If an intentional community creates a utopia but limits itself to 100 people what good does it do? How limiting must it be to live in a community full of people that are all perfect and being content in that perfection. If you believe that you live in a utopia you either have to embrace cultural relativism or narcissism. If your way of life is most conducive to human flourishing and are content to keep it to yourself how are you not a narcissist? It is possible that someone devoted to cultural relativism would think that only their members would enjoy their community and that their perfection was shared with all other communities. Twin Oaks provides its member with many material benefits, but they are doing very little for the inner life of its residents. This inner life is what communities ought to help its members achieve if they wish to provide any sort of utopia.
Twin Oaks has provided its members with a decent quality of life separate from the rest of the world in many ways. They do not rely on the electrical grid a feat that is quite amazing. The citizens only work 42 hours a week doing activities that have some level of meaning. The community is small enough for all of the members to know each other, maintaining about 100 members. However, except as an example it has done little to help people outside its community. The history of twin Oaks is quite different from that of the Shakers. It might seem that Twin Oaks is the successful one but if all the success in Twin Oaks is simply living a life that avoids suffering and has a nice community how can it compare with a community that provided ultimate meaning for its people and shaped their very Being.
The Shakers may have believed in countless absurdities but they managed to recognize that simply waiting around for Jesus to come again is not what he taught his disciples. The Shakers realized that to follow his teachings was to put their hope into action and live as if God has made Heaven available to humans. From the outside the Shakers lived similar lives to New Harmony and that New Harmony is successful because it still exists. However, New Harmony relies on having the correct people live in it while the Shakers called everyone to live holy lives with them. The Shakers may have had practices that we do not agree with but their motivations were pure. Their attempt to rid themselves of the consequences of original sin, woman desiring for men to rule over them and men only working in order to survive, was successful. Their success is evident because their community did not make women inferior to men. The Shakers also managed to show how wondrous a Christian communist society could be. Even by the standards of capitalist society they were surely successful given the high rate of inventions that its members created and how many well made goods were created by them.