Vocabulary for a New World – Eco-Communalism

At its core, eco-communalism holds a mindfulness (almost reverence) for sustainable development, a belief in human goodness, which often manifests itself through conflict resolution or multiculturalism. Also apparent is a longing for society to advance past reckless industrialism towards a more localized, environmentally palatable system.

Eco-communalism is often associated with eco-socialism, which emphasizes a movement away from capitalism and toward a less materialistic society. The word communalism itself is a term that describes social movements and theories which emphasize the centrality of the community, and eco-communalism ultimately sees the community as the catalyst to help propel the move away from greed and corporate irresponsibility. In 1983, E.F. Schumacher published Small Is Beautiful, a collection of essays in which he expressed the unsustainability of the modern world’s consumption behavior and the need for a new outlook to prevent otherwise inevitable environmental collapse: “Ever bigger machines, entailing ever bigger concentrations of economic power and exerting ever greater violence against the environment, do not represent progress: they are a denial of wisdom. Wisdom demands a new orientation of science and technology towards the organic, the gentle, the non-violent, the elegant and beautiful.”

These are the ideas espoused in the philosophy of eco-communalism – rather than a world of capitalist states and their often exploited workers driven by their own greed, eco-communalism envisions a world in which government is decentralized, settlements are integrated with larger cities, local farming is the primary source of produce, and ecological thinking and interconnectedness are the new human values (44-45). As John Bellamy Foster describes in “Organizing Ecological Revolution,” eco-communalism will be the achievement through revolutionary struggle of a more egalitarian society.” It will be one in which “a vigilant civil society would foster more responsible corporate behavior and new values would change consumption and production patterns.” (19) The GSG gives eco-taxes, social subsidies, and green accounting as examples of how eco-communalism could be practically applied (61).

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