Popular Assemblies in Revolts and Revolutions




A new article by Norwegian social ecologist Sveinung Legard offers a thoughtful historical assessment of the re-emergence of popular assemblies in Europe this spring and summer:

“These assemblies derive not only from the initiative of their protagonists but also from the history of the major revolutions in Europe from the 18th to the 20th century and uprisings against dictatorships and neoliberal regimes in the 21st century, in which popular assemblies have recurrently been a vehicle for social movements to advance their goals.”

Sveinung describes the unique character of popular assemblies and draws on historical examples from the French Revolution to a decade ago in Argentina. Among his conclusions:

“Although popular assemblies often arise spontaneously, they rest on a long tradition of communal self-organization among people in villages and cities that is frequently invoked – knowingly or not – in times of social crisis… [P]opular assemblies are at the heart of revolts and revolutions, because it is these type of institutions – and not radical parties or politicians – that can muster the power to create major social changes.”

The full article appears on the New Compass website at, and is also a featured article on the new, UK-based Popular Assemblies Network website at