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August 01, 2009



Does the John Hodgman-looking character come with the room?


The word "commune" in European politics originally meant a "sworn society", normally of elite town dwellers (wealthy merchants and nobility who had intermarried with them), who banded together to assert sovereignty or some degree of autonomy, usually over a city or town.

A "communal movement" swept northern Italy in the decades around 1100. Merchant elites took advantage of a political power vacuum to create dozens of city-states, most of which were merchant republics.

The notion of towns as political entities with at least some self-rule was well established all over western Europe by the mid-13th century.

This is the historical reason why so many European municipalities still call themselves "communes". It has nothing really to do with *democracy* per se or with societies that ban or limit private property. It does, however, assume the notion of *citizenship* and the rights and obligations of citizenship.

Most of truly sovereign medieval Italian communes became petty despotisms or were swallowed up by imperialist communes like Florence, Venice, and Milan. Florence and Venice continued for a long time as independent republics (to 1532 and 1797, respectfully), but of increasingly oligarchic character.


In Switzerland communes are just the the smallest government division. They have their own governments, laws and taxes and vary in size from 17 to 350'000 habitants. They make up the cantons (=states) which make up the federal state (=CH=Confoederatio Helvetica=Switzerland).
All in all it is a very stable but slow and boring political system which lets you participate at every level as you should vote on almost every bigger decision. If you raise 100'000 signatures and win the poll you can even change the constitution at federal level (e.g. "We want a holiday on 1st august": accepted in 1994, "all drugs should be legal": not accepted 1998, "SUV-cars should be forbidden": we will vote in 2010).


I have stayed there and they successfully created a welcoming and comfortable environment. The Modern Butler caters to your need from a professional check in through bringing you coffee in bed at your desired time. The place is spotless and the mattress and linen are first class. The following are some update from the previous posts based on their current website (Someone should update Wikipedia!) :

1) The first hotel opened in June 5th, 2009 in Teufen, AR, Switerland
2) The first night tests happened end of 2008 at the bunker of Sevelen, St.-Gallen, Switerland
3) Today at the Teufen property, there is sufficient hot water at all times of day and night for everyone
4) There is a central heating but the temperature is maintained to a minimum
5) the Wheel of Fate (Glucksrad) is a great functional installation
6) hot water bottles are available to guests looking for more heat
7) morning coffee (Nespresso) or tea are included in the price
8) an old 80's TV streams live from a web cam placed on the top of the building so you see outside (Virtual Window).
9) T-shirt "Null Stern - the only is you" are available, the green color is my favorite

They have welcomed 1000 guests from over 20 countries worldwide. Geo Saison ranked them in the top 100 hotel in Europe in the "Ausser Konkurrenz" category.

Your reflection on the Swiss democratic system is very interesting and appropriate. The Null Stern's philosophy demonstrates that the system also works with genuine and well thought out projects.
Well done and keep them coming.


Going to a king tempurpedic mattress to the floor has done some damage. ;) My flight leaves back to LA tomorrow. A beautiful long vacation almost


Nice one, there is actually some great points on this post some of my associates will find this worthwhile, will send them a link, thanks

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