A submission from some furious farmworkers. This text is a chapter from their forthcoming book: Farmworker Fury – Inquiries about organic agriculture. More chapters soon to follow.
In 2020, we read Class Power on Zero Hours by the Angry Workers. It left us buzzing. After some time of not knowing what to do with our inspiration, we decided to write this book about our work experiences. Leftists often either romanticize (organic) agriculture, or they want it to be fully automated and industrialised. Beyond capitalism, we will have to learn to work the land in a truly sustainable way. Therefore, we think it’s important to have a workers-based analysis of (organic) agriculture. We are writing this book to contribute to such an analysis and we are hoping to receive feedback, comments and critiques from fellow workers and comrades.
Inquiry No. 1 – The eco village
This chapter is about our experiences in one of the oldest and biggest intentional eco village communities of Central Europe (from now on, we will refer to it as the Village or the Eco Village), where we spent about a year. In the first part, we describe how we lived there, what kind of work we did, and our reflections on it, having in mind working class struggles. In the conclusion, we try to make sense of our experiences with a revolutionary workers’ takeover in mind (1).
As you will find out, our experiences in the eco village cured us from the idea that such communities can function as important hubs pre-figuring a post-capitalist society or even relate actively to working class and environmental struggles in the current moment.
And we have to admit that the writing partially felt like a trauma-healing process. However, we do not want to simply dismiss these communities as irrelevant. First of all because any society we consider worth living in will involve the sharing of resources, repro work and means of production, and such projects are living attempts of that. And secondly, because we are constantly confronted with people who are interested in such projects and see them as viable alternatives. Therefore we found it important to write this text for fellow comrades.
About the eco village
The Village permanently houses about sixty adults and twenty children, and includes about ten work cooperatives in which 33 members of the village work. Another ten people work under the legal roof of those work cooperatives, but matter of fact they are working independently as yoga teacher, natural health practitioner, energy adviser or other jobs. Eight people work outside the village in regular jobs, three are seemingly unemployed and six are pensioners. Additionally there are seven employees who work permanently in the cooperatives but do not live in community but nearby. The cooperatives range from a kindergarten (hosting village kids as well as children from the nearby small town), professional kitchen, vegetable market garden to wood- and metal workshops, a dairy farm, a guest house for seminar groups and some more. All money earned flows into a communal bank account. The salaries of people working outside of the Village also go into this bank account.
People who want to join the eco village as full members do a three- to six-month trial period, after which all Village members vote on whether the aspiring members can become official members or not, in a consensus decision-making process. New members bring in all their savings as well as their debts, which become collectivised. When Villagers need money, they can take cash from the communal cash box, or have it transferred to their personal bank account (which some people have and others do not). This is all trust-based.
One of the aims when the Village started was to collectivise all reproductive work and to dismantle the nuclear family. That’s why there is a kindergarten in the Village and a professional kitchen coop which cooks lunch for everyone. Breakfast, dinner, washing dishes and weekend cooking are done by everyone in a rotational schedule. It comes down to having to do only about 15% as much food preparing and doing dishes as when living individually!
How we lived and worked
Working in the vegetable market garden
One of us worked as a gardener in the vegetable cooperative . This coop maintained a market garden of about an acre, plus a few other fields of three hectares in total cultivated in a tractor system. The vegetables are grown for the eco village and a community-supported agriculture scheme (CSA) (2) delivering food to the nearest city. The eco village itself (including the professional catering) consumes half the produce. The CSA-scheme supplies about another 50 households in a nearby city.
The taste of the vegetables is good, and people in the eco village are happy with them. In other work places I have worked, most of these vegetables would have ended up in the compost and would not have been sold (too small or too ugly, too weirdly grown). This shows how much delicious and nutritious but ugly food can be saved when companies do not have to compete on the capitalist market.
Many infrastructures and processes in the garden were improvised. There was no proper cold storage cell, which (throughout summer) greatly decreased the quality of the produce until it was delivered into the city to the CSA-members. I was not impressed that there was a compost pile right next to a creek, against all legal distancing requirements due to the risk of nutrients leaking into the water. The irrigation system needed constant improvised repair, which took a lot of time.
Within the CSA-scene, the Village’s veggie coop has a good reputation. This is mainly because they are very good at marketing themselves, and some of the gardeners there can talk very well about how innovative and world-changing their vegetable growing is. As a matter of fact, the team consisted of four to five amateur gardeners, with little to no practical experience in the commercial agricultural sector. Because of the good marketing, there were always other people around, like young people who were interested in intentional communities or agriculture students who applied for internships. From April on throughout summer there was always at least one intern working about six hours a day for food and accommodation. The interns gained comprehensive insight into operating the market garden and attended the team meetings too. Also they did a lot of weeding and odd jobs. One intern volunteered several afternoons to collect potato beetles off the potato plants by hand.
My own work was usually a 30-hour week (6 hrs day/5-days week), with six weeks holiday leave. Once or twice a week, there was two to three hours of afternoon work. Additional duties to open and close the greenhouses in the evenings according to the weather forecast were split evenly among the team and added on top of the work hours. People handled their work hours very differently. One person claimed not to count their work hours, as work is so much fun to them that they do not distinguish between work and leisure anymore. Other gardeners were very aware of their own needs, not to “exhaust themselves”, which meant they spent more time with leisure activities or with their children and nuclear families. I perceived this shortsighted attempt to overcome “the alienation of the workplace” by not counting work hours as stupid. As a result, other colleagues were constantly concerned if they should work more, comparing themselves to others. To me, blurring the boundary between work and leisure felt like an extension of work hours without actually getting more work done or improving the atmosphere.
At least throughout the warm half of the year, there was constant talking about ‘how much work there is to do and how exhausting it is’. In my opinion this was exaggerated and my colleagues simply had no clue what working is like. I was not challenged at all by the work, as the pace was only a fraction of what I am used to in professional horticulture. The total work hours were also very low: even in high summer it was often less than 40 hours a week and in winter only 20. So the work itself was not challenging to me, but what did challenge me was the pretentious (bourgeois) communication styles of my colleagues. Growing food is amazing and great fun, and you can do a lot wrong, that’s for sure… But nobody will ever get a Nobel Prize for it, so what is the point in all that bragging?! Maybe it is just a thing of middle-class yuppies always feeling like what they are doing is so extraordinary and needs extra admiration. (OK, evil revenge mode off again.)
There are some amazing aspects about the veggie coop too:
- They run their own baby plants nursery. This way, they do not have to buy any external plants, and are able to closely tend to the baby plants. The nursery only works with non-peat soils and the gardeners experiment with more ecological soil substrates (3).
- The market garden has very elaborate crop rotation patterns, and the gardeners are constantly trying to increase soil fertility according to the approaches of regenerative agriculture (4). This includes many cover crops, and the generous application of compost and mulch materials.
- Because the garden is backed by the shared economy of the village, the daily work is free of financial pressures (we explain more about the financial side of the eco village below. This allowed for plenty of experimentation in growing methods or choice of crop varieties. The running of the garden was based on the preferences of the team, and they did not have to compromise on ecological or horticultural considerations due to profitability. For example, the gardeners always used non-hybrid seeds. Hybrid seeds have to be bought anew every year from agro-chemical corporations which creates long term dependencies. Using non-hybrids seeds is a bit like using free or opensource software, anyone is free to experiment and breed with those seeds or to make their own seeds. This is very interesting when thinking about truly sustainable agro-ecological systems that can function without the industrial-capitalist agricultural industry. However hybrid seeds are very common in conventional and organic horticulture because yields are higher and crops grow more uniform.
- Among the Villagers, the veggie team enjoys a high reputation for doing the work and producing such delicious food. The Villagers are genuinely grateful to not have to do the gardening themselves.
- The vegetable team has self-made Excel sheets for planning the production and crop rotation, they are very detailed and good fun to work with. This really makes it much easier to keep an overview of what needs to be done week after week. Those Excel sheets and rotation patterns are applicable to farms of any size, so that could be an interesting life-hack for landworkers reopening the commons ;-).
In winter, the main work is doing the planning of crop rotations and repairing tools. And taking a few veggies out of the storage and preparing them for the CSA-scheme or the village kitchen (mostly carrots, some beetroot, potato and cabbage). And of course there is some winter harvesting in the greenhouses and on field, like kale or lamb’s lettuce. Throughout the year, there are two harvest days a week. On those days, a share of the harvest is packed to be delivered to the CSA members in the nearby city. The eco village kitchen receives a daily delivery in the morning which they usually serve as lunch the same day. Other than that, there are all sorts of tasks to support the running of a market garden, including the planning work, admin chores to fulfil accountability towards authorities regarding amounts of applied fertilisers and agricultural subsidies, the calculation and timing of what to sow and plant when for a desired date of harvest, or repairing and maintaining tools, the irrigation system, greenhouses and other devices.
Working in the Fruit Orchard
One of us worked in the eco village’s fruit orchards, consisting of about five hectares with 500 standard fruit trees, mainly apples and pears. In the season, the fruit is harvested for the eco village, but the main focus of the fruit cooperative is to preserve old fruit varieties (many of which are on the brink of extinction). A lot of the fruit is left to rot as fruit production is only a minor topic to the team. The fruit coop does not sell many products, apart from a few boxes of fruit and some jars of jam in the eco village’s farm shop. It earns most of its money organising courses in fruit tree pruning and in getting paid to identify rare fruit varieties – a quirky pomological (5) skill. Also, it gets some agricultural subsidies for biodiversity measures, and of course, it is financially backed up by the eco village’s shared economy (more on this below). The meadow orchards can therefore at best be seen as an elaborate self-sufficiency project and not as a profitable, professional company. This was also shown in the way my colleagues worked and organized themselves.
The team consisted of four people. The atmosphere at the weekly work meeting was often tense. In my experience, it was done more for the sake of it than because anyone really wanted it or thought it was useful, and it always ended with everyone being frustrated and grumpy. Two of my colleagues were completely incapable of talking to each other in an emotionally grown-up way. Once, I was working with them and had to listen to a ten-minute argument about a hat and who it belonged to. The other colleagues decided to ignore this behaviour and retreated into doing their own tasks. One colleague made jams throughout the year, from berries that were frozen after harvest, and was the only one who was able or willing to build constructions, fix machines and drive tractors. Another colleague mainly organised courses and spent his time in pomological research.
The work consisted of taking care of the meadow orchards (mowing the grass, weeding), taking care of the trees (pruning, clearing away branches) and harvesting. We also worked on measures to improve biodiversity: making habitats for earwigs, who eat insect pests, or for wild, solitary bees that are great for pollination. These practices might be useful for working without pesticides on a bigger scale. One day’s work went into making a construction for a weasel to live in, who would then hopefully eat mice. Mouse-hunting is very important in meadow orchards, as mice love eating the roots of young trees, which in the worst cases can kill a tree. (That means years of work disappearing into thin air.)
I worked four days a week from 9:00 until about 17:00, with a one hour lunch break, eating freshly cooked lunch from the village kitchen. As in the vegetable garden, people had different ways of dealing with work hours. One colleague was very relaxed and/or chaotic about it, and often did other work during work times. Another colleague silently resented her for that and thought we should all strictly work at least 8 hours a day. She reacted her frustration off on me by trying to make me work longer than I wanted to. After almost a year of working in this place, I was mentally exhausted, even though I liked the practical work.
How we lived
We lived in the eco village as long-term guests and had rooms of our own in one of the residential houses on site. We shared a living room, two bathrooms, a guest room and a basic kitchen with seven other people. The eco village also has a big communal living room, lounge room and a professional kitchen where food is made three times a day, so we barely used the facilities in our flat.
We took part in the everyday “shared economy” (1st level), a term which refers to all the money circulating on an everyday level. This meant our salaries were transferred to the eco village bank account, and we didn’t pay rent. We took money from the eco village cash box on a trust basis. Because we were guests, our savings and debts did not become a part of the wider “eco village economy” (2nd level). Beside all the money circulating on an every day level, the “eco village economy” consists of the collectivised savings, debts, mortgage payments, subsidies and pension funds of the eco village members and all coops. Within the eco village members and the workers’ coops, no transactions were billed. So when you are hungry you can just eat anything from the storage room. And when the metal workshop repairs the hinges of a gate on the cowshed, the eco village metal coop does not bill the dairy coop. Some people are very talented at making all the accounting look amazing on paper. They present the balances in a monthly assembly to the whole group. So far, the tax office has never found any legal irregularities, which is quite astonishing when you have witnessed the internal social processes of the project.
The financial side of the eco village seemed to work out for them on a daily basis: No money disappeared, and the Village was economically stable – this to the surprise of everybody outside of the Village we spoke to. Clever accounting done by some Villagers meant that they never missed a loophole or corona-support and saved on paying taxes and social security contributions. We are not sure what to think of this – on the one hand we do not think the state does so many useful things with our tax money (for example the amount of tax money spent on police and military, while there is never enough money for social services, public housing, education, health care…). On the other hand this creative accounting bothered us, as it did not seem much different from any petty bourgeois enterprise bargaining out a bigger piece of the cake. Mainly, we were annoyed by the Robin Hood-like attitude of some Villagers who thought they were super valuable to society.
Overall, the village needed roughly €55,000 per month to cover ALL their costs, including mortgage payments and pension fund contributions. This sounds like a mighty number. However €55,000 divided by 60 adults equals €916.66 (without accounting for the children). Of those 60 adults, about 51 were involved in work somehow.
We were employed on contracts for the minimum amount of hours you need to be covered in public health insurance and social security nets, even though we worked much more. This way, the Villagers save on paying wage tax. They do this with all their residential employees (Those living outside have different wages, as they have to make a living in “the outside world”). While we were there, it did not matter to us: we were part of the Village’s shared economy so we did not receive our salaries anyway. But in hindsight we should not have accepted this deal, as it meant that afterwards, we got less unemployment money and also built up next to no pension money while being there. Because of such issues, our stay in the Eco village made us lose money.
In the limelight
The village receives a lot of attention from journalists or students writing their thesis. The resulting material focusses on the social dimensions of this way of life, and usually does not go deeper than stories about attending a weekly plenary, different consumption habits and sharing cars etc.
Reflecting on our stay
What worked for us
Not having to commute to work was a huge time and energy saver. Also, we were impressed by the everyday infrastructure in the eco village. For example, the sharing of resources like cars, bikes, public transport tickets, washing machines, sports and music rooms worked very well. And having storage rooms with second hand furniture, electric devices, clothes or music instruments free to use was great.
The cooking and cleaning schedules worked well for us: people only have to do communal cleaning and cooking chores once every six weeks. In practice, some people preferred eating privately with their nuclear family and not in the communal lounge with everybody. Some long-time members of the eco village saw this development as an erosion of the original ambition to share all reproductive tasks.
The eco village gives several talented people the space and time needed to develop their talents and skills. For example, several people who had no formal nursing qualifications set up a public daycare for old people, which is now providing around 15 people from the local area with professional, good care and homemade organic food. Also, there is one person who was trained as a plumber but started taking care of the eco village’s fruit orchards and is now a leading tree conservationist. Others have become geeky experts doing the Village’s admin. Some people combined a part-time blue collar job with a part-time intellectual job (for example: Half the week as a consultant, half the week as a metal worker). Seen that way, living in the eco village was inspiring, because it shows the potential people have when they are free from financial stress.
No class, no direction
Some of the prejudices radical lefties have of such intentional communities were proven right: The people living in the eco village were mainly occupied with their own issues and conflicts (which in some cases meant decades of not talking to each other, or not being able to sit on the same table for a lunch break). Even though they specifically advertise themselves as a ‘political eco village’, in our view almost all people there are politically apathetic. Class consciousness is non-existent. For most, it is “political” enough to live in this eco village and contribute to its everyday operating. When we were there, there were three people who engaged in political projects outside of the eco village, such as refugee support (out of sixty adults). Then there was local opposition to the building of a motorway in the area that about ten people were involved in, but in our opinion that did not extend much further than “Not In My Backyard”.
We were shocked to find out that there was no attempt to abolish class distinctions within the eco village. Existing class distinctions are only reinforced. For example, there were quite a few people who have or had worked as trainers in non-violent communication courses (paradoxically, the nonviolent communication trainers’ coop fell apart as they were incapable of working together). And other (more direct, rugged or working class) styles of communication were often frowned upon or outright rejected. When two artisans from working class backgrounds expressed interest in joining the village, it was decided not to invite them further. Some Villagers raised concerns about the health problems of one of the men, who was overweight. Others did not want to have anything to do with him, as he had served in the army (6). We experienced very little curiosity to involve people outside a certain bubble: People without a bourgeois communication style and middle class manners were not accepted. Of course, this was not said openly but cloaked in polite wording.
We did not experience a sense of ‘togetherness’ while being in the eco village, nor did we have the feeling that the permanent Villagers had a sense of internal solidarity and community, which we think should be the basis of any political organising. To the contrary, life in the eco village often felt a bit like a war of all against all. The old slogan ‘The private is political’ has become fully corrupted in the eco village. Many villagers are scared of each other’s criticisms and not many people speak openly – every personal encounter ends up being a careful diplomatic interaction.
Tyranny of structurelessness reloaded
In our eyes, the eco village does not have a clear aim or strategy. The project has a founding paper of 20 pages explaining its aims, which aspiring members are expected to read and agree with, but it is barely discussed, challenged or elaborated on. Sometimes the paper is ridiculed tongue-in-cheek: ‘Yeah, we used to be wilder, back in the days…’. As we see it, most people in the eco village have no aims but living easy lives and having a lifelong “eco village insurance”: having beautiful housing, eating homegrown vegetables and fruit, buying organic food, enjoying up-market consumption patterns they could otherwise not afford, doing the jobs they want and working only as much as they want, doing relatively little reproductive work, etc. Once people have been accepted into the eco village, after a three- to six-month trial period, they cannot be kicked out! In our eyes, this is a structural flaw in many projects. We understand that it is a very difficult topic and that kicking people out of their house and job should not be taken lightly. However, we have also seen how destructive one or two dysfunctional (or psychologically abusive) characters can be to a big group of people, without a way to set boundaries. We think it should at least be talked about what to do in such cases.
Many people in the eco village have an aversion to hierarchies and rules, and phrases like ‘free of hierarchy and dominance’ are often found in descriptions of the place. (This is a tendency we often notice in (self-proclaimed) leftist projects.) In the eco village, this supposed absence of hierarchies and rules was presented as freedom, but in our eyes it actually caused dependency on the (swinging) mood of the group. For example, there were no rules about how much each person should work or how much money they should bring in. A few (healthy skilled) adults did not work at all and others worked a lot. This is not necessarily a problem, but it turned into a problem as it was not a topic of open discussion, but of on-going quiet resentment and gossip.
A bubble revolving around itself disguised as a political project
Several villagers are disillusioned and bitter about the eco village itself and any kind of political organising in general. One person told us that people are too stupid for socialism. Another one said that he believes work collectives become dysfunctional with more than four members. Another one referred to the impoverishment theory, stating that ‘We are all still far too well-off (7), people will only wake up when things get much worse’. The ‘we’ sometimes referred to the Villagers and sometimes more generally to Central Europeans. Several people said that being politically engaged does not lead to anything, that we can only achieve things in our immediate, small circles. We heard way more liberal political ideas like these (non-violence, be the change you want to see in the world…), even though most villagers like pretending to be ardent change agents of a “better world”. Even calling it politically liberal is already said too much, as most eco villagers had no idea what concepts such as liberal or leftist, reformist or radical actually mean.
Many of the Villagers have been part of the leftist subcultures for years or even decades, and are therefore very good at disguising their little alternative bubble that only revolves around itself as a political project. Many were, for some periods in their lives, involved in autonomous, anarchist, feminist, environmentalist or communist groups or citizens’ initiatives. To others, those milieus were completely alien.
I am my own coop!
The workers’ cooperatives that were part of the eco village are much more impressive on paper than in real life. We found that for quite a few people, ‘working collectively’ meant ‘working as I want’ or ‘having my piece of the cake as everyone else is having theirs too’, or ‘not giving any account of what I am actually doing all day’. For example, several people who worked or are working in agriculture refused to drive tractors (too loud and stinky). They ended up being dependent on the people who were willing to do that work (mainly men) and somehow found that empowering because they could be on their knees in the field, while feeling grounded and close to the soil. We think the workers doing as they please individually has nothing to do with workers’ control, which we understand as organising work processes in a collaborative way.
One ‘cooperative’ even existed of only one person (because no one wants to work with her or she doesn’t want to work with anyone, depending on who you ask) who hires helping hands from outside the eco village to do chores and odd jobs for her. The output of the coops ranged widely, from what we saw as ambitious self-sufficiency hobby projects camouflaged as work, to very profitable, innovative companies, with some good hints at what and how to put a workers’ democracy into practice.
Some villagers found it too restrictive to stick to the legal minimum of health and safety rules and for example found it empowering to walk around barefoot in places with heavy machinery and tools lying around.
There were at least ten vacant bedrooms in the eco village, but these rooms were not available, all for interpersonal reasons: One person wanted to live alone in a two-bedroom flat, another person was basically someone no one wanted to live with, a third person had very specific demands (about noise levels, not wearing shoes indoors, number of visitors welcomed in the apartment, how to organise a kitchen, etc. etc.). With all their resources and wealth, the eco village only managed to host two refugees in the time we were there. This was mostly accomplished because one person made a huge effort to get this organised. Several people were actually against hosting refugees, as they “do not see themselves as a welfare project”. At least one person admitted they didn’t want to share their bathroom with a refugee (or anyone else).
There were a lot of concerns about the depletion of environmental resources and considerable practical efforts were put into reducing the eco village’s footprint. All sorts of renewable energies were installed on site. And beside a few luxury consumers, many villagers personally lived rather frugally.
We had big hopes when we moved into the eco village. We were hoping to find a place to settle, to do useful work, and to have enough time and energy left to engage in various political struggles. We were hoping to make friends and to get to know comrades. We were hoping to find a place where we could start living useful lives against the capitalist system, to live in a place that leads by example, inspires other people and experiments with social relations and structures suitable for a post-capitalist world. In the end, we were bitterly disappointed, and the place turned out to be almost the opposite of what we had hoped for.
No class power, no fun
The eco village is saturated with post-modernist and neoliberal ideologies that emphasise the importance of the individual. For example, as described above, ideas about workers’ control were distorted into individuals working as they wanted. Unfortunately, those neoliberal, post-modernist feelings are widespread in society and also in so-called “alternative” scenes, even when people have genuine concerns about social injustices and environmental destruction. Without a consciousness about class, capital and traditional leftist basics (whether called anti-capitalist, feminist, anarchist or communist…), a whole lot of potential comrades end up desperately trying to improve their consumption patterns, giving up their hopes in political organising or never having had that hope to start with. Some people from those milieus end up in communities and eco villages, instead of joining the class struggle and fighting back effectively. We think it is important to bang on the traditional leftist theories as an antidote to individual despair. We can win some of the people interested in tackling social and environmental injustices over for workerist class politics!
A comrade said that such projects only work when started by a populist mass movement. We believe such pioneering collectivising and sharing only makes sense among militant comrades with reliable political commitments. We can start this work already, we don’t have to wait for the mass movement. Political working class self-help projects can improve conditions in everyday life. Historically, for the workers’ movement, consumer cooperatives, allotments, housing cooperatives, etc., were very important in improving daily conditions and as a socio-cultural backbone of the wider political movement. They reached much further than the organisational bodies of political parties or trade unions ever did.
Working class arithmetics
As we calculated above, the village spends €55,000 in total a month, which comes down to €917 per adult villager. Working a 40-hour week on minimum wage (for example, €12/hr gross in Germany) results in a monthly net wage of ca €1500. So the eco village can thrive on less than minimum wage! So a group of workers working full-time on minimum wage would theoretically have more than enough funds to set up collective infrastructure.
The numbers from the eco village suggest that 51 workers would be able to finance an intentional community by doing wage work, and still have plenty of funding to support 23 people dependent on
them (8). At least theoretically, cutting down on personal costs of living by sharing resources and facilities allows for a strong reduction of wage work. This would allow for a more equal redistribution of care- and reproductive work (which will allow us to be less dependent on the nuclear family) and increase capacities to organise politically. Practically, the eco village showed us that these freed capacities may just be wasted on in-fighting, if the group does not manage to deal with personal conflicts and does not have modes to stop boundary-crossing behaviour.
For such a community to flourish in the long run and to continuously support workers’ struggles, it requires clarity of purpose (for example: mutual aid, self-help redistribution of repro work, easing the pressure of wage work and rent on the individual, freeing capacities to organise politically) and of political analysis (a few ideas: solidarity, class struggle, anti-capitalism, feminism, internationalism). Without basic knowledge of leftist revolutionary concepts and (historical and ongoing) movements, nothing can be gained. How on earth are you going to change the world when you have not even heard of anti-capitalism, anarchism, communism, feminism, abolitionism, anticolonialism, etc?
Our experiences in the eco village taught us something which in hindsight seems very obvious: unless they are explicitly revolutionary, projects like these will not play a constructive role in (working towards) a revolutionary takeover. We do not have a clear, unified conclusion here. One of us thinks such projects will cause counter-revolutionary trouble. One of us thinks they are completely irrelevant to social struggles and movements and will be so in an uprising too. Probably we will be busier with powerful corporations and the state apparatus.
In our eyes, in the revolution the land of the eco village should be properly collectivised and brought under workers’ control. Some of the practical experiences the Villagers have might be useful in a post-capitalist future, such as how to organise the sharing of certain resources. Some Villagers might decide to join ranks with the workers, we think most will not.
Ignoring capitalism does not make it go away (And it does not shorten the global supply chains)
Despite the age, size and financial stability of the project it was obviously still dependent on the broader economy for essential goods. Having artisanal means of production on site can paint an image of self-sufficiency. However, this romantic picture fully ignores global supply chains. The bigger socio-economic relations are not challenged at all just because the consumers live in an eco village. Where and how are minerals for our solar panels mined? Where did the peanut butter and coffee beans for our breakfast come from ? Where do the spare parts and fuels for our tractors come from? How do we get in touch with those workers from the tractor factory, solar panel factory and the coffee and peanut farms?
This is the first published chapter from our forthcoming book. To be continued soon. We are keen to hear your criticisms and to get to know fellow comrades in land- and farmwork and a willing publisher: firstname.lastname@example.org.
(1) Again we are referring here to drafts and ideas as outlined by AngryWorkers in the final chapters of the Class Power on Zero Hours book or their published key text: Insurrection and Production
(2) To learn more on community-supported agriculture, see the forthcoming book, or this Wikipedia page:
(3) The use of peat-based soil is a huge issue in horticulture, as digging peat destroys the wetlands and sets free disproportionately many greenhouse emissions (in comparison to other agricultural activities). However at this stage there is barely competitive non-peat soils applied on a commercial scale.
(4) For an overview: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Regenerative_agriculture
(5) Pomology refers to the science of fruit-growing. Here we use it to mean the study of different fruit varieties.
(6) For him, joining the army as an 18-year old was a chance to leave home and parents. People from rich families would probably prefer studying abroad or would move to Berlin or London.
(7) Yeah mate!… maybe YOU are. Living in a cosy eco village, with three meals a day served.
(8) In the Village, 51 adults earn money and 23 young and retired people are not.