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Experiments in living: how to build a perfect society

Utopian thinking might seem naive but it can really change the world

Rabindranath Tagore talking to Young Pioneers in the Soviet Union. Credit: Sputnik/Alamy

Rabindranath Tagore talking to Young Pioneers in the Soviet Union. Credit: Sputnik/Alamy

Alternate societies, cults and fringe-living have long been fascinating subjects. Anna Neima’s meticulously researched account follows six breakaway groups that emerged from a world order still reeling from the First World War. During that time, communities comprised of “the optimistic and the determined” attempted to create “a new beginning… snatching paradise out of the jaws of hell.”

From the religiously-inspired Bruderhof in Germany to Trabuco College in America, founded in the 1940s by Aldous Huxley, the common goals of these alternate societies were laudable, even if the execution often went awry.  

Neima records the hopeful beginnings of…

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