Whilst I am interested in analysing things and putting my thoughts into the words you see in front of you, I am also a person who wants action and to live as closely to my values as far as I possibly can. I will therefore seek ways to fulfil this goal. One way is to work together with others by means of intentional communities – people that share my values and my goals.
However, in my dealings with people so far, I have noticed a strange reaction to intentional actions that aim to contribute to a larger emancipatory project. Specifically, when one refers to setting up intentional communities and the potential for radical change they hold, one receives a degree of suspicion and a knee-jerk fear based response.
Generally, that response includes the claim that it “sounds culty” in the sense of the traditional mindless cults such as Heaven’s Gate or the Branch Davidian group. But surely I shouldn’t have to point out that just because those particular intentional communities were filled with false ideas and bare madness, does not mean that all intentional communities are negative? Cult is simply another ‘power word’ that is widely used in this culture, and whilst I do not doubt that there are intentional communities that have a negative effect on their associates, the vast majority appear to not be cults but rather, peaceful associations. The built-in negative responses to intentional communities then seem in part due to the reputation of the few that receive negative publicity.
Indeed, it seems that the vast majority of intentional communities (that are generally aimed more at economy than emancipation) do not gain national or international attention due to them functioning reasonably well, fulfilling their mutual objectives without event. Therefore the few ‘bad apples’ give a bad name to the overwhelming majority of intentional communities, in the minds of those amongst the populace (currently the majority) who do not apply critical thinking.
By means of dual-direction feedback loops, this misconception reinforces – and is reinforced by – the current nation-state-centric and humanist mindsets, since alternative associations are by reflex seen as being dangerous and ‘culty’. People under the spells of nations, states or ‘the global village’ do not understand why people would look to other groupings.
The incumbent system and the heteronomy that derives from it not only demand absolute loyalty, but sees to it that alternate associations and loyalties – ranging from basic private associations (low-level counter-heteronomy) to intentional communities (high-level counter-heteronomy) – are automatically viewed with suspicion. This must be overcome, and the first step towards it is simply to be unafraid. That is – to be unafraid of passionate, open and honest friendships and associations where our trust and understanding can be held in confidence. Only then can we begin to break the hold of this heteronomous system over the mass of people and bring them out of their shells so that they may gain positive mutual association and autonomy.