The Village Against the World Paperback
by Dan Hancox
One hundred kilometres from Seville lies the small village of Marinaleda, which for the last thirty-five years has been the centre of a tireless struggle to create a living utopia.
This unique community drew British author Dan Hancox to Spain, and here for the first time he recounts the fascinating story of villagers who expropriated the land owned by wealthy aristocrats and have, since the 1980s, made it the foundation of a cooperative way of life. Today, Marinaleda is a place where the farms and the processing plants are collectively owned and provide work for everyone who wants it.
A mortgage is 15 per month, sport is played in a stadium emblazoned with a huge mural of Che Guevara, and there are monthly 'Red Sundays' when everyone works together to clean up the neighbourhood.
Leading this revolution is the village mayor, Juan Manuel Sanchez Gordillo, who in 2012 became a household name in Spain after heading raids on local supermarkets to feed the Andalusian unemployed. As Spain's crisis becomes ever more desperate, Marinaleda also suffers from the international downturn.
Can the village retain its utopian vision?Can Sanchez Gordillo hold on to the dream against the depredations of the world beyond his village?
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 256 pages, Illustrations (black and white), maps (black and white)
- Publisher: Verso Books
- Publication Date: 27/05/2014
- Category: Sociology & anthropology
- ISBN: 9781781682982
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Review by Opinionated
The story of Marinaleda, the village in Andalusia often described as Communist, but perhaps better thought of as a giant commune, and its charismatic mayor Sanchez Gordillo, is reasonably well known. So you look to a book like this to take you deeper, to reveal the thoughts and dreams of the residents, to bring up the conflicts that must inevitably occur, to hear the voice of the opposition and so on. Dan Hancox is only moderately successful at doing this; even though he visted Marinaleda for 8 years he doesn't seem to have got very close to anyone that matters in the village, and although he captures the libertarian nature of the place well you still don't feel you've got under the skin of what is actually going on, whether it represents an alternative way of politics, or is just, as Hancox himself suggests, similar to the village of Asterix; an oddity in a sea of conformity. Hancox editorialises a great deal, and in a relatively short book, I'd have liked to have heard more of the villagers' voices. Perhaps they just didn't want to talk. What seems a curiosity to the outside work is just everyday life for them