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The Llano Colony as I See It

Podcast 5 -- Why They Came --- 2/10/2017

Celebrating the Colony's Move to Louisiana 100 Years Ago

"The only factor I know of that can successfully deal with and ultimately liberate humanity from the power of money to enslave..."

"As I see it Integral Cooperation is the only solution for the common people..."

"I came here to get away from wage slavery and to assist others to escape it..."

"I have no fears that I shall fail to get three meals a day, good shelter and good clothing; nor that in case I get sick or crippled, that good hands shall be wanting to minister to me FREE. "

"We do not accept, or believe, that the colony is the promised kingdom of God on earth. But we recognize it as one of the kingdoms of this world, and so far as we know, the very best one."

"I have lived in the colony twelve years and never felt in all my life any better than I do here in the colony, and that without any worry."

"I stay in the Colony because here I find a free happy home and comradeship."

"I came to Llano because several years ago I began reading Socialist literature and became convinced that the system of competition was absolutely wrong and that socialism, co-operation, was the only remedy that I knew of. "

"I came down to Llano Colony on the first Thursday in January 1921 to find what in Sam Hill the people were doing down here. I came, I saw and -- surrendered."

"Through co-operation, I find, working people can be self-reliant, produce almost anything, develop a new civilization and secure the full product of their labor."

"There are very good people here and I enjoy working and associating with them."

"I find I have social and educational advantages here that I did not have on the outside. I also have pleasure in my work. All I regret is that we all did not have sense enough to start working for ourselves instead of parasites a little earlier in life."

Why did people join the New Llano Co-operative Colony? Some came for the camaraderie of their shared political views. Many of those who joined in the early years were the same men who had been part of Harriman's failed political campaigns.

Also, a large portion were brought in by the high-pressure sales efforts of fiscal agent C.V. Eggleston's membership sales department. Years later, Walter Millsap, one of the original colonists declared that it had been a "colossal blunder" to sell stock by the ordinary method. The agents, hoping to earn better commissions, were prone to making promises to prospective buyers that just weren't true. Most of these new members stayed only a short time before moving on. Thankfully this practice was dropped shortly after the move to Louisiana.

But the main reason the idea of a cooperative colony proved to be alluring to many people was in great part because times were not good.

As Job Harriman wrote in the Western Comrade in 1913 -- "The cry of despair and the call for help is heard in every city, town, village and hamlet, but their hearts and hopes are palsied by the ever increasing roar of fruitless promises... Each worker struggles alone in the battle until he is overpowered by the very monster he feeds."

From this statement alone, it's easy to understand why most new members sought the security the colony offered -- a guaranteed job, home, medical care and good education for their children.

Many of these new members were single parents, especially mothers, who were drawn in by the comfort of being a part of a community who could help with caring for their children. Others were becoming elderly and worried about who would care for them when they were no longer able to provide for themselves.

An article in the Llano Colonist by "Doc" Williams read -- "This morning... the mail didn't bring me a handful of bills. There was no bill for rent... [on the house] that my good wife and I are using. There was no bill from the Hotel for the food that we... consumed during the month. All month long I have enjoyed the radio, used electricity up to ... midnight practically every night, and no bill for the use of the 'juice' will be presented to me..."

New members did not have to be a Socialist Party member, but they were asked to sign a working contract in which they agreed to integral co-operation with the Llano del Rio Company of Nevada. And it was clearly stated in the Gateway to Freedom, that "those who come into the Colony are expected to work. There is no place here for drones, idlers or parasites."

So everyone didn't stay. Some left because they didn't like the leadership. Others were lured away with the promise of a well-paying job, to be nearer to other family members, or simply because they didn't like the food. Still others were asked to leave because they didn't want to do their share of the work or they were complainers who constantly stirred up trouble.

As we can see, over the years, thousands of people passed through the colony, but how did all these people learn about the colony?

To advertise the community, Harriman purchased the “Western Comrade”, a monthly general interest political magazine which would thereafter be published at the colony print shop, each issue featuring at least one article focused on the colony. Soon, they were also printing a weekly paper, the “Llano Colonist”, which was devoted to the day-to-day matters within the colony. Each of these publications had subscribers all over the world. The colony also bought advertisements and submitted articles to other Socialist and Labor publications around the country.

"Wanted 100 men! Steady employment for life."

"This goat belongs to Llano boys. Does your boy have this chance? Or is he roaming the streets in bad company? "

"Why are there no idle people at Llano Colony when there are millions of unemployed in the world today?

"Why are those at Llano living in the midst of plenty when there are thousands in other localities who are unable to obtain the necessaries of life?”

"Are you tired of the competitive world? Do you want to get into a position where every hour's work will be for yourself and your family?"

"Every member an equal shareholder in the enterprise. Every worker to get the full social product of his efforts."

As George Pickett wrote in 1932, "As a result of the articles published in one daily newspaper we have been snowed under with applications of people who wish to join with us." He urged all "right thinking people" to encourage even more publicity opportunities. If enough interested citizens could get their local newspaper to give publicity to the co-operative movement as a whole, the world would sooner be "thinking along the lines of the Llano Way".

Sources:

"Llano Colonist", Apr. 21, 1928; Apr. 28, 1928; Oct. 17, 1931; Feb. 4, 1932; September 10, 1932, December 9, 1937

"Western Comrade", May, 1913; August, 1914; November, 1915;

"The Gateway to Freedom", New Llano, LA

"The American Co-Operator", February, 1922

" Bread and Hyacinths, the Rise and Fall of Utopian Los Angeles" by Paul Greenstein, Nigey Lennon and Lionel Rolfe

"History of the Llano Movement" by James N. Davison


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