What is municipalism?
We collected key ideas in the municipalist movement and provide a brief description and links to further readings. Click on the icons along the circumference of the circle below to explore.
Radical municipalism ultimately aims to build alternative polities based on the commune to replace politics that reproduce the nation-state, patriarchal power structures and colonial capital accumulation.
Direct democracy, according to Bookchin, through forms such as citizens assemblies, provide practical and effective institutions that can be implemented across the globe to counter an increasingly hierarchical republicanism and help replace the nation-state.
A feminized politics seeks to emphasize the importance of the small, the relational, the everyday, challenging the artificial division between the personal and the political.
Fearless Cities is an informal global movement of activists, organizations, councilors and mayors that are working to radicalize democracy, feminize politics and drive the transition to an economy that cares for people and our environment.
The people of the world, that is, must seize power from the small ruling circle and expropriate the expropriators, pull them down from their pinnacle and make them equals, and distribute the fruits of our labor that have been denied us in some equitable way.
Solidarity economy (SE) is a post-capitalist framework that emerged in Latin America and Europe in the 1990s. It rejects state-dominated authoritarian forms of socialism, instead affirming a core commitment to participatory democracy. Furthermore, it is explicitly feminist, anti-racist, and ecological, and advocates for economic transformation that transcends all of forms of oppression, not just class.
The founding of the Commune in Paris was but a first step towards the building of the Universal Republic: a Commune of Communes encompassing the entire globe and uniting all peoples in a confederacy of liberatory democracies.
Municipalism is the emergent global movement to seize the city and liberate it from neoliberal capitalism and the nation-state. Municipalists see the urban areas as the new site of contestation for popular power and material resources. The metropolis is where people can build alternatives to capitalism based on cooperation and solidarity, neighbors can assemble to govern themselves, and a subjectivity for a new world can be born.
Municipalism comes in many different flavors and forms. The tradition we subscribe to and are inspired by is radical municipalism — the vision that our movements usher in the transition from the coercive and hegemonic structures that rule over us towards decentralized and networked alternatives based on the principles of direct democracy and the solidarity economy. Feminized politics are valued — collaboration, dialogue, and horizontality — over heteropatriarchy and the logic of domination.
Experiments in dual power are small but growing in number. They include:
- Barcelona en Comu is the people’s platform that arose out of the Indignados movement and anti-eviction struggles, and elected an activist Ada Colau into the mayor’s office. The platform is connected to the Fearless Cities network.
- Rojava is the movement for autonomy, feminism, and direct democracy in the Kurdish region of northeastern Syria. The leader of the PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party), Abdullah Öcalan, embraced the framework of democratic confederalism after reading Murray Bookchin’s books.
- Cooperation Jackson is based on the 40-year old vision and plan to foster economic democracy and self-determination for Black communities in the Deep South. Their struggle has inspired countless other cooperative cities to arise.