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Models of Cooperative Self-Governed Communities

Models of self-governed egalitarian cooperative societies include the Zapatistas in Mexico; Argentinean and Brazilian worker-run factories and farms; environmental movements in Ecuador and Bolivia and Brazil; South African shack dwellers movement to take back housing; Marinaleda “communist utopia” of farm workers in impoverished Andalusia, Spain; and Vio.Me worker-run factory in Greece. In Israeli collective kibbutzim with consensus decision-making and communal childrearing in Children’s Houses continued until the 1970s. Only about 60 of Israel’s 275 kibbutzim are still collectives where all members are paid the same. Food Not Bombs was founded in 1981 to “show by example that we can work cooperatively without leaders through volunteer effort to provide essential needs like food, housing, education and healthcare.”[i] They believe there are over 1,000 independent chapters in 60 countries.

Ancient hunting and gathering societies can also provide egalitarian models, including the Batek of Malaysia described in The Headman Was a Woman The Gender Egalitarian Batek of Malaysia by Kirk and Karen Endicott (2012). The hill people of Southeast Asia described in The Art of Not Being Governed: An Anarchist History of Upland Southeast Asia (2010) by James Scott describes their anti-state and anti-authoritarian attitudes. The Hmong people are from this area. I asked a Hmong immigrant to my town if this was true and she said, yes, people did what they wanted without permits and such. She said in California too the Hmong settle disputes by going to their elders rather than the police.


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