by Marz Corbeau from the blog Professional Communist (February 7, 2016)
A few nights ago, I combed through the racks of Commie Clothes, fishing out a pile of beautiful dresses and trying them on. It was, in a small way, a dream come true. Many people here cite the internet as how they came to know of Twin Oaks but I don’t know of any that point to our little “thrift store” in the attic as what they were searching for.
When I was in high school, a group of my friends started gathering to talk about leftist philosophy and practice. My history class at the time had begun to deeply challenge my political beliefs. As a newly minted socialist, I threw myself into the work, researching works to discuss and planning activities to coordinate.
One project the group was interested in was communist models of sharing clothing. When I went to find more information, a blog post about Commie Clothes was one of the first entries to pop up.
Commie Clothes are clothes held in common by the community. You can take clothing back to your room and “privatize” it or return it to the public laundry when you’re done. People put clothes they don’t need or want to the public laundry and workers wash and hang them up in the attic of Harmony.
When I first read about it, I was sure it could never work. Surely all the useful or beautiful clothing would get privatized and the only clothes left would be more a waste of space more than anything else.
But now having seen it in person I can see what I overlooked at sixteen – people are complex and different. The other evening, I pulled out four beautiful dresses all in my style and size. I realized, I couldn’t see many others on the farm vying after them. Our tastes and our shapes vary. Our needs and our desires change. What I want from clothing is largely unique to me.
Capitalism creates a narrative of constant competition where none actually exists. So much scarcity we experience is artificial, a product of our cultural morals rather than actual shortages.
Creations like Commie Clothes remind me that our resources are often most efficient when they’re held in common. Pants that are too small on me can find a home with someone they flatter perfectly. Dresses that are too big for others slip over my curves like they were made for me. And at no cost to anyone.
What started as a dream of seeing Commie Clothes became a passion for communal living and I’m thankful to have fully realized both.