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Municipalism

Scotland’s Red Council

As roads to socialism close nationally, the need for a municipal road to socialism is borne by those of us on the Labour left who are privileged to hold power at a local level. We may be few, but our impact is big. From Matthew Brown and the ‘Preston Model’, Paul Dennett’s ‘Sensible Socialism’ in Salford, and Rohksana Fiaz’s ‘People Power’ participation in Newham, through to Jamie Driscoll’s green agenda in the North of Tyne, the Left is demonstrating that we have the ideas to drive change. In Scotland, my North Ayrshire minority administration bears the responsibility for driving a socialist agenda in Scottish politics.

The Liberatory Potential Of Local Action

We are seeing an inspiring resurgence of progressive action at the local level, even as reactionary nationalist movements in Europe and beyond seek to position themselves as the true voices of a renewed localism. What are the prospects for such locally centered political engagement in a time of rising political polarization and conflict? How can local action help advance personal liberation and social justice? More broadly, how can it further our goals for global transformation? The current upsurge of local action by both progressives and radical municipalists is fueled by several complementary impulses.

Fearless Cities: A Guide To The Global Municipalist Movement

Fearless Cities describes municipal reform campaigns in fifty cities and 19 countries. Its contributors include activists and elected officials in Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece, England, Chile, Argentina, Serbia, Germany, Kurdish-controlled northern Syria, Canada, and the U.S. It contains a series of “organizing tool-kits,” which offer practical advice about rooting out political corruption, reducing pollution, protecting tenants and immigrants and creating opportunities for citizen engagement like "participatory budgeting."

Rebel Cities 18: Eight Years After Jasmine Revolution, Jemna Is Tunisia’s Oasis Of Hope

Eight years ago on Monday, Tunisia's dictator President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali fled the country as the people declared a revolution that ushered in the Arab Spring. The struggle for democracy still continues today in the north African nation, and radical municipalism plays an important, often undiscussed role – particularly in Jemna. Jemna is a south Tunisian oasis famous for its 'deglet nour' (“dates of light”), fruits that have long nourished locals. Jemna is also gaining a reputation as a beacon of people power. Tunisia continues to lead the region with socially progressive momentum, especially in comparison to the extreme violence and bloody aftermath of other democratic uprisings across the Middle East since 2011.

Municipalism In Venezuela Path To A Bottom-Up Economy

The solution to the economic crises in Venezuela can be found at the very origins of the revolution: in bottom-up communalism. Venezuela has more than 1,000 communes: geographical areas bonded by their historical identity, and in many cases comprising indigenous communities. It seems fitting that before his death, Hugo Chavez said, "La comuna o nada", "the commune or nothing," to describe the future of the country. He created a rallying call for bottom-up leftists against the elites of Venezuela, be they capitalists or party officials. The contradiction goes a long way to sum up Venezuelan politics – for Chavez's call could also help stop the collapse of Venezuelan society itself.

How Woke Is The Left?

Is the left today “woke,” i.e. is it self-consciously learning from the limits of the path it has been on to design a new systemic architecture based on alternative, networked institutions to challenge the status quo? New institutions are needed because in the past farms, labor unions, progressive churches as well as universities provided the institutional base for powerful social movements.  Today, each of these institutional spaces is severely challenged or has reduced in size. As Gar Alperovitz explains...
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