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The Rise of The New Productive Communes: A Reality by the Year 2050

by Harish Shah

Sep 21, 13 • Community4 CommentsRead More »

bird_commune[1]The concept of communal living and existence of communes are definitely not new or innovative sounding, for they have been around since ancient times throughout all ages and phases of human existence. And they have worked. However, these are not common today, except in certain nomadic or small religious communities, that are either founded on poverty or survival necessity or built around the desire to exclude themselves from the outside world for the sake of cultural or spiritual preservation.

The communes of the future may also, very likely, be built around clans, ethnic groups, religious groups or social groups of one type or another, but may not necessarily be limited to that. They could be formed and run and utilised by worker or professional cooperatives that include persons and families from an endless array of heritage, culture, history, identity and personal values, with a common economic and social goals transcending present day social divisions of all forms as we know them.

The Rise of The New Productive Communes I attempt to describe herein, will be of immense economic value, and purpose, that are unprecedented till date.

The communes that I describe as The New Productive Communes will be more than just places or spaces occupied by a number of families living together, and labouring together in the day for survival and maintenance. The key characteristics of the The New Productive Communes differentiating them from all communes we can generally think about, that have likely existed till date in history will be as follows:

  • They will be very big money generating/spinning business systems in and of themselves effectively, being highly productive and contributing to the outside world, commercially and economically
  • They will be very highly self-sufficient and unprecedentedly efficient in all ways
  • They will be a gateway out of poverty or a mode to uplift the poor, providing immense unprecedented equal opportunity and treatment to everyone without any social or economic divide within the commune system, as every member will have an equal share and ownership of the commune he or she cohabits, as well as a responsibility within, as long as he or she is able to contribute constructively and productively.
  • They will be very hi-tech, built around models to ensure that they continue consistently and constantly to evolve, reinvent themselves, improve and continue to thrive for many generations without an end or exit in sight.
  • These communes will be much larger, than the ones still existing around the world, in terms of numbers of cohabitants of these communes living, working, learning and playing together.
  • The communes will have an environmental role that has not yet been seen by humanity.
  • The communes will provide the highest quality and standard of life and living possible today, to the cohabitants.

The likelihood of these New Productive Communes being in existence by 2050 is exceptionally high because worker-groups or cooperatives in some countries, with their own progressive mindsets and plans, are separately already working towards such models for their cooperatives. My own family clan, mainly based in 3rd world India has already got a conversation ongoing, on-hand, to develop a self-sufficient and economically viable commune, to help uplift the poorer and less-fortunate members of the clan. With the current ongoing social behavioural trends around the world, the economic & environmental motivations and the technological feasibilities combined, the realisation of these New Productive Communes are within reach.

There are already ongoing efforts to develop sea-steads or ocean and sea based communes, built on oil-rig like structures, but only far bigger and far more durable, that would support communities, cohabiting at sea, while being economically productive and viable, and this has been in the works for years now, with all the engineering and technological requirements for realisation, being within practical reach. However, this post is not about communes that are Sea-stead based. The New Productive Communes I describe, will be much larger, will far wider functions, than can be supported on floating platforms and will have to be land-based.

The typical New Productive Communes, that will be highly profitable, for both those who invest in them or the governments who’s nations host and support them, will typically, though not necessarily always, have the following characteristics:

  • They will have a population of cohabitants numbering in the thousands,
  • They will own and cover land area in tens or hundreds of square kilometres,
  • Not only will they run in a 100% environmentally friendly manner, but will contribute towards mitigating much of the environmental damage that mankind has already caused,
  • They will either be built on coastal land masses or on large islands whether naturally in existence or artificial expansion through land reclamation,
  • They will be principally and primarily agricultural in nature with highly innovative means, methods and technologies to ensure abundant production of food all year around, both for consumption within the communes and for sale to the outside world commercially,
  • The key and central themes will be sustainability and continuity with maximum automation,
  • Each individual commune will likely be a high revenue generating business in and of itself,

Here I attempt to describe briefly, a typical New Productive Commune that will likely be in existence, and thriving, in the year 2050.

Based on a coastal mass of land, it will comprise a huge desalination plant, powered by a combination of tidal, solar, thermal and hydroelectric energies, drawing epic proportions of sea water from the open sea, to desalinate and process the sea water, to convert it to water usable for agricultural, industrial and human consumption purposes. The by-products, salt and water, will be used both on the commune and sold commercially to the outside world for income.

On the commune, the land will be divided for particular purposes of agriculture, such as growing of vegetables, growing of fruits, growing of cereals & grain such as rice, growing of nuts, growing of sugarcane in particular for sugar, growing of spices, rearing of cattle for milk and rearing of sheep for wool. Even in countries where not all of these crops are supported by their climates, these crops will be grown in the New Productive Communes with the use of technology. Not all of the crop growth and harvesting will be done on open land as we can traditionally imagine it. Much of it may occur underground and in multi-storyed agricultural buildings that could be built up to heights of skyscrapers, with the use of artificial radiation-free sunlight, incorporating technologies such as hydroponics, aeroponics and other hybrid methods. Underground reservoirs will be built for water-storage. With hi-tech weather defence systems, like retractable roofs that are sturdy and durable, flood-prevention systems and storm barricades, crops would be grown and harvested all year around, without interruption, even from weather and calamities. Even with superstorms, tsunamis or freezing winters occurring all around, the crop production will not be disrupted.

All structures will be low-cost, environmentally friendly, expandable, space efficient and highly durable. Storm and earthquake proof designs and structures will be central themes, as well as human safety. Cotton will be grown on the communes, and silk worms too will be reared and maintained for silk.

The commune will have its own state-of-the art medical facilities to serve any medical requirement, learning facilities & resources for education of school going, tertiary or advanced tertiary level students and sporting & fitness facilities. The communes will have their own production facilities, to produce dairy products, clothing, food processing and so on.

The commune’s income from selling salt, water, clothing, raw cotton, raw silk, raw wool, milk & dairy products, vegetables, fruits, nuts, processed sugar, raw sugarcane, cereal, grain and spices that are not used for its own consumption, will help pay for the commune itself, over a certain fixed period starting from its commencement. The commune will be cohabited by families that will live on and contribute productively to the operations of the commune, running the desalination plant, overseeing the maintenance of the housing, contributing to childcare and eldercare as required, its cleanliness, technical support and so on. The commune will also provide electricity to its home/host state where it is located. The electricity generated from solar, thermal, tidal, wind and hydroelectric sources for which it will have facilities within the commune, will be channelled out to the state for public services usage, apart from serving all the energy needs of the commune itself.

Other roles the commune could play would be the management of a harbour or port, ship repair, ship building & maintenance and the management of a lighthouse facility. It could also operate a weather station.

All of the laborious chores will be automated, and the human role will be to oversee and manage all the processes and production via interfaces giving them visual overviews with voice command executions. Even any maintenance, repair or construction work will be simply overseen in such manner, with the use of robots or robotised systems for actual field operation or execution. The security of the commune will also be automatic, hi-tech and unbreachable.

Each commune, serving multiple functions that are economic, while being self-sufficient, will require productive cohabitants, that are mult-talented, multi-skilled and able to learn and adapt, to productively and constructively contribute to the seamless running of the intertwined and multiple processes required for the commune’s effective functioning.

The financial model for such communes will be, that they will initially be funded by a financial institution or other corporations or even the state, after which as a commercial entity, once built and developed, it will generate profits to provide a recovery and return on investment to the investor, while channelling some of it on a regular basis to the cohabitant households on the communes as a form of income for them, over and above the operating and maintenance cost of the commune. In other words, the commune’s income generated, will be used to buy the commune out of the debt on which it will first be built, while also facilitating the cohabitants’ earning a shared ownership of it over a period of time. Whether in terms of investment of productive contribution on the part of the cohabitants, or in terms of financial investment on the part of the investor up front, either way, the investment will have to be a long-haul interest. The reason is, while such communes serving multiple functions with high efficiency, including cost efficiency, with tangible and high-in-demand products to sell, will be hugely profitable, they will be so, over the long-term, simply, because the initial cost of acquiring the land, installing the technologies and constructing the facilities, will be giagantic, easily figuring into the billions of US dollars or Euros, despite low-cost methods and technologies that will be developed over time.

The incentive for the investors funding such a commune, would be, without having to manage a workforce, having to oversee the management of a complex intertwined system, its maintenance, expansion, continuity and so on, it can rely on fixed returns upon investment once a commune is up and running for a long-time, at a negotiated rate, which can be an asset with a market value. The investment could be sold off to someone taking over the debt, that will be paid off, guaranteed to the creditor. What the investor can have, is ROI far greater than the value of investment initially poured, into the land, the materials, the technology and the construction, over the long-term, with no liability, and surety of success, because the cohabitants will have a vested interest in continued success of the commune. Though this may not make sense to many educated minds today, over the next few decades, for large investors, investing in such commune projects will seem like a more secure form of investment, than investing in bonds, gold and such other forms, with more promising long-term returns.

The cohabitants will probably likely be part of a worker-cooperative that would have planned and started the commune, or part of an ethnic group, a religious group, a social group, a guild, a village or rural community relocated by the state, or clan group or a tribe that have a common bond binding members together, but, with a business plan coupled with adequate skills and expertise to make a New Productive Commune work over and above that bond.

Typically, a household will move into a commune, without paying a rent, fee or making any form of purchase or investment. Overtime however, through productive contribution to the commune, each household will earn its stake, an ownership, of a home they reside in, on the commune, by simply paying for it, through productive contribution. This will therefore serve as a ticket out of poverty for any such family, provided it can bring valuable skill sets or expertise that the commune can tap on. Logic will suggest, that the skill requirement or expertise in question will have to be very high and valuable. We are probably looking at candidate for cohabitation, who have top education, with Masters or PhDs, that are cross-trained in a wide variety of hard disciplines such as science, engineering, programming, medicine and architecture. In the present day context, these would be the sort of highly qualified candidates that would be highly sought after by the most sought employers, the best and highest salary paying corporations in the world. To justify this statement is simple; how else would a commune work so profitability to warrant the kind of investment required, if not for a large collection of such highly capable persons under one roof to make it work, and financial sensible to invest in? It makes sense to the investor, to say, “We bring the money, you bring the capability.” And if someone has acquired the kind of talent and capability, then he or she deserves the opportunity to be a part of such a commune system, that bring very significant economic rewards.

Here someone may ask, how is it then, that such communes will be tickets out of poverty if the skills and educational requirement of each member would be so high, and how do you find such large numbers of people within specific communities willing to cohabit in running such a Productive commune together? This question leads us to another subject, of educational advancement and evolution, as well as its proliferation, globally over the period of the next few decades. It also brings us to the subject of completely free, incentivised and borderless education for every child born being a reality well before 2050. This could mean that the offspring of the destitute today, could end up attaining a PhD, on a level playing field, with a fair opportunity, to make significant productive contribution to the world, and its future.

Nonetheless, the pathway for any community or group, to build, acquire investment to start with and start a commune will not be simple, as it will still have to uplift itself with widespread and extensive education for its members first, and though education will become accessible to all, it will also get more rigorous. The next challenge is for the community and group to come together, and concur on a direction, a plan and roles and contributions to make it work.

When the first of such communes becomes a reality, its founders and initially cohabitants, will likely predominantly be very young. We are looking at a generation not yet born today, to be likely to initiate the first of such communes, effectively, at least more than three decades from today, though they may have older members as part of the found group, here and there, or family members, like their parents for example, who may have some role in the commune’s commercial or internal functioning. We can base this statement on the kind of requirements for a group or community as I have already described, to likely be able, to acquire the kind of investment needed for such a huge commune project. Once such a commune comes into being, it certainly will not be the last. The idea will keep spreading, and more similar communes will be developed around the world.

Families cohabiting on the commune will not have to pay for water, electricity, food and clothing, on top of not having to pay for the housing. There will be no internet or telecommunications cost either. This means whatever income a family draws, would be for things like vacations, recreation and luxury. All children will have unlimited access to the state-of-the art learning and educational facilities to aid their academic and educational development. The medical support and facilities will also be free of cost to the cohabitants. In sum, money will not be a factor in comfortable and adequate living for the commune’s cohabitants. Every resident will have all the access, to as much as they could require.

Each home on the commune will mirror every other. Each home will be 100% efficient, covering an area minimally required for the comfortable living of a family, though customisable in some ways to meet specific needs, such as for housing of infants, elderly, handicapped and so on. The homes will be apartments in multi-storey buildings, to optimise usage of space on the commune. Every home will be fully connected to the web, with built in intelligent systems, cooking, information and entertainment facilities.

Throughout the commune, there will be no element that could harm the environment or atmosphere in any way by means of toxification or emission. The entire commune will be paperless and everything will be done digitally, with all documentation and records, safe on cloud systems with multiple back-ups with easy access and retrieval, as and when required.

I acknowledge that my presentation of the New Productive Communes herein is not exhaustive. A lot of further study and elaboration can indeed be done, and need to be done, to detail the feasibility and likelihood and possibilities for this new form of Productive Communes, more in-depth. Herein, I have only made a humble attempt to share superficially, preliminarily a description of the type of communes that are likely to become reality, at this present point in time, until I can revisit the subject with further, deeper and broader elaboration and analysis.

This much is certain for now, that there are economic, social and environmental merits, along with incentives to the human participants, for the New Productive Communes. The social aspect is one left unexpanded upon herein, which may be revisted at a later point in time. It is also certain that the technological direction we’re headed towards, will make it possible for the conflation of various technologies to render as feasible to creation and operation of such communes, at a much lower cost than possible in the present day, and far more efficiently in terms of operation than is possible in the present day. Also to elaborate further is the specification of the housing system and living conditions, which will be of the highest standards, though space efficient and savvy.

However, at present, since no such commune exists, various answers will still have to be looked into and answered, before the first of such communes is commenced. Questions such as, what if a cohabitant breaks the rules or breaches the peace and sanctity or values of the commune? How will it be dealt with? Is he or she, or the family, still entitled to part ownership of the home on the commune after years of productive contribution upon any form of a breach? Who will define or how will it be defined, the extent or measure of each cohabitant household’s contribution, as fair and equal? How will a household be deemed to have earned its ownership of a home, and therefore their equal share of the commune? What are the legal implications? What will the management structures, models and leadership frameworks be like? Such questions though may seem trivial or superficial, are critically important to answer for anything of such a scale to work.

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4 Responses to The Rise of The New Productive Communes: A Reality by the Year 2050

  1. Liz Landray says:

    Hello Harish
    Some great thinking here. I was wondering if this idea is plausible as an alterntive lifestyle choice in other communities and countries. With apartment living on the rise the physical infrastrucutre might already be in place. What else would it take to progress this even sooner than 2050?

  2. Harish Shah says:

    Hi Liz,

    The answer to your question depends on what your definition of “alternative lifestyle choice” is and in which community and country you are refering to. Communes are of an any number of types and the particular kind this article is in reference to is the The New Productive kind foreseen or anticipated given the various present day signals pointing to their emergence.

    The physical infrastructure for communal living or working has always been in place, because since the begining of civilisations, humanity has lived and worked in communes, but whether the technology, know-how or social conditions exist to support the kind of New Productive Communes as described herein, is another matter. The technologies are still evolving in that direction, our education system still needs a revamp globally and the social conditions are shaping up, give about another decade. It is the educational aspect that will take the longest time to take necessary shape in this case, as technologically humanity has reached a stage where we can almost just imagine something scientifically feasible, and within a short time, it is real.

    What would it take to progress this sooner than 2050? The answer is definitely a global transformation of education, whether primary education, innovation education, business education or advance engineering.

    Harish Shah.

  3. […] In the first half of 2013, The Rise of New Productive Communes: A Reality by the Year 2050, a foresight article, was shared on the Visioning 2050 blog . I had shared the foresight of self-sufficient, self-contained and sustainable communes emerging, that would cause no detriment to the environment, but rather help in mitigating the damage humanity has already caused upon it. The New Productive Commune was also presented on this blog as a highly profitable model, that would be synergistic, ensuring that all needs of its each inhabitant would be more than sufficiently met. The New Productive Commune would provide a good life for the community that would reside and work within it, while contributing significantly to the larger economy or the world. The article was later reproduced on the website of Asia’s leading Futurist movement, the India Future Society. […]

  4. […] In the first half of 2013, The Rise of New Productive Communes: A Reality by the Year 2050, a foresight article, was shared on the Visioning 2050 . The New Productive Commune was presented as a self-sufficient, self-contained and sustainable model, that would cause no detriment to the environment, but rather help in mitigating the damage humanity has already caused upon it.  It would be a highly profitable synergistic model, ensuring all needs of its inhabitants. The New Productive Commune would contribute significantly to the larger economy or the world. The article was later reproduced on the website of Asia’s leading Futurist movement, the India Future Society. […]

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