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Gerald Raunig on grassroots municipal movements in Spain


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In the web-based multilingual journal transversal, Gerald Raunig reflects on recent grassroots municipal movements in Spain, examining developments in Barcelona, Málaga, and Sevilla. Linked to the 15M movement, grassroots organizations in Spain have been trying to influence politics on the municipal level in recent years, and some have even entered municipal governments. Raunig writes about the potential and limitations of this approach to bottom-up democracy. Here’s an excerpt:

Just as linear imaginaries of history and progress in general tend to erase the complex ruptures and leaps of political histories, so is the linear portrayal of the genealogy of social struggles from their origins up to the seizure of power always problematic. In the case of the Spanish movement this applies to its simplistic deduction from the squares occupations of 15M, insofar as these were limited to a traditional founding myth. Genealogy is not a straight line from a historical origin to a heroic future, it is produced in now-time. In the here and now it twists and turns into anarchistic history, into the “Arab Spring,” into the translocal practices of the antiglobalization movement, the social forums and the university occupations, into the Paris Commune or into thousands of various concatenations of postcolonial translation processes, especially from and to Latin America.

It would be equally inadequate to describe the relation of the movement of municipalisms to the municipalities as a subject/object relation, as revolutionary subject that captures its object of desire. Not simply seizing the vessels emptied by representative democracy, corrupt parties and state apparatuses that have become obsolete, the municipalisms change the institutional form itself, the modes of subjectivation and instituent practices that begin not only after the capture of the state apparatus, but before and beyond linear imaginaries of development. The new institutionality is already before and before every form of capture. And it is, as Stefano Harney and Fred Moten conceptualize this “before and before,” a spatial and temporal before, withdrawing itself from the double compliance with a linear spatiotemporal order – as municipalism will in other spaces and at other times have had its traces, opened its breaches, drawn its lines.

Image: Members of Barcelona En Comú.