Many have tried it, few have succeeded. This is a list of the top American utopian experiments.
Over the years, people have tried to recreate a utopian world, much like that of the Garden of Eden before the fall. Utopian visionaries designed their own Plan B by uniting with a common ideology and breaking apart from mainstream society in attempt for the religious to reach their heaven-like home immediately. However, very few have ever succeeded – most went into debt and disintegrated just a few years after conception.These are the trials and tribulations of these not-so-utopian utopias.
Nashoba (1826)Photo: Metaweb / CC-BY
Leader: Frances Wright
Her intention: Wright was inspired by Owen’s communitarian ideas while she lived in New Harmony. She came up with her own idea for a community, which would help slaves learn to be self-sufficient, educated, and trained in an industry. She bought a plot of land in Tennessee and brought fifteen slaves whose freedom she had bought, along with a group of young, idealist, white people. The catch: "emancipated" slaves had to work to earn enough for a passage back to Africa, completely defeating the purpose of her abolitionist movement.
- Only white people could be trustees and oversaw administration
- Property and labor were communal
- Interracial relationships were allowed
- Women were equal to menDemise: There was controversy around Wright’s experiment and the commune was falling into deep debt. Wright left to Europe to raise funds and when she returned, the white people had abandoned the slaves. Wright sailed with them to Haiti, where they were freed.
The Amish (1730)Photo: Metaweb / GNU Free Documentation License
Leader: Named for Jakob Ammann, their first leader
His Intention: Known as the successors of the Anabaptists, the Amish, led by Jakob Amman, broke from the Mennonites, an Anabaptist faction, because of their lack of discipline. The Swiss and German-descended Amish wanted to preserve seventeenth-century European rural culture when they immigrated to Pennsylvania, where William Penn was experimenting with religious freedom.
- Their language is known as Pennsylvania Dutch
- Members cannot be photographed because it shows vanity
- They also do not use the conveniences of modern technology, which means their horse-drawn buggies, which can only go at an average of five to eight miles per hour, sometimes get totaled by cars on the freeway.
- Converts from outside of the Amish community are very rare
- Formal education is discontinued after the eighth grade
- The Ordnung is a set of rules all Amish members must follow, which include day to day instructions, and members can be permanently shunned for not following- They must refuse government help such as Social Security and are not allowed to be in the military
Demise: It hasn’t come. The Amish have settled in many states across the U.S and have divided into multiple factions. Some are experiencing a large flux of inherited diseases, such as retardation and dwarfism because of the small gene pool.