Village against the world
Dan Hancox

Back when I first started to listen to music, I mean really started to listen to music, the bands that made it my ears were very idealistic. ‘Meat Is Murder’, the Smiths Exclaimed! Elvis Costello sang about Olivers Army prior to that and even OMD were singing anti war songs to go with the (very) mighty Wah’s 7 minutes to midnight.

My musical tastes narowed as punk rock really kicked in and the anarcho rage of Crass, Flux and Conflict took over. ‘Another World Is Possible’ they told us as Giro’s in Belfast came into action. I started listening to a wder selection of sounds but if a band wasn’t publicly supporting the miners strike then I wasn’t gonna waste my time on them.

30 years later and whilst a lot has happened outside music that world of punk and change still clings very dear to my heart.

Another World is Possible rears its head time and time again as I ask my children to “Strive to survive causing least suffering possible”. It’s a simple mantra and we can be the change we want to be.

The world has changed since the mid 80’s, walls have come tumbling down but the veneer of democracy is still thin and money holds the balance of power. Nearly everywhere….

In the small town of Marinaleda in the Andalucian region of Southern Spain the near 3,000 inhabitants have decided to take the power. After years of struggle they got land and have created their own co-ops. This book is their story. It is based around the towns lord mayor, Sanchez Gordillo, and the people who have taken control. Whether that be by the farms they cultivate or the processing plants that makes goods grown form these farms, or the weekly assemblies that take place. I can only guesss someone like Paul Murphy takes great inspiration from a mayor like Gordillo. After the press hysteria in Ireland when Paul spoke about always having a megaphone in the car and his vilification from some in the Labour Party it seems that Mayor Gordillo goes nowhere without his megaphone, and has done so for a very long time.

Spain has 4 million vacant premises, it is estimated that 4000,000 people have been evicted from their homes – none in Marinaleda. Nobody profits from the sale of real estate, it is available to all for €15 per week.”People are considered merchandise. While they’re profitable they are used and when they’re no longer profitable they’re discarded. We have to change these cruel and inhuman values.” It is pretty straight forward really, but of course it is not that straight forward. Finance needs to be obtained and with austerity gripping Spain as unemployment nationally reaches 30% (Marinaleda has approx 5%) it is becoming more and more difficult to sustain. It has done so up to now and not without difficulty. This is not North Korea, wifi is freely available, elections are regular occurrences and whilst there is oppostion Gordillo keeps getting re-elected.

Weekly assemblies are a feature of life and through this “atmosphere of genuine democratic inclusion and participation” we could possibly learn something. Of course this is not new and the occupy movement have been advocates of this type of participation and places like Seomra Spraoi are organised in this way. The people in Marinaleda seem to have a genuine belief that they are in control of their own destiny. Indeed, we hear that “police and priests are superfluous and so are politicians” which is refreshing to hear considering our system here is based on entrusting those we vote in every 5 years.

This is an inspiring tale. It’s not rags to riches it’s a sharing of the community people live in. A tale that people can try and take control

Maybe another world is possible after all?


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