called Communes Network, and in 1979 Laurieston Hall in Scotland organized the first International Communes Festival (ICF), founding the International Communes Network (ICN). ICN met for six festivals through 1985, over-lapping with the beginning of the kibbutz conferences. The second ICF met at Mejlgard Castle, Denmark in 1981; the third at Hasselt, Belgium in 1982; the fourth back at Laurieston in 1983; the fifth at De Refter, Holland in 1984; and the sixth and last at Le Puy, France in 1985. As festivals, the community activists attending ICN events were very unlike the academicians comprising much of the kibbutz-inspired conferences, and were unable to establish any ongoing community movement support initiatives, and so the ICN went dormant. (Butcher, 1989, pp. 1, 11-2)

At the 1978 NHCSA conference in Omaha, Nebraska, Yaacov Oved, cofounder of Kibbutz Palmachim, attended and talked with Donald Pitzer of the University of Southern Indiana in Evansville, IN about founding a global academic communal studies organization. This meeting resulted in the International Communal Studies Association (ICSA) being organized and sponsoring their first global conference in 1985, with the proceedings published in the book Communal Life: An International Perspective, edited by Yosef Gorni, Yaacov Oved, and Idit Paz. (Gorni, Oved, & Paz, 1987; Oved & Bang, pp. 4, 6)

The ICSA began a triennial conference schedule, with the second ICSA conference held at Robert Owen’s historic community site at New Lanark, and at Edinburgh, Scotland in 1988, where the idea of a European communal studies association took shape, creating the UK-based Utopian Studies Society-Europe. (Oved & Bang, pp. 9, 65)

The 1991 triennial ICSA conference took place at Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania with a focus upon the Amish and Mennonite communities in that region, and other Anabaptist history. The 1993 ICSA conference was hosted at Robert Owen’s New Harmony historic community site in Indiana. Other ICSA events were held at: the Yad Tabenkin Institute in Efal, Israel in 1995; Amsterdam, The Netherlands in 1998; ZEGG in Germany in 2001; Amana Colonies, Iowa in 2004; Damanhur, Italy in 2007; Emek Yezreel College, Israel in 2010; Findhorn, Scotland in 2013;  Tamera, Portugal in 2016; and at the Camphill communities near Hudson, NY in 2019. At the Camphill ICSA event the two large therapeutic community networks, Camphill and La’Arch, enjoyed the most extensive connections they have had. The La’Arch community network founder, Jean Vanier, passed away only a few months before the ICSA conference. The 2022 ICSA event is planned for Denmark. (Oved & Bang, pp. 18, 65-6)

Many communitarian activists or intentioneers involved in the various intentional community movement organizations attend ICSA events, which serve as convenient opportunities for community activists and utopian-studies academicians to connect. While the Global Ecovillage Network has developed teaching materials for classes about intentional community, so also have various academicians developed their own syllabi for teaching utopian studies. At some point, one may think, the two would likely benefit from collaborations focused upon developing teaching materials about community to be shared and widely used, both in academic and community settings. How this may come about is an intriguing challenge in which the School of Intentioneering is playing a part with the production of this paper Riding-Out the Storm in the Ecovillage, and other resources on the history and organization of intentional community.

First Fellowship – Fellowship of Intentional Communities

The idea of an association of intentional communities in the past only resulted in the creation of separate affinity networks of similar types of communities, until the  mid-20th century when some of those groups began to come together in regional and continental associations.

In Builders of the Dawn published in 1986 the authors present at the end of their book a list of community networks active at the time. Although it does not include any of the Christian community networks (e.g., Hutterite, Bruderhof, Shalom Communities) or any therapeutic community networks (e.g., Camphill or La’Arch), it does include community networks in several different countries and regions: Australia, Japan, Israel, Europe, the United Kingdom, and the U.S.A. Also omitted from the list is the Fellowship for Intentional Community in the U.S.A., because at the time it was only beginning to awaken from about a 25-year hibernation. (McLaughlin & Davidson, p. 362)  

The Fellowship for Intentional Community (FIC) was created in 1948-49 from at least three different converging movements. First was the pioneering efforts to create the first community land trusts in the 1930s, although they were not called that at the time, some of them receiving support from the U.S. Government’s New Deal social programs. The second community group was the Quakers with their centuries-long history of communitarian activity. The third group was people reacting to the horrors of the Second World War. Arthur Morgan had visited many of the Civilian Public Service conscientious objector camps to find men who may be interested in right-living in small communities, after their release at the end of the war. Many did, bringing their families to join Morgan in Yellow Springs, Ohio, and the Morgan-inspired Celo Community at Black Mountain, North Carolina, founded in 1939 and considered to be the first successful community land trust. The Vale community was founded in 1940 by the Morgans in Yellow Springs. (Miller, pp. 156-8)

Alfred Andersen was one of those refusing the draft during WWII as a conscientious objector, serving eight months in prison. In his 1985 book, Liberating the Early American Dream, Al Andersen explains that he joined Arthur Morgan at Yellow Springs in 1945, staying five years to help with Morgan’s Community Service Inc.’s (CSI) annual summer Small Communities Conferences. Andersen writes that he “suggested sponsoring an Experimental Communities Conference immediately following the other.” This became the first Fellowship of Intentional Communities (FIC). (Andersen, pp. 23-4)

Arthur Morgan (1878-1975) never attended college, yet he founded a civil engineering firm that was contracted to build seven dams to control flooding of the Miami River around Dayton, Ohio. In 1921 he became president of Antioch College in Yellow Springs, and in the early 1930s he suggested flood control projects similar to those in Dayton for the Tennessee River, becoming the first director of the Tennessee Valley Authority. This work plus his book-writing projects kept Arthur busy, so it was one of his sons, Griscom Morgan, who worked with Al Andersen to organize the events which became the first FIC. (Andersen, p. 24; Miller, p. 163)

Griscom Morgan (1912-1993) writes in the section “Some Basic Concepts for Intentional Communities” in Community Service’s 1988 publication, Guidebook for Intentional Communities, building upon CSI’s earlier, An Intentional Community Handbook, that it was at the 1949 Community Service Conference that the term “intentional community” was adopted.  Sixty people from the U.S., India, and elsewhere attended, accepting the word “intentional” for the new organization due to its connotations of intent, purpose, and commitment. The name “Fellowship of Intentional Communities” (FIC) was adopted as it was found that encouraging and supporting friendly relationships among people in different communities was the primary value of regular meetings. Subsequent FIC events took place at the Highlander Folkschool in Tennessee, the Quaker Center at Pendle Hill in Pennsylvania, and at Glen Hellen, Antioch College’s Outdoor Education Center. (Fogarty, 1972, pp. 151-3; Miller, p. 164; Morgan, Griscom, p. 9)

Griscom Morgan writes further that the 1949 conference decided on a definition of “intentional community” to be a minimum of two families and one single male, or five adults, living “close enough together geographically to be in continuous active fellowship.” (Morgan, Griscom, p. 10)

While it was found that the main value of the First Fellowship was socializing among people from different intentional communities, that motive-to-meet wore thin by the mid-1960s, especially as one of the larger communities attracted members to join them from the smaller communities. And so that first iteration of cross-movement community networking went mostly dormant, with only a small revolving loan fund for communities funded by two Quakers and named after the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) staff member Homer Morris, later changing its name to the Community Education Service Council Inc. (CESCI), eventuallly folding into the FIC. (Morgan, Griscom, p. 9)

Second Fellowship – Fellowship for Intentional Community

In the mid-1980s interest in community networking arose again as those new groups that had arisen out the 1960s and ‘70s became stable enough to begin reaching outside of their own affinity networks to engage with other types of intentional communities. The primary organizing resource used for this was Communities magazine, published by a consortium of three pre-existing journals that united through a series of meetings at the Twin Oaks Community Conferences held most years since the early 1970s.

The Fellowship or FIC was rejuvenated by a small group of networkers, incorporating at Stelle Community near Chicago, Illinois in 1986. The five people present at that inaugural meeting were: Charles Betterton of Stelle, the present author Allen Butcher of Twin Oaks, Dan Questenberry of Shannon Farm, Laird Schaub of Sandhill, and Don Pitzer of the University of Southern Indiana. Descriptions of the community networks that came together to form the FIC are presented in the paper by the present author titled: Inclusive Association of Intentional Communities: Community Network Histories Related to the Fellowship: 1940s-1990s. The Second Fellowship organized events at many different intentional communities over the decades, including the “Art of Community” trainings. (Butcher, 1999)

Of the five co-founders of the renewed FIC or Fellowship, Allen and Laird were active in the Federation of Egalitarian Communities (FEC), and it had been Allen’s interest in cross-movement community networking since the FEC or Federation was created as an affinity network a decade earlier, founded at East Wind Community in autumn 1976. As it turned out, the strength of the FEC as a communal movement eventually became the single most important source of support for the FIC and Communities magazine for about three decades until the changes of the late twenty-teens. The Fellowship probably would have re-awoken without the involvement of the Federation, yet it may have soon gone dormant again without such a strong sponsor.

Communities magazine, as unique and important as it is for the intentional communities movement, never supported itself, always relying upon labor and financial subsidies from both intentioneers and sponsoring community organizations. For a decade or so Twin Oaks Community provided much of the resources needed to keep the journal in print, then it was Charles Betterton and the FIC for a few years, until the Federation became active in the Fellowship and became its primary supporter. Yet no matter how professional a look the magazine adopted, including full-color, and no matter how compelling its content, the magazine rarely paid for itself, although publishing for sale the Communities Directories usually did bring a positive cash flow. Communities magazine was in need of a new sponsor, and whatever misgivings any of the Ecovillage Network of the Americas (ENA) activists may have had about the difficulty with funding a magazine, ENA needed some kind of periodical for its outreach, and everyone must have been excited about the new beginning!

The Foundation for Intentional Community

In her Communities article “Leading Edges of Collaboration: GENNA Alliance” Cynthia Tina presents in the fall 2018 issue the process that resulted in both ENA becoming the Communities  publisher, and the FIC’s evolution to a new structure and management. The transition of the FIC from the older to the newer generation of activists had occurred earlier with the change of the executive directorship from Laird Schaub (Sandhill) to Sky Blue (Twin Oaks), so the transition this time was from single-person leadership to a collective board or council-leadership format.

Cynthia explains that the FIC transition involved six “key networking organizations” collectively called the “GENNA Alliance.” Cynthia’s list is, with paraphrased descriptions:

●  Fellowship for Intentional Community—Supporting the communities movement and cooperative culture through Communities magazine, Communities Directory, online resources, event co-sponsorship, and more;

●  VillageLab—Consulting group for the “new paradigm” organizational design of businesses and intentional communities;

●  NuMundo—Facilitating connections between individuals and “impact centers” like intentional communities, permaculture farms, social projects, and retreat centers;

●  NextGENNA—Propelling young adults to energize intentional communities through events, education, and leadership opportunities;

●  GEN-US—A meeting place and incubator for leaders in the ecovillage movement from the U.S.A.; and

●  GEN-Canada—A re-emerging network.

Spring of 2014 at Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage in Missouri representatives of most of the above organizations met to form a consortium to engage more resources more effectively in the work that the Fellowship was doing, which was helpful to and consistent with what all the organizations were generally doing to various degrees. That meeting failed to produce an agreement-for-collaboration. Cynthia writes, “In the years that followed the Dancing Rabbit meeting, various configurations of FIC, GEN, and similar organizations met in attempts to bring greater cohesion and solidarity to the regenerative communities movement in North America. … None of us wanted to build yet another organization, but rather harness what each organization already brings to the table …” (Tina, p. 14)

May, 2018 at La Cité Écologique in New Hampshire, after five years of “exploration, trial, healing, and deep community building,” a five-page document was signed by representatives of the GENNA Alliance partners, marking a new era in the North American intentional communities movement! This was now the third incarnation of a North American association of intentional communities using the acronym “FIC.” (Tina, p. 14)

Cynthia explains that over twenty people “run and steward” GENNA Alliance as an independent “collaborative platform.”

“We envision a world of interdependent cooperative communities stewarding the conditions of regeneration, justice, peace, and abundance, in order to realize the full potential of flourishing for all life, for all generations to come.—GENNA Alliance” 

In 2016, three decades after the re-founding of the Fellowship, organizers and activists from various intentional community groups and movements comprising the Global Ecovillage Network–North America (GENNA), founded just over two decades earlier, infused the Fellowship with new energy and enthusiasm. The Fellowship for Intentional Community’s executive director at the time, Sky Blue of Twin Oaks, wrote in Communities that for twenty years the Fellowship and ENA had collaborated on various projects, and it was felt by many that merging energy and resources was in everyone’s best interest. Sky wrote in a publisher’s note in a 2016 issue of Communities, “It was amazing to experience an affinity born from a radical experience of community between people from such a diversity of cultures.” (Blue, p. 7)

By 2019 the FIC and ENA had long had inter-locking directorates and an overlap of common membership, which facilitated the discussions about how to reorganize their respective activities to be more efficient and effective. One significant change was the FIC name. From the original “Fellowship of Intentional Communities” adopted in 1949, the name was changed to the “Fellowship for Intentional Community” in 1986, then to “Foundation for Intentional Community” in 2019, seventy years after the founding of the organization. Cynthia Tina explains in an “FIC News” article in the summer 2019 Communities issue titled, “Introducing the New FIC,” the new name,

“We loved the kindred-spirit sentiment of “Fellowship,” but we didn’t care for the old-school masculine connotations. The title “Foundation” speaks to our commitment and professionalism.” (Tina, p. 4)

This evolution is tracked by observing the change of Communities publishers through 2019:

● Fellowship for Intentional Community–Communities no. 182, spring 2019

● Foundation for Intentional Community–Communities no. 183, summer 2019

● Foundation for Intentional Community–Communities no. 184, fall 2019

● Global Ecovillage Network–United States–Communities no. 185, winter 2019

Ecovillage Network of the Americas (ENA) = Global Ecovillage Network-North America (GENNA) comprised of three regions: GEN-US, GEN-Canada, and Mexico or Mesoamérica (Joseph, p. 1)

The FIC-ENA collaboration and reorganization is explained in brief in the winter 2019 issue of Communities by Chris Roth, in his “Notes from the Editor” article titled, “Passing the Communities Torch to a New Publisher.”

“Those of us committed to relaunching the magazine spent weeks in each successive phase of the process that eventually led us to a formal transfer to GEN-US. … When the GEN-US Council and the FIC board of directors finally entered formal negotiations to transfer the magazine, and then reached an agreement, it was the culmination of several months of focused effort to find Communities a new home … one in which it would be a natural fit.” (Roth, 2019, p. 10)

The agreement was that GEN-US would take on the magazine and the book sales, leaving the FIC to pursue other adventures.

And quite the adventure 2020 became with the coincident global spread of the Covid-19 pandemic! While the self-isolation and economic shut-down keeping people at home caused increasing use of online Zoom meetings for connecting intentioneers and people new to the intentional-community movement, and presumably also increased readership for the magazine, it did not result in a sufficient increase in revenue to make Communities funding much better than it had been for long. Chris Roth wrote in his fall 2020 “Notes from the Editor” article that,

“Our former publisher’s efforts to scale up through rebranding and through hoped-for projects including a new print Directory and eventually a multi-faceted online platform for community-seeking-and-matching ran into the brick wall of lack of finances. … Sometimes it’s appropriate to scale down. That’s what both FIC and the magazine (now with GEN-US) have chosen.” (Roth, 2020, p. 5)

The last Communities Directory was printed in 2016, and printing a new one would be a wonderful boost to the image and esteem of the reorganized FIC, yet that project must wait.

While the FIC has produced its own series of Zoom events for people active or interested in community, as of spring 2021 more than 11,000 people in more than 160 countries are reported as having participated in the online presentations, discussions, and tours of ecovillages presented by the Global Ecovillage Network during the first year or so of the Covid-19 pandemic, through its online series, “GEN Ecovillage Summit: Living Solutions for a Regenerative World.”

“It is a remarkable fact that the builders of ecovillages often have more in common with each other than with their respective local cultures, no matter where they come from. A common, global vision is emerging that has the power to change the world.” (Quoted in 2000 from http://www.gaia.org/about/history.asp in E. C. Mare’s A Concise History of the Global Ecovillage Movement)

Sustainability Statistics

As there is no specific requirement for calling a community an “ecovillage,” other than the intent and practice of enjoying ecological living, many intentional communities began to adopt the ecovillage identity for expressing their environmental concerns. Diana Leafe Christian writes in her book Finding Community that the Global Ecovillage Network “doesn’t even try to establish criteria or regulate which projects can and cannot call themselves an ecovillage, but rather encourages ecological and social sustainability in communities wherever possible.” To help communities develop their ecological focus, GEN distributes a procedure for ecovillage self-audits called the “Community Sustainability Assessment,” designed for an intentional community or a traditional village to determine how ecologically sustainable are its design and practices. (Christian, 2007, p. 35; Mare, p. 7)

A few communities/ecovillages have done studies of how energy and resource efficient are their design and practices. It is unknown to the present author whether GEN collects information from groups using their Community Sustainability Assessment, yet collecting and reporting some of those results may be of interest. In the mean time, there is the following from different sources.

 Twin Oaks Ecovillage, VAEcovillage at Ithaca, NYDancing Rabbit Ecovillage, MO
 2007 Data-87 Adults2004-165 Adults2015 Data-65 Adults
Gasoline 
Average per-person use in USA or state500 gallons/year 466 gallons/year
Community Use15,267 gallons/year Part petroleum, Part biodiesel
Per-Person Use175 gallons/person 28 gallons/year
Percent Difference35% of ave. Am. 6% of ave. American
 
Electricity 
Average per-person use in USA or state11,000 kWh per-person per-year 4,168 kWh/person/year
Community Use268,065 kWh Includes solar panels
Per-Person Use3,083 kWh/person 744 kWh/person/year
Percent Difference27% of ave. Am.39% of ave. Am. use18% of ave. American
 
Natural Gas1 therm = 100,000 BTUs
Average per-person use in USA or state767 therms in VA 417 therms in MO
Community Use16,221 therms  
Per-Person Use186 therms/person 22 therms/person
Percent Difference24% of ave. Am.41% of ave. Am. use5% of ave. American
 
Water 22% of ave. Am. use 
    
Solid Waste   
Average per-person use in USA or state  34% is recycled by the average American
Per-Person Use and Percent Difference  DRE produces 18% of the average American’s waste, and 73% of that is recycled

Twin Oaks Community (TO) was founded in 1967 in Virginia, U.S.A and has been building its ecological, sustainable, or regenerative systems ever since, yet has done little to document its successes. Only one such study is known to the present author, created by Bucket Harmony for presentation at the 2008 student housing cooperative conference called the NASCO Institute, using 2007 data when the community population was 87 adults and around 17 children.

Energy SourceAverage Use Per-Person in USATO Consumption in 2007TO Per-Person Use for 87 AdultsPercent Difference
Gasoline500 gallons/year115,267 gallons175 gallons/person65% less used!
Electricity11,000 kWh/year2268,065 kWh3,083 kWh/person73% less used!
Natural Gas767 therms in VA316,221 therms4186 therms/person76% less used!

1 – http://www.eia.doe.gov/kids/energyfacts/saving/efficiency/savingenergy.html

2 – http://www1.eere.energy.gov/consumer/tips/appliances.html

3 – http://tonto.eia.doe.gov/dnav/ng/ng_cons_num_dcu_SVA_a.html

4 – 1 therm = 100,000 BTUs

The EcoVillage at Ithaca (EVI) community project started in 1991, growing out of the experience of several people involved in a coast-to-coast walk across the U.S.A. called “The Global Walk for a Livable World.” The 2010 Communities Directory lists 165 members at EVI. (Dawson, p. 30)

Today Ecovillage at Ithaca is comprised of three separate cohousing neighborhoods on 176 acres in New York State near Cornell University. EVI has a car-sharing service and a local currency. Some of the homes have composting toilets. The homes utilize passive solar heat, and every six-to-eight homes are connected to a shared utility room with two natural-gas boilers that supply space heating and domestic-use hot water. (Christian, 2005, p. 46)

Diana Leafe Christian reported in her 2005 Communities article, “When Ecovillagers Use the Cohousing Model,” that “EVI residents consume just 39 percent of the electric power, 41 percent of the natural gas, and 22 percent of the water use of the average household in the northeastern United States.” (Christian, 2005, p. 46)

Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage (DRE) has by far the best analysis of their energy usage, thanks to a study done by Dr. Joshua Lockyer, Dept. of Behavioral Sciences, at Arkansas Tech University, Russellville, AR. Three summers, from 2013 to 2015, research was conducted by graduate students and DRE residents into a number of different energy and resource processes at the community. At that time Dancing Rabbit was 65 people on 280 acres of “recovering industrial farm land.” Dancing Rabbit is a community land trust leasing plots to members for residences and businesses. (Lockyer, pp. 523, 528, 538)

The Rabbits have a local currency called Exchange Local Money or ELM System. Members use open source designs and lending services for tools, both within the community and among a local network of communities.  (Lockyer, pp. 522, 525)

DRE members have a care-sharing service called Dancing Rabbit Vehicle Co-op (DRVC), sharing four vehicles among 67 users, or 0.06 cars per capita, or 92% less than the average American rate of 0.8 cars per capita. Car usage for 2013 and 2014 local trips, omitting long-distance vacation-driving, was 899 miles, or less than 10% of the average American driving total of 9,455 miles per year (Transportation Energy Data Book). The Rabbits used biodiesel for many years yet it has been difficult to obtain, the production of it is not very energy efficient, and it gels in cold weather, making it only usable part of the year. Gasoline use is 28 gallons per person per year, 18% being petroleum and 10% biodiesel, compared to the average American’s use of 466 gallons/person/year, which computes to DRE using 6% of the average American’s total fuel use, and 4% of specifically petroleum fuel use. (Lockyer, pp. 529-31)

The Rabbits recycle 73% of their municipal solid waste, compared to 34% for the average American, and only produce on average 18% of the solid waste of the average American (US Environmental Protection Agency, 2015). (Lockyer, pp. 528)

Propane is the only form of natural gas used at DRE, consumed at the rate of 22 therms per person per year, or 5% of the average American’s use of 417 therms of natural gas (United States Energy Information Administration 2006). (Lockyer, p. 532)

Electricity is produced at DRE by their 25 kilowatt solar panel array, connected to the local utility grid for backup and for selling excess power generation. Average consumption is 744 kWh per year, which is 18% of the average American’s use of 4,168 kWh per year. (U.S. Energy Information Admin. 2013). This figure includes business as well as domestic use, while some Rabbits have no electricity in their living space, so the numbers are not perfectly comparable. (Lockyer, pp. 532-3)

Water usage at DRE is sourced from both rain catchment (i.e., self-supply) and from a public supply. Per person water use from the public supply at DRE is 7 gallons per day, while the self-supply is not metered and therefore estimated at 13 gallons per person per day, for a total of 20 gallons/person/day of water use. This is 23% of the average American’s use of 88 gallons of water, and 9% of the average American’s use of the public water supply (U.S.Geological Survey estimate). The Rabbits’ water use is 35% public supply and 65% rain catchment, compared to the average American’s 87% public supply and 13% self-supply water. A complicating factor for DRE water use is that the reported figure is for all uses including agriculture, while agriculture is not included in the average-American statistics. (Lockyer, p. 535)

Joshua Lockyer’s resource-use study concludes with a quality-of-life component, utilizing a 2015 study of members of almost 200 intentional communities, including Dancing Rabbit, by researchers from SUNY Binghamton and the Norwegian Institute of Public Health. That study concluded that “intentional community members lead lives that are highly meaningful and satisfying relative to a variety of other segments of the public and that their lives improved after they joined their respective intentional communities.” (Lockyer, pp. 536)

Joshua Lockyer states that Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage is,

“an example of positive social transformation for justice and sustainability. … [O]ngoing engagement with advocates and practitioners of degrowth, commons, and intentional communities … opens up spaces to analyze processes of cultural change and transition that are of fundamental interest to social and behavioral scientists and of direct import to policy makers concerned with the sustainable use and conservation of natural resources.” (Lockyer, p. 538)

Ecovillages in the FIC Communities Directories

An analysis of the growth of the number of ecovillage-like communities through four of the seven Fellowship for Intentional Communities (FIC) directories from 1990 to 2016, requires use of the keyword listings in them, since many groups do not use “ecovillage” in the name of their community. The 2016 directory has a different format from that used for the earlier directory versions. Use of keywords was discontinued while a new data category was added called “Type” using the code “Eco” for reporting a more accurate number of ecovillages.

●  1990/’91 directory: 8% of listings are ecovillage-like.

●  2000 directory: an estimated 20% are ecovillage-like.

●  2010 directory: an estimated 25% are ecovillage-like [Note: In this Directory (pp. 12-13) Laird Schaub reports that 32% of the 2010 listings are ecovillages, possibly due to using a different set of keywords than the present author. 34%, Laird states, claimed the cohousing identity. Laird estimates 100,000 people living in intentional community in the U.S.]

●  2016 directory: 33% of the listings state they are ecovillages.

These FIC directory totals of ecovillages are not the whole picture, as not all intentional communities are listed. Many intentional communities do not want to appear in directories, and many others may not even know about the FIC. These directories are, however, the best listing of intentional communities available, although there are organizations with directories in various countries around the world, like the Eurotopia directories mentioned earlier in the “Ecological Spirituality and Biosphere Consciousness” section. The percentages of ecovillage-like groups presented for the four community directories, 1990, 2000, 2010, and 2016, may be relatively representative of the proportion of ecovillages to all forms of intentional community in their historical period.

The 1990/91 Directory of Intentional Communities includes an index with several terms related to ecovillages, although only two communities in the listings actually use a term related to “ecovillage,” which are Ecological Village in New Mexico and La Cité Écologique in Quebec, Canada. The index lists the following numbers of groups: 5 appropriate technology; 3 ecology; 7 EcoVillages; 12 permaculture; and 3 stewardship. This totals 30 communities, divided by 375 total listings equals 8% of the listings being eco-oriented. (FIC/CPC, 1990, pp. 3, 299-309)

The 2000 edition of the Communities Directory lists in its Keyword Index a number of terms used by communities in either their descriptions or survey questions related to ecovillages: 13 alternative/appropriate technology centers; 18 ecology; 71 ecovillage category; 37 ecovillages; 21 environment; 9 nature sanctuary; 39 permaculture; 24 stewardship; 25 sustainability; 10 sustainable agriculture; and 12 sustainable living. This totals 279 communities, although some use more than one of these key words. With about 600 communities in North America and 100 in other countries, totaling 700, that computes to 40% of the listings in some way related to ecovillages, although some groups are listed in more than one category, so a more accurate number may be half or 20%. (FIC, 2000, pp. 435-48)

The 2010 edition of the Communities Directory listed in its Keyword Index the following count of communities using ecovillage-related terms: 32 earth-centered; 112 ecological; 114 ecovillages; 47 environmentalism; 14 nature preserve; 54 permaculture; 243 sustainability; and 24 technology alternative/appropriate. This totals 640 groups, with some groups using two or more of the keywords. 1,055 North American groups plus 250 outside North America equals 1,305 total listings, divided into 640 groups equals about 50% ecovillage-like groups, although there are many communities listed with more than one of these keywords, so a more accurate number may be half or 25%. In his summary Laird Schaub stated that 32% of the 1,055 communities listed in North America identified themselves as ecovillages, which is about the same as the percentage which identified themselves as cohousing communities (34%), with a few using both descriptions. The difference between Laird’s and Allen’s figures may be due to each using a different set of keywords in their analysis. (FIC, 2010, pp. 12, 477-8)

The 2016 edition of the Communities Directory includes more than 1,200 total U.S.A. listings of both established and forming groups, and 250 outside the U.S. This edition of the Directory does not include a keyword index, instead it offers a “Type” of community category, using “Eco” for ecovillages in its cross-reference charts. 123 of the established communities in the U.S.A. claim the “Eco” identity. Adding the 250 community listings from outside of the U.S.A. to the U.S.A. total of 1,200, equals 1,450 total directory listings. Of that total, 473 communities, both established and forming, or 33%, claim the “Eco” identity.

***

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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.

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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

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 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

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 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.

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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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