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+4 votes
I'm a recent convert to anarchism, thanks to Howard Zinn.  Took me until 39 years of age to finally discover there are already a lot of folks who feel like I've felt ever since I graduated from too many years of formal miseducation and entered the workforce.  Which is: that I'm viewed and treated as a commodity, no more and no less, and that the entire political & economic system that dominates us is totally unnatural, insanely unhealthy, and completely fucked up.

But, what to do about it?  I'm not optimistic about the chances of changing or defeating the system. I see far more potential success in a movement that informs and empowers people to drop out of the system by going off the grid and living together in anarchist communities.  With a few dozen such communities serving as examples to those still chained to their jobs and mortgages, people will wake up and realize there's another, better way.

I know I can't be the first person to have these thoughts, but I'm not aware of any such communes/collectives.  Communities where anarchism is not just an idea or an insurrection, but rather, something that is actually lived.

Building such communities seems to offer far more hope than banners or bombs ever could. But it would take hard work. We'd need to learn skills and trades to support our community: agriculture, medicine, Eco-friendly construction, hydrology, etc., etc., so that we could be a self-sufficient community that doesn't need or depend on the system.

I guess what I envision is something like the Amish communities, but without any of the religious bullshit.  Communities that are an example to the world that we don't need Washington, Wall Street, or wages to live happy, truly productive lives.

If there are already any such communities, would you kindly point me to them?
sorry i hit the flag button trying to hit the comment
the anarchist community thing can be awesome but i find it better to just use my anarchist ideals as tools to guide my daily behavior and survive

1 Answer

+3 votes
I'm cynical about the broader efficacy of dropping out as an example to others. While I agree that we aren't going to be storming the castle and destroying teh systemz anytime soon (if ever), I also don't know that the living as an example has much of a track record of changing anything either. Not that there aen't inspiring examples of living in accordance with one's anarchist beliefs out there, there are (more on that in a sec), but in all the years I spent doing things because I was trying to set an example for others, I always came away feeling defeated. I still do a lot of the same things I did then, but I do them now not to be an example for others, but because it is how I want things to be, and I feel better about myself if I do them that way. I don't know if the difference is clear in how I've written it, but it is something that I feel. I  expect others who engage this site have also experienced this. But you didn't want to know about my squishy feelings, you wanted to know about anarchist communities!

There are lots of anarchists who are living in somewhat intentional communities, or at least organizing their lives in ways that allow them to more completely live their beliefs. There are also many anarchists who have to a greater or lesser extent dropped out and are living off grid, squatting, or whatever.

I am not going to list the ones I know about on the internet for what I hope are obvious reasons, but a couple things to check out would be looking up stuff about the Turitopsis Nutricula squat in Seattle which happened during Occupy, Crimethinc's Rolling Thunder has also had a couple of articles over the years that might be of interest (an early issue had something about folks in Europe who built a community center out of shipping containers, another talked about squatting in the rust belt. The anarcho punk band Crass lived on a communal farm called Dial House that still exists and there is also lots of stuff out there about that as well. For a more historical take on intentional anarchist communities perhaps Paul Avrich's book "Anarchist Voices" or researching the early years of the Home community in Washington would be inspiring, a more recent thing that might be worth looking at is the squat movement on the Lower Eastside of New York in the 80's and very early 90's.

If this is the direction you are interested in going, I think the best thing to do is meet people and try to find folks with whom you share enough common ground to delve into such a project. If you are going full on off the grid commune style that is going to be a pretty total immersion experience, and it might be easiest to find people more slowly through communal living situations where you can play with how to deal with conflicts, responsibilities and so forth. I can personally say that, though I don't currently live in a situation of this sort, the many years where I did live with a bunch of other people have been the times when I have grown the most and learned the most about myself.
by (22.1k points)
Ingrate, you mentioned on my question that TZM sounded like a cult, those anarchist communes you have mentioned as "anarchist" examples obviously have a far greater resemblance to the cults you listed than TZM, which is in essence a train of thought, not a futile attempt to isolate oneself from the rest of humanity...