To build a new society

September 21, 2021

From the September-October 2021 issue of News & Letters

Xalapa, Veracruz—For the past nine months, I lived in a cabin in the misty mountain of Xico. I worked the land and grew lettuce, tomato and spinach; got water from a spring; and made my own yogurt. Now that experience came to an end. This is what I can say about it.


I couldn’t solve the contradiction between this relative autonomy and my dependence on the market. I could barely pay the high rent of a cabin or produce all my means of consumption, which forced me to hike three kilometers down the mountain to town and back. I couldn’t create economic alliances with other people in the area.

I was in touch with individuals and groups that exchanged vegetables or yogurt for products, but it didn’t have the frequency or the diversity required for building a strong economic network.

I also met small companies and collectives who sell organic food (see “Agroecology in Xico,” May-June 2021 N&L) and build houses with ecological materials. Their production was too small to make ends meet and their aim was the market. The content of their production is nature-friendly and meets human needs, but the form is capitalistic, implying exploitation of labor, and their prices make their products luxuries. These projects are a form of green capitalism.


Now I live in a small room in Xalapa, capital city of Veracruz. Can what I learned in the mountain be recreated here? I have begun growing tomato and lettuce. Can I share this with people so they produce their own vegetables, or exchange what they may have already produced? Could this be a step towards a network of food autonomy?

Can this be done from the perspective of solving human needs, and not market-oriented? Is it possible to boost grassroots projects with a critical political view?

How can practice be open to theory so that it becomes a practice leading to a different kind of future? Can theory not present itself as something external to practice, but as something that flows out from it, building from the diversity and wholeness of Life?

I don’t have the answers to any of those questions yet. I just know that I want to integrate with all that I am to my new neighborhood, and from there build with others actions and ideas that can help us all to live in a new, truly human world.

—Biking Snail

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