The commons and real democracy


Excerpts from “What to expect in 2012,” by Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri

On the economic terrain we need to discover new social technologies for freely producing in common and for equitably distributing shared wealth. How can our productive energies and desires be engaged and increased in an economy not founded on private property? How can welfare and basic social resources be provided to all in a social structure not regulated and dominated by state property? We must construct the relations of production and exchange as well as the structures of social welfare that are composed of and adequate to the common.

The challenges on the political terrain are equally thorny… the internal organization of the movements themselves has been constantly subjected to processes of democratization, striving to create horizontal participatory network structures. The revolts against the dominant political system, its professional politicians, and its illegitimate structures of representation are thus not aimed at restoring some imagined legitimate representational system of the past but rather at experimenting with new democratic forms of expression: democracia real ya. How can we transform indignation and rebellion into a lasting constituent process? How can experiments in democracy become a constituent power, not only democratizing a public square or a neighborhood but also inventing an alternative society that is really democratic?

To confront these issues, we, along with many others, have proposed possible initial steps, such as establishing a guaranteed income, the right to global citizenship, and a process of the democratic re-appropriation of the common. But we are under no illusion that we have all the answers. Instead we are encouraged by the fact that we are not alone asking the questions.

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