“To reconquer work”—for and with one’s own inner circle—is a path that will surely interest many people who propose a rebirth in the midst of the crisis, perhaps without knowing that what they are doing, with their community and its affections, would ensure the rebirth of an entire world.
The time has come to carry out what the bourgeoisie was able to do to overcome feudalism: turn the expulsion from work created by the system into an alternative society. The medieval bourgeoisie grew its first cities with servants who had escaped from bondage to their lord’s land and joined the first small commercial societies. The new egalitarian communities had to expand with those expelled from the productive system to give rise to the first transnational networks of communities oriented towards abundance. This is an alternative world beyond the borders of command pyramids and the law of the jungle that we experience in so many companies, and also beyond the omnipresence of commodification and the alienation of labor, a world where “everyone shares everything” through communal ownership and savings, and “everyone receives according to their need”.
The scene will be urban
The community experience has historically been centered in rural areas. Rural settlements provide a space for a direct relationship between work and nature which continues to be essential to communitarian approaches. However, in Kassel, Washington, Nazareth, or Madrid, the new comunards no longer buy fields to work. They buy apartments, offices, and shops. They’re building autonomy for a new generation of communities in sectors based on knowledge and in urban settings. Their range is expanding more and more: intelligence and data, training, specialized hardware, free software, restoration, cultural objects, ecological products… These are all services and products created on a small scale but with large scope, which are focused on the direct economy as a form of relationship with the market.
Since the middle of the nineteenth century, communitarianism has survived because it was able to demonstrate how egalitarianism and idealism pay. In this last decade, it has grown globally because it learned how to add. It learned to add very diverse people and build a life experience, a glimpse of abundance in daily life, that many already openly call “post-capitalist.” Now our challenge is learning to multiply. We know how to offer an alternative, the “conquest of work,” to the generation exiled from the productive system by the crisis.
And that challenge will be faced, above all, in cities, among other things because, from the point of view of the human experience, the relationship with nature is measured by the ability to transform our productive activities. A software developer today has a more intense relationship with nature than a medieval peasant ever had.
It’s true that this relationship remains hidden from participants in most overscaled industries, where deliberation is replaced by sets of rules, practices, and “procedures”; where reflection on the best objective is substituted by decisions on the best method, and the coordination of wills is substituted by checklists and task-completion oversight. But in community, purposes and tools are part of a design and knowledge that everyone is aware of and agrees to. And above all, the position of advancing abundance, the front line, is wherever the direct application of knowledge is closest to production. And generally, the setting for that is the city.
The tasks of the communards
Egalitarian communities should undertake a path that allows them to go from the current model, based on the resistance and resilience of the “small community,” to another that starts from a large network of egalitarian and productive communities. We must feed the new sprouts, which are capable of maintaining themselves in the market, and at the same time, create more spaces of abundance and decommodification. Additionally, we need to take decommodification beyond our interior, and make it permeate all our surroundings. It’s time to begin the competition between systems.
A time is coming when we will have to learn to grow in many new ways: incorporating new members, incubating communities, teaching community techniques in neighborhoods, or creating popular universities of a new kind, that give tools for multispecialization.
We have to confront a gigantic problem created by over-scaling—from smallness, with smallness, and step by step. We have to use diversity and abundance to break out of the traps that a culture in decomposition tends to constantly fall into, which magnify defeatism, pessimism, and the idea of “every man for himself”. It’s not going to be a stroll through a rose garden, and we’re certainly not going to be able to make headway without encountering serious resistance.
You are the protagonist
Imagine yourself as a new kind of pioneer, as the leader of a large collective adventure.
You’re not alone. Thousands of people joined communard initiatives throughout the world over the last year: egalitarian communities, kibbutzim, cooperatives that unite work and housing… Not too far from you, there’s a community already underway. You can participate in its activities, collaborate in its development projects, or join it as another communard. With other enthusiasts, you’ll build productive urban communities that are able to create effective abundance in their settings, which is to say, to compete with the market.
You’ll be the leader of an adventure that will demand—as it did of the generations of communards who preceded us in centuries past—effort and commitment in exchange for making life useful and significant. But in contrast with those generations of pioneers, who lived in an era in which abundance remained out of reach, you can aspire to something more than living better. Today, it’s our turn to demonstrate that the best life serves to create abundance for everyone, and is already preparing to be able to offer a place and a meaning to everyone.
Las Indias, May ninth, 2016
Translation to English by Level Translation
The Communard Manifesto
- The dilemma of our time
- Abundance within reach
- Inequality, unemployment and demoralization
- What is decomposing is not only the economic system, but what the human experience means
- Capitalism and its critics
- Capitalism shaped the world because, before changing the State, it was able to create a new form of human experience
- Revolutionaries that loved crises and large scales
- The history we weren’t told
- The new world will be born and affirmed inside the old
- New relationships, here and now
- Scale and scope
- From the era of economies of scale…
- …to the era of the inefficiencies of scale
- Today, capital is too big for the real productive scale…
- … and the optimal scale is approaching community dimensions
- Building abundance here and now
- Abundance has to do with production, not with consumption
- A scarce product in a decentralized network is abundant in a distributed network
- The “P2P mode of production” is the model for the production of abundance
- The two faces of productivity
- Artificially creating scarcity has become a way of life for over-scaled industry
- Abundance is the magic that shines through the “hacker ethic”
- The path of abundance does not mean producing less
- What will we do about the overuse of natural resources?
- Connecting the dots
- Conquer work, reconquer life
- To be unable to access work is to be in social exile
- There’s no self-realization without work
- To conquer work is reconquer life
- From adding to multiplying
- The scene will be urban
- The tasks of the communards
- You are the protagonist
- Appendix: concrete things you can do with this manifesto
- Expand the conversation
- Prepare to “make community”
You are the protagonist of this Manifesto. You can be part of a growing movement and build here and now, a meaningful life and a different world .
Natalia Fernández, las Indias
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The Communard Manifesto is the result of a collaborative process. It started with an 8.000 words proposal by las Indias. Open discussion -both live and on line- doubled its length and pulished its style. Then volunteers from three different continents started to translate it to Catalan, Portuguese, French, German and English.
María Rodríguez, las Indias