Social Aspects of Sustainability and Common Property: Lessons from the History of the Hutterian Brethren
This chapter concerns the history and socioeconomic development of the Hutterian Brethren, a sixteenth-century Anabaptist sect practicing a comprehensive form of communal property. The experiences of Hutterites have implications for other agrarian communities organized on cooperative or communal principles. They also may shed some light on problems of common property and sustainable development projects in Third World countries. The historical contrasts are considerable: the Hutterites are survivors of a late medieval form of dissenting Christianity, but they are also practitioners of large-scale, efficient grain and livestock agriculture in the Northern Plains of North America. On the other hand, the institution of “common property” is a late twentieth-century concept166 referring to collective management of physical resources for conservationist purposes in Third World agrarian communities.