Thursday, 4 April 2013

First Signs of An UBUNTU Town

One Step Closer to UBUNTU Contributionism

Marinaleda, Spain - The town where everyone has a job, rents are 15€ per month, and the mayor earns exactly the same as everyone else.

With a population of 2,600, the town has virtually full employment, communally owned land and wage equality. Over the past three decades, the townspeople have built 350 family homes with their own hands. Residents pay a "mortgage" of just 15 euro a month towards their homes, but have no opportunity to profit from selling them on.

When you arrive to Marinaleda, soon, you begin to notice the little differences: the lack of advertising or brand names, the streets named for Fermín Salvochea, the 19th-century anarchist mayor of Cadiz, and for Salvador Allende, Federico García Lorca and Pablo Neruda.

"Our union gathers people of many political stripes," Sánchez Gordillo, the mayor, explains, "but we carry the torch of anarchism's direct action." He cites 5,000 years of Andalusian struggle for land, and thinks for a moment. "Even the weekly assembly is direct action."

The town's relationship with the state is complicated. They are still subject to Spanish electoral law (Sánchez Gordillo is re-elected with a huge majority each time), but have abolished their police force. "By law, due to the number of inhabitants we have here, we should have around four to seven cops," he tells me. "But we don't want police here. Because we have our voluntary work, because we fight together, because we make our lives together, there is a high degree of coexistence. When we plant trees, we do it together too." Sánchez Gordillo's articulation of what "community" can mean is striking, when you consider how blithely the word is used by politicians across the west.

"Utopias aren't chimeras, they are the most noble dreams that people have. The dream of equality; the dream that housing should belong to everyone, because you are a person, and not a piece of merchandise to be speculated with; the dream that natural resources – for instance energy – shouldn't be in the service of multinationals, but in the service of the people. All those dreams are the dreams we'd like to turn into realities. First, in the place where we live, with the knowledge that we're surrounded by capitalism everywhere; and later, in Andalusia, and the world."


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