The Communal idea in 21st Century Australia and New Zealand
The title of this book appears to have an underlying assumption that there is some question, perhaps even some doubt, about the relevance of communal living in the 21st century. Critics might argue that communal living may well have been relevant in earlier times when rural living was more common, when religious passion was more frequent and ardent, and when socialism, in its broadest range of guises, seemed to be a utopian answer to the woes of industrial society? But today the argument might run, in our globalised village with instant communication within a post-modem world, communalism is as out-dated as the horse and buggy. I can find little or no evidence that such assumptions are true in Australia and New Zealand but can find considerable evidence to the contrary. In fact, I wrote about thi_s twenty years ago and what I argued then is more pronounced today (Metcalf 1991 ). In this chapter I shall explore and explain this by examining Australian and New Zealand history, explaining how, while the dominant drive for communal experimentation has certainly changed over time, and has ebbed and flowed in intensity, it has never evaporated and today it is probably stronger than at almost anytime in the past. And while there are significant differences between Australia's and New Zealand's communal history, there is enough similarity to allow us to examine these in tandem.
The Communal idea in the 21st Century