History of Socialism: Orgies & Polygamy
By Rick Kelo

Alot of history can be boring so the pieces that are really interesting deserve some attention.  This is one such nugget.

For much of its history communism had two main branches of thought: the theological communists & the atheist communists.  It wasn’t until Communist Manifesto was published in 1848 that it became an exclusively atheistic ideology.  In fact the presence of religion accounted for most of what the early communists would argue about.  Its technically called the “agency of change,” or in other words how do we get from where we are now to communism?

For the theological communist groups (known as the Messianic communists) the answer was easy: God brings it about in some way; perhaps Christ returns and ushers in a new communist order.  For the atheistic communists it was more difficult, but that’s a discussion for another day.

Our story today comes from the Messianic Communist side of the equation.  One of the more interesting attempts to implement communism came in the German city of Münster in February, 1534.  In the spirit of all true communist revolutions it came in the form of a peasant uprising.  The initial leaders are two guys named Matthys and Bockelson.

Immediately upon siezing the city Matthys & Bockelson outlaw money and institute compulsory communism.  Since there’s no money anything that you need (food, clothing, etc) was given to you by “the elect,”  which were the Messianic communist version of modern day Party Commissars.

John Bockelson

So God’s blessed elect passes out the community goods, and rounds up all the jewelry, money and everything else of value.  Unknown to the citizens, who are told they don’t need those junky worldly possessions, the communist leaders are using that money to trade with the outside world during this time.

After about 2 months after the communist revolution in Münster,  Matthys goes out to fight the arch bishop they’d run out of town and is killed.  Bockelson announces himself the new head of the commune….. this is where it gets interesting.  Also as a quick historical FYI to people interested in reading more about this Jan Bockleson (his real name), he goes onto become known as “John of Leiden” so you’ll have to research him that way.

For a while Bockleson decides that, since he is God’s elect, he is going to appoint who marries.  After not too long there’s a little internal rebellion over this and he decides to swing to the other direction and institutes forced promiscuity, or said differently, communism of women.

By this point a decent percent of the men in Münster were dead to the war against the arch bishop they’d overthrown.  So by the fall of 1535, now 6 months into John Bockleson’s reign, its time for forced polygamy.  Bockleson leads from the front and takes 16 wives himself.

One day in the town square it is rumored Bockleson was describing his married life to one of the townfolk who exclaimed, “Wow you have 16 wives, that must be a lot of sex!”  To which Bockleson replied: “I said wives, not girlfriends.” (NOTE: to those with no sense of humor this rumored conversation is actually a rumor started by me just now, the rest of the article is historically correct aside from this tangent).

Remember earlier on when I mentioned the first thing the leaders of the commune did was abolish money?  All the jewelry and money they collected ended up in the “royal” court.  So now John Bockleson, his few communist party officials (the elect), and some of his wives are living in fantastic luxury.  Everyone else in town is starving at this point.

When some of the citizens start to challenge Bockleson on why he has all the good stuff socked away for himself this is his response…. it’s a doozey.  Although, maybe it shouldn’t be too surprising coming from someone who in the same year instituted compulsory marriages, then compulsory promiscuity, then compulsory polygamy.  We don’t think Bockleson is playing with an especially full deck, but he is a communist so that was implied anyway.  His response to why the leaders of the commune have all the gold and jewelry (and money, and food) is that they are now gods.  They are pure spirit so none of it means anything to any of them, and they are not really enjoying it!

What a hoot this guy Bockleson.  Well eventually a few informers betray him and the old arch bishop and his army retake the city in the summer of 1535.  John of Leiden ends up dead and on display in a bird cage tied to the cathedral for the next couple years.  The cages are still tied to the cathedral; they’re shown below.

Thus ends the communist experiment in Münster.  Like all communist & socialist experiments the people who lived under it were true to the values that system encourages: namely use of force & coercion.

You've been a very bad Communist, Go to Time Out!

You’ve been a very bad Communist, Go to Time Out!