The New International Encyclopædia/Communistic Societies

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The New International Encyclopædia
Communistic Societies
Edition of 1905. See also Commune on Wikipedia, and the disclaimer.

COMMUNISTIC SOCIETIES. Social, and frequently, religious associations based on the general principle of each member contributing all his possessions, labor, and earnings to a common stock, in which all members share alike. As is pointed out more fully in the article Communism (q.v.), such expedients have been adopted for the benefit of groups of individuals throughout the entire course of history. In central Europe, during the Reformation, numerous communistic organizations sprang up, notably the Taborites (q.v.) and their successors, the Moravians (q.v.). Later the teachings of Fourier and Saint-Simon on the Continent and Kingsley and Hughes in England stimulated like movements. During the past century the United States has been the scene of nearly all communistic organizations, a new country furnishing the best field. They characterize that stage in social evolution during which men are forced to group together into communities in order to provide for their mutual wants, and disappear with the appearance of more complex division of labor and more advanced social conditions. The more important modern communistic societies are treated elsewhere under separate titles. See Koreshan Ecclesia; Separatists; Shakers; Perfectionists, etc.

Of the lesser communistic societies may be mentioned: (1) The Adonai Shomo. This society was organized and incorporated in Petersham, Mass., in 1876. Its religious principles are like those of the Adventists, among whom the movement originated. The communistic system is added, with recognition of an equal voice to men and women in the management. The society ceased to exist in 1897. (2) The Altruists. This society is non-sectarian and does not interfere vith marriage or the family affairs of its members, or with their opinions. Men and women are accorded equal rights, and the governing body is chosen by the vote of the majority. (3) The Amana Community, or True Inspiration Congregation. The first members of this society came from Germany, led by Christian Metz, of Strassburg, and founded the Community of Eben-Ezer, near Buffalo, N. Y., in 1842. Between 1855 and 1865 they gradually removed to their present location, near Davenport, Iowa. They have no creed but the Bible, believing in its entire inspiration, that God still inspires His people and that their leaders for the time being are possessed by this gift. They hold the doctrines of the Trinity, justification by faith, the resurrection of the dead, and purification of the wicked by fire, but not that of eternal punishment; are non-resistants, and approve of marriage. Members are classified as of the highest, middle, and children's orders, to the last of which those of the higher orders who fail are dropped till they amend. An examination of the spiritual condition of all the members is held at least once a year. Their regular religious services include singing, reading from the Bible and the inspired book, prayer, and exhortation. Temporal affairs are administered by a board of trustees chosen by the members, to which women are not elected.