A shadow hangs over the history of the communes in the United States—that of scores of communes which broke up while still in their early stage. Only a few survived for more than ten years, and the number that lasted for a generation is minute. The exceptions to this are the Hutterian communes that have existed continuously from 1530 until the present. Except for these, the story of the U.S. communes is a collection of pathetic and sad case histories whose heroes were idealists and visionaries going forth to build God’s kingdom on earth or create a new social order. Since their vision did not materialize and their expectations remained unfulfilled they abandoned their attempt, frustrated and disillusioned at seeing their vision smashed on the rocks of disappointing reality. In view of these episodes it might appear that there is substance in the claims of those critical of the communal idea—that the prospects for communes lasting for any length of time are nil, because they are based on principles that go against human nature and therefore contain elements that would inevitably destroy them. This generalization should be examined in detail in view of the historical facts presented in this book.