Chronicle of a Communalist Encounter in Lozoya, Madrid

Text in the banner: Ecocommunalismo para cambiarlo todo, Bienvenido a Lozoya (Ecocommunalism to change it all, Welcome to Lozoya)

On the 28th of January 2023 was organized the first Encounter on social ecology and communalism of the Iberian Peninsula. The purpose of the encounter was to gather activists and people interested in communalism and discuss common strategies for developing an ecosocial political process in the territory. 

More than 70 people joined this one-day meeting in Lozoya, a small village in the Sierra de Guadaramma, in the north of Madrid. The Encounter was organized by a group composed of several organizations which included El Rincon de Martinico, Rojava Azadi Madrid and Ecologistas en Accion – Alcala de Henares.

The day started with several presentations by Floréal Romero and Rojaza Azadi which covered social ecology, communalism and democratic confederalism. A debate was then organized between members of the CNT Santander, degrowth activist Rafa Gabriel and ecologists from Ecologistas en Accion. In the afternoon, Pedro Monero Ramiro proposed how democratic confederalism could be instituted in the Western world through new institutions based on direct democracy. To close the day, small groups were formed to debate on ecocommunalist ideas, and common proposals were shared in a final assembly.

The text below was written by the organizers shortly after the encounter, providing a chronicle of the event with key insights on its successes and its shortcomings. The full program of the event (in Spanish) can be found below.

Chronicle of the meeting by the organizers:

We managed to get more than 70 people to participate in a place of difficult access and with a climate that did not accompany us. Logistically, we ensured the development of the day in a pleasant place and provided with all the comforts; the food was delicious, we had no problems with the space, we had the necessary resources to alleviate the strong cold and in general, everything went as planned at the organizational level.

We made a mistake on the other issue, that is, regarding the purpose of this meeting: its political content.  In this aspect and as self-criticism -something that is usually lacking in social movements and trade unionism-, we can say from the organization that we made a mistake. We erred, mainly, because we did not know how to give a coherence, that is, an ecocommunalist perspective to all the talks, and that was not the fault of the lectures but of the organizers.

In a militant Western world that is always on the defensive, with the Judeo-Christian guilt on its back aggravated by the individualism of modernity, it usually happens that when propositive proposals and legitimate self-criticism of certain socio-political actors emerge, what is heard in the rooms where such appraisals or proposals are formulated is usually a fierce and forceful criticism that aims to try to deconfigure the propositive initiative and continue in the heat of the numantine resistance. A lost battle that consists of “creating” from the denial of the other, rather than building with the other. In short, to remain anchored in the ANTI positions, instead of opting to assume the positions PRO something. But perhaps, and going back to a critical reading of our organization, we can intuit that because the whole program was so tight, there was a lack of spaces for debate to get to know each other, establish trust and overcome those deeply rooted prejudices.

Surely another of our failures was not knowing how to explain clearly enough what we were coming for, as well as not knowing how to ask the participants why they came to the meeting. It is also true that many people came to Lozoya without reading the texts that we had passed from the organization of the meeting, in some cases, by simple and plain laziness and in some others -very concrete-, by failures in the contact mails. It is true that having organized all this at a telematic level and without any previous physical meeting, complicated, even more if possible, to give a homogeneous ideological perspective when structuring the meeting of January 28th in Lozoya.

We ran. We went too fast because a meeting of these characteristics should have taken place with more time to be able to delve into reflection and debate, and also, with the aim of deepening the common political formation for the promoter group. Without that, which is fundamentally what we lacked, it is impossible to speak of success. In any case, and being optimistic, we can say that we sowed “some” social seed to sprout “some” collective sprout in the future. Be that as it may, we can also think that the place and the moment were not the most appropriate, as well as, most probably, the workload and the energy involved in the organization and materialization of this meeting were not focused where they should have been focused in the first place.

We learned. With humility and honesty we can affirm that the experience did not make us stronger or better in our theses, but what it did offer us is the possibility of learning where we should not walk and towards what objective we need to direct our future steps. The present path, which we should have taken at the beginning of the journey, is that, if there was something we had to do at the beginning, it was to start creating ecocommunalism from the dissemination of texts and ideas. To train and form ourselves, through the creation of a web/magazine that in addition to carrying out the dissemination of ecocommunalist ideas promotes the organization of meetings or face-to-face pedagogical talks throughout the Iberian Peninsula. In conclusion, what we seek is to plant the ecocommunalist seed. There is no doubt that in order to reach this point, the first thing we have to do is to explain: what does ecocommunalism consist of, and what are the necessary stages to reach it?

For us, ecocommunalism is nourished by currents such as anarchism or socialism and is theoretically completed with a strong ecological perspective. Therefore, for us it represents a label in itself; a political proposal. In short, an ideology on a par with Marxism or anarchism, but with the substantial difference that ecocommunalism is presented as a front of political participation open to non-dogmatic and heterodox people who come from different currents of thought, but who share this analysis that we believe it is essential to develop within political, social or trade union organizations.

Ecocommunalism is a synthesis of some of the most valuable theoretical contributions of Marx’s thought and of the bases of anarchism. Its particularity lies in the fact that, thanks to social ecology, it integrates in its foundations an indispensable ecological dimension. It is thus presented as a label in itself; a political proposal, the difference being that the ecocommunalist option is presented as an overcoming of partisan practices of all kinds and of representative democracy. It is in favor of direct democracy thanks to the creation of flexible self-institutions, open to change and to be created in parallel and in tension with the rigid state institutions.

Confederalism, at the political and administrative level, is what will make it possible to link our decisions and activities at the territorial level and beyond. Moreover, ecocommunalism is not decreed but is a collective creation from the base. This is how politics ceases to be the privilege of only a few. This policy is a link capable of giving body to our real needs, starting from the local level and inserting our activities in our nearby natural environment, in order to take care of it and enrich it.

We can achieve this dynamic, starting from our self-management practices, from our unions, associations, informal collectives, consumer groups or simply as individuals, as opposed to the domination of the market. This movement, in order to be effective, will be endowed with a new collective culture, born from our practices of direct democracy, as in an agora, and will allow us to get rid of the shackles of domination and access the emancipation and realization of each one of us.

It is a conscious and determined step towards the definitive exit of capitalism that leads us to infinite growth, collapse and destruction. A purpose that we will only achieve with the creation of this emancipatory movement with the capacity to create alternative structures to Capitalism and its States. And this we will only be able to achieve with our indispensable individual involvement and determination to drive this collective dynamic.

Therefore, and as a final reflection, it only remains for us to throw a question into the air:

Would you agree with this analysis and would you be encouraged to actively participate, for the time being, in an Iberian digital media that promotes the ecocommunalist seed?

Promoter Group of the Ecocommunalist Meeting

Note: Text translated from Spanish to English by TRISE members that participated

Full Program of the Encounter:

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