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The Village Against the World
Dan Hancox, The Guardian
Marinaleda, in impoverished Andalusia, used to suffer terrible hardships. Led by a charismatic mayor, the village declared itself a communist utopia and took farmland to provide for everyone. Could it be the answer to modern capitalism’s failings?
[Edited book excerpt] In 2004, I was leafing through a travel guide to Andalusia while on holiday in Seville, and read a fleeting reference to a small, remote village called Marinaleda – "a communist utopia" of revolutionary farm labourers, it said. I was immediately fascinated, but I could find almost no details to feed my fascination. There was so little information about the village available beyond that short summary, either in the guidebook, on the internet, or on the lips of strangers I met in Seville. "Ah yes, the strange little communist village, the utopia," a few of them said. But none of them had visited, or knew anyone who had – and no one could tell me whether it really was a utopia. The best anyone could do was to add the information that it had a charismatic, eccentric mayor, with a prophet’s beard and an almost demagogic presence, called Juan Manuel Sánchez Gordillo.
Eventually I found out more. The first part of Marinaleda’s miracle is that when its struggle to create utopia began, in the late 1970s, it was from a position of abject poverty. The village was suffering more than 60% unemployment; it was a farming community with no land, its people frequently forced to go without food for days at a time, in a period of Spanish history mired in uncertainty after the death of the fascist dictator General Franco. The second part of Marinaleda’s miracle is that over three extraordinary decades, it won. Some distance along that remarkable journey of struggle and sacrifice, in 1985, Sánchez Gordillo told the newspaper El País: "We have learned that it is not enough to define utopia, nor is it enough to fight against the reactionary forces. One must build it here and now, brick by brick, patiently but steadily, until we can make the old dreams a reality: that there will be bread for all, freedom among citizens, and culture; and to be able to read with respect the word ‘peace ‘. We sincerely believe that there is no future that is not built in the present."…
(20 October 2013)
Listen to an interview with the author from RN at ABC Australia
Post Carbon Institute Calls on Environmentalists to Embrace Post-Growth Economics
Candice Bernd, Truthout
A new policy paper from the Post Carbon Institute, a nonprofit think tank, argues the environmental movement must embrace what the authors have deemed a "new normal" of declining economic growth while building solidarity with the so-called new economy movement, emphasizing community-based, sustainable solutions in an era of globalization.
The paper hopes to put to rest the false dichotomy between the imperative of economic growth over environmental protection once and for all by making the case that the over-arching paradigm of economic growth is coming to an end in any case, regardless of the ongoing climate crisis…
(9 October 2013)
Link to the report Climate After Growth
When Wealth Disappears
Stephen D. King, New York Times Op-ed
AS bad as things in Washington are — the federal government shutdown since Tuesday, the slim but real potential for a debt default, a political system that seems increasingly ungovernable — they are going to get much worse, for the United States and other advanced economies, in the years ahead.
From the end of World War II to the brief interlude of prosperity after the cold war, politicians could console themselves with the thought that rapid economic growth would eventually rescue them from short-term fiscal transgressions. The miracle of rising living standards encouraged rich countries increasingly to live beyond their means, happy in the belief that healthy returns on their real estate and investment portfolios would let them pay off debts, educate their children and pay for their medical care and retirement. This was, it seemed, the postwar generations’ collective destiny.
But the numbers no longer add up. Even before the Great Recession, rich countries were seeing their tax revenues weaken, social expenditures rise, government debts accumulate and creditors fret thanks to lower economic growth rates.
Stephen D. King, chief economist at HSBC, is the author of “When the Money Runs Out: The End of Western Affluence.”
(7 October 2013)
A Corporate Coup in Disguise
Jim Hightower, Alternet
What if our national leaders told us that communities across America had to eliminate such local programs as Buy Local, Buy American, Buy Green, etc. to allow foreign corporations to have the right to make the sale on any products purchased with our tax dollars? This nullification of our people’s right to direct expenditures is just one of the horror stories in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
This is a super-sized NAFTA, the 1994 trade scam rammed through Congress by the entire corporate establishment. NAFTA promised the "glories of globalization": prosperity across our land. Unfortunately, corporations got the gold. We got the shaft — thousands of factories closed, millions of middle-class jobs went south, and the economies of hundreds of towns and cities were shattered.
Twenty years later, the gang that gave us NAFTA is back with the TPP, a "trade deal" that mostly does not deal with trade. Of the 29 chapters in this document, only five cover traditional trade matters! The other chapters amount to a devilish "partnership" for corporate protectionism…
(1 October 2013)