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 http://new-compass.net/articles/popular-assemblies-revolts-and-revolutions, and is also a featured article on the new, UK-based Popular Assemblies Network website at http://www.peoplesassemblies.org.

3 Replies to “Popular Assemblies in Revolts and Revolutions”

  1. There is an important distinction being made here that the foundations of the new, or revolutionary, society are not necessarily “new” of themselves, either in theory or in partial historical expression; rather they are “new” with respect to the extent of their implementation and in reference to the contemporary systems which they shall modify and replace into the new order and civilization of continuing humanity.

  2. This is also a comment about Neoliberalism and the Politics of Social Ecology.

    Revolt and Reform

    During the 20th Century, revolutions in Russia, and China, and probably elsewhere, were organized by political parties to serve their interests and get rid of the existing rulers. In Russia, the soviets were forced to obey the central party. In China, the dominance of the Communist Party has denied any democratic politics. In fact, any attempt to initiate local politics is represented as treason against the Peoples Republic. At the same time, any attempts in other countries to establish a democracy has tended to copy the British pattern, whereby there is a monarch/president who is subject to a prime minister, the leader of the majority party. Most politics seems to be versions of ‘party politics’.
    Over the last ten years I have become increasingly aware that all societies in all countries across the globe are plutocracies. The wealthy elites, the 1% club, the 10 million millionaires, control the wealth, money, debt, investments, development of all countries.
    This elite club manipulates, lobbies, funds, and corrupts any politician and political party operating within the legal constitutional structures. The classic example of this corruption is the USA.
    The last 20 years in the USA and Europe, India and Japan, has witnessed the deregulation of banks and insurance. The elite Club has become richer and richer, controlling $60 trillion growth per year; and creating $600 trillion digital money.
    6 billion people, the poor, struggle to survive on less than $60 a day; many, 5.6 billion, on less than $10 a day.
    This massive increase in the wealth of the ‘Elite Club’ has not been matched by increasing charity and redistribution. It has triggered greed and selfish egoism. This has been illustrated clearly in recent documentaries such as ‘Zeit Geist’; ‘Inside Job’; ‘Money as Debt 2’, in which we see the CEOs of GoldmanSachs, MorganStanley, CITICORP, JPMorgan, Bank of America, along with a clutch of fund managers coldly justifying their salaries of $1 billion per year to the investigating committees of US Congress. These CEOs are part of the ‘Elite Club’ and employ lobbyists to extend their influence, and cohorts of lawyers to protect their interests. The Elite Club is not in the least interested in promoting local interests and local democracy. The documentary, ‘Inside Job’ revealed how deregulation of banks and funds in Iceland led to the creation of $billions of debt, and subsequent bankruptcy in 2007/8. The economy of Iceland collapsed. We saw that when investigations were set up by the Regulation Authorities so as to prove criminal charges against the banks and funds, they were confronted by dozens of lawyers briefed to disprove and deny all charges.
    Today, we have to realize that the interests of the local communities come far behind those of the Elite Club. We are confronted by a reality in which the greed and fraud of the rich minority are fully defended by expert lawyers. If local town halls and municipalities are to promote the interests of their local communities, they will have to work with teams of lawyers against the plutocracy, while trying to establish participatory democracy.
    In North Africa, we have witnessed the revolts of the poor against the rich. The rich here as elsewhere have become too arrogant, displaying their riches and luxuries before their poverty stricken citizens.
    Communalists, communards, communities, soviets, participatory democrats, labour unions, cooperatives, credit unions…….. all will have to work together to investigate, prosecute, imprison the ‘Elite Club’! and start a programme of redistribution and regulation.
    J.Kelvyn Richards

    http://www.kelvynrichards.com……A Discourse: Social Ecology

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