Towards Autonomy

tacoverTowards Autonomy: Participatory politics of the 21st century

By Yavor Tarinski

Pages: 124

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Collectanea of articles, examining the modern efforts at establishing autonomy in different spheres of human life: the resources we share, the cities we live in, the products we produce, the decisions we take etc.


So we see that the crisis of modern society is not without issue. It contains the seeds of something new, which is emerging even now. But the new will not come about automatically. Its emergence will be assisted by the actions of people in society, by their permanent resistance and struggle and by their often unconscious activity. But the new will not complete itself, will not be able to establish itself as a new social system, as a new pattern of social life, unless at some stage it becomes a conscious activity, a conscious action of the mass of the people. For us, to initiate this conscious action and to help it develop, whenever it may manifest itself, is the real new meaning to be given to the words ‘revolutionary politics’.

Cornelius Castoriadis[1]

We live in an unjust world. And the ever increasing injustices are causing growing number of people to be taking the streets, protesting policies imposed by governments and corporate lobbyists, discussing and developing solutions to the crises, caused by the bureaucratic management and capitalist growth, and struggling to implement in practice their desires for better, more just world.

Amongst the social movements new meanings and significations are picking their way through the police barricades, the media manipulations and the widespread cynicism. Amongst them are new narratives, spreading beyond traditional concepts of ideology, i.e. narratives that aim at breaking the walls, erected by dogmatized ideas between politicized activists and the rest of society, which also gives new role to the revolutionary organizations.

At the same time rapidly increasing number of people is starting to question the ‘growth’ doctrine, because of the growing crisis, caused to a big degree by it, encompassing the environment, human health etc. Thus the capitalist logic of the “cancer cell” is being challenged by the new narrative of de-growth.

These and other new narratives allow new alternative proposals to be further developed and implemented in practice. Liberated from the chains of the ideological ‘purity’ and the ‘growth’ doctrine, the proposals of the direct democracy, the commons, the solidarity economy and many more are nowadays flourishing, igniting the imaginary of more and more social movements and communities.

This excites new forms of activism, aimed simultaneously at resisting and creating, emphasizing on the need of laying today the basis of the future society, which to allow the emergence of new anthropological type of socially active and responsible individuals, capable of self-limitation.

All of these elements are intertwining with each other into project of autonomy, which suggests that society can create its own institutions without external authorities and the individuals, constituting it, are fully aware that they, and not some external force, are doing it. We see the signs of this autonomy in the actions of the countless movements and communities, resisting the imposition of ways of life, that they didn’t chose themselves and striving at creating new ones that reflect their desires and needs. It is not by chance that the word autonomy is being used by some of the most emblematic examples of direct-democratic societies: from the caracoles of the Zapatistas to the democratic cantons of Rojava[2].

The present volume gathers articles of mine, written in the period between 2015 and 2016 and published online on different websites. These articles examine the above mentioned topics, emphasizing on their participatory character. In a sense, this book examines the modern efforts at establishing autonomy in different spheres of human life: the resources we share, the cities we live in, the products we produce, the decisions we take etc. It presents a colorful puzzle of participatory politics that can take us closer to the creation of one truly autonomous society.

[1] “The crisis of modern society”: a talk given by ‘Paul Cardan’ (Cornelius Castoriadis). Issued as a pamphlet by Solidarity (London) a month later in June 1965. (Solidarity pamphlet No. 23).


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