Commune is a loaded term. Most people think hippies and the 60's, free love, drugs, etc. These kinds of communes certainly existed, some still exist today, and many contemporary communes embody aspects of their culture. People also think cult. And there is truth behind this association as well. But most communes are not cults, and communes as a social structure are much bigger than those started in the 60's.
The basic description of a commune in Wikipedia works pretty well:
"A commune (the French word appearing in the 12th century from Medieval Latin communia, meaning a large gathering of people sharing a common life; from Latin communis, things held in common) is an intentional community of people living together, sharing common interests, often having common values and beliefs, as well as shared property, possessions, resources, and, in some communes, work and income and assets. In addition to the communal economy, consensus decision-making, non-hierarchical structures and ecological living have become important core principles for many communes."
This points to a history most people have no idea about, including people who live in intentional communities of all kinds. Some people like to say that monasteries were the first communes. Others speculate that communes were the standard social structure before civilization. But what does it mean to be a commune today?
Source: Commune-In-A-Box, Wikipedia
Contributors: The Federation of Egalitarian Communities Members
Suggested Reading: What Is a Commune?