From CONTRASTE issue 274/275 (Summer 2007)
All for all and everywhere!
To contest my existence not alone, to survive the next month without a job, to organise everyday's life with others and not having to make use of nuclear family relations ... All this is linked to a common economy and I reckon, with its help, it is possible to be socially engaged even when I am way over thirty.
Franziska Roth, antifacist urban commune, Berlin - But I cannot imagine committing my life to one place and one group. I also have difficulties in believing that one singular group is economically and socially capable of mastering the adversities of life. Therefore the idea of a commune of several groups in several places materialised in our commune's founding group.
About one year ago, we sent an invitation (see http://www.cyborgsociety.org) to all kinds of people to carry the idea a bit further and put it into practice with others.
Meanwhile we have become several groups in Berlin and Brandenburg who are on the way to a place independent commune. Two of them, the antifacist urban commune Berlin and the Kommune Feuerland in Brüssow have started to cooperate as necessary and without trade: e.g. common sale of christmas trees, working at Feuerland's cider mill or gratuitous quenching of thirst for apple juice.
This year's Los Geht's was attended by people from Feuerland and Berlin to find new communards for their groups. The presentation of a place independent commune was only considered to be a side issue.
But more than 30 people had been interested - indidvual people as well as people from existing communes - and wanted to learn more.
Further regional networking, e.g. in Thüringen, was initiated to form a place independent commune. Decentral experiences can be made this way and perhaps there will be more than an exchange of ideas in the future.
After a quick glance we split into two groups at the event. Based on the key word 'trust' the following was dicussed. No 'resolutions' have been adopted - the texts shall only encourage further thinking.
It might be difficult for 'experts in single areas' to switch between groups, because that area might fall apart when they leave. Probably, but the possibility for people to switch between places more easily might also prevent the establishment of rigid role allocations in local groups which are unwanted in an emancipative context, anyway. At least not the areas concerned with the commune's organisation themselves. Otherwise, switching places and thereby resulting bottlenecks are a question of agreement. It is advantageous that, even when switching places, the person is still part of the (place independent) commune.
Will it be necessary to define rules for entry in and exit out of groups? Likely to be reasonable. Analogous to the practice employed by many commune groups regarding invidiuals, it was suggested that getting to know each other happens bit by bit by in phases of reflection. If a seperation eventuates, it will be decided as far as possible according to the economic needs of that group which is likely to face more difficulties getting along alone. Naturally, it should be possible for the other groups to continue economically. Several people or a group out of the coherence of groups should be supporting the exit.
How much difference is possible? We, the groups from Berlin and Brandenburg, have agreed on a basic emancipative consent. This includes e.g.: disaffirmation of nationalism, racism, anti-semitism, religious evangelising and world-explaining esotericism. Prerequisite for cooperation is the will for permanent quarelling with these. Our groups are quite different apart from that.
What about health care, nursing and retirement? Surely, this is much better to assure than in a single commune because the economic basis is larger. People can quickly rush to others and support them.
Existing experiences? Firstofall, there are the Kibbutzim in Israel. Sure, there was another reason for establishment and there are other circumstances nowadays - a chapter on its own. There is the network Longo maï in Europe which is organised centrally by a coordination office in Basel. Nevertheless, some things there are happening along our lines of thinking. For thirty years now.
Would it be reasonable to establish alternatives to personal trust (e.g. contracts)? How to reach decisions? If there were contracts to replace trust, to whom could you turn to if breached? The state? No, thanks. We want to try the method "I trust you, because someone trusts you whom I trust". Additionally transparency, adequate means of communication and decentral decisions based on the principle of the affected are in place. The latter means that not everybody decides everything, but only the people affected by the decision. The implementation of groupware to organise the management of resources, time and tasks transparently and decentrally can also help reducing hierarchies.
This requires a readiness for its application and entails a high responsibility for each individual.
But hey, why not try? It would be really cool if we supported each other and took responsibility for this and that.
And thus a network of binding solidarity might be established and someday perhaps a society which really functions differently than organised by the state. We wish all the best and success for all communes which will cooperate in the future. For a common perspective, it is important to us that the concept 'commune' is not only conducted in its economic form, void of content. Therefore we wish for a clear positioning of all participants against domination and exploitation in all its colours, as well as the insight into the necessity to defend the idea of a liberated society against regressive ideologies and tendencies.