cover image The Village Against the World

The Village Against the World

Dan Hancox. Verso (Random, dist.) $26.95 (288p) ISBN 978-1-78168-130-5

Marinaleda, a small village in Andalusia, Spain, gained international notoriety in 2012, when its citizens, led by their revolutionary mayor, Juan Manuel S%C3%A1nchez Gordillo, raided supermarkets to feed the poor. Hancox, a British journalist, traveled to the "communist utopia" to research its history, politics and culture. With a lighthearted hand, the author portrays an alternate reality to both late capitalism and the dictatorial communism of the former Soviet Union and China. The book chronicles Marinaleda's 30-year struggle for "land and freedom," and how its extraordinary government and social system%E2%80%94grounded in owning and farming the land, providing collective work and affordable home ownership, transforming religious holidays into cultural celebrations%E2%80%94is uniquely suited to "the peasant pueblas of Andalusia, and their remarkably deep-seated tendency toward anarchism." Though he has an obvious affinity for the village, Hancox unearths its weaknesses and contradictions; among these are its financial problems and precarious political system. This provocative depiction of the vision and tenacity of this social experiment should stretch the imaginations and raise the hackles of progressives and entrenched capitalists alike. (Oct.)