WHAT IS RADICAL MUNICIPALISM?
Across the world cities have growing influence on modes of economic and cultural development. The Neoliberal City model seeks to gentrify, commodify and commercialise public space and services. Cities become zones of financial speculation; land and other assets are passed from public to private ownership and housing is seen predominantly as a source of profit rather than a community necessity and right.
Countering this is the Fearless Cities Movement which is a global municipalist movement. “In a world in which fear and inequalities are being twisted into hate, “Fearless” towns and cities are standing up to defend human rights, democracy and the common good.” Barcelona en Comu (Barcelona in common) has been successful in standing candidates in local elections and influencing the political landscape of the city.
The book Fearless Cities is a key text for anyone interested in knowing more about the Global Municipalist Movement, which seeks to “radicalise democracy, feminise politics and provide alternatives to the far right.”
The book lays out three core dimensions of municipalism as:
The Feminisation of politics: This involves both questioning patriarchal models of organisation and power and putting care work at the centre of both the political agenda and modes of organisation.
Concrete Action: Municipalists believe that the best political arguments consist of small victories that prove things can be done differently, from both inside and outside local institutions.
Internationalist in outlook: The munciplaist movement, although grounded in local involvement and local action, is highly aware of the global nature of challenges faced by local communities. We believe this can only be addressed successfully by working together in solidarity with other communities across the world.
SANE subscribes to the principles of radical municipalism and has been linking to other cities and towns in the UK and across Europe to help build a network of activism and solidarity. We recognise that Glasgow has many activist groups standing up to defend human rights, democracy and the common good which could similarly make a sustained impact yet and we are striving to be part of a process which develops synergy and solidarity in this work. There is a huge need to reach beyond our current activist bases to involve the wider population of the city.
The European Municipalist Network offers free online courses (MOOCs). Learn more about the course on the feminisation of politics, and sign up for it here: https://municipalisteurope-mooc.commonspolis.org/cours-courses/mooc-fop/course-feministisation-of-politics/
The Transnational Institute is a fantastic organisation with a huge amount of accessible information relevant to the fight for social and ecological justice, check them out here: https://www.tni.org/en/transnational-institute
The TI supports the Atlas of Utopias Project, an online resource which tracks municipalist activity in cities across the globe – take a look here: https://transformativecities.org/atlas-of-utopias/
The Future is Public book examines ‘(Re)municipalisation – referring to the reclaiming of public ownership of services as well as the creation of new public services. It explores research which has identified more than 1,400 successful (re)municipalisation cases in recent years involving more than 2,400 cities in 58 countries around the world. You can read about it here: https://www.tni.org/en/futureispublic
The Cities for Change Forum is an online program over two months, showcasing “world-changing ideas in digital and interactive events for building a just, sustainable and equal society from the ground up, pushing boundaries and organising our cities to become the main drivers of transformative change.” You can view the programme and learn more here: https://citiesforchange.org/
Beacon Liverpool is an platform aimed at advancing the cause of socialism within the city of Liverpool, taking a non-party political approach, aimed rather at “Bringing together left wing activists, trade unionists and community campaigners ; promoting working class unity, grass roots activism and community action, generating policies and stimulating actions and campaigns for the collective good in the Liverpool City Region.” Learn more here: https://beaconliverpool.co.uk/
Kshama Sawant has served on the City of Seattle Council since 2014 as the sole publicly elected member of the Socialist Alternative Party, and describes her seat as a ‘tool for Seattle’s working class in it’s fight against big business, racism and the political establishment.” Read her account of navigating political adversity here: Kshama Sawant: Why I Signed the Petition for My Own Recall
Minim is a municipalist observatory that amplifies the voice of municipalism by sharing practical and theoretical knowledge with the support of a community of activists, scholars, journalists, and public officials. Read their report from November 2021 here: The Lay of the Land: Radical Municipalism in the US and Canada