Living Utopia: a hopeful lesson from anarchist Catalonia

by Nadim Fetaih on September 10, 2012

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This documentary on the social revolution in Barcelona rekindles the flames of hope: another world is possible. In fact, it already existed before.

Whenever fighting a long and seemingly endless war, it seems fitting to remind those fighting of the very reasons these fights arose in the first place. Of course, for those who fighting against corporate or governmental powers around the globe, the reasons are endless. But whether our struggle be for human rights, environmental reasons, or social justice, there is a commonality amongst us all: we all dream of a better world.

This dream, this idea, is our fuel. We use it to push us when we grow weary of defeat — be it by means of arrests, beatings, shootings, or the continuing decay of our societies at the hands of the elite. Some defeats are harder to bear than others, and an emotional rollercoaster is sure to commence. We are, of course, only human.

Everyone has their own means of picking themselves back up. There’s always music, thought experiments, spending time with loved ones, or even learning more about corporate or state atrocities in order to regain the requisite rage to use as fuel. For me, however, nothing has yet proven to be more powerful fuel than the beautiful documentary Living Utopia, about Revolutionary Catalonia during the Spanish civil war. It is quite an old film so I can only assume many of you have seen it, but if you haven’t, I highly recommend watching it — and hell, even if you have seen it, you should watch it again!

Nothing is nearly as powerful as watching and listening to a person who witnessed, lived, worked, and bled for the same very dream we currently share. The way the Catalan revolutionaries describe Barcelona — as a true living Utopia — sends shivers down my spine. I have always dared to dream of a world such as this, even when such dreams were still called naïve, childish, or ideological.

But to have lived through a utopian revolutionary project, to have truly lived Utopia, is something I fear I may never see in my lifetime. I tend to tell myself that my children will be able to see this world, or their children, and the actions of our generation will be crucial building blocks for this. Watching Living Utopia, though, helps to remind me that it has been done before; that another world is possible, and — ever more powerfully — that it can come into existence within our lifetimes, just as it happened in revolutionary Catalonia.

Freedom is my homeland, reason is my flag.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

dave September 11, 2012 at 10:24

I think the Wikipedia page linked to here as “Revolutionary Catalonia” is far too negative. The “references” are nothing but the killer “b”s: Bolloten, Beevor, and Borkenau, none of them friends of anarchism, none objective. Clearly WikiCIApedia is attempting to show the revolution in the worst possible light.

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James Agee September 17, 2012 at 07:35

In the 1980s in Oregon we had a commune who lived with an enlightened Master who lived and worked together in much the same way. It was one of the most wonderful experiences of my life. In the coming years we can do the same if we can only see the importance of working together for the best and highest good for all.

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