—communer, n.v. /keuh myoohn"/; n. /kom"yoohn/, v., communed, communing, n.v.i.1. to converse or talk together, usually with profound intensity, intimacy, etc.; interchange thoughts or feelings.2. to be in intimate communication or rapport: to commune with nature.n.3. interchange of ideas or sentiments.[1250-1300; ME com(m)unen < MF comuner to share, deriv. of comun COMMON]commune2/keuh myoohn"/, v.i., communed, communing.to partake of the Eucharist.[1275-1325; ME; back formation from COMMUNION]commune3/kom"yoohn/, n.1. a small group of persons living together, sharing possessions, work, income, etc., and often pursuing unconventional lifestyles.2. a close-knit community of people who share common interests.3. the smallest administrative division in France, Italy, Switzerland, etc., governed by a mayor assisted by a municipal council.4. a similar division in some other country.5. any community organized for the protection and promotion of local interests, and subordinate to the state.6. the government or citizens of a commune.7. See people's commune.a. a revolutionary committee that took the place of the municipality of Paris in the revolution of 1789, usurped the authority of the state, and was suppressed by the National Convention in 1794.b. a socialistic government of Paris from March 18 to May 27, 1871.[1785-95; < F < ML communa (fem.), alter. of L commune community, state, orig. neut. of communis COMMON]
* * *IGroup of people living together who hold property in common and live according to a set of principles usually arrived at or endorsed by the group.The utopian socialism of Robert Dale Owen and others led to experimental communities of this sort in the early 19th century in Britain and the U.S., including New Harmony, Brook Farm, and the Oneida Community. Many communes are inspired by religious principles; monastic life is essentially communal (see monasticism). B. F. Skinner's Walden Two (1948) inspired many American attempts at communal living, especially in the late 1960s and early 1970s. See also collective farm, communitarianism, kibbutz, moshav.IIIn medieval European history, a town that acquired self-governing municipal institutions.Most such towns were defined by an oath binding the citizens or burghers of the town to mutual protection and assistance. The group became an association able to own property, make agreements, exercise jurisdiction over members, and exercise governmental powers. Communes were particularly strong in northern and central Italy, where the lack of a powerful central government allowed them to develop into independent city-states. Those of France and Germany were more often limited to local government.
* * *▪ Chinese agriculturealso called people's commune , Chinese (Pinyin) renmin gongshe , (Wade-Giles romanization) jen-min kung-shetype of large rural organization introduced in China in 1958. Communes began as amalgamations of collective farms; but, in contrast to the collectives, which had been engaged exclusively in agricultural activities, the communes were to become multipurpose organizations for the direction of local government and the management of all economic and social activity. Each commune was organized into progressively larger units: production teams, production brigades, and the commune itself.As a basic unit of China's socialist system, the commune reflected the often abrupt changes in political and economic policy after 1949. While the commune's trilevel structure was retained, constant conflict revolved around the issues of local decision making, ownership of private plots of land, and payment of wages. During the Great Leap Forward (1958–60), individuals forfeited their private plots to common ownership and wages were equalized. After the economic difficulties of 1959–61, however, the communes were reorganized. Their average size was reduced, more autonomy was granted the local production teams, private plots were returned to farmers, and wages were paid according to the work performed.The Cultural Revolution (1966–76) brought strict regimentation and a loss of local control to the communes. Responsibility for production decisions rose to the production-brigade and commune levels and was often assumed by party cadres and even the army. This period of turmoil was succeeded—especially after the death of Mao Zedong in 1976—by modernizing reforms that granted unprecedented local and individual autonomy to the communes in communist China. After 1979 the communes were gradually dismantled, and farmers were encouraged to cultivate private plots and sell the produce for profit.▪ medieval town, Western Europea town in medieval western Europe that acquired self-governing municipal institutions. During the central and later period of the Middle Ages most of the towns west of the Baltic Sea in the north and the Adriatic Sea in the south acquired municipal institutions that have been loosely designated as communal.No definition embraces satisfactorily every type of commune, but most were characterized by the oath binding the citizens or burghers of a town to mutual protection and assistance. Such an oath between equals, though analogous with other Germanic institutions, contrasts with the oath of vassalage (vassal) typical of early medieval society, by which one promised obedience to a superior in return for protection. The body became an association, a communitas or universitas, capable of owning property and entering into agreements, of exercising varying degrees of jurisdiction over its members (who did not normally comprise the entire population of the town), and of exercising governmental powers. There were very marked regional differences between different types of communes. In northern and central Italy (and parts of southern France) the absence of powerful centralizing political authority and, to a lesser extent, the precocious economic development of the towns enabled the commune to acquire a degree of self-government that easily surpassed the transaction of municipal affairs. Here the towns conquered the intervening countryside and pursued independent diplomatic policies, and their de jure superiors, the Holy Roman emperor or the pope, were rarely able to exercise de facto supremacy. The stronger of these city-republics survived—at the expense of their weaker neighbours—into the Renaissance, though by this time most had fallen to a single ruler (signor). Milan and Florence continued as powerful states into the early modern period and Venice right up to the Napoleonic era.The communes of Flanders were second only to the Italian communes in size and industrial and commercial organization; at times political relations between the count of Flanders, the French king (his overlord), and England gave the Flemish communes—Ghent in particular—a significant role in European affairs. In France, in “Germany” (i.e., the imperial territories north of the Alps), and in the Iberian kingdoms of Castile and Aragon, the towns were “judicial islands” having their own law and transacting their own business within the field of what would now be styled “local government.” Here, as in the English borough, the king or overlord normally retained supremacy but was willing to part with control in detail in return for financial benefits and military or other services. Obviously there are exceptions to these regional generalizations, for each town differed from all others in its social and economic development.The general importance in European history of the medieval commune lies perhaps in the social and political education acquired by the citizens through their exercise of self-government. It would be inaccurate, however, to imply that the communes were “democracies.” The life of all the towns was characterized by a struggle for control, as a result of which the wealthiest and most powerful citizens were usually more or less successful in monopolizing power. Within the communes oligarchy was the norm. The direct inheritance of the modern nation-state from the communes was small, despite their role in parliamentary institutions. When monarchies were sufficiently powerful, they sought to stamp out municipal patriotism and civic organization.Certain rural zones were also organized as communes, normally in response to the need for collective agrarian organization (pasturage and other rights or property held in common), but their institutions were less elaborate than those of the urban communes.
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