New Buffalo by Arthur Kopecky
New Buffalo commune Taos, New Mexico
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Review--Amazon-Dan Cohn * * * * *

Baby on a tractor.

January 3, 2005 --For those who believe that the prosperity-driven individualism, materialism, and (dare I say it) Calvinism, always present though rarely so triumphant as in the last general election, may have become a permanent American cultural monopoly, I have two recommendations. The first is "Collapse" by Jared Diamond, author of "Guns,Germs and Steel", who describes the demise of cultures whose citizens may likewise have thought their material success permanent, and "New Buffalo" by Arthur Kopecky, who chronicles as a Principal and key participant, the everyday experience of "Aquarian Age" communards who prophecied an alternative future, and labored mightily to master it's challenges. This group of uprooted young adventurers were linked with thousands across the country and the world,who committed themselves to a life of struggle, of voluntary renunciation of luxury, of fun and high times too, and they hoped for, and many worked hard for communitarian self-sufficiency. In part the movement was a rebuke to the smug and thoughtless triumphalism of capitalism and its depradations of the human soul, partly it was a search for a practical alternative, and partly it was a journey of discovery, blasting away the race, class, regional, cultural, boundaries between people, getting pretty "blasted" in the process,(positively and negatively) but living intensely, and experiencing intimate human relations not available under the protections of ordinary life.

I knew Artie in those days. He and I often disagreed. But in the end I was not prepared to make the sacrifices he and his core "bothers" and "sisters" made routinely, without feeling themselves anything but blessed (most of the time) to be able to make them. These were some people!

Artie's rock-steady and selfless devotion to a beautiful ideal, his careful, diligent, daily account of the experience of his community, are no mere memoire or hippy-dippy nostalgic indulgence. They are,in my opinion, a unique contribution to the sum of human experiential learning and were made at some considerable cost. It may be that some time in the future the experience of New Buffalo, so honestly presented here, will prove to be more precious than a memory. We all may yet need those skills, we all may yet need that mind, to master what may come.

Dan Cohn


For more information on Kopecky or New Buffalo, please contact Amanda Sutton, UNM Press publicity at 505-277-0655, 505-277-9270 (fax), or asutton@unm.edu.
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