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How can an anarchist commune/collective keep to its beliefs and share food with everyone/not claim property?

+2 votes
Lemme explain a bit:
A friend of mine had started a commune with a bunch of other close friends. They pooled almost all of the money that each made to pay for improvements to the commune, which they hoped to expand into a social center and a venue. They grew all their own food in greenhouses using hydroponics and some sorta specialized small-area farming, and had gotten to the point where they were growing all their own essential food. At some point, they want to stop using money all together, but before they do, they want to expand their farming so they could have enough to share with others. Here's the dilemma: though they reject the notion of private property and they aren't collectivists, they're a bit torn on how to determine who should be given food. They believe everyone has a right to extra food, but at the same time they don't wish to just cater to moochers. How would you anarchists act in this situation? Let anyone have the food? First come, first serve? Poor first? Only people who help farm?
I realize this may not sound very 101ish, but I feel this sort of dilemma is commonly asked about and debated.
asked May 21, 2012 by anonymous

1 Answer

+2 votes
this is entirely a 101 question, i think, along the lines of some others -- how does anarchy (the principle) work in real life?
the answer is... as best as we can figure it out.
my answer to the specific question is to have a policy with flex. for example, have a general rule (people can eat once they have been around for three months (or whatever) and have helped more than they've hindered) and then have back up plans for situations that don't fit the model that the rule was created for.
i work with a project that has historically been very ambivalent (not in language but in deeds) about whether it wants to be a social service agency (charity), or an anarchist resource (to the extent that those are different, of course). i tend to err hard on the side of the latter, but i actually think the ambivalence works pretty well to keep things fluid and flexible, even if it drives the regular participants crazy sometimes. i bring up that example to demonstrate that people's different goals and skill sets, even (especially?) when contradictory, can work together to create something stronger. this sounds like an after-school-special message, except that the contradiction part is what i'm trying to emphasize, since it's almost inevitable and not usually appreciated, and is the most interesting part.

edit: i wouldn't try to say you're avoiding property. property is a reality in this world. pretending that people are not operating in that context doesn't work. it just makes people feel/act crazy (like there some rhetoric that people have to talk in order to participate in the project).
answered May 22, 2012 by dot (52,800 points)
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