When exploring social change, one has to examine all aspects of it. Developing strategies and institutions that will help facilitate the coming into being and functioning of a democratic and ecological society is of an immense importance, and so is the anthropological type that will consist it. In this latter aspect, the concept of citizenship plays crucial role.
Among opponents of direct democracy there is this reoccurring argument of it being prone to the so-called “mob rule”, as if the people, once empowered, will most probably turn into a mob. But this line of thought, deeply submerged into oligarchic imaginary, is highly fallacious and deceptive. There are certain reasons because of which the people can degrade into mob, and Hanna Arendt’s work can provide clarity into distinguishing the former from the latter, as well as alternative civic routs that can lead to the emergence of an active citizenry instead.
Urban researcher Nikos Vrantsis interviews Yavor Tarinski, author of Common Futures: Social Transformation and Political Ecology [co-authored with Alexandros Schismenos] (Black Rose Books, 2021), on the current bureaucratic state of cities and the democratic perspectives offered by autonomous urban movements.
In early March, this year, a group of motorized policemen reach a public square in the Athenian neighborhood of Nea Smyrni. There they begin checking the people around whether they have done the proper procedures according to the government’s anti-pandemic measures. Soon after that the policemen begin issuing fines to those who they deem to be outside in violation to the measures, which provoked disagreements among some of those gathered around, without however any sign of violence. Enraged by the calm and reasonable arguments of a young man, some of the officers attack him and start hitting him mercilessly with iron batons (that are not part of Greece’s standard police equipment) all over his body, while he and all those around him beg them to stop. The whole incident is captured on video by many of the passersby.
“Free public transportation implies many changes, a completely new way to look at the city, both in terms of how we move and how we tax, but also how we live, where we live, how we relate to each other as a society, and our broader relationship to the urban, regional and global eco-system.”
Life on this planet, as we know it, is a result of fragile environmental conditions that the contemporary predominant neoliberal system has already began to alter. Capitalism and its doctrine of unlimited economic growth seems to completely neglect this dependency and continues to violently exploit nature for the benefit of tiny elites, thus increasing their already enormous power. Continue reading “Commons, Social Ecology and the Transcending of Capitalism”→