Tuesday, May 25, 2010

OPINION: Why Hippie Communes Didn't Survive

By Thomas Ryaner

I love that nostalgic era of the 60s and 70s. I wasn't alive back then but I sure wish I was. LSD, Woodstock and all those dreams of the world starting afresh.

People would shun society, take to the hills and go about setting up communities where people could live free of the clutches of an evil society. There was however a problem. The whole point of the communes was to share certain values and shun others. Their ideals came before their viability.

Sure they planted a few crops to try and provide for themselves. But providing, making a living always came second. And when a living couldn't be made at all the dream of running away from society was crushed by the need to eat and the need for a roof over one's head. The kids went back to the cities, back to real jobs. They became the very thing that they despised. Their efforts had failed. As they got older and their old dreams became forgotten it never occurred to them that what they were trying to do could have worked, if only they had done it a little differently.

Tribalism vs Community

A tribe is a self sufficient economic unit. It exists for the purpose of providing its members with a means to make a living. Many tribes share religious, cultural and spiritual values. But these all come second. The number one priority in a tribe is viability. If they aren't viable then none of the other things will survive.

The problem with hippie communes was that they weren't organized tribally. To start a tribe people would need to get together and say, "what skills do we have that can allow us to make a living together as an independent unit?" Historically for many tribes it would be the ability to farm or to hunt and gather. But it equally could be the ability to provide modern technological goods and services.

Communes failed because they said, "what values do we share that would make it a good idea to live together?" That failed when they couldn't make a living. But just because that failed does not mean there is no hope of escaping from the horrible economic system we currently live in. However this time we need to take a tribal approach. We need to break off with the intention of making a living together and make that the number one priority. This is how successful communities operate today. They have a functioning business model that allows them to draw a living without resorting to employment.

About The Author

Thomas is a writer whose passion is Deep Ecology. This is a world-view that sees a value in nature regardless of its usefulness to humans. It is partly about saving the world but primarily about creating a better place for humans to live. Living as part of the community of life and not apart from it is a much richer and more satisfying way of life.

Hippie communes sought to return to the community of life. But just because they failed does not mean we cannot return there. But we must understand why they failed so we can make a more effective effort to break free.

For more free articles, videos, books, interviews visit Deep Ecology Hub.

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