Eleanor Finley: Reason, Creativity and Freedom – The Communalist Model

Reason, Creativity and Freedom: The Communalist Model

Eleanor Finley, Roar Magazine, February 11, 2017

Humanity stands at a crossroads. Now, more than ever, history calls for a grassroots democracy at a global scale. If we look carefully, all the tools are at hand.

Whether the twenty-first century will be the most radical of times or the most reactionary … will depend overwhelmingly upon the kind of social movement and program that social radicals create out of the theoretical, organizational, and political wealth that has accumulated during the past two centuries… The direction we select … may well determine the future of our species for centuries to come.

   — Murray Bookchin, The Communalist Project (2002)

In the aftermath of Donald Trump’s election, devastating images and memories of the First and Second World Wars flood our minds. Anti-rationalism, racialized violence, scapegoating, misogyny and homophobia have been unleashed from the margins of society and brought into the political mainstream.

Meanwhile, humanity itself runs in a life-or-death race against time. The once-unthinkable turmoil of climate change is now becoming reality, and no serious attempts are being undertaken by powerful actors and institutions to holistically and effectively mitigate the catastrophe. As the tenuous and paradoxical era of American republicanism comes to an end, nature’s experiment in such a creative, self-conscious creature as humanity reaches a perilous brink.

Precisely because these nightmares have become reality, now is the time to decisively face the task of creating a free and just political economic system. For the sake of humanity — indeed for the sake of all complex life on earth as we know it — we must countervail the fascism embodied today in nation-state capitalism and unravel a daunting complex of interlocking social, political, economic and ecological problems. But how?

As a solution to the present situation, a growing number of people in the world are proposing “communalism”: the usurpation of capitalism, the state, and social hierarchy by the way of town, village, and neighborhood assemblies and federations. Communalism is a living idea, one that builds upon a rich legacy of political history and social movements.

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