Rethinking and Replacing

Spaces of Solidarity

Unless we act now, the prospects for humanity will rapidly detoriate. Hence there is good reason to use our collective power to create a new social order, free of systemic oppression and violence, guided by and organized around planetary solidarity. Or, to put it in other terms, as more and more people are pulled or pushed into urban areas, it becomes increasingly important to explore the patterns, processes, and possibilities of these densely populated areas.

The city as a catalyst for social change is nothing new, but the scale has changed considerably during the last decades; urban sprawl and urban slums have rapidly become global phenomena. It is now apparent, more clearly than ever, that cities must become sites of popular power and collective creativity, that we think of them, whatever scale we consider, as socially and technologically interconnected spaces of solidarity, imagination, and collaboration. For if we are to change the world for the better, we need cities and other human settlements that unite us, give voice to the oppressed and excluded, and allow us to transform ourselves and our common habitat in a sustainable direction.

Our goal is not only to occupy space. As united citizens striving for another society, we must bring democracy and creativity back to the human scale, away from the alienating anonymity of multiple-lane highways and global supply chains, away from military bases and financial centers. No matter who we are or where we live, whether we are fleeing a war or risk being incarcerated for being poor, the formation of popular assemblies and institutions that protect our right to associate, our right to shape our common future, always begins in the neighborhood; a participatory society can only be built from below.

What is more, solidarity built on radical democracy and radical creativity does not depend on profit and wage labor for its manifestation. As social and ecological revolutionaries trying to restore the human scale to our lives, we must strive for a solidarity that challanges the existing boundaries of identity and responsibility, constructed and upheld by the ruling elites.

The question, then, is how neighborhoods of all shapes and sizes, firmly rooted in a solidarity that transcends the artificial barriers between urban and rural areas, goes beyond local and regional scales, and includes other species, can contribute to a more equal and sustainable society. What can emerge from a shared responsibility for the planet we all inhabit?