Alfred Frederick Andersen dedicated his life to the philosophical pursuit of ideas that became manifest as The Fair Sharing of the Common Heritage. The Fair Sharing of the Common Heritage is an economic principle, which states that income from land, resources, and the inventions of previous generations be shared, fairly and democratically controlled as wealth from the Common Heritage. This overall concern for humans and non-humans is the creation of a “sustained justice for all sentient beings.” Alfred F. Andersen’s ideas are compelling and revolutionary.
Alfred was born on June 27, 1919 in Bridgeport Connecticut. Alfred’s studies in nuclear physics ignited a profound passion to study philosophy and holistic thinking regarding community and global challenges. He received a degree in civil engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute and studied philosophy at Harvard, Columbia, Yale, Ohio State and Lincoln University. He is the author of, Liberating the Early American Dream and Challenging Newt Gingrich Chapter by Chapter. He was a teacher and professor educating students in math at the Wilmington Delaware Friends School in the United States and in philosophy at the Simon Fraser University in Canada. And he believed with a great passion that everyone should have a fair stake in what he referred to as the Common Heritage.
Alfred’s was a man whose early experience shaped his ideas as he stood by his convictions. For example, during WWI I, a bank seized the family’s home without warning while the family was supporting the war effort by manufacturing piston pins. Alfred refused to support one such economic structure – the IRS – by not paying federal income tax because he did not want to financially support an inequitable and inhumane government.
After the loss of his home, the United States military deprived him of his freedom on the basis of rejecting his Conscientious Objector status. He was sentenced to two years in prison but he did eight months for “good behavior.” These early experiences, the loss of his childhood home, security, and freedom would lead to the development of Alfred’s passion for fair share capitalism and a lifestyle that incorporated community centered living, education and humanitarian values and justice for all living things.
After his release from prison, he began attending meetings with the Yellow Spring Friends and other subsequent Friends Meetings. He and his family joined a community of thirty other families at the Tanguy Homesteads in Delaware and then the Ananda Community in Canada. Passion for community centered living extended to his start up of several student residences. His book Liberating the Early American Dream reflects these ideas as he stated, “I felt the need for participation in a community with sights on the whole global scene.”
Consistent with this sentiment he participated in a forum of non-governmental organizations associated with the United Nations Special Sessions on Habitat and Human Settlements in Vancouver in 1976. He helped compose a concluding statement proclaiming that housing, basic services, energy, land use, participation, and financial problems can be solved by a global and integral approach that reaches to heart of the matter to transform the economic, social and political structures which causes those problems.
Since Alfred was an avid supporter of and participant in the Friends community, he lived those values his entire life. A friend said, “I have never seen (or imagined) such devotion as his to the principles of justice and community. They were woven into the fabric of his soul; he spoke of them with the utmost depth and centrality of feeling, I know he lived by them and it was always touching to hear him voice how vital and seriously urgent they were for him.”
Today, we are thankful for the ideas and activism of the late Alfred F. Andersen and to his wife Dorothy, who, like her late husband, continues to live the Quaker lifestyle. With her support, The Fair Sharing of the Common Heritage Award and Web site join with the Media Freedom Foundation and Project Censored to encourage activism towards a more equitable society.