People globally are taking back their cities, towns and locales. The radical municipalist movement shows that another world is not just possible but already happening. Based on 26 articles published on news platform Occupy.com, this book spans the continents showing people are reimagining their future. It was written and published between late 2017 and mid-2019, when radical municipalist organising started gaining ground globally to challenge the escalating crises of our times: from the rise of the far-right to climate change; from rupturing with capitalism to co-creating functioning democratic tools.

The book splits into five sections, each divided into four to six case studies. It starts with Worlds Beyond Capitalism, featuring the most advanced municipalist projects. This takes the reader from the autonomous Zapatistas to Rojava, Northern Syria, an incredible democratic experiment growing out of the ashes of war. It concludes looking at the recent Fearless Cities convergences that are bringing the global movement together, something that is internationalist in outlook by working at the locale. The next section analyses Rights to the City and Building Local Sovereignty. It focuses on struggles from fighting spatial apartheid in South Africa to challenging smog in Warsaw.

Section three, Confronting Global Crises of Our Time, includes fighting back against wildfires on our burning planet in Chile’s Valparaíso to a bottom-up movement in Senegal broadcasting through hip hop against corruption and the exclusion of younger generations from politics. Section four is about Bottom-up Leftism. It explores how building power from the base is essential for leftist movements, not least providing another pathway in Venezuela, beyond top-down capitalism and top-down socialism. The concluding section, Imagination and Innovation, delves into participatory budgeting, citizens’ assemblies, food sovereignty co-operatives, community Green New Deals, and digital democracy. The kicker is Barcelona En Comu, envisioning many means to reclaim the city in common.

The Municipal Journey is mainly drawn from the Global South. This expands the global radical municipalist movement. Fighting locally for basic rights, for sovereignty, for democracy is impossible without decolonisation, whether that is Tunisians fighting to share the wealth from their date harvest; or people in Jackson – in the U.S. Deep South – reimagining an economy through co-operatives instead of white supremacist capitalism; or Lucha, who through decentralised local movements are rising up for access to water, against centuries of colonial-driven violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Feminising politics is a unifying thread of the global local movements. The Municipal Journey shows women at the fore, from Mexico’s Zapatistas to Japan’s successful food sovereignty co-operative. But this book goes further. Municipalism is about intersectional feminism; every privilege needs to be acknowledged, every prejudice challenged. Real democracy needs to be done by everyone, like the murdered councillor Marielle Franco from Rio de Janeiro showed us. She was an Afro-Brazilian, bisexual woman from the so-called favelas who broke through into the white, homophobic, male-dominated political class in Brazil. Fortunately, Marielle was not alone. She co-organised within a movement that stands as one of the strongest challenges to Bolsonaro.

The Municipal Journey is based on research and interviews, in particular at the Fearless Cities convergences. It relates particularly to three books, which it profiles: Revolution in Rojava (Pluto Press), Building a New Catalonia (Lighthouse) and Fearless Cities (New Internationalist). In common to the works on Rojava and Catalonia, The Municipal Journey goes into contexts and geopolitics. It has parallels to Fearless Cities in its global breadth, but includes more voices from the African and Asian continents.

Radical municipalism, as explored in this book, is about the ongoing process, not reaching a final destination: in the words of Zapatistas, ‘we are going slowly because we are going far’. As you will hear from Barcelona En Comu – one of the most advanced municipalist projects in the Global North – municipalism is no blueprint. Instead, it is about taking tangible steps to imagining cities, towns and the world where people have the power.

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  • ISBN print: 978-1-988832-51-7
  • ISBN ebook: 978-1-988832-52-4
  • Publication date: February 2020
  • Page count: 120
  • Binding type: Soft cover
  • Trim size: 6in x 9in
  • Language: English
  • Colour: B&W
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Author Steve Rishton

Steve Rushton is a London-based journalist writing about the multiple crises of capitalism and solutions to them. He got into journalism after participating in the 2011 Squares movement, and has since made extensive use of his activist networks to write series including on Arctic oil drilling, democratic movements within the Spanish state and most recently, radical municipalism. In addition to over 200 articles for U.S-based Occupy.com, other bylines include the Baffler, Equal Times, Bella Caledonia, New Internationalist, Open Democracy and Novara.