Last week I got an interesting offer: would I like to leave London and go live in “Marxist free-love commune” in France? The offer came from the woke woman in mylife— I call her WW— the one I wrote about when I suggested we could end the culture war if we just poke the woke. Well, believe it or not, we’re still poking. And she wasn’t joking about the free-love Marxist commune.
She’d recently been there for two weeks and had seen the future: our future. “It’s the most amazing place. You’ve got to come with me. We can pick olives, dance under the stars, write poetry do yoga — and have lots of sex!”
“What? With other people?”
“If you want,” she said. “They don’t believe sex should be exclusive or full of fear and repression.”
Frankly, there’s nothing so un-sexy as healthy sex. And besides, the thought of group sex with aging, bearded, crusty, musty Marxists and mad mystics didn’t sound that enticing.
But WW showed me pictures of the people and the place and I realized mine was a dumb knee-jerk reaction. They were an attractive mix of young and old; academics, actors, psychotherapists, eco-radicals, new agers of all ages. “They’re cool people — they would love you!” said WW.
Really? But what can I bring to the table? I can’t cook, and I have no practical skills unless you count mixing a martini cocktail. I’ll be put on latrine duty — or in charge of compost management. I can’t handle that!
I didn’t think free-love Marxist communes existed anymore. I remember them from London in the late Sixties and early Seventies. Most of them were just grubby squats full of druggies and students. You had Marxist communes and Anarchist communes. What’s the difference? Marxists — having had nice bourgeois upbringings — took the dishes out of the sink before they peed; anarchists couldn’t be bothered.
I love the idea of the alternative commune lifestyle — it’s the practice I have problems with. For all my bohemian pretensions, I’m just an old-fashioned bourgeois boy at heart. Growing up in a boho family, being called bourgeois was the worst thing you could be. I remember hearing someone call my mother a “bourgeois cunt!” and she replied with great moral indignation, “How dare you call me bourgeois!”
What worries me most about moving to the commune is not Marxist ideology and New Age practice. No, what worries me are the toilet facilities. The radical collectivist mind has no understanding or empathy for the primordial terror that going to a public toilet can cause nice bourgeois men like me. Our bowels go into lockdown from fear of being found on the toilet.
I tried to explain my toilet anxiety to WW. She looked perplexed. “You’re going to turn your back on a new and wonderful life simply because you’re afraid there won’t be locks on the toilets?
WW tries to assure me that they do have locks on the toilet cubicles and they’re very clean toilets. But I wonder; people said the Soviet Union was a worker’s paradise!
Still, WW’s offer has turned up at the right time. I’ve been thinking of uprooting my life and doing something new. It’s time I made a radical change. I need to break free from the routines and rituals of domesticity. One day after another just disappears down the drain hole of life.
Lots of my friends are planning to move out of London. They’re off to Greece, France, Jamaica or some small English seaside town. We’ve just grown tired of London — and please spare me the Dr. Johnson. The good doctor was wrong. We are tired not of life — we’re tired of London life.
I keep reading about older people who have totally uprooted their lives or changed their careers. One woman decided to quit her job and walk around the globe (it only took her eight years!). There’s the guy who left the English countryside to live in a psychedelic retreat in Mexico and the granny who went backpacking in the Himalayas.
Why can’t I do something like that? My friend Natalie says: “Because, Cosmo, why would you possibly go and see the world and have amazing adventures when you can just sit on your butt and moan about London for the rest of your life?”
She’s got a point.
I know that to readers of this journal, the prospect of living in a free-love Marxist commune is a living nightmare. But I’m intrigued. They’ve built a self-sufficient community dedicated to a “post-capitalist world” founded on “truth and love and the liberation of Eros.” (OK, I had a good snigger at that too.) But what’s so great about our lonely, atomized way of life in the modern capitalist city?
So, comrades, I think might be off to my Marxist-Free Love commune. I’ll keep you posted.
This article was originally published in The Spectator’s November 2023 World edition.