The city as horizon for radical politics

CiudadSostenida BWManuela has recently put out a few articles on the municipal movement and platform Barcelona en Comú (Catalan for ‘Barcelona in Common’, formerly Guanyem Barcelona). Pioneering new ways and words for approaching the city as common(s), Barcelona en Comú opens possibilities for a politics rooted in everyday experiences, social relations and spaces of reproduction.

See this English Roarmag article for reflections on the city as horizon of radical politics (here in Portugese):

The current political-institutional crisis forces us to re-imagine the political and social as spaces of collective action. The city is a space of experience and acting we know and participate in daily, not only symbolizing but also embodying our social common. While it’s the key layer between the square and the parliament, between the 15M and Podemos, its importance is not just a matter of scale: politics in the city has a potential to propose radical new methodologies for thinking proximity and difference in organizing. It has the power to explode binaries and contradictions between the street and the state, the micro and the macro, and even the local and the global.

With the focus on the municipal, to take back institutions (social rights, infrastructures, democratic mechanisms), spaces (vital, social and representational) and autonomy (over social wealth, territories, the everyday) becomes something very tangible and concrete. What would we like our school, our square, our homeless shelter to be like — not any homeless shelter, but the one here, in our street? There is immense power in proximity and situated knowledges in the city, making the question of self-determination concrete without necessarily passing through issues of identity, be it national or subcultural.

Self-referential claims to territory are hard to sustain in the face of the heterogeneity of interests, needs and lifestyles that shape the post-industrial city. At its best, the city is a multi-layered and agonistic convivial space that can do without sovereignty or identity, the strength of its local processes being that they build commons without losing sight of others and elsewheres.

And a German article in Kamion magazine for an account of the platform’s cultural policy proposals and methodologies:

Wenn auch das Niveau sozialer Mobilisierung und Solidarität in Barcelona recht einzigartig ist, stellt Barcelona en Comú trotzdem keinen Einzelfall neuer Bewegungen für radikal demokratische Stadtpolitik dar. In anderen Städten Spaniens und Europas – ja sogar auch in deutschsprachigen Ländern – tut sich was. Mit der momentanen politisch-institutionellen Krise scheint klar: Wir müssen politisch-soziale Handlungsräume neu denken, wenn wir aus der Klemme zwischen staatlicher bzw. nationaler und überstaatlicher Erpressung entkommen wollen. Die Stadt ist dabei ein wichtiges Spielfeld, als Handlungs- und Erfahrungsraum, dessen Gewebe wir kennen und täglich mitbeleben.

 

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