Uruguay | Ecommunitarianism, Inequality and Individual Differences

October 5, 2020

Rebelión, September 22, 2020 | By Sirio López Velasco

Rebelión URL:

Translated by Jane K. Brundage

Today Uruguay has approximately 3.5 million inhabitants. The Rural Association of Uruguay (ARU) has represented the country’s plantation owners since 1871.

According to data from 2017, 96% of Uruguayan lands are in private hands. According to the 2011 Agricultural Census, 3 million of the country’s 16 million hectares belonged to only 260 producers. Moreover, according to expert estimates, at least half of the Uruguayan territory is today owned by foreigners (especially multinationals; just one, dedicated to forestry for the production of cellulose pulp, controls more than 250,000 hectares | 617,764 acres).

At the same time, it must be remembered that not long ago the ARU opposed enactment of the Law guaranteeing the eight-hour workday for rural workers. In his closing speech at the annual Rural Exhibition in mid-September 2020, the ARU’s current President, Gabriel Capurro, while acknowledging that according to official data 8% of Uruguayans are in poverty, nonetheless proclaimed:

“Although we can all agree that extreme inequality is not desirable, the reality is that income inequality will always exist because of human nature itself, and it is only fair that it should. Differences exist and will always exist between people and therefore between incomes, which cannot and should not be the same.”

Immediately, building on those concepts, he congratulated the current right-wing government for not having increased taxes (on the large landowners, of course). Then he spoke out against direct monetary aid without demand [request] for compensation to the most needy in the midst of the COVID19 pandemic, since, he said, that would be populism and break the logic of payment based on effort and merit. He then added that entrepreneurs are the ones who create the jobs that improve income and raise the standard of living for the general population. This personage (forgetting to say that 85% of taxes in Uruguay are collected from wages and only 15% from capital) seems inspired by the Theory of Justice by John Rawls who—sublimating capitalist reality, proclaimed that the differences that supposedly redound to general benefit are moral ones. In fact, he was thus legitimizing the latest assertions of Capurro, by canonizing as useful to all the dominance of the capitalists over the means of production and their lion’s share in national wealth and income.

For our part, and speaking from an ecommunitarian point of view, we stand up (following and expanding on Marx) for the principle of distribution that guides society (extended to Humanity), which is as follows:

“from each according to their capacity and to each according to their need, respecting ecological balances and interculturality”.

In other words, we recognize the difference between people, in particular in relation to their productive capacities-abilities and in relation to their needs to develop fully as individuals. Moreover, for this reason, we consider that the community must control-manage the means of production and distribute the productive duties and the fruits of production according to, respectively, those different capacities and needs. From an ecommunitarian perspective, this means that a single person with a physical or mental problem will likely have more needs to be satisfied in order to achieve full development (for example in medical care and devices to overcome their ailments). That person, moreover, will likely have less productive capacity and thus contribute LESS to the common social fund generated by the community without employers. At the same time, that person will receive MORE of the common fund, than another single person who does not suffer from those problems.

Under this logic, the current meritocratic-hierarchical scale of the professions exercised temporarily by each is not of interest (Ecommunitarianism proclaims the rotating exercise of productive activities for which each one is inclined by his vocation and prepared by his training, in a system of universal and free education open to all up to its highest levels). Thus, if a single person practices the profession of doctor for a given year and second person with two children works in the same period as a street cleaner, then this second person will have to receive more from the common fund than the first, since their family needs are greater.

As can be seen, like Mr. Capurro, we believe that people are and will be different from each other (here we have considered only the productive aspect, but it is obvious that these differences widen when we consider tastes, character, etc.). For that very reason, we defend a principle of unequal distribution that gives more to those who need the most (within the limits of respect for ecological balance and interculturality). For this principle to be realized, the means of production will have to be returned to the national community (such as the Uruguayan lands now monopolized by the small multimillionaire oligarchy represented by the ARU), such that its fruits might be at the service for the full development of each person.

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Related articles by Sirio López Velasco republished in

A Communitarian Vision: Interview with Philosopher Sirio López Velasco, By Mariel Cisneros López, Indymedia Argentina – June 30, 2020.

Cuba | What would Che Guevara Say to Covid-19? By Sirio López Velasco, – July 22, 2020.

E-communitarian Democracy: What is it? By Sirio López Velasco,, August 10, 2020.

E-communitarian Democracy: What is it? Part 2 | By Sirio López Velasco, – August 24, 2020.


Teaser photo credit: Iporá lake in Tacuarembó, Uruguay. By No machine-readable author provided. Tano4595 assumed (based on copyright claims). – No machine-readable source provided. Own work assumed (based on copyright claims)., CC BY-SA 3.0,


Sirio López Velasco

Sirio López Velasco, Uruguayan-Brazilian-Spanish, was born in Uruguay in 1951. In 1985, while living as a political exile in Belgium, he obtained his doctorate in Philosophy at the Université Catholique de Louvain (Belgium), where he also received a “Licensed” diploma in Linguistics and was co-founder and coordinator (1983-1985) of the Latin American Philosophy Seminar (the first PhD seminar created by students at that University founded in 1425). In 2002 and 2009, he conducted postdoctoral research in Philosophy at the Institute of Philosophy of the Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC, Madrid, Spain). In 1988, he was elected Vice-President of the International Association of Young Philosophers (IAYP) at the XVIII World Congress of Philosophy (Brighton, England); he held that post until the next World Congress (1993). From 1989 to 1992, he was retained by the University of Mainz (Germany) as a researcher for development of the Diatopic and Diastratic Linguistic Atlas of Uruguay (coordinated by Harald Thun and Adolfo Elizaincín). López Velasco was a professor at the PUCRS and UNISINOS Universities (in Porto Alegre, Brazil). From 1989 until his retirement in 2019, he was Professor of Philosophy at the Federal University of Río Grande (FURG, in Rio Grande, Brazil); where from 1994 to 2016  he helped develop first the Master, then the Doctoral Degree programs in Environmental Education (the first and only program to date recognized by Brazil’s Ministry of Education). He was a member of the International Scientific Committee for the 1st and 3rd World Congress on Environmental Education (held, respectively, in Portugal in 2002, and in Italy in 2005). He was also a member of the official Brazilian delegation in education to the “Rio+20” (UN Conference on Sustainable Development), held in Rio de Janeiro in June 2012. He is a member of two Working Groups of the Associação Nacional de Pesquisa e Post-Graduação em Filosofia (ANPOF) | National Association of Research and Graduate Studies in Philosophy, Brazil. He was Secretary in Rio Grande of the Sociedade Brasileira para o Progresso da Ciência (SBPC) | Brazilian Society for the Progress of Science. He directed several postgraduate theses, in Philosophy and Environmental Education, and gave lectures at international conferences held in Latin America and Europe.

Tags: ecommunitarianism, new economy, post-capitalist economy