Who and where are the political and social actors currently composing (or could compose) the present and the next municipalist wave? And which political configurations could support urban constituencies towards building socially and ecologically just cities? This mapping project aims to identify and examine this configuration without establishing strict criteria in the selection of civic actors who move within the municipalist field. There is no single ‘model’ of radical municipalist organising; there are shared principles and practices. It is a movement grounded in anticapitalist, feminist and ecological ideals, and it is defined as much by how it does politics as by its goals. Thus, we could find groups that, while not necessarily adopting the “municipalist brand”, possess a wealth of practices and produce a set of social interventions that go in that direction. So, rather than just identifying actors who are municipalists, we will try to focus on actors who are moving towards municipalism.
We will map a variety of organisations working within and beyond electoral politics at the local level united by the attempt to increase the ability of self-government of their urban constituencies in opposition to the central state and the rule of the market. Often they spring from previous social struggles and are based on the collaboration between social movements, civic associations, activists’ coalitions, mutual aid groups and grassroots service delivery networks, both within or outside formal institutions, converging or not around citizen platforms that support independent candidates and members of progressive political parties in local elections.
They form a variety of formal or informal organisations that works to confront national and international policies of austerity, budget cuts and privatisations, restrictive migration and asylum policies, speculative financial interests, fossil fuel-based environmental policies and forms of urban militarisation.
# Civic actors that, through a combination of political education, grassroots mobilisations and reforms, seek to place decision-making power back in the hands of those who inhabit and give life to cities; that try to use municipal institutions to support, expand and generalise the scope of popular protagonism and social movements abandoning ‘participatory’ illusions, formal consultation procedures and protocols, to ask rather what, how and especially who is to decide.
# Institutions whose goal is to empower communities and don’t act just as a vehicle of citizens’ demands towards the higher spheres of elected representatives, but aim to devise new decision-making arrangements. To create spaces where inhabitants can directly influence the rule of the city, where such empowerment is enacted by leaving room for indeterminacy and possibility coming from the free association in horizontal settings, where the energy of new social formations can spring.
# Formal or informal organisations that try to give new strength to the notion of commons, not as specific physical resources but as a way of managing resources of all kinds. If the city and its life are the result of the collective production of material and immaterial reality, then its spaces and flows should be managed in common.
Therefore, the actors moving towards municipalism can be identified among those who adopt a political approach to community and a political culture that facilitates a ‘prefigurative politics’ in which the ends are entwined with and embodied by the means. Such politics, even though focused on the local, cannot be other than transnational and networked to achieve its aims. The mapping project aims to make all this visible.