Shakers

Stuart Lawrence stuartwl at walrus.com
Tue Dec 24 10:25:16 MST 2002


----- Original Message -----
From: "Louis Proyect" <lnp3 at panix.com>

> What we gain from them,  however, is a sense of the feasibility of
> a different kind of life geared more to human needs than private
> profit. One such experiment was the Shakers, a religious sect that > had
about 6000 adherents at its peak.

Louis, I don't mean to be flip, but shouldn't we refer to a life that
included mandatory celibacy as one geared to _some_ human needs?

I think there's something to be learned from the Shakers' insistence on
reproducing their communities not by raising their own children in them (for
the most part) but taking in adults from outside them. The problem the
Shakers imposed on themselves proved to be fatal. Disidentifying with the
world they lived in included rejection of everything associated with
reproduction and private family life.

This evokes for me a feature of some sectarian political groups that has
been mentioned here on several occasions, a hostility to parenthood and
family commitments on the part of members. That this could be a major rather
than a minor failing in the way some groups have organized themselves and
their members' lives is worth thinking about.

Stuart



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