Author Louisa May Alcott got dragged off to one of these, writes Lawrence W. Reed at FEE:
Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women was published more than a century and a half ago–in 1868–and all these decades later, it remains a popular novel. What the author’s many fans may not know is that as a young girl, Alcott learned firsthand just how ridiculous a utopian socialist commune is.Alcott was just 11 when her father moved the family to the experimental village of Fruitlands in Massachusetts. It was not a promising place. Elizabeth Dunn at History.com writes,
Fruitlands was founded in Harvard, Massachusetts, as a self-sufficient farming community by Charles Lane and Bronson Alcott, two men with no practical experience in either farming or self-sufficiency…Settlers were forbidden to eat meat, consume stimulants, use any form of animal labor, create artificial light, enjoy hot baths or drink anything but water. Lane’s ideas later evolved to include celibacy within marriage, which caused no small amount of friction between him and his most loyal disciple, Bronson Alcott, who had relocated his wife and four daughters [Louisa being one of them] to Fruitlands in a characteristic fit of enthusiasm.
At least 119 utopian, communal or socialist settlements were founded in the early 1800s in America. As most of the country reveled in newly won freedoms and a market economy that allowed the enterprising to create wealth, a few malcontents sought a different life. They spurned private property in favor of sharing material things in common. They preferred a “planned” community over the supposed “chaos” of the market’s spontaneous order. They thought if they just worked out on paper what their preferred society would look like, everything and everybody would just fall into place.