“What a utopia that text expounds! What it says does not exist anywhere on Earth.” Thus began a reader’s comment on my short text “Coronavirus, Capitalism and Eco-communitarianism” (republished in English, thanks to the translation of Jane K Brundage, in Resilience, on 04/05/21 here from its original publication in Rebelión and Aporrea magazines (in Spanish) under the title “Coronavirus: capitalism  pits the economy against health and education. The e-communitarist response”.

An Argentine intellectual whose name has been lost, asked himself in a reflection later popularized by Eduardo Galeano:

“What is utopia for? Because when we walk ten steps, utopia moves ten more steps away, and when we walk a hundred steps , it moves away another hundred”;

and he replied:

“Well, that is exactly what it is for … to walk.”

We make that vision our own in our proposal for Eco-communitarianism, a post-capitalist utopian order that, never fully achievable, nonetheless operates as a guiding star for daily action, bringing together the following aspects, among others:

  1. An ecological economy without patrons applies the motto: from each one according to their abilities and to each one according to their needs, respecting ecological balance and interculturality. In this cooperative economy, mandatory productive activities tend toward zero, such that each human being can develop culturally and train in sports, or enjoy the simple free leisure in which we feel we live and enjoy life. Activities are rotated to satisfy the various individual vocations and not penalize anyone with exclusive or permanent assignment to unrewarding activities. Energy is clean and renewable, and one of its fundamental components is the organic agribusiness that produces abundant healthy foods. In this economy, wages and money disappear.
  2. A policy of all is intercultural and based on direct democracy facilitated by the internet.
  3. A socially generalized environmental education promotes a life of solidarity between humans and is respectful of non-human nature from childhood to death and, adapted to each age group, it includes sexual education for the free enjoyment of consensual pleasure, overcoming machismo and homophobia, and if the individual so wishes, for the voluntary renunciation of sexual pleasure.
  4. Horizontal and symmetrical communication puts current media monopolies or oligopolies in the hands of the communities, and,
  5. An aesthetic of liberation encourages everyone to produce and admire art.

If someone says that the full realization of all (and other) of its aspects is impossible, we respond like the Argentine intellectual popularized by Galeano: Eco-communitarianism is the horizon that guides us in each daily action, such that Humanity might be prevented from stagnating in capitalism by assuming — in the name of “realism” – that capitalism is the “end of History”.

In my 33-year long university teaching career, in the last three decades when I presented my Eco-communitarian proposal, many times I had to respond to my students posing the same question-observation formulated by the reader at the beginning of these lines. I did it using several examples. Here, I recall three, which show that what for many centuries of history was believed impossible, later materialized.

Take the case of slavery. Probably since it existed, there were human beings who, in the name of dignity and freedom, rebelled against it. A paradigmatic example of that repeated struggle has come down to us: the insurrection led by Spartacus in the Italian territory of all-powerful Rome in the First Century B.C. What happened? Spartacus was defeated, but his torch was taken up again and again until nineteen centuries later, classical slavery was gradually abolished in Europe and later in the rest of the world. Thus, Humanity had to wait nineteen centuries, but what seemed impossible became real, thanks to the repeated failed struggles of thousands and perhaps millions of dreamers.

Second example. In many of my classrooms, women made up the majority of the student body, and I pointed out to them that if the modern University as we know it dates back to at least the thirteenth century, only at the end of the nineteenth century were women able to frequent its classrooms (first as students and later as teachers). Moreover, I reminded them of the example, among others, of Marie Curie, who had to leave her native Poland because the first doors for a European woman to study Physics at university opened in Paris. Conclusion: what seemed impossible to Humanity for at least seven centuries became a reality thanks to the struggle of many women (and some men).

Third example. Since at least the Greek myth of Icarus, Western culture has known that human beings, admiring birds, wanted to fly. However, in the West it took at least 25 centuries for a human being to rise into the air (first with hot air balloons and a century later with airplanes). Confirmation: what seemed impossible for at least 25 centuries became real thanks to the tenacity of many pioneers (most of them, failures).

Well, we wish and we hope for something similar in relation to E-communitarianism. Eventually, albeit incompletely, it will follow capitalism, which still enjoys a doddering youth of only about five centuries. My conviction is supported by the millions of people who today fight defending e-communitarian or similar ideas. John Lennon wrote and sang in “Imagine”: “You can say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.”

Translated by Jane K. Brundage

Teaser photo credit: Photo by Amy Burgess on Unsplash