Daniel eyed me curiously across the laundry room. He had just installed a new washer and I was helping him remove the fine layer of dust particles that lined every surface of the room.
To lighten the load, we had been interrogating each other for at least an hour about such hifalutin notions as: What was the proper role of the state? What is and is not voluntary? What about market failure?
He labeled me an anarcho-syndicalist. I wasn’t sure what he meant. He explained that anyone who believed in a free society and thought that it could be attained through small, individually governed communities was an anarcho-syndicalist.
He left out one important part that’s sort of a deal breaker. Communities in an anarcho-syndicalist world are communist. Profit is theft.
I wonder now how I survived my visit to Twin Oaks without being shot.
TWIN OAKS COMMUNITY is a member of the Federation for Intentional Communities. Founded in 1967 as a behaviorist community based loosely upon B. F. Skinner’s Walden Two, Twin Oaks currently exists as an egalitarian community of “cooperation, sharing, nonviolence, equality, and ecology.”
Long gone are many of Skinner’s ideas. They were tried and found wanting, though some of their aftereffects remain. The term “meta” still replaces “mother” in many old children’s books, reminding the community of their failed attempt at communal childrearing.
The community has also given birth to new ideas, and watched them go down in flames. Their attempt to equalize sex by giving labor credits to women who would appease the needs of their peers surprisingly did not lead to community-wide prostitution. There were no takers.
As one communard put it, how would you feel if you needed community support to get lucky? I would add: on a commune.
THE EVOLUTION OF rules and regulations continue. Throughout my five weeks spent on site at Twin Oaks Intentional Community I would see many interesting things on the O & I (Opinions and Ideas) board. Forty-one years of communal living apparently leads to many opinions and ideas that need to be openly discussed.
Should members detract from overpopulation by having fewer children? Should we eat more or less meat? Should we take fewer trips to town? Should we raise geese? Should rough sex be banned, and how about branding? Throw 100 people together on a rural farm in Virginia and they are bound to disagree on all of these issues — publicly.
Somehow, Twin Oaks has managed to outlive the wave of communal love, much of which didn’t survive the '70s. Perhaps this is because it breaks many stereotypes of community living.
The word commune comes with various mental images: free love, dreadlocks, playing guitar, dancing naked by the May Pole, lazing the days away in a whirlwind of hippiedom and freedom.
Twin Oaks is a bit different than that. There is a small subset of vocal free love advocates, but the more common relationship type is monogamy. A few people have dreadlocks, but not many. Only two people wore their birthday suits to the May Day celebration.
And freewheeling hippiedom and freedom? Forget about it. There are labor assignors, room assignors, planners, and area managers. Everything is managed and regulated.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?