Modern Times

Long Island, New York
Anarchist/Individual Sovereignty
Open Land, Private Property
1851 - 1864

1 Dining 2 Kitchen 3 Living Room 4 Conservatory 5 Parlour 6 Music Room 7 Bedroom 8 Hall + Stairs
The experimental anarchist village of Modern Times was founded in 1851 by Seven Pearl Andrew and Josia Warren, who had lived in the failed Owenite community of New Harmony. Warren blamed communalism and authoritarianism for the collapse of New Harmony, and  founded Modern Times on the proto-anarchist principle of individual sovereignty. The community had no fences, laws, police, money or taxes and was meant to function as a self-sufficient labor exchange where people bartered goods and services. Warren purchased 700 acres of land and invited people to settle on one acre parcels, sold at cost.

The community attracted intellectuals, non-conformists, reformists, abolitionists, and suffragettes from around the world and became notorious in the press for free-love. The buildings were  a mix of rough hewn log cabins, mean shelters, and more ambitious octagonal structures, like the house of William Dame and the school house. The octagon was a cheap and efficient way to enclose space, and the novel form acted as a symbol for visionary new ways of living and dwelling.  Everyone had shelter, food, clothing and unlimited freedom of expression, until the notoriety of some members’ beliefs led to its dissolution. In 1864, Modern Times changed its name to Brentwood to avoid negative press attention and, diluted by new arrivals,  became the commuter suburb it is today.

Modern Times End Notes

Dyson, Vern, “A century of Brentwood”, Brentwood, N.Y. : Brentwood Village Press, 1950. Page 26.

Strickland, Carol. “Legacy of Modern Times, an L.I. Utopia.” New York Times, July 30, 1989.

Annie Schneider

Communes in the New World

The question of how to live together—of how best to live together—is the foundation of any society. The last few years have exposed the fault lines in our current system: climatic catastrophe, economic crisis, supply chain collapse, civil unrest, rampant inequality, and a global pandemic. We live in congested cities and in potentially dangerous proximity, yet remain isolated. In light of these mounting pressures, it’s time to revisit the fundamentals. How to Live Together offers alternative ways of being, thinking, dwelling, and living. It calls into question every basic assumption and prevailing social norm: belief, sex, the nuclear family, property ownership, our relationship to land, production, and consumption. It is both a critique and a roadmap.