Canudos - A Brazilian Commune in the Late 19th Century

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Joined: 11-11-07
Nov 19 2011 22:41
Canudos - A Brazilian Commune in the Late 19th Century

So I first learned about Canudos from reading Mike Davis' Late Victorian Holocausts. So was Canudos an instance of proletarian self-management or even partial communism with some religious trappings and legitimation or was it some kind of hellish theocracy?

According to the wikipedia article on Antonio Conselheiro, the settlement's charismatic religious leader:

Antônio Conselheiro, aided by a local government by committee, composed by 12 "apostles", or elders, established a communist-like social system, with division of labour and produce, common property, abolition of civil marriage and of the official currency, prohibition of taverns, liquor and prostitution, rigid control over crimes and mandatory religious activities. He also gave a measure of personal freedom from injustice and oppression by landlords and governmental authorities. The fame of Canudos spread rapidly throughout the Northeast, as being a promised land of "milk and honey". Former black slaves, uprooted indigenous people and impoverished and landless mestizos started to come in droves to Canudos. One year later Canudos had already 8,000 new residents; by 1895 its population had grown to more than 30,000 and more than 5,000 dwellings. Two churches and one school were also built and commerce and agriculture became more organised.

The mandatory religious activity sounds pretty grim but I can't imagine so many people would have flocked there and died defending it if it was completely shit. Thoughts?