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communistic settlements

communistic settlements, communities practicing common ownership of goods. Communistic settlements were known in ancient and medieval times, but the flowering of such groups occurred in the 19th cent. in the United States, where a number of German pietistic sects established such communities as the Amana Church Society, Iowa; Harmony, Pa. (see Harmony Society); and Zoar, Ohio. Similar settlements were founded by the Shakers, Mormons, Mennonites, Dukhobors, and Jansenites. Unique religious settlements were the Oneida Community (see under Oneida, N.Y.); Hopedale, Mass.; and the Brotherhood of the New Life, N.Y. (see Harris, Thomas Lake). Other communities were non-Christian, often antireligious and utopian. The leading communities within this group were of two types, those founded by the followers of Robert Owen (including New Harmony, Ind., and Nashoba, Tenn.) and the numerous ones (notably Brook Farm, Mass.) formed on the principles of Charles Fourier. Belonging to neither of these groups were the Icarian settlements, led by Étienne Cabet, and the anarchistic villages of Josiah Warren. The religious groups, unified by strong faith and authority, tended to prosper and outlive the secular groups; the latter, however, often attracting brilliant and original personalities, provided a ferment of new thought. The chief attempts since the 19th cent. at setting up such colonies have been in Israel, where there are a number of successful agricultural collectives (see collective farm).

See R. M. Kanter, Commitment and Community (1972); B. M. Berger, The Survival of a Counterculture (1981); P. Yeo, The Work of a Co-operative Community (1988).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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