The Community and the Commune

Historical Materialism 2012
Ninth Annual Conference (8-11 November, SOAS, London)

Weighs Like a Nightmare

Sunday 14.30-16.15  Room: KLT

Grounding the “New” Movements

Chair: Paul Reynolds

David Harvie, Emma Dowling, Keir Milburn, Gareth Brown – Careless Talk: Social Reproduction and Fault-lines of the Crisis in the UK

Massino DeAngelis – How to Change the World? Commons, Movements, and Revolutions

Dario Azzellini – The Community and the Commune

Marina Sitrin – Grounding the “New Movements”

2011 was a year of uprisings, movements and moments (we are not yet able to write a history of 2012) – all against an economic crisis and the politics of representation. Kefya! Ya Basta! and Enough! are shouted by millions against an untenable situation – and simultaneously they are met with Democracia Real Ya! and We are the 99%! - powerful affirmations. There have been numerous historical epochs where something massive and “new” sweeps the globe – moments such as the Revolutions and revolts of the mid 1800s, the massive working class struggles of the early 1900s, and the massive political and cultural shifts and anti-colonial struggles of the 1960s, to name only three. We believe we are in another significant historic epoch. This one is marked by an ever increasing global rejection of representative democracy, and simultaneously a massive coming together of people, not previously organized, using directly democratic forms to begin to reinvent ways of being together.

While what we have been witnessing across the United States and around the world is new in a myriad of ways, it also, as everything, has local and global antecedents emerging through the period of the neoliberal strategy. In this panel we will do two things. First, set a focus on common forms and practices of the “new” movements and connect them to the movements and forms of organization of the previous wave of mass movements ranging from the global justice movement of the late 1990s and early 2000s, to the movements mobilized in Latin America for over a decade, such as the movements in Bolivia, the Zapatistas in Chiapas, Mexico, the autonomous social movements in Argentina post 2001, the development of popular power in Venezuela, as well as the student occupations of the past few years in Europe, the US and many more. Second, in view of the fact that these movements have often diverse social compositions, we’ll also want to explore and interrogate how whether and how their commons forms and practices are shaping a new collective journey for radical social change beyond capitalism, what processes of radical transformation are envisaged by their practices, what forms of commons they set in place that enable the reproduction of life on new ground, and how these alternative forms of sociability and production can become hegemonic and mainstream.

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