I think a lot of people go through a sort of utopian phase— I know I did. Joseph Duemer pointed at a NYT obit for Kathleen Kinkade today, and it brought back memories. While I was in high school, I read both Walden Two by B.F. Skinner and A Walden Two Experiment. I definitely preferred the latter; it had a pragmatic edge that wasn’t as “hippy” as most of the other commune experiments of the time.

What I remember most was the idea that the more disgusting a job was, the more it should be worth—garbage collectors should make more money than CEOs. It seemed reasonable to me at the time. The arc of the obit is interesting, and the memorable spots for me were:

“It wasn’t the behaviorist theory that attracted her so much,” her daughter said. “I think she was looking for a middle-class village where gentle people, living according to egalitarian principles, sat around talking and listening to music together.”

. . . “They really thought that the rest of the world would see their community and follow its example,” Josie Kinkade said. “Today I think Twin Oaks sees itself more as an eco-village, living lightly on the land.”

. . . She made enemies. Her impatient style did not always sit well with community members fond of endless discussion and group consensus. Some regarded her as power-hungry and intimidating. In truth, she was more pioneer than hippie, an awkward fit wherever she went, too wayward for conventional society and too managerial for the chaotic 1960s.

“She was a tough cookie,” Leslie Greenwood, a commune member, wrote on a memorial Web site dedicated to Ms. Kinkade. “She was not fond of group hugs, had no interest in alternative medicine, nature-centered activities or tofu lasagna.”

Like JD, I think I would have gotten along with her fine. The Twin Oaks obit by written by her daughter offers the observation that she “lead by persuasion;” it seems to me that we shouldn’t be afraid of that.

But I do think we should be afraid of group-hugs, alternative medicine, nature-centered activities, and tofu lasagna.