The Case For World Communalism: How Can Reconciling the Local and the Global Build Resilience to Climate Breakdown and Emancipate Humanity?

Word count: 9653


Humanity faces ecological collapse and the worst levels of suffering in history as billions find themselves without food, homes, or security on a heating planet. Murray Bookchin’s theory of Social Ecology and prescription of Communalism offer concrete proposals for how Direct-Democracy at the local level can build resilience to climate breakdown, including localisation of food, energy and economic systems and a commitment to mutual aid. However, these problems are global in nature and require global solutions to avoid the supremacy of fascist Capitalists and extensive genocide. I argue that a new Cosmopolitan Earth Citizen’s Movement applying the principles of Democratic Confederalism and International solidarity offers the best chance of saving innocent lives from system collapse and ultimately emancipating humanity.


Introduction                                                                                                                         4

Signposting                                                                                                                                   4

Chapter 1 – Social Ecology and Communalism                                                                  6

Introduction                                                                                                        6      

Bookchin’s Critique of Capitalism                                                                                      7

The Environmental Crisis                                                                                                         7

The Energy Crisis                                                                                                                        8

The Economic Crisis                                                                                                                  8

The Equity Crisis                                                                                                                         9

Social-Ecology                                                                                                10

The theory of Hierarchy/Domination                                                                                    11

Mutual-aid                                                                                                                                   12

Communalism                                                                                                                   13

Libertarian Municipalism                                                                                                       14

Chapter 2 – The Case for Communalism                                                                         15

Introduction                                                                                                                                15

Localist Solutions                                                                                                                 16

Alternative Food Systems                                                                                                       17

Energy Democracy                                                                                                                    19

Alternative Economics                                                                                                            20

Coronavirus and Mutual Aid                                                                                                 21

Limitations of Localism                                                                                   22

The age of Suffering                                                                                                                23

Human Rights and Fascism                                                                                                  24

Chapter 3 – The Case for World Communalism                                                         25

Introduction                                                                                                                                25

The Case for Democracy                                                                                                           25

The UN and Nation States                                                                                                       26

A New International Order                                                                                          28

Cosmopolitanism                                                                                                                      28

Universal Human Rights                                                                      28 

Democratic Confederalism                                                                                              30

Earth Citizens Movement                                                                                                      31

Global Citizen’s Assembly                                                                                                        31

Conclusion                                                                                                                                    32

Conclusion – Towards Dystopian Utopia                                                                   33

“Either a movement will arise that will bestir humanity into action, or the last great chance in history for the complete emancipation of humanity will perish in unrestrained self-destruction”

M. Bookchin, (2006)


Humanity is in the grip of a deadly virus that threatens the extinction of our species and the destruction of the natural world: Capitalism. We have reached the zenith of decades of savage neoliberal greed, propped up beyond its lifespan by corruption and ideological zealotry at the expense of the degradation of humanity; and the ravaging of the natural world to the point of imminent apocalypse. It is hard to overstate how much the Covid-19 Pandemic – itself a product of the ecological crisis and only a taste of things to come – has sent Capitalism reeling, exposing the shaky foundations of our global civilisation and plunging our world deeper into an increasingly authoritarian dystopia. Humanity stands on the brink of an ecological apocalypse of our own making, yet the last three decades of global climate policy have been defined by deep-rooted cognitive dissonance: even as governments acknowledge the deadly severity of climate breakdown, they continue to hold up the Capitalistic models of energy production and consumption that is driving it. It is clearer than ever before that a new economic, social and political paradigm that respects the ecological carrying capacity of our planet is urgently necessary. This essay argues that only a democratic system that empowers radical change at both the local and the global level can build resilience to climate breakdown and emancipate humanity.

The first chapter provides a thorough critique of Capitalism and its links with the ecological, social and political crises of our time through the lens of Murray Bookchin’s theories of Social Ecology and hierarchy/domination. I introduce Bookchin’s radical alternative system of Communalism in which mutual aid, libertarian municipalism, and local ecological sustainability form the basis of a rational order that enables humanity to reach its “free nature”.

In the second chapter I demonstrate that Communalism is grounded in historical praxis and supported by evidence from the fields of agroecology, anthropology and political studies in its ability to develop Community Resilience to climate breakdown in relation to Food, Energy, and Economics. However, I

argue that libertarian municipalism alone lacks the global focus necessary to mitigate climate breakdown and provide climate justice to the extremely vulnerable Global South. Whilst Bookchin advocates for the loose cooperation of municipalities in regional confederations, his commitment to anarchist ideals of anti-hierarchy and anti-statism fails to adequately protect against the very real contemporary threat of eco-fascism with which he was so concerned. Therefore, there is a pressing need for the values of Communalism to be incorporated into a more urgent, global and revolutionary framework.

In the third chapter I propose that a synthesis of Communalism and Cosmopolitanism into a system of ‘World Communalism’ offers a coherent utopian vision of a system of governance that empowers local communities whilst uniting humanity at the global level. Building on the Democratic Confederalist model espoused by Abdullah Öcalan of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK); and the work of the Institute for Social Ecology; I outline how a cosmopolitan internationalist movement could legitimately establish alternative institutions capable of defending human rights and building resilience to climate breakdown. I contend that the values of justice, international solidarity and Cosmopolitanism are essential for a rational and viable revolutionary alternative to Capitalism.

This essay represents only an introduction to the inspiring community movements around the world demanding power and justice and building international solidarity. There is a critical need for more research into the new democratic forums capable of revitalising citizenship and mandating a just ecological transition – particularly those that have arisen spontaneously to meet the challenges of the Covid-19 Pandemic.

Chapter 1 –

Social Ecology and Communalism


Murray Bookchin was one of the most prolific and prescient political theorists of the 20th century, contributing enormously to the emergent field of Ecology as well as being a prominent activist in countless left-wing political movements throughout his lifetime. The son of Russian Jewish immigrants to New York, Bookchin was raised with a political sensitivity to Communism and studied Marxism at the Workers School in the Bronx. His politics progressed from Stalinism to Trotskyism in the 1930s before he became disenfranchised with the limitations of Marxism’s solely economic focus. Bookchin was conscious of the devastating impact of Capitalism on the planet as early as the 1950s, when he wrote his first work about the negative effects on society of increasing urbanisation, from which point he began to develop his theory of Social Ecology over numerous texts to illuminate the deeper causes of human alienation from nature. Bookchin would describe himself varyingly as an “eco-anarchist” for much of his life, before again growing frustrated with the boundaries of orthodoxy and establishing his own legacy of Communalism which synthesises a Marxist critique of Capitalism; anarchist notions of mutual aid and self-organisation; and practicable solutions to the myriad and escalating forms of ecological crisis. This chapter begins with a summary of Bookchin’s critique of Capitalism through the lens of the Environmental, Energy, Economic and Equity crises (the E4 crises, so named because they exponentially magnify each other) (Lerch, D. 2016). I then explain the core concepts of Social Ecology: the theory of domination/hierarchy and mutual aid. I conclude by outlining Bookchin’s vision of a Communalist society to address the E4 crises.

Bookchin’s critique of Capitalism

Bookchin’s  asserts that Capitalism is fundamentally incapable of solving the E4 crises of Environment, Energy, Economics and Equity because the singular imperative of Capitalism is the accumulation of profit and the investment of these profits by the Capital owning class into generating more and more profits, without moral caveat or rational restraint.

The Environmental crisis of Capitalism

There has never been such a systematic, organised assault on the foundations of life. The fundamental activity of Capitalism is the exploitation of natural resources and the creation of exchange value by turning them into a marketable form, be it a fighter jet, a plastic bag, or a burger. Capitalism turns the biodiverse and flourishing rainforest of Indigenous Peoples into a resource to be invaded and broken down into its constituent “resources” for extraction: lumber, mineral ore, wild animals for wet-markets, land for cattle. The consequences of this process are myriad and include pollution of every biome on the planet and even human tissue with microplastics, nuclear radiation, and toxic airborne particulates; the destruction of vast swathes of habitat; the mass extinction of flora, fauna and insects; the exhausting of soil nutrients through industrial agriculture; the acidification of our oceans from fertiliser run-off; the depletion of fresh water sources; and the spread of zoonotic diseases (Clarke, B. Foster, J. B. 2004). Our agriculture is deeply unstable, relying on constant input of fossil fuel energy to produce crops from mineral exhausted soil, with intensive use of fertilisers, pesticides, monocropping, all causing a collapse in biodiversity. Bookchin comments that “the essence of the ecological crisis in our time is that this society — more than any other in the past — is literally undoing the work of organic evolution.” (Bookchin, 1967). There are countless studies documenting the harmful impacts of ecological degradation on human health and wellbeing (Singer, M. Baer, H. 2016).  We have pushed Nature to her limits, and we are now witnessing how the inherent contradictions of Capitalism are incompatible with the ability of our planet to support human life.

The Energy Crisis of Capitalism

Capitalist growth has been fuelled by a glut of cheap fossil fuels and the consequence has been exponentially increased atmospheric levels of Carbon Dioxide (CO2) from their combustion, increasing the greenhouse effect and raising global temperatures by over 1 degree Celsius above pre-industrial levels with catastrophic consequences. The Paris Climate Accord commits the nations of the world to keeping global heating well below 1.5 degrees to avoid catastrophic consequences: an increase in deadly extreme weather; ocean acidification and the extinction of coral; soil erosion and pollinator extinctions destroying agricultural yields;  coastal flooding displacing millions  However, In 2018 global energy consumption grew to 157,000 Terawatt hours, with 87% percent of this supplied by coal, oil and natural gas. The UNEP Emissions Gap Report 2019 found that in 2018 global CO2 emissions from energy use and industry grew 2.0 per cent, reaching a record 37.5 Gigatonnes of CO2 per year (UNEP, 2019). The concentration of atmospheric CO2 has risen from a stable level of 350 parts per million (ppm) to over 420ppm rising, already causing an increase of 1.1 degrees in the average temperature of our oceans and climate above preindustrial levels (IPPC, 2018). Temperature rises caused by fossil fuel emissions are already causing an increase in extreme weather events; melting ice causing coastal flooding; deadly wildfires; mega-draughts that slash crop yields; these and countless other impacts are recognised as an existential threat to humanity by the United Nations Paris Climate Agreement (UN, 2015).

The Economic Crisis of Capitalism

The existence of brutally competitive markets pushes corporations to constantly grow or risk being out competed by their rivals, meaning that the most cynical, morally bankrupt business thrive in their quest for infinite growth. “Important as even greed may be as a motivating force, sheer survival requires that the entrepreneur must expand his or her productive apparatus in order to remain ahead of others. Each capitalist, in short, must try to devour his or her rivals — or else be devoured by them” (Bookchin, 2006). Businesses that do not continually expand and reinvest lose out to rivals who can produce the same products cheaper and market them more aggressively, eventually leading to the domination of a small number of incredibly powerful corporate monopolies intent on driving up consumption (Raworth, K. 2018). The growth imperative is reinforced by a range of international actors including the finance industry, banks, and the fossil fuel lobby: growth is necessary to service the predatory loans that prop up our economy and prevent a wave of defaults collapsing the economy (Wall, D. 2015). Despite the fantasies of global institutions such as the IMF and World Bank, there is no such thing as “sustainable growth”, because growth necessarily demands greater resource and energy consumption that our planet cannot sustain (Craig, M. 2017).

The Equity Crisis of Capitalism

The consequences for human health and wellbeing of such a system are well documented: people are ruthlessly exploited as producers and consumers; workers are paid slave wages to produce and sell the products of their labour; our community bonds are systemically broken down by marketisation; our democracies are corrupted by powerful lobbying interests; we suffer alienation and systemic despair at the lack of meaning in our society; inequality is higher than at any point in human history; authoritarianism reigns unchecked; indigenous communities are exterminated to make way for development; human rights violations of the most outrageous kind are endemic in every country on Earth (Byrnes, S. & Collins, C. 2016) The communities exploited by fossil fuel extractivism around the world are usually those most effected by racial discrimination and poverty, amplifying the health impacts of discrimination (Klein, N. 2014). Capitalism comprehensively fails to meet people’s basic human rights to water, food security, education and healthcare – all of which has been demonstrated to accelerate the rise of Fascism as “the precarious ally with the powerful to dominate the powerless.” (Haque, M. 2019). These crises show how ill-prepared and ultimately disinterested Capitalism is in protecting the majority world from escalating waves of crisis. Humanity is divided, imperilled and surrounded by existential threats on all sides. Global elites are aware of the coming situation and are preparing for breakdown by hoarding wealth and resources, creating private armies, militarising the police against protest. It is therefore a matter of survival that Capitalism is replaced, along with our political, social, economic, and agricultural systems.

 Social Ecology

Social Ecology is an expansive socio-political theory first proposed by Bookchin that seeks to reconcile human society and nature in a teleological framework. He argues that the social and ecological crises are inextricably linked and must be addressed with a new model that abolishes hierarchy in all its forms and recognises the inherent interconnectedness of humanity and the natural world. According to Murray Bookchin Social Ecology seeks to give “an ethical content to the natural core of society and humanity” by drawing normative assertions from the truism that human society is a product of natural evolution (Bookchin, M. 1993). Social Ecology encourages us to dispel the myth of Nature as a fixed point in time – a landscape made up of trees and rocks – but instead as a constantly changing evolutionary progression towards and then beyond the present state into deep time. The universe is in constant flux, evolving from simple atoms with an entropic a tendency towards greater states of complexity: first molecules, then proteins and amino acids, cellular and multi-cellular life, interconnected ecosystems of complex life based on reciprocal mutually supportive relationships – as are societies. Homo Sapiens in a direct product of the totality of this evolutionary process so far, and therefore our capacity for rationality, empathy, cooperation and construction is inherently Natural.

“To say that nature belongs in humanity just as humanity belongs in nature is to express a highly reciprocal and complementary relationship between the two instead of one structured around subordination and domination. Neither society nor nature dissolves into the other. Rather, social ecology tries to recover the distinctive attributes of both in a continuum that gives rise to a substantive ethics, wedding the social to the ecological without denying the integrity of each.”

                                                                                                (Bookchin, M., 2006)


Bookchin believed that the underlying cause of human destruction of nature lies deeper than Capitalism: it is a product of societies projecting their own structures of hierarchy/domination onto nature. He draws on anthropological evidence that in prehistoric time co-operation was the necessary precondition of survival, and therefore tribes existed free from hierarchy/domination. Over time, tribal systems of equity were warped by gerontocracy (the deference to the authority of tribal elders), patriarchy, then plutocracy and the development of a class system based on elite rule. Societies built on hierarchy/domination came to define nature in subordination to us, leading to environmental exploitation in tandem with the exploitation of peasant labour. Judeo-Christian monotheism forcibly dominated and replaced pagan animistic theology and placed humanity separate and above nature in the divide order, creating the philosophical conditions for anthropocentric Capitalism (Bookchin, M. 2006). Hobbes projected his own experience of the brutal English Civil War conclude the life of man outside of the social contract was “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short” (Hobbes, 1904). Charles Darwin’s evidence for natural selection painted a vivid image of the natural world as a merciless and brutal competition for survival that compounded this pessimistic narrative of human nature – this would go on to underpin the economic orthodoxy of “rational man” as a calculating and uncooperative individual who’s only motive is to maximise personal gain. Finally, our neoliberal economics was created around providing for the wants of such selfish caricatures through unfettered markets: as Margaret Thatcher said, “there is no such thing as society” (Thatcher, M. 1987).

Mutual Aid

Today, our society is steeped in layers of oligarchy, plutocracy, nepotism, racism, patriarchy and authoritarianism from the international level to the community and family level. Yet perhaps surprisingly it was the father of Capitalism Adam Smith who said that our species is best defined by our “humanity, justice, generosity and public spirit” (Smith, A. 1776). Bookchin builds on Peter Kropotkin’s seminal work of anthropology and zoology Mutual Aid to argue that humanity has a predisposition towards social cooperation that is inherited from our evolution. Kropotkin’s comprehensive studies of fauna revealed that “sociability is as much a law of nature as mutual struggle”: the most successful species tend to cooperate for mutual gain; whether in corralling together for protection or sharing the spoils of a hunt with weaker pack members. In comparison to competition “mutual aid insures the maintenance and further development of the species, together with the greatest amount of welfare and enjoyment of life for the individual, with the least waste of energy” (Kropotkin, 1972). Science is now revealing that even plants act in solidarity: for example, trees often support their weaker neighbours with nutrients through mycelial connections between their roots in order to maintain the microclimate of the forest for the benefit of all (Wohlleben, P. 2016). Humans are no exception, and he concluded from extensive observation of Indigenous peoples that “unbridled individualism is a modern growth, but it is not characteristic of primitive mankind” (Kropotkin, P. 1901). Instead tribal peoples are defined by their extensive cooperation, mutual aid, and lack of hierarchy (Corry, S. 2011). He noted that the development of man is defined in large part by peaceful coexistence and that periods of conflict are systemically over-represented in common history. The transition from tribal to village life saw a “gradual extension of the circle of men embraced by the feelings of solidarity” in which tribes joined together in “confederations” that collectively governed shared agricultural and fishing territories (Kropotkin, P. 1901). The legacy of mutual aid can be seen in the city states of the Middle-Ages, which were often diverse and governed by an active citizenry through public meeting, and in the countryside there existed a passionately defended right of the peasantry to work the ‘Commons’ (Ibid.).

Bookchin concludes that we have both a “first nature” that in directly inherited from nature and includes our capacity for mutual aid; and a “second nature” that has developed as a product of language and rational thought, which accelerated the evolutionary process by allowing unprecedentedly complex systems of cooperation and creativity. Bookchin sees this as evidence of our potentiality for further evolution as a species towards realising our “Free Nature” – that is, where humanity exists without the afflictions of war, racism, nationalism, ecological destruction and greed.

Bookchin blames “Marketplace values” for edging out the familial, educational, personal, and spiritual traditions that made for mutual aid, idealism, and moral responsibility (Bookchin, M. 2015). In the hands of Capitalism, technology has been put to the task of generating exponential profit rather than meeting the needs of humanity and creating the conditions for an equitable democratic polity. Rather than misanthropically condemning humanity as a corrupting disease on the planet, Bookchin argues that to embody our true Free Nature is to “bring science and technological knowledge to the service of humanity and the biosphere alike.” (Bookchin, M. 1995)


Communalism is a powerful utopian vision of how society ought to be organised around the local level: Bookchin beseeches us to abandon hierarchy/domination in all its forms in order to emancipate humanity and recast our relationship with nature. He was a passionate believer in the potential for Enlightenment rationalism to achieve comprehensive individual liberty, which he defined to mean freedom ‘from’ want or suffering; rather than freedom ‘to’ act in unrestricted ways. Inspired by the Spanish Anarcho-Syndicalist tradition that embodied many of the ideals of Mutual Aid and self-organisation, Bookchin later became disenchanted with Anarchism, believing it to have degenerated into “lifestyle-anarchism” focused on individual liberty not collective emancipation (although he would remain virulently anti-statist) (Bookchin, M. 1991.). In the 1990s he formulated his ideas into Communalism in order to apply humanity’s potential for innovation and intellectuality to solving the ecological and the social crises.

Libertarian Municipalism

Bookchin proposes a system of Libertarian Municipalism based on mutual aid and direct democracy exercised through citizens assemblies at the level of towns and cities. These would be organised into Federations that cooperated over matters of regional environmental protection but did not exert state power over each other (Bookchin, M. 2006). He believed in the power of direct action, that social relations would be transformed by spontaneous grassroots action making existing state functions such as policing obsolete Bookchin asserts that human society is most effectively governed at the municipal level because this is the most natural “human scale” to conduct sustainable democratic politics, agriculture, and economic production in the tradition of our ancestors. In order to achieve managed degrowth rather than rapid social collapse a sustainable society must be restructured so that people’s needs for food, security, jobs and purpose are fulfilled by their local community rather than complex and fragile global supply chains. Rousseau is an early proponent of such a transformed social contract, arguing “that one best realises one’s individuality in and through serving the common need” (Pepper, D. 1984). Abdullah Ocalan concurs that democratic confederalism represents the best opportunity for achieving freedom, equality, and democracy  as this is “only possible through the discussion, decision-making, and action of a society with its own conscience and intellectual power and cannot be achieved through any form of social engineering.” – as demonstrated by the failures of the authoritarian state-socialism project (Ocalan, A. 2020).

This would transform the way that people work and consume energy. Many of the jobs that employ people today are “bullshit jobs”, that serve no useful function and contribute to reduced self-worth; or otherwise jobs in the service sector that depend on the steady availability of disposable income provided by useless work (Graeber, D. 2018). Bookchin demands “the replacement of needlessly insensate labor with creative work and an emphasis on artful craftspersonship in preference to mechanized production.” (Bookchin, M. 2001). Citizens of Communalist society would instead and be free to contribute to and share in the Commons: by volunteering in a community managed food cooperative; teaching a class on how to repair electronics; engaging in the democratic running of the community; or providing care work – the opportunities for rewarding and valuable work are endless. Switching from a profit orientated society would provide extensive leisure time in which to pursue the arts, scientific advancement and philosophical progress. The Andean cultural tradition of buen vivir, meaning “a fullness of life in a community with others and with Nature” is just one example of the strong tradition of sustainable regenerative living articulated by indigenous communities (Gudynas, E., 2011). Over centuries, the amount of time and labour spent providing food has greatly diminished as fossil fuels mechanised agriculture – with disastrous ecological impacts. In a Communalist society, a much greater proportion of time will be spent farming, with Bookchin arguing that this work will provide skilled employment, exercise, and the mental health benefits of rediscovering a relationship with nature. But Bookchin was also a techno-futurist: envisioning a time when technology was harnessed to run “humanly scaled, versatile industrial installations to meet the regional needs of confederated municipalities” by producing the highest-quality items with recycled materials (Ibid.). Electricity would be provided with flexible and resilient renewable energy micro-grids harnessing a mix of solar, tidal, geo-thermal and wind to meet the needs of their community.

Bookchin’s theory of Social Ecology had a profound impact on the Environmental movement, however his proposals for Communalism never really caught on with a wide audience. However, as more and more people seek an ecological alternative to the global super-organism of Capitalism it presents itself as a prescient and viable model for building community resilience to climate breakdown that unites many of the flourishing and diverse efforts to build community resilience to the E4 crises. As Bookchin summarised: “Small, in my view, is not merely “beautiful”; it is also ecological, humanistic, and above all, emancipatory.” (Bookchin, M. 1991). The next chapter provides evidence of these qualities in the  localist movement, whilst critically assessing whether they alone are enough to avert the worst of the potential suffering to come.

Chapter 2

The Case for Communalism


In the second chapter I critically analyse the benefits of a Communalist approach to dealing with the E4 crises: in this chapter I discuss how our Food, Energy, and Economics systems can benefit from emerging localist paradigms that align with Communalism (equitability running through each of these solutions). In addition, I suggest that the Coronavirus Pandemic has shown the powerful potential of self-organisation to reorganise society around the values of solidarity, mutual aid, and ecological sustainability. However, the decades since Bookchin developed his theories have seen the rapid escalation in the scale and existential threat of climate breakdown, and I argue that Libertarian Municipalism alone lacks the global focus necessary to mitigate the catastrophic consequences already locked in, particularly in regards to providing climate justice to the extremely vulnerable Global South. Whilst Bookchin advocates for the loose cooperation of municipalities in regional confederations, his commitment to anarchist ideals of anti-hierarchy and anti-statism fails to adequately protect against the very real contemporary threat of eco-fascism and Disaster Capitalism with which he was so concerned. I conclude that there is a pressing need for the values of Communalism to be incorporated into a more urgent, global and revolutionary framework that more explicitly codifies human and ecological rights.

Localist Solutions

Alternative Food Systems

The US Department of Agriculture warns that climate breakdown will impact most crops, livestock, ecosystems, and human workers in significant ways, with a cumulatively devastating impact on the ready supply of food to people around the world – particularly the poorest and most vulnerable (USDA, 2012). With a rising urban population in an increasingly hostile ecosphere preventing mass famine is going to be one of the hardest challenges of the 21st century. But there is hope: by reconnecting with traditional farming techniques and rewilding our landscapes we can help rebuild exhausted soil and prevent flooding and desertification. To adapt it will be necessary to humbly draw upon the best practices of Indigenous Peoples who have lived in synergy with their local ecosystems for millennia; promoting education and respect for their long-standing wisdom regarding nature, conservation, and nature’s sustainable use (UNEP, 2019). Over the last few decades there has been a drive to transform our food systems with practices like organic farming, permaculture, fair trade certification, local grocery cooperatives and community gardens (Sawyer, S. 2016). The premise of these alternatives is the relocalisation of food supply chains, reducing the degrees of complexity and reducing vulnerability to extreme weather events; prioritising soil health and maintaining nutrient balance through crop rotation; shunning pesticides and fertilisers; and developing long-term sustainability. In addition to increased resilience there are social benefits of alternative food systems: they can reduce exploitation within the farming industry; provide cheap, nutritionally dense food; and foster community cooperation. There is evidence that small-scale allotment agriculture can provide a food production density twice as high as commercial scale agriculture, with substantially more biodiversity per hectare (McDougall, R. Kristiansen, P. Rader, R. 2018).

Vermont’s Farm to Plate initiative is a comprehensive systems-level food strategy that sets an example of how communities can take control of their food production with the help of local stakeholders and state government (Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund, 2017). A successful food strategy requires social capital in order to link small scale food producers with the local markets, grocers and food cooperatives that can sustain them when they are outcompeted by supermarkets and imports.

Energy Democracy

Whilst domestic emissions have reduced on paper in developed economies in the Global North, this is only through the export of manufacturing to the Global South and the exclusion from official calculations of the emissions from the supply chains that produce and ship the products we consume. Although renewable energy sources are growing to make up a larger share of overall energy production, they are not replacing fossil fuels “but are rather expanding the overall amount of energy that is produced.” (York, R., Bell, E.F., 2019). York and Bell characterise this trend as an energy “addition” rather than a transition, asserting that even a rapid decrease in fossil fuel energy production would not avert climate breakdown if it were not also accompanied by a significant reduction in the total amount of energy consumed. Since the 1970s, per-capita consumption has increased by 45%, global economic activity has increased by more than 300% and global trade by around 900% (World Bank, 2018). Meeting our promises under the Paris Climate Agreement will necessitate a tangible drop in the energy available to the richest 10% of the global population, who consume 49% of global energy through car and air travel, eating more meat, and buying energy intensive products. Meanwhile, the bottom 50% only consume 10% of energy (Oxfam, 2015). The Exponential Roadmap Initiative Report on how to half Carbon emissions by 2050, comprehensively explores the specific policies required to transform our energy, industry, transport, buildings, and food consumption (ERI, 2020). Electric public transport and retrofitting buildings with insulation and passive heat pumps would save massive amounts of energy (heating used 50% of final energy consumption in 2018); but these must be facets of a holistic energy strategy in which energy is consumed in circular flows that mimic natural cycles through recycling, capturing waste energy, composting and carbon soil sequestration (IEA, 2019).

Energy consumption can only be understood through the hegemony of Capitalist consumerism as the prevailing imperative of society. The struggle for a carbon neutral energy system is only one facet of the necessary energy revolution: the fossil fuel economy is inseparable from capital accumulation, ecosystem destruction and social exploitation, and its replacement must emphasise community health and well-being, and social justice. The struggle for Energy Democracy is the international struggle of working people, low-income communities, and communities of colour to take control of energy resources from the energy establishment (Fairchild, D. Weinrub, A. 2017). Central to this new paradigm is the reframing of energy as part of the commons, not a commodity – instead of being wasted on useless economic activity it will build the low-carbon infrastructure of our future and power regenerative, equitable development for the communities worst affected by the fossil fuel economy. The green energy transition is being led by ecologically damaging centralised renewable energy projects that primarily benefit big business; however, there is (literal!) empowerment from communities investing in small-scale solar and wind energy systems that emancipate them from vampiric energy markets. In the light of the Coronavirus Pandemic emerging data shows an unprecedented collapse in demand for fossil fuels, with Shell, Total, and BP all writing down the value of their oil and gas assets by tens of billions of dollars.

Alternative Economics

“ ‘Economy’, like ‘ecology’, is derived for oikos – our home, the Earth. An economy that destroys our home is no longer an economy. It is a war against the planet, the people and our future.  ”

                                                                Vandana Shiva – Extinction Rebellion (2019)

Every Capitalist business seeks to sustain a market for their goods, but the fossil fuel lobby have come to command the energy and economic policy of the entire world through systemic corruption and corporate lobbying, manipulating the entire world into addiction to their product. At the height of the Coronavirus Pandemic, the President of the United States is removing legal barriers for fossil fuel companies to exploit natural resources in some of the federal governments biggest national parks and environmentally protected areas, whilst the Senate uses the Coronavirus stimulus packages to give billions of dollars of giveaways to multinational oil, coal and natural gas cartels that sponsored republic campaigns (Deaton, J., 2020). This is an example of what Naomi Klein describes as the shock doctrine: whereby “Disaster Capitalists” take advantage of a crisis to push through otherwise unacceptable policies that rebalance power and wealth into the hands of elites (Klein, N, 2007). In effect, by refusing to recognise the irrationality of infinite economic growth on a finite planet in the Paris Agreement, our leaders have abdicated responsibility for maintaining a habitable planet for future generations.

Since the 2008 crash there has been a plethora of Alternative Economic Models developed that emphasise sustainability and social justice. Kate Raworth presents an inspiring vision of how by abandoning a narrow focus on economic growth the productive and imaginative capacity of humanity can be harnessed to provide for the needs of all within the safe ecological boundaries of our planet (Raworth, K. 2018). Amsterdam recently became the first major city to adopt her influential “Doughnut” model of economics based on reaching an equitable balance between meeting the needs of all without ecological overshoot. The ideals of solidarity economics initially developed in South America have spread rapidly around the world, and include community farms, co-operative housing, swap shops, migrant savings clubs, informal childcare circles, neighbourhood initiatives, alternative currencies, and community land trusts (Solidarity Economy Association, 2020). The goal must be a society where life is given meaning not through ever-increasing material and energy consumption but through connection to our local communities.

Coronavirus and mutual aid

Neoliberalism has hollowed out the capacity of global and national governance to react to crisis, as the Coronavirus Pandemic has so devastatingly exposed. Covid-19 is a direct consequence of our intrusion into nature: there is predicted to be a surge in zoonotic viruses as wild habitat is continually developed and humans come into contact with isolated diseases (WHO, 2020). As the global death toll continues to rise exponentially governments around the world are sacrificing their citizens to stave of the inevitable economic collapse that is engulfing the global financial system. In the face of disorganised and overwhelmed state provision, communities around the world have turned to mutual aid networks both new and pre-existing to provide food, support, and essential work (Rickett, O. 2020). Since Hurricane Katrina and the New York flooding, mutual aid groups have played a prominent role in organising communities in the wake of natural disasters – particularly in Black and minority communities that are systemically left out of centralised crisis responses (). The environmental action group Extinction Rebellion (XR) is reaching out to empower mutual-aid groups with the holocratic, self-organising principles that underpin their own internal decision making (Citizens Assemblies Working Group, 2020). In addition, millions of people have pulled together to look after the most vulnerable members of their communities and protect healthcare workers by abiding by strict lockdown measures: an act of collective altruism almost unprecedented in the modern age.

There is perhaps naive reason to hope that the lessons of Coronavirus will cause the public and global leaders to listen with renewed respect to the warnings of the IPCC and the IPBES. As lockdowns lift neighbours will come together and consolidate this new-found solidarity: these forums may prove a historic proto-form of grassroots local democracy (or more accurately, a return to the institutions that have governed human societies for countless generations). Where perhaps several months ago such a vision would have seemed a hippy’s pipe-dream, we are witnessing a seismic shift in the realms of what is politically possible before our eyes: the development of dual systems that eventually make Capitalism obsolete is  the essence of Communalism. As Gustav Landauer puts it: “The state is not something which can be destroyed by a revolution, but is a condition, a certain relationship between human beings, a mode of human behaviour; we destroy it by contracting other relationships, by behaving differently” (Landauer G. 2006). I suggest that further research is needed into the prefigurative role new mutual aid networks could play as new forums for the transition to a climate resilient, care-oriented society.

The limitations of Localism

“Freedom is merely privilege extended unless enjoyed by one and all”

                                                                                The Internationale – Billy Bragg (1990)

The Age of Suffering

It is evident that greater devolution to the local level would have a variety of positive effects for communities and build their capacity for resilience to climate breakdown. However, Communalism is no panacea: We are rapidly approaching or have likely already passed major ecological “tipping points” at which the temperature rises already locked in by current emissions will in turn likely cause vastly greater and more destructive heating (IPPC, 2019). For example, as the permafrost melts it is beginning to release millions of tonnes of methane (a greenhouse gas between 30 and 100 times as potent as CO2) which would rapidly increase temperatures. This in turn would cause increasingly severe wildfires to turn the Amazon from a crucial carbon sink into a bigger source of emissions than human activity (Cia, Y., Lenton, T., Lontzek, T., 2016). If this happens then we will be unable to arrest the planet’s spiral into a “hothouse state” in which the equatorial regions will no longer be habitable (Lenton, T. M., 2019). It is sobering, though sadly unsurprising, that the UN Environment Program’s latest emissions gap report state that “even if all unconditional Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement are implemented, we are still on course for a 3.2°C temperature rise  by 2100” (UNEP, 2019).

It is quite conceivable that Libertarian Municipalities in temperate regions would flourish in such a world, but Agrifood scholars DePuis and Goodman assert that only focusing on the local level is a “recipe for ineffectiveness”, as the benefits of localism are uneven: it is simply unrealistic to expect that the world’s growing mega cities – some of which are in the world’s hottest regions – will be able to reach even regional self-sufficiency (DePuis, E. M. & Goodman, D. 2005). We are headed for an unprecedentedly severe global recession as heavily indebted “zombie” companies default on the trillions they own to banks around the world (Mauldin, J. 2019). This will only exacerbate the extreme suffering occurring because of the Coronavirus Pandemic – indeed, we are already experiencing the worst famine since the Second World War (Beasley, D. 2020). The Global South does not have the capacity to protect itself from the worst effects of extreme weather and climate breakdown: droughts, plagues of locusts, flooding, desertification and wildfires will destroy crop yields as billions more people migrate to metropoles seeking a better life; instead they will find slums and states on the verge of collapse (McDonald, R. M. Schneider, C. Flörke, M. 2018).

When Bookchin was writing he did not bother to theorise how resources should be justly distributed because in a techno-utopian post-scarcity society “the very idea of an economy has been replaced by ethical (instead of productive) relationships”. He preferred to emphasise freedom over justice, believing justice to simply mean redistribution of shortages, yet we are living in a time of scarcity in which we use 1.6 Earth’s of resources every year (Bookchin, M. 1991) (WWF, 2016). The reality we must face is that we are in fact heading into a dystopia of biblical proportions and as such redistributive questions of Climate Justice cannot be ignored.

Human Rights and Fascism

We do not have the privilege of anarchism (meaning without rulers) because the problems we face require authoritative solutions to avoid counter-repression by global elites and to combat resurgent fascism. When conventional sources of profit are exhausted Capitalism will turn to Catabolism, or the state in which a living organism devours itself:

“By cannibalizing itself, the profit motive will exacerbate industrial society’s dramatic decline. Catabolic capitalism will profit from scarcity, crisis, disaster, and conflict.  Warfare, resource hoarding, ecological disaster, and pandemic diseases will become the big profit makers.  Capital will flow toward lucrative ventures like cybercrime, predatory lending, and financial fraud; bribery, corruption, and racketeering; weapons, drugs, and human trafficking.”

                                                                                                                (Craig, C. 2018)

Bookchin de-emphasises the role of competition and struggle and survival of the fittest to construct a narrative of cooperation, and consequently underestimates the lengths that elites will go to protect their wealth and power and avoid a society based on mutual aid and equity. Gord Hill of the Kwakwaka’wakw nation summarises the fascistic tendency that is now self-evident in countries ranging from Brazil, the US, Russia and Poland:

The convergence of war, economic decline and ecological crisis will lead to greater overall social conflict within the imperialist nations in the years to come. It is this growing conflict that will create changes in the present social conditions [with] greater opportunities for organised resistance. The rulers are well aware of this, and it is for this reason that state repression is now being established as a primary means of social control (i.e greatly expanded police-military forces, new terror laws etc)… We are now in a period that can be described as the ‘calm before the storm’.

                                                                                                                (Hill, G. 2006)

An example of this is the US Southern border wall, for long dismissed as a crude vanity project by Trump’s critiques. However, the militarisation of the border with Mexico must be understood within the context of American military intelligence briefings warning of hundreds of millions of climate refugees fleeing South America (Chemnick, J., Matthews, M. 2019). The intention is no less than for America to withdraw into isolationism as the starving victims of their energy policies crowd at the gates. Bookchin himself was aware of the potential for his self-managed communities to become “parochial, even racist” and recommended that bioregional confederations could help to “foster a healthy interdependence, rather than an introverted, stultifying independence” (Bookchin, M. 2001). However, in the Anthropocene it is far from clear that such fraternal bonds would survive a migration crisis and a famine.

There is significant potential for Communalism to enhance community resilience to climate breakdown at the local level. Direct Democratic institutions can empower communities to take control of their food and energy production within a solidarity economy, increasing adaptability in the face of crisis – this marks the first step in harmony between agrarian-village society and urban industrial society in an eco-industrial mutuality. However, MacIntyre argues that ‘the good life’ can only reached by communities and not by individuals (MacIntyre, M. 1984). If this is true, then it can be said to apply to the community of communities that makes up the Earth. A self-sufficient eco-city that thrives in isolation whilst billions starve cannot be just – a Communalist Democratic Federation must extend beyond any particular bioregion to encompass all of Earth, or concede the lofty principles of rationality, mutual aid and solidarity upon which it is based.

Freedom for Rojava!

Chapter 3

World Communalism


In the third chapter I argue that a synthesis of Communalism and Cosmopolitanism into a system of ‘World Communalism’ offers a coherent utopian vision of a system of governance that empowers local communities whilst uniting humanity at the global level and actualising human rights in a meaningful sense. Capitalism operates at the globalised level, making transnational corporations impervious to national efforts at taxation and regulation, whilst existing institutions such as the UN, IMF and World Bank only perpetuate relations of hierarchy/domination such as systemic inequality, imperialism, and neo-colonialism – as well as exacerbating climate breakdown. A form of World Government is therefore necessary, and since there can be no taxation without representation there must be a corresponding global democracy. For such a project to be successful and legitimate it should be demanded through grassroots democratic organisation with ecological and social justice at its core. I highlight existing proposals towards this ideal from the Institute for Social Ecology, Progressive International, the Organisation of those Affected by Dams in Latin America, the Republic of Rojava, the Zapatistas, and the Extinction Rebellion International Solidarity Network amongst others. I conclude that only a global Democratic Confederation of Communalist Municipalities that can resolutely uphold the Human, Social and Economic Rights of all people will be able to avoid overshooting the capacity of the earth to deliver them.

The Case for Democracy

A number of International Relations scholars have concluded that liberal democracy is unable to address the economic and social damage caused by climate breakdown because of its intrinsically uncoordinated system of bureaucracies, markets and corporations that shape policy. White speculates that democracies are paralysed by short-termism because “political representatives are elected for short terms, offering little motivation to adopt initially costly, but sustainable energy policies geared to counteract the inevitable energy crisis” (White, L. 2015). Prescriptions range from Giddens’ view that policymakers should be constrained by an independent scientific authority that enforces a mitigation strategy (Giddens, 2009); to the more radical assertion of Shearman and Smith that a system of benevolent authoritarianism led by a technocratic elite of experts is the only way to overcome the chronic short-termism of democracy and transition to a Carbon Neutral economy (Shearman, D. Smith, J. 2007). However, the fact that emissions reductions in democracies have not been much better than those in hybrid or authoritarian regime types does not justify abandoning democratic values in order to reduce emissions. Making the normative case for the dissolution of democracy dangerously empowers the Capitalist elite who have caused the climate crisis, and now present themselves as the humanities only hope for a solution. According to Legard the absence of democracy lies at the heart of our ecological crisis because wealth concentration and the exploitation of people and planet that sustains it is inherently anti-democratic. Formulating new conceptions of the world as global commons and enacting a binding Human Rights constitution could only be legitimated with popular consent: “Solving the climate crisis means a concerted effort between people of the northern and southern hemispheres, to achieve a global equality where power is equally shared. In short, solving the climate crisis demands global democracy” (Legard, S. 2013). Only by transcending the corruption endemic in sovereign nation states by creating new global institutions that are fundamentally democratic can we deliver climate and social justice. Ocalan declares that Democratic confederalism and the flourishing of mutual respect for autonomous collectives can promote peace by tackling the social problems, including unemployment, poverty, and hunger, and for ending industrialism’s war on the environment (Ocalan, A. 2020).

The UN and Nation States

The UN was established in 1945 in the aftermath of the Second World War to:

“…maintain international peace and security; to develop friendly relations among nations based on the respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples; to achieve international cooperation in solving problems of an economic, social, cultural, or humanitarian character; and encouraging respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all.”                                                                                       (Fomerand, J., 2009)

Whilst it has been effective in limiting the number of direct, large scale, and international conflicts since the Second World War, it must be acknowledged that there have been a shameful quantity of genocides and crimes against humanity ignored by the ineffectual international community (Mueller, R., 2004).  The IMF was established to invest in developing nations and has been widely criticised for the austerity conditions that it attaches to loans to Heavily Indebted Poor Countries, which in some cases have been found to worsen economic crisis.  For example: “…in 2003 Senegal used one-third of its revenues to service foreign debt and, like many African countries, is obligated to spend more towards debt repayment than on healthcare.”  (Carassco, E., 2007). It is evident that this reflects the disturbing trend of the UN to represent a tool for furthering US and other creditor interests (Meyer, C., 2015). The UN is organised around the General Assembly and the Security Council. The Assembly is made up of the 193 member states and convenes to discuss issues and draft non-binding resolutions on any matter except for issues of peace and security, which are the competency of the Security Council. The Council is made up of China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States as permanent members with veto-holding positions, and 10 rotating seats for other member states. The UN was formed, according to Arnaud Blin, as:

“…an aristocratic entity revolving around the five states with a permanent seat in the security council, thus reflecting not only the geopolitical reality of the day, but most importantly the pre-eminence of the state and especially the powerful state”                                                                                                                                       (Blin, A., 2012).

In a world of global crises, the UN’s focus on nation-state sovereignty proves antiquated: the Westphalian Order offers nothing but destruction in the age of the Anthropocene. The UN has survived remarkably long given the strain global division into competing hegemons during the Cold War placed upon world peace. It is clearly a robust institution, although in the face of the deadlock of the Security Council this robustness is perhaps best described as inflexibility. Blind warns us that the UN is “designed not to re-invent itself” (Blind, A., 2012), and urges us to find new methods of uniting the international community in a more democratic forum.

A new International Order


The history of Cosmopolitanism goes much deeper than Enlightenment conceptions of universality, rooted in Indigenous conceptions of the spirit of the world and theological declarations of the brotherhood of man. In the aftermath of the Second World War a number of groups advocating World Federalism arose under various names, most recently the Citizens for Global Solutions. Bertrand Russell expressed his opinion that without World Government that centralised possession of the global nuclear arsenal humanity faced “barbarism or extinction” through nuclear holocaust, and though this has not yet occurred, we have never been closer to the truth of his prediction (Russell, B. 1961).

Universal Human Rights

The UN took steps in 2005 to reconcile its failings in the 1990s to prevent the tragic genocides in Rwanda and Kosovo by formulating the Responsibility to Protect initiative. This asserted that:

“…should peaceful means be inadequate and national authorities manifestly fail to protect their populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity… we are prepared to take collective action.”                                                                                                                                                                                                          (R2P, 2005)

Despite problematic implementation in instances such as Syria and Libya, (which can be traced back to the Security Council), this bold new step has the potential to redefine traditional narratives of sovereignty by asserting a moral authority to uphold Human Rights above the nation state. Undeniably such crimes are an endemic feature of Capitalism and will only be exacerbated by climate breakdown. Caney has argued most succinctly that climate change violates basic human rights of life, health, and subsistence. For Caney, the ‘current consumption of fossil fuels is unjust because it generates outcomes in which people’s fundamental interests are unprotected and, as such, undermines key rights’ (Caney, S. 2006). The World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth, in Cochabamba, Bolivia in 2010 was an articulation of the frustrations with the neoliberal UN COP process from the grassroots of the climate justice movement. The group demanded that a new binding global Agreement on climate change must include a focus on the protection of indigenous peoples, notions of respect and recognition, the maintenance of identity and integrity, the right to be free of pollution, the role of historical responsibility and restorative justice, and more transparent and open participatory governance processes. Furthermore, the ‘Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth’ demands a set of legal rights—along the lines of human rights—for species and ecological systems (World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth. 2013). I argue that the time has come for a transcendence of the UN in much the same way as The League of Nations became defunct: we have moved past a point of “encouraging” respect for human rights, and we must now develop institutions capable of delivering them.

Democratic Confederalism

The Democratic Confederalist model espoused by Abdullah Öcalan of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and implemented in Rojava, Northern Syria, is one of the most successful implementations of a Communalist vision in the world. Ocalan has written an extensive and compelling theory of revolution that concludes that the unity of democracy, ecology, and feminism can create rational, peaceful societies. It is formulated around a nuanced understanding fundamental character of morality and politics in our lives – any interaction of more than one person can be considered a ‘unit’ of society capable of cooperation and collective decision making.

“The complicated structure of contemporary society requires different horizontal and vertical political structures. [Democratic Confederalism] holds central, local, and regional political structures together in equilibrium.”

(Ocalan, A. 2020)

This represents a cohesive balance between the local and the global that provides the ideological space for world-wide cooperation against climate breakdown and in favour of equitable resilience. For the forces of democracy to succeed they must embrace a resolute moral character that can defend against tyrannical statist efforts at repression. Ocalan understands this well: he is currently indefinitely imprisoned by the fascist Turkish regime, and Rojava is under siege from reactionary military assault.

Ocalan concludes:

“Becoming an alternative requires developing a system against the three pillars of modernity: capitalism, industrialism, and the nation-state. The opposing system can be called democratic modernity, with democratic society, eco-industry, and democratic confederalism as its three pillars”


Earth Citizens Movement

The vanguard of World Communalism will be an Earth Citizens Movement of individuals willing to spread and enact the principles of an ecologically rational society in the face of repression. Ocalan describes how “The nation-state, as power and the fundamental state form, are in constant war with the society, and that this reality is the source of resistance politics” (Ibid.). This struggle is now everywhere – evident on the streets in America, Mexico, Israel, Hong-Kong, Zimbabwe, Russia, Lebanon, Belarus, Brazil, and many more against fascism and corruption in government responses to Covid-19; around the world in rebellion against ecocide (Kaplan, J. 2020). These movements all share a common language of citizens protesting for their rights and democracy, though they are by no means yet a unified articulation. Z of the Black Socialists of America announced a unified platform for organising mutual-aid resistance struggles across the country through the ‘Symbiosis’ platform, declaring:

“It is imperative that any groups or organizations moving in a social or economic sense on the vision we share for a democratic and ecologically sound world not struggle on their own, but instead under a global support system aimed at both dismantling our exploitative socioeconomic system (Capitalism), and building a democratic, cooperative system in its place.”

                                                                                                                (Z, 2019)

Global Citizen’s Assembly

Obviously, there are significant logistical challenges to organising a global democratic process, however overcoming these challenges and building the necessary systems will mark a revolutionary transition in human interconnectedness. Extinction Rebellion’s third demand is for the establishment of a citizen’s assembly on Climate and Ecological Justice. Citizens’ assemblies are a form of deliberative democracy whereby a group of randomly selected members representing a cross-section of society are educated by experts and stakeholders; deliberate on policy options and make recommendations that shape government policy. This has the potential to cut out the corrupting influence of lobbying interests and empower citizens to shape the response of their community to climate breakdown. They have been successfully organised to advise the governments on other areas where moral consideration and consent from the public is needed to unify a national decision, such a whether or not to allow abortion in Ireland. XR’s declaration of Rebellion argues that:

“The wilful complicity displayed by our government has shattered meaningful democracy and cast aside the common interest in favour of short-term gain and private profit. When government and the law fail to provide any assurance of adequate protection of and security for its people’s well-being and the nation’s future, it becomes the right of citizens to seek redress in order to restore dutiful democracy and to secure the solutions needed to avert catastrophe and protect the future”.

                        (XR, 2019)

Bookchin described a delegate model based on “shared responsibilities, full accountability of confederal delegates to their communities, the right to recall, and firmly mandated representative councils” that could provide a working model of a Global Citizen’s Assembly (Bookchin, 2006). As most power for community organisation is devolved to the local level, only decisions of constitutional or global significance would be democratically addressed at the Global Federal level, such as enshrining the rights of all people and nature in enforceable laws against ecocide and genocide.


The realisation of Communalism at the local level will inevitably succumb to Capitalist hegemony unless a comprehensive program for the radical transformation of local political and economic structures is developed in solidarity with mutual struggles. Fotopoulos summarises his research into social revolution: “No local radical social transformation is feasible in the long run unless it is accompanied by a corresponding transformation at the global level and particularly in the advanced market economies.” (Fotopoulos, T. 2005) Last summer the Zapatistas expanded their territory in South Eastern Mexico, establishing revolutionary democratic councils that bring together Indigenous Peoples, women, men, the youth, peasants and urban citizens for the equitable and ecological resistance to extractive Capitalism. They announced their victory with a message of solidarity: “we learned that any dream that doesn’t encompass the world is too small a dream”, (Indigenous Revolutionary Clandestine Committee, 2019).


Towards Dystopian Utopia

Politics necessarily occurs at the local level, manifested in the interactions between ourselves and our communities whether as consumers, neighbours, oppressors, or comrades. Bookchin’s Communalism is based on the convincing theory of Social Ecology and a systemic analysis of the rooting of present structures of Capitalism in Hierarchy/Domination. Mutual aid and Libertarian Municipalism are powerful tools for building Community resilience to climate breakdown, with immediately actionable benefits in local agriculture, energy production, and economic relations. The field of International Relations remains embedded in a statist conception of world politics that is incoherent, oppressive and anti-democratic: International Relations is a fluid and developing discipline that encompasses critical questions of how to order our society, but inherently focuses on Nations as the primary unit of global politics rather than citizens or communities. In order to tackle the E4 crises it is necessary to move beyond this paradigm and embrace the potential of Democratic Confederalism and Word Communalism in conjunction with solidarity economics and mutual aid – not only for the benefit of constructive cohesive theory, but also in order to practically apply these insights to engaging as conscientious global citizens within our own communities. I conclude that humanity must embrace a transition to ecologically harmonious localism at the same time as transcending the nation state and unifying at the global level – perhaps with unilateral declarations of Earth citizenship – and that such a system represents the next stage in the evolution of human consciousness. For the first time in decades we have a credible, exciting, beautiful alternative to Capitalism and the political opportunity to demand it. Perhaps now is the time to dare to hope for a better future. Perhaps then we will have the courage to build it.


Beasley, D. (2020), Executive Director of the World Food Programme, available at: [Last Accessed: 24/6/2020]

Bertrand, R. (1961), Has Man a Future? New York: Simon & Schulster, PP. 15

Bookchin, M. (2006), Social Ecology and Communalism,

Bookchin, M., Ed. Zimmerman, M. (1993): Environmental Philosophy: From Animal Rights to Radical Ecology, Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice Hall, pp. 12

Bookchin, M. (2015), The Next Revolution: Popular Assemblies and the Promise of Direct Democracy, Verso, London. Available at: [Last Accessed: 10/6/2020]

Bragg, B. (1990) The Internationale, Available at: [Last Accessed: 5/6/2020]

Caney S. (2006), Cosmopolitan Justice, Rights and Global Climate Change, Can J Law Jurisprud 19, pp. 255– 278.

Chemnick, J. Matthews, M. (2019), Trumps Border Wall Highlights the Climate-Migration Connection, Available at: [Last Accessed: 10/7/2020]

Clarke, B. Foster, J. B. (2004), Ecological Imperialism: The Curse of Capitalism, in Socialist Register, Vol 40, Available at: [Last Accessed: 2/5/2020]

Craig, C. (2018) Catabolism: Capitalism’s Frightening Future, CounterPunch, Available at: [Last Accessed: 26/7/2020]

Colins, C. (2020), Four Reasons Society Won’t Decline: It Will Collapse, Available at: [Last Accessed: 17/6/2020]

Corry, S. (2011), Tribal Peoples For Tomorrow’s World, Freeman Press.

Darwin, C. (1871), The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex Cambridge University Press, Available at: [Last Accessed: 4:06/8/2020]

DePuis, E. M., Goodman, D. (2005), Should We Go Home to Eat?, in Journal of Rural Studies, 21, (3), pp. 364

Fotopoulos, T. (2005), Social Ecology, Ecocommunitarianism and Inclusive Democracy, In The International Journal of Inclusive Democracy, Vol. 1 (3).

Hill, G. (2006), Zig-Zag, Colonization and Decolinization: A Manual for Indigenous Liberation in the 21st Century, Victoria, Warrior Publications, pp. 28.

Indigenous Revolutionary Clandestine Committee (2019), Zapatista Communique: We Broke the Siege, Available at: [Last Accessed: 10/7/2020]

Hobbes, T., (1904) Leviathan Or The Matter, Forme And Power Of A Common Wealth Ecclesiasticall And Civil, Cambridge University Press, pp. 4

Kaplan, J. (2020), These are all the protests going on in the world right now, Available at: [Last Accessed: 4/8/2020]

Klein, N. (2014), This Changes Everything: Capitalism versus the Climate, New York, Simn and Schuster, pp. 181

Kropotkin, P. (1972), Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution, New York, New York University Press. pp. 10

Ed. Lerch, D. (2016), The Community Resilience Reader: Essential Resources For an Era of Upheaval, Island Press, London.; Sawyer, S., Food Systems Lessons From Vermont, pp. 231

Landauer, G. (2010), Revolution and other Writings, Oakland: PM Press.

Legard, S. (2013), 9 Arguments for democracy, in Communalism, Vol 1. Available at: [Last Accessed 15/6/2020]

MacIntyre, M. (1984), After Virtue: A Study in Moral Theory, University of Notre Dame Press, pp. 2

Singer, M. Baer, H (2016), Global Warming and the Political Ecology of Health: Emerging Crises and Systemic Solutions, Routledge Press, London.

Mauldin, M. (2019), The Coming Recession Will Be Different, Available at: [Last Accessed: 10/6/2020]

McDougall, R. Kristiansen, P. Rader, R. (2018). Small-scale urban agriculture results in high yields but requires judicious management of inputs to achieve sustainability Available at: [Last Accessed: 3/7/2020]

McDonald, M. Schneider, C. Flörke, M. (2018), Water competition between cities and agriculture driven by climate change and urban growth, Available at:

 [Last Accessed: 10/06/2020]

Ocalan, V. (2020), The Sociology of Freedom, Manifesto of the Democratic Civilisation Part III, PM Press, Available at: [Last Accessed: 10/7/2020]

Solidarity Economy Association, (2020), Available at: [Last Accessed: 4/7/2020]

Thatcher, M. (1987), in Women’s Own Magazine.

USDA, (2012), Climate Change and Agriculture in the United States: Effects and Adaptation, Available at:;imate_change/effects_2012/effects_agriculture.htm [Last Accessed: 7/8/2020]

Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund, (2017), The Farm to Plate Network, Available at: [Last Accessed: 15/07/2020]

Verstraeten, G., Verstraeten, W. (2016). Disentangling the Enlightenment’s Paradox about Human Rights, National States and Global Migration: Towards an Eco-ethical Alternative. Asian Journal of Humanities and Social Studies. Volume 04. 2321-2799.

Wohlleben, P. (2016), The Hidden Life of Trees, What They Feel, How They Communicate: Discoveries From a Secret World, London: Harper Collins, pp. 16.

UNEP, (2019). Emissions Gap Report 2019. UNEP, Nairobi.

Dias, H. (Ed.) (2019): IPBES: Pervasive Human-Driven Decline of Life on Earth Points to the Need For Transformative Change, in Science, Vol. 366, Issue 6471. Available at: Last Accessed: 29/4/2020

Graeber, D., (2018), Bullshit Jobs, Simon & Schuster, New York.

Gudynas, E., (2011), Buen Vivir: Today’s Tomorrow, Development 54:4, pp. 441-447. Available at: [Last Accessed: 27/4/2020

IEA (2019), Renewables 2019, IEA, Available at: [Last Accessed: 27/4/2020]

Pervasive human-driven decline of life on Earth points to the need for transformative change

IPBES, (2019): Global Assessment for Policy Makers, Available at: [Last Accessed: 20/4/2020]

IPCC, (2018): Global warming of 1.5°C. An IPCC Special Report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways, in the context of strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change, sustainable development, and efforts to eradicate poverty [V. Masson-Delmotte, P. Zhai, H. O. Pörtner, D. Roberts, J. Skea, P.R. Shukla, A. Pirani, W. Moufouma-Okia, C. Péan, R. Pidcock, S. Connors, J. B. R.

Available at: [Last Accessed: 2/5/2020]

WHO, (2020), Available at: [Last Accessed: 23/5/2020]

World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth (2010), World People’s Agreement of Cochabamba, Available at:‐agreement/ [Last Accessed: 5/7/2020]

WWF, (2016), Living Planet Report, Available at: [Last Accessed: 12/7/2020] Last Accessed: [25/4/2020}

York, R. Shannon, E.B. (2019), Energy transitions or additions?: Why a transition from fossil fuels requires more than the growth of renewable energy, Research & Social Science Vol. 51, Pg. 40-43. Last Accessed: 23/4/20

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: