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By George Ciccariello-Maher

Latin America’s experiments in direct democracy

Since 2011, a wave of renowned uprisings has swept the globe, taking form within the Occupy move, the Arab Spring, 15M in Spain, and the anti-austerity protests in Greece. The calls for were assorted, yet have expressed a constant dedication to the beliefs of radical democracy.

comparable experiments started to appear throughout Latin the US twenty-five years in the past, simply because the left fell into decline in Europe. In Venezuela, terrible barrio citizens arose in a mass uprising opposed to neoliberalism, ushering in a central authority that institutionalized the communes already forming organically. In development the Commune, George Ciccariello-Maher travels via those radical experiments, talking to a extensive variety of neighborhood participants, employees, scholars and govt officers. Assessing the tasks’ successes and screw ups, Building the Commune presents classes and thought for the novel hobbies of this present day.

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6 The film reflects the utter decadence of a class that no longer enjoys privileged access to government jobs and has instead been forced to rely on the stunted private sector, itself clinging parasitically to the bloated petro-state. City of Goodbyes was roundly mocked by Chavistas and became fodder for dozens of memes, but were this simply the tragicomic expression of a displaced elite, we could welcome their departure and be done with it, no tears shed but in laughter (after all, more people move to Venezuela than abandon it).

In the chapters that follow, I track the emergence of the Venezuelan communes not only from above but from below. 5 Before the Venezuelan state took on the task of building the communes from above, revolutionaries were building them from below. As a result, the relationship between the communes—the seeds of a future nonstate—and the existing state has been far from smooth. I then turn to the ongoing struggle for urban space, to show how the urban movements that have always been the political spearhead of Chavismo are today fighting for a right to the city, storming earthly heavens by tearing down the walls separating the rich from the poor.

Forming a commune is relatively straightforward: participants in a number of adjacent communal councils come together, discuss, and call a referendum among the entire local population. Once the commune is approved and constituted, each communal council and production unit sends an elected delegate to the communal parliament—the commune’s highest decision-making body. Like the councils themselves, the parliament is based on principles of direct democracy. Anyone who is elected—just like all elected officials under the 1999 Constitution—is subject to community oversight and can be recalled from power.

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