The Village Against the World
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One hundred kilometers from Seville lies the small village of Marinaleda, which for the last thirty-five years has been the center of a tireless struggle to create a living utopia. Today, Marinaleda is a place where the farms and the processing plants are collectively owned and provide work for everyone who wants it.
As Spain's crisis becomes ever more desperate, Marinaleda also suffers from the international downturn. Can the village retain its utopian vision? Can the iconic mayor Sánchez Gordillo hold on to the dream against the depredations of the world beyond his village?
‘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; later, in Andalusia and around the world.’ * The old field-workers’ union, the Sindicato de Obreros del Campo (SOC), extended its scope to include urban sectors in 2007, giving rise to the Andalusian Workers’ Union, Sindicato Andaluz de Trabajadores (SAT), within which the SOC maintains a degree of autonomy. 2 The Story
principal martyrs. The following morning, twenty or so people climbed onto the bus outside Marinaleda town hall, almost all middle-aged women, chattering away excitably as friends do when on an excursion. It felt a bit like a school outing. Three young men in their late twenties were sitting at the back of the bus, rather more coolly, and there was space at the back, so I joined them there. They were Mosa, one of the village’s handful of Senegalese immigrant workers, a tall man with a cheeky
of the pueblo were already involved in the occupations and strikes, and wished to continue focusing their democratic energies that way. (They have maintained this ambivalence: in the context of the current Spanish crisis, I have heard the Constitution described in Marinaleda as a ‘pact with the residues of Francoism’. In their propaganda, it is accused of being ‘useless in stopping the markets’ war against the people’.) They had chosen to ignore the new developments in Madrid, but Madrid had
course,’ he said. ‘But we are still always fighting. Struggles, protests, demonstrations – here, in Seville, wherever.’ I asked if Prince Felipe had ever answered their letter. He rolled his eyes slightly. ‘What do you think?’ he said, handed the book back to me, and turned back to the football. In the mid-1990s, the Seville University anthropologist Félix Talego Vázquez lived in Marinaleda for a year, researching his doctoral thesis. This thesis was published as a controversial book –
homes has coined the term ‘ruin porn’. The Spanish equivalent is speculation porn, exemplified by photo-spreads in the newspapers of entire new Madrid suburbs built on the assumption of relentless growth and completed just before the crash. These modern ghost towns are haunted by a different mortal terror to Detroit’s: not the decay of previously thriving communities, but the folly of baseless expansion, of urban spaces that have never been used and may never be used. An architect’s impression, a