Tuesday, 16 October 2012

The neighborhood is the new factory

by Liz Mason-Deese, Viewpoint Magazine 

In 2001, Argentina suffered an economic crisis, similar to the one that much of the world is experiencing today. After more than a decade of IMF-mandated structural adjustment, which only deepened poverty and unemployment, the government was forced to default on over $100 billion of public debt and declared a state of emergency in an attempt to calm public unrest. Despite a military-imposed curfew, thousands of people rushed to the streets and forced the president and other politicians out of office with the chant “que se vayan todos/ni se quede uno solo” (they all must go/not one can stay). These protests were the culmination of years of organizing in response to increasing unemployment and simultaneous reductions in welfare programs as part of neoliberal policies. Workers were taking over factories, the unemployed blocking highways, migrants occupying unused land. When joined by the spontaneous protests of the middle class in December, the mobilizations were able to overthrow the government as the president fled Buenos Aires in a helicopter. The movements were not only the largest mass mobilization in Argentina since the 1970s, but also qualitatively different from earlier movements: not interested in taking state power, nor in working more jobs and longer hours, they struggled to create new forms of life, including new forms of socio-spatial organization and the production and distribution of wealth. In the ten years following the crisis, the strongest of the movements, the Movements of Unemployed Workers (Movimientos de Trabajadores Desocupados, MTDs), has continued on this path, even as the country has recovered economically and has so far been able to resist the effects of the global crisis.
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Thursday, 04 October 2012

The Right against the city

by Antonis Vradis, Antipode

“Reclaim our cities”. “Self-organise”. “Take neighbourhood action”. Consider these slogans for a moment. Sound familiar? Indeed they should, echoing as they do a body of scholarship (e.g. Amin and Thrift 2005; Butler 2012; Chatterton 2010; DikeƧ 2001; Harvey 2003; Leontidou 2006; 2010; Marcuse 2009; Mayer 2009; Simone 2005) stemming from Henri Lefebvre’s (1996) idea of the ‘Right to the City’ (henceforth ‘RttC’). Despite this common origin, interpretations of the Lefebvrian “right” have been most diverse; perhaps his own often-times abstract writing has inadvertently caused this scholarship to reach outside the confines of his own political allegiance and thought: ten years ago, Mark Purcell (2002) protested that the original RttC notion was more radical than his own concurrent literature would make it appear. But today, a reformist interpretation of Lefebvre might be the least of the worries we are faced with here, on the south-eastern shore of the Mediterranean that is the Greek territory. 
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