I know that many libertarians believe that communism is doomed to fail, I think they are right by the way, but how do they explain the success of the Hutterites? The Hutterites are an anabaptist groupthat live mostly in Canada and practice a community of goods. This group of people have survived for nearly five hundred years with a community of goods situation.
I must explain that community of goods is not the same as Marxism. Marxism is coercive; believes in the materialist dialectic; believes in the labor theory of value etc. Yet Christian community of goods is voluntary; is based on Christ's teachings on the sermon on the mount and the rich young ruler. See Acts 2:44 - 45. It would not do to call these kind of action communsim since classical Marxism and Christian community of goods are worlds appart. How many people did Justin Martyr or Jackob Hutter kill? None. Stalin and Mao millions. Communism is militant and murderous whereas Christian community of goods is peaceful. The ancient church circa 33-303 AD also practiced a community of goods. How can a libertarian account for such longevity of operation in the Hutterites and the ancient church if their actions flew in the face of certain market principles?
”If it is measured in pecunary intrest then the free market wins everytime.”
I am not sure about even this. Consider for example the description of the period from 1565 to 1592 in the life of the Huterian community, as reported in Journal of Political Economy (1924):
”[T]he Huterian people found themselves better organized than was any other group of work-men in Moravia... and it was not long before they found themselves in control of the market along more than one line. DeSchweinitz, who lived in that century, wrote of them:
"It is said of them that they were the best farmers, raised the best cattle, had the best vineyards, brewed the best beer, owned the best flour-mills, and engaged on a large scale in almost every kind of trade known in their day."3
Beck says they had the reputation for making the best cutlery, the best linen, and the best pottery produced in Moravia.4 When they finally left the country, a government consultation was held to consider how to find other weavers to take their place, and it was suggested that Dutch weavers be invited to do so.5 A visitor at their Bruderhofs exclaimed,
"They had enough ducats and gold crowns so that they paid one bill of 2,200 gulden, They monopolize all the trades, and it looks as if they would soon buy out the lords."6
Not only were their wares in great demand. Their workmen, trained under the highly organized system, were given the preference all over Moravia wherever there were places to fill that called for administrative ability in lines employing many workers. Huterian men became head millers, head gardeners, head foresters, stewards, and farm superintendents in large numbers.7 The women were in as great demand as the men. An anxious priest exclaimed,
"God have mercy! It has gone so far that nearly all the women of Moravia must have no one but Anabaptist women for their midwives, their wet nurses, and their children's attendants, as if they were the only ones who were instructed in these things."8
Twice the Huterian physician, George Zobel, was called to the capital by the Emperor Rudolph, once to attend on him personally, and once to advise about methods for checking the plague which was raging through the country.9"
Bertha W. Clark, The Huterian Communities: II, Journal of Political Economy, Vol. 32, No. 4 (Aug., 1924), pp. 468-486
The Hutterites in the US and Canada have gorwn from about 400 to over 50,000.
Hutterites have personal possessions: clothes, shoes, glasses, other personal effects. They may not technically own them but neither do we truly own our possessions as they are subjected to rental (taxation) for their possession. Only because the legislaturews in their magnanimity exempt personal effects from rent do we not have to pay rent-tax on our clothes and shoes. Typical: "All property, real and personal, shall be taxed excepting such as the Legislature shall exempt by law."
While Hutterites do not physically coerce by violence their members from leaving the colony, for a Hutterian to leave his/her colony is a drastic act. They take nothing with them but the clothes on their backs. Typically they are undocumented (no birth certificate, no SSN) so face great difficulty interacting with the outside world. A Hutterian woman may have an easier time if she marries a non-Hutterite (usually a Mennonite, another sect of Anabaptists) as if she has no SSN she can get a marriage license without giving one. A Hutterian man, though, may be in a real fix as he cannot get a job, a business license, various permits, etc. without jumping over several legal hurdles.
nirgrahamUK:if one is happy not doing much that's capital intensive or complicated or that involves division of labour between thousands of people but is content to eat from pulling vegetables out of the ground and walking around in animal hides and living in mud huts and having lots of children to perpetuate your tribe because most of them wont make it to bear children of their own then one can institute full socialism and go on existing (maybe!).
LOL, you make it sound so appealing!
Still sounds preferable to wage slavery, colon cancer, and the state...
You don't need to look to religious minorities in Canada to see that small scale sharing of goods can work just fine in the right context. For instance, the family.
Very true! :)
For a large scale example you might have to, though, and when the Huterites were the most successful, for example, they did their sharing on a pretty large scale, again quoting from the Journal of Political Economy article:
"Huterian communities were established all over Moravia. Loserth names eighty-six towns near which they had been set Up.3... a Huterian Bruderhof... housed anywhere up to two thousand, and probably averaged between three hundred and five hundred souls.4 The Huterian population in Moravian days has been variously estimated, the estimates ranging from twelve thousand to one hundred thousand.5"
Sanchez given that this thread has been dead for about a year and a half I have two questions. 1) how did you find it? 2) What led you to comment on it again?
Jaakko Ojala where/how did you find all this wonderful economic data on the Hutterites? I have always been at a loss to find historical/economic data on their communes.
The voluntary aspect of it is the important one. Any lifestyle that doesn't invade others' freedom is surely possible, probable, and allowable under libertarianism, and a community is a group of people with a mutual contract going.
I had a Hutterite friend when I was a teenager, and I was able to visit her family's home once. Here's what I witnessed:
A very peaceful community with a basic but comfortable standard of living, and a functioning system for arbitration of disputes and decision making. As far as I remember, it amounted to the older men making decisions among themselves and the rest of the community agreeing to follow along. Individuals were given the choice of officially joining or leaving when they turned 18 or 21, I can't remember which.
The kids went to public school in the area. Many of them had the expected issues with fitting in or justifying their families' rules to themselves and their peers. Which is only normal for teenagers, but these kids had more of that to deal with than most. As you might imagine, there was an enormous percentage of them dropping out of the society and going away to college or work.
The community in my area did not succeed either financially OR in terms of membership as I recall. The majority of the members went to Germany or something, and my friend to another community on the West coast.
I don't see anything wrong with the goals of that community but the voluntary aspect was entirely necessary to avoid total breakdown of discipline. A VERY large number of their youth were just raring for the opportunity to engage in all the disallowed behaviors. And I would have a hard time demonstrating that their community was "successful" in non-economic ways. Yes and no, I guess.
Ooh. I should qualify. My IMPRESSION was they left town because their community failed financially. I couldn't verify that. Of course, they might have left because so many kids were opting out that they wanted to get away from the terrible influence of Americans...I'm not sure about that.
Even so. I did not witness much member retention. I would judge the health of a group on that basis, to start with. Especially since the dropout rate seemed to be the result of exposure to outside ideas via mixing with non-Hutterite children.
Personally, I'd have dropped out on the basis of the food alone. But I could see the strongly escapist appeal to many people, so I expect that's where the group's longevity comes from.