On communes

I’m reposting my comment to Mark’s post on “Finding Each Other”:

The topic of ‘finding each other’ raised an issue that we discussed during our in-person meeting, which I will reiterate here. In ‘The Coming Insurrection’–despite the conscious employment of the terms ‘commune’ and ‘communism’–the initial stages of such sharings, groupings, and findings of like-minded individuals is not premised on a particular political stance. Nor is the normative call for doing so from the author(s). In other words, one’s ‘truth’ does not have to meet certain litmus tests, for instance, and therefore groups could (and by extension should) form based on reactionary, racist, fundamentalist, etc. truths. This appears to follow particular conceptions of democracy (especially pluralism), as opposed to the more liberal-based notions of social justice or liberal democracy. Under this perspective, normative claims are not based on the content of the groups’ truths themselves, but merely on clearing the path to allow those truths and their respective subjects to ‘find each other’. It follows logically, then, that the politics of ‘The Coming Insurrection’ is pro-democracy and pro-difference, but anti-establishment, anti-party, anti-organization.

The subsequent question raised during our discussion was: can all truth-groups be considered ‘communes’ or are some barred from reaching that particular term based purely on their point along the political spectrum? If any group can be a commune, why use the word ‘commune’ that is loaded with leftist historical connotations? If all truth-groups are welcome to join the ‘coming insurrection’, shouldn’t this be made more explicit in the choice of words and call to arms? If all are not welcome, then must we resort to problematic criteria of determining membership?

Inevitably, in our discussion, the juxtaposition was made between the Tea Party and the Occupy Movement in the US context. Assuming that most of us reading texts like ‘The Coming Insurrection’ are likely of the more left-wing persuasion, I believe we must take it upon ourselves to distinguish between particular political viewpoints (i.e. individual ‘truths’) and the call for political action, democracy, and alternative futures more generally. Though a sports analogy may belittle my point, the inclination is too great: we must be able to act as players of self-managed ‘teams’, while at the same time willing to accept a certain larger-scale normative framework or ‘league’ that legitimizes other ‘teams’ existence, albeit not their substantive claims.

One thought on “On communes

  1. Maybe an etymology will help sort some things out…commune is all Latin, all the time, from communis, meaning “that which is common.” So it would seem that communes are a certain kind of shared-truth group that values the idea of having-in-common, the idea that commonality is something that we must try to develop in ourselves together. Also worth remembering is that the commune idea is deeply urban, that a commune has long meant a free city, which is to say a medieval city not subject to the control of the manor system of the feudal lords. So that may be one way to distinguish a commune from other truth groups, including the Tea Party….

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