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Radical Municipalism: The Only Solution To Amazon’s Extortion Of Cities

By James Wilt for Canadian Dimension - Last week saw a flurry of humiliating pitches by North American cities for Amazon to pick them as the location of the corporation’s second headquarters. New Jersey committed a phenomenal $7 billion in tax breaks if picked. Stonecrest, Georgia, pledged to annex 345 acres to create an entire city called Amazon and make CEO Jeff Bezos unelected mayor. Tucson sent a 21-foot cactus to Amazon, which the company rejected. Meanwhile in Canada, Calgary released a deeply cringey video, bought a massive billboard in Seattle claiming that it would “fight a bear” for Amazon and paid for sidewalk graffiti that joked about how it would also change its name for it. NHL teams in Calgary and Ottawa led arena-wide chants pleading for the company to pick them. Winnipeg bragged in its application that it was the inspiration for Winnie the Pooh’s name. In total, more 100 cities submitted applications, including Vancouver, Edmonton, Montreal, Sault Ste. Marie, Halifax, Hamilton and Toronto. This is the near-dystopian endpoint of the neoliberal city: gargantuan corporations forcing cash-strapped cities to publicly bid against each other with tax breaks, subsidies and crass public relations campaigns. In the excellently titled “Amazon’s New Headquarters Should Be In Hell,” author Hamilton Nolan argued: “This is what the extortion of public resources looks like.”

Radical Municipalism: The Future We Deserve

By Debbie Bookchin for ROAR Magazine - I am the daughter of two longtime municipalists. My mother, Beatrice Bookchin, ran for city council of Burlington, Vermont thirty years ago, in 1987, on an explicitly municipalist platform of building an ecological city, a moral economy and, above all, citizen assemblies that would contest the power of the nation state. My father is the social theorist and libertarian municipalist, Murray Bookchin. For many years the left has struggled with the question of how to bring our ideas, of equality, economic justice and human rights, to fruition. And my father’s political trajectory is instructive for the argument that I want to make: that municipalism isn’t just one of many ways to bring about social change — it is really the only way that we will successfully transform society. As someone who had grown up as a young communist and been deeply educated in Marxist theory, my father became troubled by the economistic, reductionist modes of thinking that had historically permeated the Marxist left. He was searching for a more expansive notion of freedom — not just freedom from economic exploitation, but freedom that encompassed all manner of oppression: race, class, gender, ethnicity.

The Recipe For A Municipal Movement

Municipal Recipes is a documentary about how we’ve gotten to this point, where citizens from new political subjectivities are experimenting with organisational models in order to manage institutions. The documentary features people linked to various social movements and the new municipal “confluence platforms” that are taking root in Spain. They include: Gala Pin, from the Mortgage Victims Platform(PAH) and the municipal candidacy Barcelona En Comú; Pablo Carmona, from the Fundación de los Comunes and Ahora Madrid; Marta Cruells, from Barcelona en Comú; Francisco Jurado, fromDemocracia 4.0 and Open Euribor; and Guillermo Zapata, from the Patio Maravillas social center and Ahora Madrid. As they share a meal together, they discuss the various questions and issues that frame the historical moment, trying to push forward a new world that is opening up.
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