Christian communitarian anarchists
In an earlier post, on Christian Anarchism meets Occupy Wall Street, Carl Brook asked in a comment if there were any communitarian empressions of Christian anarchy that I was aware of, and I replied, like Pogo and the cowbirds, “Just me.” Carl then asked if I was serious, and this post is my answer.
The reference to Pogo and the cowbirds is from The Jack Acid Society Black Book, which was published by Simon and Schuster in the USA in the 1960s. It is a satire on the John Birch Society, a right-wing group that was founded in the USA about the mid-1960s.
In the book two dwellers in the Okefenokee Swamp, Deacon Mushrat and Molester Mole, form the Jack Acid Society, one of whose aims is to compile a black list of those they suspect of being anywhere left of the far right.
Here Deacon Mushrat meets Pogo Possom, and they discuss the state of the media.
Deacon Mushrat then asks Pogo if he knows anyone who ought to be on the black list:
So when Carl asks if I was aware of any Christian communtarian anarchists who were around in the old apartheid era, I have to answer like Pogo: the only one I’m sure of was me. And I wasn’t even that sure of me.
On 13 May 1963 I received in the post a newspaper called The Catholic Worker. It was sent to me by Brother Roger, an Anglican monk of the Community of the Resurrection. He had been in South Africa for several years, and was one of my gurus. At the beginning of 1963 he was recalled to the UK by his order, and was at the mother house at Mirfield in Yorkshire. He had found a copy of the Catholic Worker, thought it might interest me, and sent it to me. I read it with growing excitement. Here were some people who were actually doing what I was only talking about.
The next day I wrote a letter to Dorothy Day, the founder of the Catholic Worker, and sent it off with a year’s subscription to the paper. During that year I and a friend, John Aitchison, edited the magazine of the Anglican Society of the University of Natal in Pietermaritzburg, the Anglican Witness. We nicked quite a lot of articles from the Catholic Worker, and republished them locally in the Anglican Witness. But there was no one, not even John Aitchison, who shared my enthusiasm for the anarcho-communitarian ideas espoused by the Catholic Worker.
And I never did find anyone who shared that enthusiasm, not even to humour me and be willing at least to talk about it. They all thought it was impractical visionary dreaming and a waste off time. Even when I was living in a sort of Christian commune, trying to express some kind of community (what is nowadays called “the new monasticism”), no one was willing to take those kinds of ideas seriously or thought them worth discussing.