The Communal Settlements

Submitted by Juan Conatz on December 23, 2010

Held in lower esteem within the ranks of the FAUD were the activities of the “Settlers Movement,” although there were individuals like the writer Theodor Plivier and Helmut Klose who enjoyed the respect of union members. [According to the FAUD], revolutionary class struggle could not be carried out through separation from the working class, but rather through class-aligned workplace organizations: the power of industrial monopolies could only be broken from within by the workers. Settlements or communal associations were in contrast dependent on the goodwill of their capitalist competitors and thereby destined for failure.

Nevertheless, settlement projects were started throughout the territory of the Weimar Republic with the participation and help of syndicalists and anarchists. In the debate surrounding the “settlement question” one member of the editorial board of “Der Syndikalist” was even removed from his position, a result of his decision to publish further articles on the issue after it had been agreed that the paper would concentrate on workplace struggles. It was feared that the FAUD, as a fighting organization of the proletariat, would degenerate into a sect isolated from the general population. A number of these settlements were, in fact, founded by anarcho-syndicalists and were influenced by syndicalist ideas, among them the “Free Earth” communes in Düsseldorf and Stuttgart, and Barkenhoff, founded with the support of Heinrich Vogeler in Worpswede.