Does the tides and turnings of so-called modern society with its wars, politics and rapid technological progress sometimes make you freak out? You are not alone in this. It seems like all kinds of people throughout history yearned for alternative ways of living in this world.
If you think the hippies invented free love and headbands, think again. At the beginning of the 20th Century, a group of radical thinkers broke away from mainstream society, purchased a bit of land on top of a Swiss mountain, and set about changing the world. Their first act was to burn the accoutrements of a rigid and class-bound society. Corsets were the first of many things to be torched. But remaking the social order is not as simple as donning a smock and letting your beard grow out.
I want to tell you about the Lebensreform movement in the early 20th century. The problems back then were the same like today: globalisation, brutal capitalism, financial crises, wars abroad, rise of global communication, a society in which very few get super-rich while the rest stays poor. So some young people turned their back on the degenerated system and proclaimed a sustainable way of life, back to nature. Their idea of liberation touched every aspect: nudism instead of the corset, a vegetarian diet instead of tobacco and alcohol, dancing in the fresh air instead of being bound to status, choosing the poet instead of the dictator.
All of this got to a point of culmination at Monte Verità, a commune build on a hill near Ascona in Switzerland. The sanatorium there attracts freethinkers from around the world: Hermann Hesse, C. G. Jung, Mary Wigman, Hans Arp, Krishnamurti, Wladimir Iljitsch Lenin, Leo Trotzki, Paul Klee… just to mention a few.