What is 'Eco-Communalism'

Eco-communalism, short for ecological communalism, is an economic and environmental philosophy focused on local economies, sustainability and self-sufficiency. Eco-communalism centers on the belief that many self-sufficient local economies connected to one another will be a greater benefit to society than a centralized capitalistic one. The primary principles of eco-communalism include green economics, biodiversity and decentralization of government. 

BREAKING DOWN 'Eco-Communalism'

Eco-communalists believe that the goodness of society is the key to creating a world that is less reliant on capitalistic traits and more concerned with the common good. In this vein, eco-communalism is often closely associated with the ideals of eco-socialism, which is focused on moving towards a more socialist mandate and away from the materialism of modern capitalism.

Eco-socialism operates on the belief that profit motives cause degradation of the environment create social injustice. The most ardent views of eco-socialism suggest that emancipation of people from their capitalistic masters is compatible with the emancipation of the earth from the evils of capitalism. This movement seeks to break away from capitalism by collaborating with more mainstream organizations with similar environmental and social goals.

The term eco-communalism is credited to the Global Scenario Group, a group formed to determine future scenarios for civilization, and is one of six scenarios envisioned in the group’s essay, “Great Transition: The Promise and Lure of the Times Ahead.” Some of the key characteristics of eco-communalism include common property ownership and a non-material focus on quality of life, quality of human solidarity and the quality of the earth.

Eco-communalism is practiced by organizations such as the Federation of Egalitarian Communities, which has comprised of more than a dozen communities in the U.S. and Canada, and the Fellowship for Intentional Community, which provides organizational resources for a range of eco-villages, communes and related communities worldwide. The latter group embraces innovations in technology, economics, governance that can benefit their communities.

Differences Between Eco-Communalism and Other Green Movements

Eco-communalism shares with eco-socialism the skepticism of capitalism but takes an approach geared more to maintaining self-sustaining local communities rather than eradicating a problematic economic system. While eco-communalism follows many socialist values, it is a grassroots movement that seeks to improve human living and promote the sustainability of the earth’s natural resources on a local level. This decentralized approach lacks the solidarity and size of more politically-based socialist movements that seek to agitate for change on a society-wide scale.

Eco-communalism shares with green economics the desire to promote environmentally sustainable policies. But green economics is a large-scale vision for entire countries, such as South Korea, that seeks to refocus the existing capitalist system toward more sustainable economic growth that emphasizes carbon reduction and more efficient use of natural resources.

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