The Village Against the World

“Full of lively and genuinely inspiring detail” – Guardian

One hundred kilometres from Seville lies the small village of Marinaleda, which for the last thirty-five years has been the centre of a tireless struggle to create a living utopia. This unique community drew British author Dan Hancox to Spain, and here for the first time he recounts the fascinating story of villagers who expropriated the land owned by wealthy aristocrats and have, since the 1980s, made it the foundation of a cooperative way of life.

Today, Marinaleda is a place where the farms and the processing plants are collectively owned and provide work for everyone who wants it. A mortgage is €15 per month, sport is played in a stadium emblazoned with a huge mural of Che Guevara, and there are monthly 'Red Sundays' when everyone works together to clean up the neighbourhood. Leading this revolution is the village mayor, Juan Manuel Sánchez Gordillo, who in 2012 became a household name in Spain after heading raids on local supermarkets to feed the Andalusian unemployed.

As Spain's crisis becomes ever more desperate, Marinaleda also suffers from the international downturn. Can the village retain its utopian vision? Can Sánchez Gordillo hold on to the dream against the depredations of the world beyond his village?


  • “Hancox captures the optimism necessary for alternative ways of doing politics, economics and living together. As the borderline between dream and reality shimmers in the heat of Andalucia, we begin to wonder if living as if change were indeed possible is the very key to making actual change happen. Do we really have any other choice?”
  • “It sounds like science fiction: a small rural town led by a charismatic mayor tries to turn itself into a communist utopia. But it’s fact—it’s happening right now in Andalucia, and colliding with the region’s real-world history of violent rebellion and radicalism. Hancox’s book could not be more timely—with Spain on the brink of social crisis and the shadows of the past emerging.”
  • “Marinaleda – that “liberated space, a laborers’ island in a sea of latifundios” – is a reminder that the only way to make the world right is to make it left.”
  • “Hancox takes us on a trip that inspires one’s visual senses as he depicts the white-washed beauty of the village, one’s taste buds as he describes simple meals capped with thick bread doused in fresh local olive oil, and invites us to envision a collective life freed—as much as possible—from global crises, acquisition and power plays.”
  • “Dan Hancox’s 'The Village Against the World' is, for lack of a better word, awesome. ... Hancox’s book reads like something one might find on the New York Times best-seller list if it weren’t for its subject matter: the anti-authoritarian shenanigans of a Communist village and it’s Robin Hood mayor. It’s a must-read for anyone interested in radical movements like Occupy Wall Street or the Zapatistas.”
  • “With late capitalist malaise so prevalent and chronic that people have stopped believing in cures, this well-observed account of a village of 2,700 stout souls who think and live otherwise is a tonic”
  • “Hancox’s book takes us beyond the wavering attention of the mainstream media to offer a substantive understanding of the actions, politics, history and daily lives of the marinalenos.”
  • “full of lively and genuinely inspiring detail”


  • 2013 Highlights from Verso Books

    From scaling the very highest rooftops to political scandal through the eyes of Alexander Cockburn, we bring you our seasonal highlights for 2013.


    Explore Everything: Place-Hacking the City
    Bradley L. Garrett

    "Garrett perceives the city like no one else I know. Seen through his eyes, it is newly porous, full of “vanishing points”, “imperfect joinings” and portals – service hatches, padlocked doorways – that you wouldn't usually notice... The city's accessible space extends far down into the earth (sewers, bunkers, tunnels) and far up into the air (skyscrapers, cranes), with the street level only serving as a median altitude." – Robert Macfarlane, Guardian 

    "[Combines] erudite references (Montesquieu, Walter Benjamin) with compelling photographs of men in hoodies in strange places." – Rowan Moore, The Observer Architecture Books of the Year

    Continue Reading

  • Is another world possible?—Dan Hancox's The Village Against the World reviewed in Jacobin and Truthdig

    After the fall of Spanish military dictator Francisco Franco in 1975, Spain suffered a series of blows that crippled its economy. By the end of the decade, poverty and food shortages plagued the country and the unemployment rate hovered at 60 percent. 

    Today Spain faces another massive economic crisis, with overall unemployment hitting around 26 percent and youth unemployment reaching 56 percent. But in the village of Marinaleda, the self-proclaimed communist utopia at the center of Dan Hancox's The Village Against the World, unemployment sits between 5 and 6 percent. 

    Two recent reviews of Hancox's book, by Belén Fernández for Jacobin and Nomi Prins for Truthdig, wonder if the small Andalucian cooperative-style village of Marinaleda is immune to the larger economic crisis, and if it is a viable alternative model of living and governance.  

    Continue Reading

  • "There is no future that is not built in the present"—Resources for new socialisms in The Village Against the World

    Dan Hancox’s recently published The Village Against the World, an important new book on the communist utopia of Marinaleda, continues to receive attention in the first weeks of its release.

    Continue Reading