Communal Utopias and the American Experience: Secular Communities, 1824-2000

Communal Utopias and the American Experience: Secular Communities, 1824-2000

Communal Utopias and the American Experience: Secular Communities, 1824-2000

Communal Utopias and the American Experience: Secular Communities, 1824-2000

Synopsis

Covers community building from New Harmony (1824) to today's secular intentional communities.

Excerpt

Communal Utopias and the American Experience: Secular Communities, 1824— 2000 continues the same format as the previous volume on the religious communities (Communal Utopias and the American Experience: Religious Communities, 1732–2000). Like its predecessor, this study of the secular communes is chronological. It begins with the first utopian experiment started by Robert Owen in 1824 at the Rappite colony of Harmony, Indiana. This chapter deals with New Harmony and the satellite Owenite colonies created after the collapse of the mother community in 1826. Utopian socialist communities are examined in the next chapter, many of which were influenced by the ideas of communal living seen at New Harmony. The nine communal utopias investigated are seven Fourierist colonies, the Transcendentalist experiment at Brook Farm, and the French venture at Reunion, Texas. The five Icarian colonies, also grounded in utopian socialism, are covered in chapter 3. After the Civil War, American communalism continued in the socialist tradition, but the emphasis of the seven communities treated in chapter 4 was on building cooperative commonwealths. The last two chapters are on twentiethcentury communal utopias. During the Great Depression the federal government, for the first time, became active sponsors of rural resettlement communes and greenbelt towns as alternatives to the seemingly failed laissezfaire capitalism. During the 1930s, anarchists constructed their unique alternative model of communal living at the Sunrise Colony in rural Michigan. Since existing monographs on American utopianism end in the 1930s—for example, Yaacov Oved’s Two Hundred Years of American Communes (New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Books, 1988) and Donald E. Pitzer, ed. America’s Communal Utopias (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1997)— . . .

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