A Communist Utopia (Funded By Capitalism)

TDB's picture

Via The Daily Bell

When is a commune not a commune? When it only exists because of capitalism.

But that doesn’t stop it from having just enough communist ideals to make it a very restrictive place to live.

Twin Oaks is an “intentional community” in Virginia. It is one of the oldest successful communes in America because it's not really a commune. They manufacture hammocks that sell for up to $100 each, and make tofu for Whole Foods.

They have a sales and marketing manager who oversees each business. And they provide extra incentives to do the work no one else wants to do.

One member actually expressed concern that Amazon plans to drop Whole Foods’ prices.

“Well, then we can’t sell our tofu for as much,” he said.

Maybe the Whole Foods workers should seize their means of production to stop the exploitation.

I was all set to tear apart Vice’s piece on this little commune. But I ended up just giggling. Vice correctly pointed out that it isn’t really a commune if it is funded by capitalism. The people who live there have stepped out of a typical “capitalist structure” for their lives. But they were only able to live their alternative lifestyle because they do so in a capitalist world.

And the same member admits that capitalist ideas have won. He acknowledges that capitalism is required for their commune to exist. So it seems a little funny that they know a market system is required for their livelihood, yet they employ a communist style of internal governance.

That means 100% taxation and no individual control over how the products of your labor are spent.

But as much as they don’t want to admit it, there is still a hierarchy of sorts. They give extra to those who work extra. They have managers to oversee the businesses. And they have two types of members: provisional, and full.

In the philosophy of a commune, it might make sense for the workers to take home little to no pay, and forfeit control of their property. But consider that the “commune” brings in $600,000 per year in profits.

Members don’t pay to get into the community, and they don’t get anything when they leave. This means it is hard to see a member’s time there as an investment in the future unless their future is at Twin Oaks.

Like a typical factory job of the proletariat, they are unable to amass capital and stuck in their position.

They are required to work 40 hours per week. They have quotas to hit for work, with some extra incentives thrown in for extra hard workers. Producing more than your quota means you get to keep some of the product of your labor. Not exactly to each according to his need, from each according to his ability. But that is what is required to make their for-profit “commune” work.

So doesn’t that make it a business? It seems like members are basically typical proletariat workers, except that they don’t make any money. They forfeit total control over their lives and get to be taken care of by mother corporation.

And from a capitalist perspective, it makes perfect sense. If the company profits were broken down by person, it would $60,000 each. But you know their food, housing, health insurance, and other provisions aren’t costing the business anywhere close to that.

For a member, it seems like quite the hefty price to pay for the simple luxury of not having to worry about paying the bills on your own terms. Twin Oaks gets full-time workers for a fraction of what it costs most companies.

The Twin Oaks bylaws state:

You don’t pay to join. You don’t get anything when you leave. The Community supports you while you’re here. Twin Oaks Provides for its members on the basis of need or equality. Equality is a fundamental community value which informs the property code. We try to avoid displays of wealth which may give rise to envy. With the exceptions described below, we expect members not to use outside income or pre-existing assets during their membership in Twin Oaks.

So all you can take with you when you leave are the skills you gain. They do seem to teach some–relatively menial–skills. Also, if full members decide to move on, they get $50 from the leaving fund (which actually seems more insulting than getting nothing).

They don’t expect you to give them all your property upon arrival. But they do encourage lending your cars, large equipment, and even money to the community for the time of your stay. These will be returned when you leave, without interest.

They do require all “unearned income” be donated to the community.

Unearned income includes interest on bank accounts, dividends on stocks and bonds, income on investments, social security, disability payments, pensions, and child support for a child living at Twin Oaks. Unearned income is the property of the Community.

As such, they discourage anyone with much wealth from moving into the community.

And any spending you do while you live at the commune must be approved by other members.

Oh, and they also expel any “undesirables.” Failing to give your unearned income to the community would be a reason for expulsion to be considered.

Ironically, their website states there are “classes of membership.” As much as they claim to want to avoid hierarchy, they still have provisional members and full members. Basically, the community can vote anyone out. There are a few steps and procedures, and some suggested reasons for the oustings, but the process comes down to mob action.

They also aren’t exactly accepting of “pensioners” because they can’t work as hard, and therefore might sap more from the community than they give. The community does offer health insurance, so maybe that’s why they are a tad on the discriminatory side towards old folks.

So basically, it is not a commune, and it is not a free market. It is the worst of both worlds. An extremely restrictive community that makes money off their laborers. You give your labor, and “unearned income” to the community, and you get a place to live, food, and health insurance.

The central “government”–which in this case is a corporation–owns all the means of production, controls all the wealth of the citizens, and provides for all their needs.

In that sense it is technically a success, but only because they have a source of income from a non-communist outside world.

The big takeaway: communist “utopia” exists (if your idea of utopia is surrendering your freedom in exchange for a safety net). But only inside a capitalist world.

But hey, these people are doing it all voluntarily. If that’s the life they want, so be it. I can accept their commune because it doesn’t place any obligations on me.

A free market does not rule out the possibility of little separatist communities that behave much like communes. It’s just that they can only exist because of the larger capitalist structure of society.

The opposite is not true; you can’t have little capitalist break-outs in a communist world. In fact, you can’t even have communist communities in a communist world. You can just have starvation, oppression, and the entire collapse of productive society.

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surf@jm's picture

And let me take a wild stab........

The leader has 14 wives, and 52 children and  lives in a mansion........

They have a security force, that enforces order.......prevents escape......and wrong thinking......

And they are waiting for a spaceship behind a comet to take them away......

.......I said it was a wild stab.......


bshirley1968's picture

"So basically, it is not a commune, and it is not a free market. It is the worst of both worlds. An extremely restrictive community that makes money off their laborers. You give your labor, and “unearned income” to the community, and you get a place to live, food, and health insurance."

Pretty much the plan for the whole world.  Three main groups: leadership,  makers, takers.  So really there are only two groups since leadership is a taker class.  The makers desire to be independent and have control of their life decisions.  This is inevitably a threat to the leadership class and their desire for total control.  Takers don't really give a shit as long as they get enough food and entertainment, they will gladly obey if they don't have to produce.

So the conflict is always between the Makers and Leadership.  Corporate leadership hates small business and independent thinking.  Corporations are all about the community lifestyle as described in this article.   The irony is that the "capitalistic" corporations of this "free market" are the biggest promoters of the government's socialistic/communistic policies.  As long as a CEO gets his millions and can live like  king, he is fine lobbying the government to put controls and restrictions on his workers or his competition so he can maintain his control and wealth.

The Constitution was written to keep this from happening but the government (the referee) has been bought off and the rule book is no longer followed.  Makers are being forced into the corporate fold to be turned into worker bees for the good of the commune. Independent thought and activity is to be suppressed. .....at all cost since they have a printing press.

Everytime government gets more centralized it gets further out of reach of the common man and the people it is to serve.  That is why state sovereignty had to be destroyed.  All power has been removed from the people.   They fool us into thinking voting matters.  Doesn't matter how we vote, they are going to do what they want; Brexit,  Catalan,  Obamacare are just some examples.  The big secret that is the 800 lb gorilla in the room is they can do what they want and there isn't a damn thing we can do about it.  They play us to make us think we can with issues like the NFL/anthem fight, the border wall, tax reform.  Nothing really changes.  They get more and more control and we are able to make fewer and fewer choices for our lives.  It becomes way easier to just be another "taker" and forgo the struggle to remain independent.   Takers don't compete with leadership.   Leadership loves takers.  Leadership hates makers.  Leadership needs makers so they form monopolistic corporations to control the makers. Independent, small business must be crushed.

There is only one way to break that cycle.  The collusion between the money and the leadership has to be severed.  As long as leadership (and that includes corporate leadership) has unlimited funding, they can continue their march of tyranny on makers and independent thinkers.  Cut off their money and they then have to compete and don't have time to sit around thinking about how to get more control.  The only way they give up the money is by force. I leave it to you to think about from there.

Gods's picture

Forget it I'm done

Falconsixone's picture

Could make something that does not require refrigeration/electric/money. Maybe just sell healthy people on eating the plastic wrapper?

JoeTurner's picture

Man, I really long for the golden age of America between 1880 and 1914.....

ThanksIwillHaveAnother's picture

My next Netflix DVD is Soylent Green.   Bet the leaders make out well!

Thoth777's picture

 Stay away from the Soylent Brown, man.

Grandad Grumps's picture

It just occurred to me that Ivanka looks like a robot.

Maybe we went from the first Satanic Gay & Tranny in the whitehouse to the first robot first family.

I think Melania is real, though.

messystateofaffairs's picture

Twin Oaks sounds like a globalist oligarchs wet dream. Just two things to make it perfect. Everybody on earth buys into the idea with great enthusiasm and all agree to be peacefully euthanized when they no longer can be physically productive. Two small problems though is who will they sell their products to when there are no customers left to buy them and who will build the mega yachts and private jets for the oligarchs that control the means of production.

Not enough info here but is all the Twin Oak profit divided equally among all the workers, management included, and do they pay tax tribute to the other communists in Washington?

roddy6667's picture

Let's have an article about a Capitalist Utopia funded by Socialists.

AKA Murika

White Devil's picture

I like to smell and eat petite pussys.

Let it Go's picture

Can the government get more involved in such things?

Under the category of, "Whats happening in real estate" the city where I live has announced another incestuous boondoggle to be built using government money in an area where few people want to live. Ironically I found out about this project on the very day that I had just read an article about the 10 most and least expensive cities in America to rent an apartment.

These are not bare bone housing units. Let me be clear, they are not "plain Jane" in nature but an "over the top" effort to build an expensive monument to "affordable housing" that can act as a model for other communities. This is a cutting-edge experiment so inclusive that it even provides an electric car sharing program for residents. The article below gives the details.

 City Boast Of Constructing Residential Boondoggle!

bluez's picture

I was the president of a not-for-profit, but not tax exempt corporation (these are completely different things) that managed one in Connecticut. There have been a few in Connecticut, and mine lasted about 15 years. It was finally taken over by the US government as part of "redevelopment" (they built "projects" and moved the black people from their fun "bad" side of town to these horrendous drug-infested "projects").

No one was concerned with communist ideology or anything like that, although one of my girlfriends had a gigantic wall-sized poster of Chairman Mao in her room. Reguardless of what you think you believe, you really need to get one of those, and live under the strange gaze of the Chairman. It's seriously hypnotic.

The real challenge was finding people with the right attitude. The one we had did not have a tradition of people being expected to remain for a lifetime, and this compounded the extreme problem of finding suitable members. This was even worse because we were in Connecticut. Some of our members were literally billionaires.

The people paid normal taxes and so did the corporation, since it is foolish to bother with tax exemption unless you have a lot of taxable property, or a profitable "communal" business. The community did have some assets, which some people were always attempting to rip off.

The main point of it all was that you could learn things about yourself and others that you could never learn anywhere else. Colleges and universities actually attempt to duplicate this kind of experience, but they can't because we were all constantly facing down existential risks. It was not any utopia -- rather it was a constant challenge of survival.

Warren Platts's picture

"The opposite is not true; you can’t have little capitalist break-outs in a communist world. In fact, you can’t even have communist communities in a communist world. You can just have starvation, oppression, and the entire collapse of productive society."


Except. China. They are proof that Communism works and is the superior system....

God help us all.

2muchtax's picture

They are proof that Communism works and is the superior system...." by this logic i guess our massive prison population is proof that our legal system works.

China is a totalitarian oligopoly with socialism for the masses and capitalism for the few approved winners.

My industry is filled with Chinese refugees...the only capitalism there is for the "in crowd"

roddy6667's picture

In North Korea, Kim is bringing in reforms. For example, now farmers and tradesmen are allowed to sell up 30% of their production on the free market, mostly in open air markets in the villages and cities. This is also know as capitalism. Of course you can have "capitalist breakouts in a communist world". 

For those who didn't get the memo, the famine was back in the Nineties. The farmers have had crop surpluses for a long time. Gee. Don't hear much about that on CNN or Fox News.

Seems like North Korea is not the only country where news about the outside world is strictly contriolled.

Money_for_Nothing's picture

China doesn't work. China is a prison where you can earn enough (money, position) to buy your freedom and escape.

amadeus39's picture

China is not soley communistic. It's economy is quite capitalistic. Kinda like Twin Oaks which, by the way, I visited for a day in 1969. What I remember feeling was what an artificial and pathetic experiment it was and a new mother member was not about to turn the raising of her new born over to the commune. 


roddy6667's picture

43% of China's current GDP is private enterprise, also known as capitalism. Almost ALL of new businesses are private enterprise. 

China has not been communist by any definition of the term since 1978.

PT's picture

And Princes Of The Yen, that video about Japan.

Azannoth's picture

So this is basically a voluntary gulag - well to each their own, but I think communism should be classified as a mental disorder

amadeus39's picture

There comes a time when some order is preferred over unbridled freedom. That time is called anarchy and chaos.


PT's picture

The alternative was debt slavery and never owning their own land anyway.  You're a successful Capitalist?  Good for you.  Some people will never figure it out and not for lack of trying.  Funny thing about successful Capitalists.  Some of them find the magic formula and it serves them until they die.  Others find it and then lose it and then they finally understand the other side of the equation.  But none of their old cronies will ever listen about it.

Money_for_Nothing's picture

No one owns anything. Everything is a gift from God. Some people who talk good organize armies and grant titles to land they don't own. Problem is armies cost money. So if the good talkers run out of words that generate money the titles go to some other good talker.

PT's picture

Money_for_Nothing:  Very well said.

LA_Goldbug's picture

Yes, mental disorder for the benefit of the Capitalist but if the patient is happy along the way maybe it isn't so bad. You can always work for the Mafia as we do today. Same gang but a different style of people management.

Crush the cube's picture

Probably feeding of the .gov teat like the Mennonites and other quazi business religions, squashing all compeditors who are stuck paying their taxes, than appropriating their lands all in a tax free status.  Shit needs to end, they wouldn't last a day in the real system.

SunRise's picture

Paying "their" taxes?  You've entirely dismissed the immorality of taxation.  Are you a politician?

Jo A-S's picture

Who pays for the roads that you drive on?  And refuse collection.  And police officers, fire dept, and other such amenities that you use......

Money_for_Nothing's picture

Originally the world worked on the Biblical concept of Judges. ie Leaders were inspired. The people clamored for Kings because they thought it would improve their life. Without (free citizens and/or slaves) nothing would be built that is/was built. If someone is coerced into using something is that the same as using something? Kissing Cesar's ass brings little respect here. Everyone including Policemen and Firemen are doing the best they know how with circumstances they have little control over. 911 phone systems and lotteries are the latest ways to try and get the tax rate up. Even Cesar has limits. Roads were built before governments. They weren't very good for moving armies so taxes had to be raised and better ones had to be built.

AnarchistRex's picture

I lived at their sister commune in Southern Missouri (EastWind) over a period from 2000-03 ... very similar and they share the hammock making business. Both communities have websites and you can learn more if you like. I am a die hard capitalist though and for me it was just a fun time to meet interesting people. I have fond memories, but it was never a long term home for me.

I guess I'd say to you all - don't be afraid to explore. It was an great experience for me overall and I learned a lot about myself and other people.

dunce's picture

They are a corporation so they must be taxed as a corporation unless they can claim no income bacause there is no profit after distributing the profits to the laborers but then they have taxable income. How is the IRS treating them?

AnarchistRex's picture

if they are organized like their sister community in the Ozarks that I visited (Eastwind), then they are organized as a religious community (503d?) -- but they aren't really religious.

roddy6667's picture

What you mean is that THEIR religion doesn't resemble YOUR religion, so you don't classify it as a religion.

steveo77's picture

I did a write up on some New World Order basics.  Some pretty damning evidence actually.   I still have friends that insist "There is no new world order"


grasha87's picture

We should stop attacking Socialism and here's why:



grasha87's picture

We should stop attacking Socialism and here's why:



Benjamin123's picture

Its basically a kibbutz. Kibbutzim are supported by slave labor from teenager volunteers motivated by socialist ideology. 

They have morphed though and kibbutzim are no longer communist, just closed communities with private property, teenage slavery and external capitalist suppliers are customers for their factory and farm products.

PT's picture

For most of them, the alternative was debt-slavery and never owning their own land anyway.  Easy to herd the sheep in any direction.  They go from the dead grass to the slightly-less-dead grass.

Oh boohoo Communism.  But you refused them any land of their own and were willing to let them starve to death.  Do you want to be kicked in the nuts or punched in the face?

harleyjohn45's picture

What if you become ill, is there a safety net.  25% of Americans are some form of disability.  

bluskyes's picture

At least you arent forced to participate in their system at gunpoint

rlouis's picture

I'll bet on two probable behaviors being present:

1. There is probably someone in a position of authority that can be bribed for special benefits.

2. Hard workers are discouraged from working hard.

Itinerant's picture

What a useless article. Little more than self-congratulation. No facts, understanding, or anything but bias.

Alananda's picture

Before you cast all voluntary communities into the trash heap of "communes", consider Yogananda and his concept of "World Brotherhood Communities".

Outside of the Self-Realization Fellowship (SRA) which, ceremoniously or not, kicked him out, J. Donald Walters, who wandered for a time in the psychedelic wilderness of San Francisco in the mid- to late 1960s, joined with poet Gary Snyder (Buddhist tradition) and a certain beat poet to buy up hundreds of acres in Nevada County, CA, north of Sacramento.

Founded by "Swami Kriyananda" (aka J. D. Walters), the Ananda Village today is, to me, one of the finest, operating, successful VOLUNTARY COMMUNITIES -- not a commune! -- one that brought my wife and I to this area over 12 years ago. No, we are no longer members of that community -- no dogs, no us! We live and thrive a few miles to the west.

Nonetheless, though Ananda wrestles will all the issues, problems, and dilemmas we do, they have a wonderful environment with a vibration even dense folks can feel. Kundalini yoga, among other practices. How we deal with each other -- our family, friends, and neighbors -- means as much, likely much more, than how we deal with so-called money.

M2's picture

What is the demographics? Do they match the society at large (12% black, 4% Asian, etc...) 

shovelhead's picture


Imagine the liquor store down the road inundated with assholes with hammocks and handfuls of tofu.

"Dear Twin Oaks personnel, FUCK OFF!"

brushhog's picture

You can live as a communist in a capitalist society, but you cannot live as a captialist in a communist society.

adolphz's picture

Is this communication the same thing as a nudist colony.  If so sign me up. 

AnarchistRex's picture

Yes, nudism is allowed. You want to visit the community? They have a process for that. Just look them up - they have a website. You want to join? It's tough - you have to visit first and they have to have space and they have to like you - or rather they have to not dislike you ;-)