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Transformational Politics. New Networks of Governance


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We urgently require Transformational Politics in response to where humanity finds itself today; in the midst of a climate and biodiversity emergency (IPCC, 2018) that could possibly lead to societal collapse (Watts, 2019). This chapter identifies New Networks of Governance as the base of growing Transformational Politics, based on increased levels of citizen participation, which could facilitate the urban transition needed to adequately respond to the existential threat humanity faces today. Regarding Methodology, the author uses a Participatory Action Research approach inspired by Social Ecology principles: Seeking to understand the world by trying to change it, collaboratively and following reflection, with the author learning about, with and from groups active in the cities of Lisbon, Curitiba, Barcelona and Dublin. ** The Transformational Wave: Beyond Covid-19 - Edited by Paulo Castro Seixas and Nadine Lobner (Author) ** Full article with references available on request
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approaching change on a l arge scale, which needs transform-
atio nal leaders as intermediat ors between both the state and
the people, outlined as a collaboration between the bigger
syst em and its l ead ers wi th ind ivi dual act ors fro m ‘b elo w’ ;
a programmatic ambivalence (Seixas & Lobner, 2019). As
suggested in earlier steps, this may take plac e through tech-
nol ogi cal resou rces; thro ugh ‘goi ng bac k t o t he roo ts’ and su s-
tainability; and perhaps through an interplay between both.
We h av e t o c o ns i d er e ac h a p p ro a c h i n i t s re a c ha b i l i t y a nd p o -
tential in!uence on a large scale – a change our planet desper-
ately needs; enabled through transformational leadership for
motivating (and urging) society to actively and e"ectively
participate in processes of change.
Final ly, t his tex t was an att empt t o c ontri bute t o
the expression of re!ective visions towards a post-pandemic
world in times of COVID-19, as well as experiences and
methodologies on transformational communities in a global
context in order to approach the world at large. The aim
is to target transformational leaders in order to cope with
the quest of the techno-explosion and creative solutions to
build a fruitful road towards planetary transformation pro-
cesses for more responsible societies. Considering the ‘trans-
fo rma ti on al wav e’ as a l e arni ng p at h fo r a co gni t ive p lan et ,
we must continuously question communities and knowledge
in an open-minded way, with the intention of bringing about
succ essful gl obal changes and in the awareness o f the need for
action by each o ne of us, aiming at an environmental future
worth living.
New Networks of Governance
Duncan Crowley
We urgently require Transformational Politics in re-
spo nse to where humanity !nds i tsel f t oday; i n
the midst of a climate and biodiversity emer-
genc y (I PCC , 20 18) t hat co uld po ssib ly le ad t o s oc iet al co l-
lapse (Watts, 2019). This chapter identi!es New Networks of
Governance as the base of growing Transformational Politics,
based on increased levels of citizen participation, which
could facilitate the urban transition needed to adequately
resp ond to the exi stent ial t hreat huma nit y face s to day. Re-
gard ing M et hod ol og y, the aut hor u ses a P art ic ip at or y Ac -
tion Research approach inspired by Social Ecology principles:
Seeking to understand the world by trying to change it, col-
laboratively and following re"ection, with the author learn-
ing about, with and from groups active in Lisbon, Curitiba,
Barcelona and Dublin.
First ly, the pro ble m to be dealt with nee ds to b e clearly
identi!ed. Klein sees the cause of the current Ecological Cri-
sis as the economi c and p oli tical syste m that gov erns human-
kind today; global capitalism, in her 2014 book, This Changes
Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate (Klein, 2014, 27):
Our economic system and our planetary system are now
at war. Or, more accurately, o ur eco nomy is at war with
many forms of life on earth, including human life. What
the climate needs to avoid collapse is a contraction in
humanit y’s us e of re sourc es; wha t o ur ec onom ic m ode l
demands to avoid collapse is unfettered expansion. Only
one of these sets of rules can be changed, and it’s not the
laws of nature.
Satish Kumar (2009) gives a clear expl anation of what Econ-
omy actually means, by returning to the Greek roots of the
word and outlining its intrinsic connection wit h Ecology:
Ecology and Economy are derived from three Greek
words: oikos, logos, nomos.Oikos’ means home: a place
of relationships between all forms of life, sharing and
parti cipatin g in the ev olution of the E arth com muni ty.
‘Lo gos ’ m ean s t he k no w ledg e o f o ur p lan et h o me, an d
‘no mos ’ means man agement of th at ho me.
Degrow th and Po st-grow th solut ions “Reco gnise pl anetary
boundaries as the limits economic activity should not trans-
gress” b eca use “Wha t cli mate b reak dow n and t he rest of the
environmental crisis reveal is that perpetual growth is the
great est threa t to our we ll -bei ng” (M onb iot , 201 8). T his re-
"ec ts Bo uld ing’s (1 966) pro phet ic obse rvat io n ov er hal f a cen-
tury ago that “Anyone who believes in inde!nite growth in
anything physical, on a physically !nite pl anet, is either mad
or an economist”.
The day that “permanently changed the political land-
scap e of globali satio n”, was ho w Capra (200 2, 189) referred t o
the events of N30, Tuesday, 30 November 1999, when thou-
sand s of act iv ist s ca me toge the r t o shut dow n t he !rs t Wo rld
Trade Organisation (WTO) talks in the US, in Seattle. The di-
versity of the actors use of Non-Violent Direct Action (NVDA)
de!ned a new way of doing politics, as Hawken (2000) later
“They were human rights activists, labour activists, in-
dige nou s peo ple, people of f aith , ste el wor ker s and farm -
ers. Th ey were forest activi sts, environmen talists, so-
cial justice workers, students and teachers… They were
speaking on behalf of a world that has not been made
better by globalisation.
This event brought the “globalisation” debate into the
mainstream and, while there were some victories in the fol-
lowing years, the economic system continued to expand
mostly unchallenged. On 7 June 2019 Port ugal’s Parliament
declared a “Climate Emergency”, following the example set
by the UK and Irish governments in previous weeks. This
comes directly from the sharp upsurge of two new inter-
twined global climate activism movements; School Strike for
Climate, inspired by the actions of Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-
old Swedish girl with autism, and the UK based NVDA move-
ment; Extinction Rebellion (XR). A growing moment of youth
activism saw 4 mil lion people participate in global “Climat e
Strikes” on 20 September 2019, followed by 7.6 million on
27 September ( The long hoped for Transformational
Wav e s e em s t o b e !na l l y c o m in g. N o w w e ne e d a cl e a r i de a o f
what winning might act ually look like.
Municipalist Solutions – New Networks Of
For Citizen-Led Ecocities
Rec ogni sing t hat “ mo dern c it ie s are a p rod uct of t he o il
age” (Brown, 2006, 36), we need to establish what a degrowth
sce nario means for future communit ies. With current tre nds
continuing, the UN (2016) predicts that by 2050, up to 75% of
humanit y is e xpe ct ed t o liv e in ci te s. Many see curre nt mo del s
of Sustainable Cities as somewhat limited and advocate Re-
gene rat ive Cit ie s (Gi rard et , 20 14) inst ead to !x the dam age
already done. This paper advocates Ecocit ies, based on scal-
ing up the existing Global Ecovillage Network (GEN) model,
to where “every village is an ecovillage, every city a green
city” (Joubert, 2017) without losing their three core values:
1) Being rooted in local participatory processes; 2) Integrat-
ing social, cultural, economic and ecological dimensions in a
whole systems approach t o sustainability; 3) Actively restor-
ing and regenerating their social and natural environments.
Such a model is based on a Creative Descent Strategy, or Earth
Stewardship, whereby humankind responds to the “Hydrocar-
bon Twins(Hopkins, 2008) of Climate Change and Peak Oil to
create Post-Carbon futures, mending ecosystems and creating
communities whose objective is to learn to live collectively
within Earth’s limits. GEN was formed in 1995 after an in-
ternational ecovillage conference in Findhorn, Scotland and
includes over 10,000 communities, representing all contin-
ents. They envision a world of empowered citizens and com-
munities, designing and implementing pathways towards a
regene rative fut ure, whi le b uild ing bri dges o f hope and in-
ternational solidarity. By 2001, GEN obtained consultative
status at the U N Economi c and So cial Counci l and in 20 04
they created their global education network, GAIA Education.
Kosha Joub ert up date d t he ecovi llage c oncept in 2017 to
highl ight that it coul d i nclud e urb an c ommuni tie s. GEN has
two projects in urban districts that o!er insights into how fu-
ture ecocities might be organised. Both are classi"ed as urban
rejuv enati on projects and bo th have an inherent ly pol iti cal
component: the Los Angeles Eco-Village in the US and Chris-
tiania Freetown in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Municipalism can facilitate such a model being scaled up
in today’s cities; a fractal-like citizen-led network, consist-
ing of communities within communities; confederations of
clusters of ecological neighbourhoods, communicating with
each other non-hierarchically, organising both horizontally
and vertically through local assembli es. Where any node
within the structure is both local and global at all times. Mu-
nic ipa lism as bo th st ruct ure and proc ess w as dev elo ped by
Murray Bookchin from the philosophical solution he called
Soci al Ecology, believing organised groups of act ive citizens
are the ones best suited to manage local a!airs with decisions
moving upward from the local to the global, a social recon-
struct ion al ong eco logic al li nes to c reate a trul y eco logi cal
soc iet y. Fo r Bookc hin, ec olo gical prob lems o riginate in deep-
seat ed so cial prob lems, due to an aggre ssively hierarchi cal
and exploi tative class society t hat expl oits for power and
pro"t through economic growth, gender oppression, ethnic
domination and corporate, state and bureaucratic incursions.
His solut ion is t o co nfront t hese forms o f do mination “ by
collective action and by major social movements that chal-
lenge the social sources of the ecological crisis, not sim-
ply by personalistic forms of consumption and investment
that often go under the oxymoronic rubric of “green capital-
ism.(Bookchin, 2006, 22).
But no ethics or vision of an ecological society, however
inspired, can be meaningful unless it is embodied in a living
politics. By politics, I do not mean the statecraft practised
by what we call politicians – namely, representatives elected
or selected to manage public a!airs and formulate policies
as guidelines for social life. To social ecology, politic s means
what it meant in the democ ratic poli s of classical Athens
some two tho usand y ears ago: direc t demo cracy, the formu-
lation of policies by directly democratic popular assemblies,
and the administration of those polic ies by mandated coord-
inators who can easily be recalled if they fail to abide by the
decision of the assembly's citizens. (Bookchin, 2006, 48).
This living politics goes by di!erent names in di!erent
places in today’s world. It can be seen as a grassroots democ-
rac y at a glob al sc ale, as Finl ey (2 017) note s:
A growing number of people in the w orld are propos-
ing “communalism”: the usurpation of capitalism, the
state and social hierarchy by the way of town, village
and n eigh bou rho od ass embli es an d feder ation s. Com -
munalism is often used interchangeably with “muni-
cipalism”, “libertarian municipalism” and “democratic
Soci al ecology took a surprising turn in the last decade,
when Bookchin’s writings were read by imprisoned Kurdish
leader Abdullah Öcalan in Turkey. The Kurdish independence
movement (PKK) moved away from their Marxist-Leninist
ideas of national liberation towards Democratic Confederal-
ism. Due to the political instability in Syria, including the war
against ISIS, a gigantic experiment has been underway since
2012 in the mostly Kurdish Northern Syrian region, Rojava.
A femi nist and anti -capit alist soc iety has been c reated (Staal
& Hassan, 2015), based on networks of grassroots people’s
assemblies and cooperatives, or communes, a process called
Tekmî l, (Weller, 2018), declaring their autonomy from t he
state, instea d building what they refer t o as a real demo cracy.
Soci ety is structured in fractal-like fashion, where communes
fo rm co nfe de rat io ns wi t h e ac h o t her a cro ss re gio ns. L o ca l
assemblies elect representatives at village or street level and
these representatives represent their assembly at city or re-
gio nal le vel (Fi gure 1). Well er not es t hat one munic ipa lit y is
based on !ve districts, 20 neighbourhoods, 150 communes
and 2500 families and the assemblies have two co-dele-
gat es t hat re pr ese nt th ei r g roup at t he up per l ev el . Dec is io n-
making is done through consensus and voting in a bottom-
up pro cess and wome n are invol ved at al l leve ls as equal s.
A number of committees or workgroups (Peo ple, Economy,
Heal th, Wome n, Yo uth, Ar t & Cult ure, Sel f-defenc e, Mar tyrs,
Education, Merchants, Communication) cover daily goings-
on. The city or region elects representatives to represent
them at higher levels. Eleven di"erent committees or institu-
tions facilitate the day-to-day running of the commune. This
is all happening within a vicious multi sided war in Syria,
where women’s anti -fascist militi a !ght ISIS alongside male
comrades, including international volunteers. Turkey began
launching military strikes against the region in 2018. The fu-
ture of this experiment of hope is unclear.
Fig. 6.1: Rojava Peoples Parliament, Makhmur,
Southern Kurdistan. Source: Stall, 2016
A similar fract al-li ke structure forms the base of the São
Paulo Ecobairro (eco-neighbourhood) project in Brazil, one
of !ve “Municipalities in Transition” pilot projects 2016-18
(Macedo, 2019): From the micro t o the macro; the individual,
the home, the block, the neighbourhood, the network, based
on 8 axes: Politics, Education, Culture, Spirituality, Health,
Ecology, Economy, Communication.
Rec ent mani fest ati ons o f the se fo rms o f pa rti ci pat ory gov -
ernance have been seen in colourful acts of disobedience in
temporarily occupied zones throughout London and other
world cities, thanks to the rapidly growing nonviolent dir-
ect action movement, Extinction Rebellion (XR). Frustrated
with the lack of adequate response to climate breakdown
(CB) from the UK gove rnment , XR was set up wit h t he sta ted
aim of using nonviolent civil disobedience to compel govern-
ment action on CB, biodiversity loss and the risk of social and
ecological collapse. Much of the XR theory and action plan
was built on XR co-founder Roger Hallam’s !fty- page PDF
pamphlet: “How to win! Successful Procedures and Mechan-
isms for Radical Campaign Groups” (2015), which presented
strat egie s from a broad range of sources, no t just the realm of
activism. In November 2018, XR blockaded !ve bridges across
the River Thames in London for some hours and, in April
2019m they occupied !ve prominent sites in Central Lon-
don for a week and got major media coverage due to 1,130
people being arrested. Sister XR groups formed in other cities
around the world and direc t action continues to increase. XR
state they “use part icipat ory d emoc racy p roce sses, such as
people’s assemblies, in order to model participatory democ-
rac y wi thin t he movement , genera te i deas, gat her fee dba ck
and make decisions”. Assemblies were used throughout the
April Rebel lion to discuss a w ide range of issues, from i nnov-
atio ns in democracy and inclusivity to how to end the April
Reb el li on. I n addi ti on, the y hav e a he lp ful m anual on t hei r
websit e. Spain was a major inspiration for XR assemblies.
Lessons From Spain – A Feminist Democratic
Revolution Growing From The Rebel Cities
The 2008 economic crisis in Spain led to massive austerity
cuts, bank foreclosures, a rise in suicides and a spike in
unempl oyment with yout h unemployment going as high as
56%. Out of this misery and anger, a coordinated day of dir-
ect action was held in a network of cities throughout Spain
on 15 May 2011, with Spanish public squares being occupied
by the Indignados movement (15M), named after the former
French re sistanc e !ghter Sté phane Hesse l’s pamphl et Indi gna-
tion (2010). They demanded a complete reboot of how pol-
itics was done in Spain, calling for Real Democracy (Castells,
2012; Mason, 2012). The occupations lasted for two months,
with the hashtags #SpanishRevolution and #15M used by ac-
tivists on social media also becoming names for the move-
ment. From the outset, there was a continuous occupation of
squares al l ove r Spain by t he publi c, aim ed at st arti ng an open
dialogue on how to get out of the economic crisis. Thousands
of people "ocked to the squares, formed assemblies, made
decisions collectively and slept in the squares. In Barcelona’s
Plaça de Catalunya (Catalonia Square), activists set up infra-
struct ure, t ents, a ki tche n and informat ion point s, had w ork-
shop s and mee tings and he ld an o pen pub lic general assemb ly
every evening. From the start, there was a light police pres-
ence, watching but not interfering but, on 27 May, orders were
give n to cl ear the square in the early mo rning. After six hours
of police violence, 147 people were injured, many seriously.
Shocking pictures "ooded !rst social media, then mainstream
media. This resulted in 20,000 people expressing solidarity
by retaking the square that day, more determined than ever.
While initially set up by established activist groups and so-
cial movements, numbers quickly grew at the evening assem-
blies. People sat around in a circle that could easily expand
outward, while also allowing for the general public to walk
around and listen in. People took turns going to the speaking
area to make points, suggestions, share views and tel l personal
sto ries, !rst with a sim ple l oudhai ler (Fi gure 2), which was
quickly replaced by a sound system. It was something special
to witness and take part in, seeing how quickly members of
the public turned from spectators at the edge to participants.
It was peopl e from all walks of life, young, old, working, un-
employed, men, women, students, grandparents; the discus-
sio ns re!ect ed t heir di verse, p assionat e and i ntense d esires t o
improve things, with online toolkits helping to facilitate the
process. At the meetings, one person spoke at a time, people
listened and a series of hand signals were used: rolling index
"ngers o r hands if the spea ker w as ramb ling, c rosse d fore arms
to indicate blocking a proposal and the waving of open hands
to show agreement with a proposal or a quite way to clap.
People spoke to the crowd, proposals were made, agreements
were made by those in the square and things developed in this
way for two months. Although not without disagreements
and problems, it was a stunning example of direct democracy
in action.
In terms of infrastruct ure, there was a series of fourteen
committees (Audiovisual, Interaction, Activities, Health, En-
vironment, Education, Economy, Content, Extension, Di#u-
sio n, Internat ional , Legal Issues, Co mmunicati on, Assemb ly
Preparation), which anybody could participate in. Many of
these had further sub-committees, to facilitate rapid expan-
sio n of the urban pheno menon. Everybody had a rol e i f they
wanted one; kitchens were set up, living quarters developed.
In a very short perio d, a self-organised open system trans-
fo rme d th e n at io nal d is cus sio n thr ou gh a ne tw or k of ci t iz en-
led direct actions in the public realm. Castells (2012, 114) re-
fer re d t o t hi s fo rm o f ur ban ac ti o n in hi s nat iv e S pai n a s “A
Rhiz om ati c Revo lu tio n”, no ti ng how aft er the i nit ial a cti ons
of 15M, the structure multiplied rapidly “Over 100 Spanish
cities following suit, triggering a massive occupy movement
that spread in a few days to almost 800 cities around the
world”. Deleuze & Guattari "rst developed this philosoph-
ical rhizome concept in their “Capitalism and Schizophre-
nia” (19 72-1 980) pro jec t, base d o n the bo ta nical st ruct ure of
creeping rootstalks, which grow perpendicular to the force of
gravi ty and have the ab ili ty to al lo w new sho ot s to grow up-
wards from new nodal points.
Fig. 6.2: Democracy in action, Plaça de Catalunya, Barce-
lona2011.Source: AcampadaBCN (2011)
Quickly communicating the rapidly changing 15M real-
ity reinforced the network and took place simultaneously
in both the digital and physical worlds, with pins added on
a world map at the information point in Plaça de Catalunya
acting as a form o f rapid constant feedb ack loop. Castells
not ed “T he eme rgence of mass sel f-com munic ati on o!ers an
extraordinary medium for social movements and rebellious
individuals to build their autonomy and confront the insti-
tutions of society in their own terms and around their own
projects” (Castells, 2007, 249) and examples of the mutually
glo bal and lo cal asp ect s o f these net work s we re p erhap s b est
expressed between Barcelona and Athens; the 2010 “Peoples
of Europe Rise Up” banner unfurled at the ancient Acropolis
appeared in 2011 as a handmade placard on the streets of Bar-
celona. Last came the beautiful moment of shared real-time
communication between the two cities united in the same
struggle; a liv e vi deo transmission b etwe en the square in Bar-
celona and Syntagma Square in Athens (Figure 3), going from
the peer-to-peer (P2P) concept to the square-to-square (S2S)
concept, through global solidarity and direct action. Soon
afterwards, the Occupy movement erupted in US cites and
in 2013 similar citizen mobilisations appeared all over the
Fig. 6.3Square- to-square (S2S): Barcelona &
Ath ens . So ur ce: Cri meth in c. (201 1)
Nobody real ly exp ected the 2011 Spanish Revol ution to
have the imp act it d id. Alt hough facil itate d e xt rem ely wel l
by experienced activists from social movements long used to
diverse group dynamics, it was the rapid opening up of the
common space which truly made it a profoundly successful
urban rupture, as more cit izens to ok a stand, made a point
or started to actively participate for the !rst time, in both
the real and digital realms: reading and commenting on new
rep orts, ret weet ing link s to sho rt qui ckl y edi ted v ideos, send-
ing messages from the square to friends on WhatsApp lists,
waving hands or making a statement at the nightly assem-
bly… together in this joined space, or idea, that forms the core
of living and acting in the network age, Spain took bold steps
into the unknown. Barcelona activist Esther Vivas predicted
this process was “the birth of a new movement” (2011). Al-
though it took some time, she was correct; four years later,
her city, Barce lona, went thro ugh ev en more pro found change,
opening up the common space even further. While built upon
these same forces that arose and grew quickly in 2011, this
part of the story took things to a completely new level.
In Spain’s 2015 municipal elec tions eight cit y counci ls
were won by citizen platforms outside the traditional pol-
itical party system, making decisions collectively through
local assemblies. This phenomenon has subsequently been
name d Sp ain’s Reb el Ci tie s. Barc el ona saw the e lec ti on o f a
woman mayor for the !rst time in over 2,000 years; she is the
!rst m emb er of t he Ind ignado s to win p ubli c o "ce. Ada Col au
was the leader of the anti-eviction group Plataforma de Afect-
ados por la Hi potec a (PAH) (Platform for People A#ected by
Mortgages), whose direct actions included blocking evictions
and occupat ions of banks, for which Colau was removed and
arrested by riot poli ce in 2013; two years later, she became
their boss. The political organisation she is part of, Barcelona
en Comú (BEC) (Barcelona together), works on a municipal-
ist only platform, seeking power only at city level, based on
a set of related characteristic s (Shea Baird & Roth, 2017): 1)
Dist inctive p olit ical organisati on re$ecting diversi ty of the
local political landscape; 2) Open and participatory decision-
making processes; 3) Relatively horizontal organisational
struct ure (fo r ex ample , b ased on nei ghbourho od assembl ies)
guid ing ele cte d r epre sentati ves; 4) Capac it y fo r i nsti tutio nal
action depending on strong, organised movements in the
stre ets t hat push ele cted le aders. Their struct ure and wo rk
method is very much a continuation of the earlier groups,
movements and processes they sprang from. BEC claims a fem-
inist democratic revolution is underway to further open up
the common space in Barcelona based on deep communica-
tion processes that provide for a city that listens. They have
occupied the institutions of the mayor’s o!ce, dispersing
power by opening them up to the various assemblies in the
city neighbourhoods (Figure 4), where the members of the
mayor’s team and residents discuss plans and projects that
a"ect them, with residents thereby cocreating their neigh-
bourhoods of the future, based on an open participatory plan-
ning p roc ess.
Wri ti ng si x mo nths b efore her el ec ti on wi n, Col au (201 4)
predicted: “Citizens have #nally had enough and are getting
down to work. A democratic revolution is sweeping the coun-
try which aims, not only to kick the ma#a out of our institu-
tions, but also to change the rules of the game so that this can
nev er hap pen aga in”, addi ng shor tly afte r her v ic tor y;
“We think city governments are key for democratic
revo lut ion, t o begi n governi ng, wi th the pe opl e, in a new
way. But on the other hand, we’re very aware that the
real c hange must be glob al, that o ne cit y alo ne canno t
solve all the problems we’re facing, many of whic h are
glo bal bec ause t od ay the ec onomy doe s not have b or-
ders” (Colau, 2015)
Fig. 6. 4 – Feminist assembly in Gràcia neighbourhood.
Source: Ikimilikiliklik (2017).
To he lp faci litate furthe r global munici pal c hange, B EC or-
gani sed a t hre e-d ay i nte rna ti ona l mu nic ip al ist sum mit c all ed
Fea rle ss C it ies in Ba rce lo na i n 2 017 . It had pa rt ici pant s from
every continent on the planet and was divided up along three
lines (Fearless Cities, 2017):
1) Work as a global municipalist network: share tools,
knowledge and experiences with municipalist move-
ments from around the world.
2) Feminise politics: develop new ways of organising
based on horizontal collaboration, collective intelli-
genc e a nd t he p ol it ics of e ver yday li fe.
3) Stop the far right: combat the politics of hate and fear
with local policies to reduce inequality and promote the
common good.
This global municipalist movement seeks to assist all glo-
bal cities and communities create and/or develop local muni-
cipalist projects and political processes to allow citizens have
a greater say in what type of city or community they wish
to live in. Inspired by Barcelonas feminist democratic revo-
lution, it is growing rapidly; in 2018, follow-up conferences
were held in Central Europe, Eastern Europe, New York and
Av oi d i ng t he d e st r uc t i o n o f h um an i ty r e st s on o u r co l l e c t -
ive ability to !x our cities. Cities have become the frontline
where appropriate actio n is neede d quickly in order to avert
climate crisis and build resilience to deal with future shocks.
The term Sustainable Cities is long-established, but struggles
to embrace newer concepts that cities must deal with today,
such as resil ience and regenerat ion. Ec oci tie s c ould replac e
the term Sustainable Cities by scaling-up the GEN ecovil-
lage methodology, practice and global community to form a
glo bal e coc it y netwo rk, b ased o n t he pol iti cal p roce ss o f a c-
tive citizenship. The ecocity challenge is to understand how
such a v isio n can be impl ement ed glo ball y in today’s ma s-
sive ci ties; munic ipal ism o "ers so luti ons here, using c iti zen-
led processes based on a fractal-like structure for bottom-up
organisation; Rojava, Barcelona and Sao Paulo already o!er us
some gli mpses.
To get the ec ological part right i n o ur communi ties and
planet, we need to get the economic part right;, both are
intrinsically connected. Ecological economic systems live
within the limits of life on earth and not on the model of end-
less growth. The current system of global capitalism under
the present form of neoliberalism is not compatible with
such a sust ainabl e syst em; t herefore an end to, o r bre ak from ,
capitalism is required. The base of the required transition
centres on rebuilding our relationship with energy, most of
all wi th oil. An ecocity model o!ers a post-capitalist solution
fo r t he p la net , wh ose p at hway s a re b ase d on c rea ti ve d esc e nt
resp onses t o the twin chal lenges of gl obal warm ing and peak
oil, as being developed by many groups today, including de-
grow th so lut io ns.
Profound changes are currently underway, driven by new
fo rms o f a ct iv i sm s uch as t he Fri da ys fo r Fu tu re m ov em ent
and Extinction Rebellion (XR). Massive actions have already
fo rce d so me go v ern men ts t o d ec la re c li ma te e me rge ncy,
which is highly commendable, b ut concrete pat hways are re-
quired to bring about the system change that is so urgently re-
quired to respond to climate breakdown. If XR can continue to
grow and the y c an de vel op a gl oba l ne two rk o f lo cal pe opl e’s
assemblies, by incorporating the municipalist structures de-
scri bed here, the re is a c hance of bri nging abo ut a profound
new way o f doi ng p oli ti cs, using bo th di gita l and real worl d
tools and spaces to create new networks of governance, which
can further grow to facilitate this Transformational Wave.
The future is (y)ours!
Covid-19 Postscript
Since mid-March 2020, all has changed, changed utterly.
Wri ti ng n ow at the end o f A pri l, t here have b een o ve r thre e
million cases reported and over 200,000 deaths ascribed to
the COVID-19 virus (with surely more unreported). As aca-
demics, we felt the line between us and them was eroded
in many of our work networks; we are all experiencing this
di!cult moment to varying degrees. Early on, with our ECOL-
ISE network (European Network for Community-L ed Initia-
tives on Climate Change and Sustainability), we created a
wiki page in our Knowledge Commons as a resource to assist
our communities, friends and families make sense of things
(ECOLISE, 2020). Rather than focusing on all that is worrying,
we focused on some key areas: what pract ical community
resp onses were emerging, such as feed ing ourselve s and l isti ng
tools, networks and databases of what can be done locally;
thinking translocally, what can work well in one context,
might be replicable throughout t he community. Many emer-
ging so lut ions a re cro wdso urced a nd rely on ci ti zen p ar-
ticipation to grow quickly. Without any prior experience,
people could assist at whatever level they felt was appropri-
ate, such as contributing to, or adding translations for “The
Coro navi rus Tech Handb ook” (from a poli tic al hackspace in
London; Newspeak House) or the “Alone Together Handbook”
fro m E xt inc ti on Reb el lio n. Mo nbi ot 's sub seq uent ar ti cle ,
arising from his earlier tweet, identi"ed and celebrated many
of these acts in “The horror "lms got it wrong. This virus has
turned us into caring neighbours” (Monbiot, 2020). Struggling
to make sense of things led to six categories for our wiki entry:
Perspectives; Solidarity / Cities and COVID-19 / Gender, Class,
Minority / Ecological / Economic / Political.
One positive aspect arising from this di!cult and danger-
ous moment, the opportunity within the crisis, has been the
abilit y for individual s, colleagues and project s to gain new
ski lls, e special ly t o c ommuni cate . Whil e peo ple a re unde r
sel f-isol atio n, groups are having t o use o nline co mmunica-
tion tools for conferences, music festivals, family calls, quiz-
zes, choral singing... For many, this is uncharted territory,
many learning by praxis. With our ECOLISE and UrbanA
(Urban Arenas for Sustainable and Just Cities) projects, we
have be en e xpe riment ing w ith thi s “bl ended arenas” format
and feel our network members’ contributions can help wider
communities, especially Nenad Maljkovićs “For a blended
event, BYOD” (2019) and DRIFT’s “The art of connecting on-
line: 7 social innovation insights(2020). Lastly, what the cor-
onavirus has really shown us is that there is no “going back to
nor mal” be cause t hat “nor mal” was the p robl em. It’s ti me to
build the degrowth regenerative future. Adapt or Die!
Societal Transformation
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