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Cooperative Communities and the Libertarian Movement



August 25, 2011 – Comments (9)

On the occasion when I explain my upbringing in Ananda Village, California, to fellow libertarians, I am often met with funny looks or a halfhearted, “That’s neat,” in response. Ananda, founded by J. Donald Walters (also known as Swami Kriyananda), is an intentional cooperative community celebrating its 43rd anniversary this year. The community of Ananda is, quite simply, a gathering of individuals who follow the spiritual teachings of  the Indian yogi, Paramhansa Yogananda (author of “Autobiography of a Yogi”). I was born and raised in Ananda, and the community itself is a haven of individual creativity, dedication, and entrepreneurship.

There is no rule book or set constitution for communities to adopt. There is nothing mandating that communities have to be collective socialist communes where no one can so much as own their own shirt. Communities are basic structures, they are whatever people create of them. Some individuals might prefer a community that focuses on promoting entrepreneurship, others a community that centers on building birdhouses and widgets. Regardless of the intended community focus, the key concept is an intentional community provides a foundation for like-minded individuals to come together, collaborate, and work toward a common goal.

Libertarians often try to change things through a legislative process in government, which is a great and noble goal. However, the libertarian movement dedicated to individual liberty, free markets, and voluntary interactions must face the reality that the beast of an overextended government is not easily tamed. Focusing the majority of your energy to change an overextended government through the government may not be the best course of action. Libertarians, and all those dedicated to individual freedom and responsibility, must take it upon themselves to directly bring about an alternative lifestyle or society that promotes and protects libertarian ideals.

This is an area where libertarians can, believe it or not, learn from the Green movement. The Green movement has spent billions of dollars lobbying government and attempting to elect government officials who promise to promote environmental causes; this is a similar approach to many libertarian groups and movements today. What’s noteworthy, however, is how some in the Green movement have seen the need to do more than lobby government to achieve their goals of environmental stewardship, instead working to create voluntary ecovillage communities focused on environmental education and preservation. These ecovillage communities provide a hub for true environmentalists to come together to directly engage in environmental preservation, grow local food, and practice sustainable living techniques.

In the same way that some in the Green movement are starting ecovillage communities around the world, libertarians should shift their energy and consider beginning libertarian communities. Libertarians, anarcho-capitalists, and voluntaryists can do much more than just talk about the ideals of a truly free society, they can create a free society one person at a time. Two libertarian projects, The Free State Project and Southeast Liberty Project, are already using the principles of communities to further the goals of the libertarian movement. All great ideas and projects must start small; rather than trying to save an entire forest, start with saving several trees. Cooperative communities are a valuable addition to the libertarian tool chest; the tyranny of an overreaching government can be chiseled away by creating practical small-scale alternatives to the state.


9 Comments – Post Your Own

#1) On August 25, 2011 at 3:47 PM, ContraryDude (42.06) wrote:

We have a similar community in Colorado.  It's called "Boulder". Named after a large rock.

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#2) On August 25, 2011 at 4:07 PM, Melaschasm (69.58) wrote:

The Free State Project is a very neat idea, which has already had a significant impact on New Hampshire.  I have been following their progress for years, and look forward to seeing many more major accomplishments in the future.

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#3) On August 25, 2011 at 8:24 PM, TMFPencils (99.92) wrote:


Are you speaking of the Boulder Creek Community? I looked it up here: Looks like a great place! If I'm ever in the area I'd love to check it out.  

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#4) On August 25, 2011 at 10:31 PM, whereaminow (< 20) wrote:


Always a pleasure to read your blogs!

Libertarians, and all those dedicated to individual freedom and responsibility, must take it upon themselves to directly bring about an alternative lifestyle or society that promotes and protects libertarian ideals.

I agree wholeheartedly.  Somewhere on YouTube there is a lecture given by Murray Rothbard where he relates his confusion upon hearing the question, "what course of action should libertarians take to bring about change?"  His answer, "all of them! (Provided you don't violate libertarian principles in your course of action, by stealing or using coercion for example.)"

That's why I get so much joy from the work of people bringing us:

Food freedom (e.g. Joel Salatin)
Education freedom (Khan Academy, Mises Academy and University of the People)
Fitness freedom (Mark Sisson)
Information freedom (Julian Assange and Justin Raimondo)
Political freedom (Ron Paul)

Just to name a few.  That's a very microscopic list of the many great ideas and great hard working people out there working toward liberty.  No need to limit ourselves to working within the set constraints of the governmental system.

Enjoyed your blog.

David in Qatar

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#5) On August 25, 2011 at 10:43 PM, Momentum21 (96.81) wrote:

David in Qatar - I just subcribed to Mark's Daily Apple

Perhaps I can find my inner Freedom from a different angle : ) thx  

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#6) On August 25, 2011 at 10:49 PM, TMFPencils (99.92) wrote:

Hi David,

Good to hear from you! I'm hopefully getting back into the writing/blogging game. 

The great thing about the freedom movement is its full demonstrations and outbursts of individual creativity. Just the methods people come up with to campaign for Ron Paul showed the unlimited creativity people can achieve.  

I might be returning to my community, Ananda, to create a college degree focusing on creating and connecting cooperative communities. As the political and economic situations in the world continue to deteriorate, people are going to desperately look for a new way to live. Communities offer the potential for people to live with like-minded folks, express their full individual creativity, and live a productive and meaningful lifestyle. 

Anyway, always love to hear from you. I check out your blog at least once a week or so; keep up the great work! Stay in touch. 



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#7) On August 26, 2011 at 3:19 PM, devoish (64.32) wrote:


Libertarians picked New Hampshire as the freest State? A state that taxes wealth, landowners, corporate profits, interest and dividends and redistributes that wealth as services to everyone in the State? That delivered a better result for freedom than income and sales taxes!?

Who'd-a thunk it?

Lets sign up the whole country for that tax plan.

Best wishes, 


PS. I like New Hampshire. Please don't screw it up.

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#8) On August 27, 2011 at 8:06 PM, TMFPencils (99.92) wrote:

Gee, those are some really constructive comments Devoish. Sorry your cynism leads to borderline misery. I hope you find what you're looking for by attacking individuals who are trying to live according to their beliefs. .  

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#9) On August 27, 2011 at 9:50 PM, Melaschasm (69.58) wrote:

The FSP chose NH for a variety of reasons. 

NH is one of the more free states by many measures, including a freedom loving culture.  For example, NH gun ownership restrictions are much more limited than most states

NH has reasonably low taxes, and fees, including zero income taxes.

NH is a small state, which means it will require fewer libertarians to have a significant impact.

NH is an early primary state, which means a shift in culture there can have an unusually large impact on national elections.

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