Ironically, thanks to the technology inherited from capitalist barbarism, reconstruction was less difficult than had been feared. The dismantling of the armaments industry freed immense industrial resources that could now be put to the service of the people and the planet. As in the ancient prophecies, people literally “beat their swords into plowshares.” The enormous bulldozers that had once served to demolish Palestinian houses now served to make water available to the Palestinians. Factories for war planes were being transformed into factories for agro-economic transport. Near Hartford, Connecticut (USA) a former tank factory was now producing mini-tractors and trams.
How had theses transformations come about? At the end of the global general strike, the strikers occupying factories, mines and refineries had taken stock and begun little by little to restart production of goods and materials needed for immediate consumption and to keep other industries supplied. The practice of making decisions democratically acquired during the strikes and occupations now carried over into an improvised forms of cooperative self-management by assemblies and workers’ councils. Internet links enabled these cooperatives to ‘advertise’ for the materials they needed and trade them for finished goods they produced. Thanks to this global ‘E-Bay’ system, goods were exchanged through an intricate system of barter.
These forms of economic self government operated smoothly. They had evolved quite naturally out of the various types of organisation that had been thrown up to meet the needs of the strikers during the struggle. The common principles among them were these. Leaders were elected and subject to recall by their constituents. Terms of office were kept short to prevent the creation of a professional political class and to keep representatives in touch with their base. ‘Officials’ were paid normal workers’ wages, and members of a collective more or less rotated in office. There was no firewall between the executive and legislative functions of self-government. Those who voted measures were also responsible for carrying them out. Thus the ecotopians had revived the ancient Greek ideal of participatory democracy – but no longer restricted to free native-born males.