Was the Early Church of Acts a Communism?

Reading along for some background data concerning the organization and polity of the earliest Christian communities (there are none earlier than Acts) and I came across a wonderful point from Carsten Colpe:

Christian CommunismThis social structure is not a form of “communism” if one means it the communal possession of the means of production, for the private property of the Nazaraeans, from which a profit is realized and distributed, is maintained (in distinction to the Essenes). Also, this social structure is not a form of “egalitarianism,” since everyone received according to need. Finally, this social structure is not a form of “collectivism,” since there was neither communal production nor central administration of communally produced income. If one must use a modern sociological term, one may speak here of a “consumer cooperative” – yet with the absolute restriction that participation was voluntary (5:4) and the relationship between supply and demand was not regulated by contract. It is also possible that the example of important benefactors – only the Cypriot Barnabas and the local Ananias (4:36; 5:1-2) are mentioned by name – has established standards, by which the individual again and again, yet differently from case to case, is oriented towards the members’ mutual obligation to support each other financially.Carston Colpe from “The Oldest Jewish-Christian Community” pg 91 in Christian Beginnings: Word an Community from Jesus to Post-Apostolic Times edited by Jürgen Becker.

I rather agree with his point, and to the secondary point that present day political monikers (-isms) are difficult to ascribe to antiquity with high levels of congruity. Anyways, since there are a bunch of folks getting way too worried about Pope Francis’ “socialism” we should also note that the earliest communities were not inherently capitalistic either. The entire nature of the economy at this point was so mightily different than what we experience it is hard to characterize in present day terminology.

However, we can say that the early communities were voluntary associations of messianic believers who collaborated to promote hospitality among each other and care for the poor and indigent outside their ranks.

This isn’t communism or socialism.