From Communities to Communes?

by Jay Deragon on 08/11/2010

The web is Big but becoming small. The first phase of BIG was creating cn-line communities. People and organizations have been forming “communities” and trying to pull everyone in. Brands are forming communities and there are communities for communities. It is becoming impossible to engage in so many communities.

The real attraction to a community is relevance to conversations that show the “thoughts” of the people and not the thoughts of the “brand or organization”. Relevancy to “thoughts” is a lot different from relevancy to mass messaging and media. Finding relevancy to “thinking” is typically found in smaller groups of people who seek knowledge and wisdom that reflects their beliefs. Common beliefs are what creates relational bonds. Haven’t you noticed that your relevant network is actually becoming smaller regardless of how many “followers and friends” you have?

A Shift to Small Communes?

A commune is an intentional community of people collaborating together virtually, sharing common interests, intellectual property,  resources, work, and social currency. In addition to the communal economies, collaborative decision-making, non-hierarchical structures and ecological existence has become important core principles for many communes. Andrew Jacobs of The New York Times wrote that, contrary to popular misconceptions, “most communes of the 90’s are not free-love refuges for flower children, but well-ordered, financially solvent cooperatives where pragmatic, not psychedelics, rule the day.”

The central characteristics of communes, and the definition of what a commune is, have changed over the years. In the 1960s, almost any counter-cultural, rural, intentional community was called a commune. At the start of the 1970s, communes were regarded by Ron E. Roberts in his book, “The New Communes“, as being a subclass of the larger category of Utopias. Three main characteristics were listed:

  1. egalitarianism – communes specifically rejected hierarchy or graduations of social status as being necessary to social order.
  2. human scale – members of communes saw the scale of society as it was then organized as being too large.
  3. communes were consciously anti-bureaucratic.

Dr. Bill Metcalf, in his book “Shared Visions, Shared Lives” defined communes as having the following core principles:

  • the importance of the group as opposed to the nuclear family unit,
  • a “common purse”, a collective knowledge, group decision-making in general and intellectual affairs.
  • Sharing everyday life and facilities, a commune is an idealized form of “family”, being a new sort of “primary group” (generally with few and not many).
  • Commune members have emotional bonds to the group and not to any sub-group, and the commune is experienced with emotions which go beyond just social collectivity.

Intentional Shifts to Intentional Communes

An intentional commune is a natural migration of human dynamics where the  commune is designed to have a higher degree of “connectivity” than traditional communities on and off-line. The members of an intentional commune typically hold a common social, political, religious, or spiritual vision and are often part of the alternative society. Sound familiar?

You see the “human network” naturally migrates to communes that hold a common social, political, religious, or spiritual vision. One commune to another may interact as “knowledge inventories” are shared between each commune for the benefit of the whole. “Communes” are only separated by degrees of relational affinities which are maximized by the smallness of the commune vs. large communities which become impossible to hold a common social, political, religious, or spiritual vision.

The word “commune” may spark connotations of Hippies. True but now 2.0 Hippies are large in number but are only comfortable in small communes. The only way to “connect” to communes is to insure you understand the relevant philosophy. In other words you have to believe in something bigger than yourself, your company or the popular communities of today. The only thing bigger is a philosophical connection with a small group of people connected to many other small groups. It only took twelve to change the world. Get it?

{ 11 comments }

Cinn Fields August 22, 2010 at 4:05 am

Andrew Jacobs of The New York Times wrote that, contrary to popular misconceptions, “most communes of the 90?s are not free-love refuges for flower children, but well-ordered, financially solvent cooperatives where pragmatic, not psychedelics, rule the day.”

Well, I suspect that while they may be pragmatic that at least to some extent they emphasize and value human interaction and human values, otherwise they would have all the appeal of living in a corporation. The intentional community in which I live places prioritizes people over progress while making sure the bills get paid.

Marie August 20, 2010 at 8:44 pm

I live in an Intentional Community today that was a hippie commune from the 60’s. Many of those hippies have grown up to be thoughtful people which makes them great coaches for us 2.0 hippies.

MaximSchram (Maxim Schram) August 12, 2010 at 2:10 am

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Ik hoop het niet zeg! RT @mwoldberg Van communities naar communes? [link to post] (via @JDeragon)

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TC_Lowe (Terri) August 12, 2010 at 2:00 am

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Is small the new large? RT @JDeragon: From Communities to Communes? ##socialmedia ##socialstrategy ##socialbusiness [link to post]

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mwoldberg (Marius Woldberg) August 12, 2010 at 1:42 am

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Van communities naar communes? [link to post] (via @JDeragon)

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AllenatCFM (Allen Howell) August 11, 2010 at 6:32 am

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RT @JDeragon: From Communities to Communes? ##socialmedia ##socialstrategy ##socialbusiness [link to post]

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josephgrasso (Joe Grasso) August 11, 2010 at 6:31 am

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From Communities to Communes?: now 2.0 Hippies are large in number but are only comfortable in small co… [link to post] [email protected]

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smconnection (smconnection) August 11, 2010 at 6:30 am

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From Communities to Communes?: now 2.0 Hippies are large in number but are only comfortable in small communes. The… [link to post]

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JDeragon (JDeragon) August 11, 2010 at 6:02 am

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Think: From Communities to Communes? [link to post]

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saraohman (Sara Öhman) August 11, 2010 at 5:58 am

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Vi är ett kollektiv! “From Communities to Communes?” [link to post]

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ademoor (ademoor) August 11, 2010 at 5:02 am

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“Real-world” communes use physical boundaries to find focus. Online? @JDeragon Think: From Communities to Communes? [link to post]

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