commoning care (pdf)
238 pd pdf: commoning care & collective power (2021) by manuela zechner @zanubar
Researcher, writer and facilitator. Feminism, care, commons, ecology, migrations. Commoning Care & Collective Power: https://transversal.at/books/commoningcare – austria, spain
intro’d via this tweet from simona ferlini:
Original Tweet: https://twitter.com/sonmi451it/status/1446126290759684118
which is referring to this tweet from manuela @zanubar:
The #Pdf of my new book went online! Commoning Care&Collective Power, an account of struggles to & for care across autonomous nurseries, social mvts and municipalism. Available 4 free as all knowledge should be
#Care #Commons #Micropolitics #Institutions https://t.co/9BojU1NeA1
Original Tweet: https://twitter.com/zanubar/status/1445740288551440388
notes/quotes from pdf:
Foreword: complicating care by Joan Tronto
Feminist scholars in the past generation have led the way to assert the centrality of care as the most vital aspect of human life, and, for that matter, for all forms of life and existence on earth. Once we acknowledge this alternative starting point, though, the questions multiply. How should we make judgments about good forms of care, how shall we carry out a politics of care?
This text begins from new questions. Manuela Zechner advances our thinking about care not by asking about its fundamental value and role, but by asking a different question. Once we agree about the importance of care, how do we bring this theoretical insight about the centrality of care down to the practical level of figuring out the best way to live and organize our lives in common? It is easy to say that care belongs at the center of our existence, but how do we make this happen? ..t There are, clearly, good ways to care and bad ways to care. But: how do we know how to sort them out?
by going/listening deep enough to get at the root of our essence.. take care of that root.. everything else will fall into place
Rather than try to address this question at a theoretical level, Zechner follows an approach that scholars of care ethics would endorse: go down to the details of people’s real lives and practices, and build up from there.
As Zechner observes, many people are fooled into thinking that the disorder of their ways of care is their own fault, when, in reality, it is a function of the times in which we live: ‘ Neoliberalism functions via a trick of inviting us to ‘resolve’ systemic issues via personal strategies, to think care without thinking reproduction. To do so, it mobilizes and depoliticises ethics, and evades systems thinking. This leads to an individualisation of collective problems, and to a perpetuation of systemic injustice. (Introduction)‘
And yet, even once we have decided to tackle such systemic injustice, the problem remains: how best to counteract these effects?
by having/trying a legit other way..
Based upon participant observation and collaborative research, Zechner provides us with a rich and complex reading of political practices surrounding the provision of childcare in Barcelona from 2015 to 2020. She focuses on two main tendencies: to believe that progressive politics should remain autonomous from political institutions, and to believe that the way to progress is to engage on “the long march” through institutions. These two tendencies are evidenced, but also complicated, by this book’s stories and genealogies of municipalism. The end result is that Zechner provides us with a nuanced and ambiguous account. She uses the analytic tool of phases of care to explore the arguments and practices from different sides. And, in the end, she reveals the important truth that this is complex, requiring new approaches and vocabularies.
noting the importance of care and reproduction offers no automatic route to utopia, it remains a realm in which people will be divided by political judgments and commitments as well as by other deeply human disputes about needs and how best to meet them. This welcome book allows us to begin to chart out similar care disputes as we struggle collectively to improve and transform how we care.
Preface: The conditions of strategy by Bue Rübner Hansen @BueRubner
the situated experiments of Barcelona help us pose much broader questions of struggle and transformation: how to build and sustain popular power, how to fight financialized real estate capital, how to create a feminist mass movement, how to sustain a productive dynamic between movements and party, and so on.. t Manuela Zechner’s perspective on this laboratory is new and refreshing, guiding our attention to the hidden abodes of care and micropolitics, whose power or weakness profoundly condition and shape the heroism of social revolution and riots, the grit and cunning of electoral experiments, and the contradictory quest for national liberation.
not deep enough.. will just perpetuate tragedy of the non common
Zechner shows how the space of experimentation opened by the 15M and its feminist commissions was kept open by self-organized childcare groups in the Barcelona neighbourhood of Poble Sec, not just to respond to immediate needs of childcare in a crisis of social reproduction with its austerity, unemployment, and precarity, but as a way to build resistant communities through which parents, children, and carers engage in a continual process of *democratic self-education. Tracing the questions of the relation of such care commons to city politics, Zechner demonstrates how the neighbourhood politics of care helped keep open the horizon for *an institutional politics of the commons.
*both still cancer.. need to let go of any form of democratic admin.. any form of m\a\p.. otherwise.. again.. just spinning our wheels.. sucking out all our energies.. in the tragedy of the non common
The precedents in this book allow us to learn from hypotheses and experimental protocols to deal with the care impasse that defines the unfolding age of disaster. Care, micropolitics, and the commons emerge as foundational rather than sideshows to the macropolitics of movement building, institutional transformation and ecological transition
but.. we need to go deeper..
Introduction: to care as we’d like to
This book is, in many ways, a book about how we care. How we struggle for care: for needs to be met, for care work to be recognised and paid, for our infrastructures of care. How we struggle to care: for the recognition of needs, for building relations and ties, for ways of depending on one another.
Some may say struggles for care are political ones, whilst struggles to care are ethical ones: perhaps. First and foremost, however, these ‑struggles are entangled – and they are individual and collective at the same time.
This book traces genealogies of experiments and experiences that draw their strength from networks of care, mutual aid and collective learning. To do so, it looks at the neighbourhood and municipal level, across different registers of community and politics.
This book traces genealogies of experiments and experiences that draw their strength from networks of care, mutual aid and collective learning. To do so, it looks at the neighbourhood and municipal level, across different registers of community and politics.. I write this book out of a desire to understand and with the hope of generating useful knowledges for struggles
Care and micropolitics are key anchoring terms in this account. They open towards an understanding of ways of becoming, learning, relating, organizing, sustaining, embodying and subjectivity formation. As they offer two different perspectives on collective reproduction and organisation, care and micropolitics set up a vibrant field of tension.
to care as we’d like to
In my account here, there is necessarily an interplay between the terms ‘reproduction’ and ‘care’. ..‘Reproduction’ designates the systemic aspect of sustaining life in both individual and collective terms, while ‘care’ often points to the more intimate, relational and ethical dimensions of life-sustaining. We cannot grapple with how we care without understanding how our lives are reproduced, and vice versa. Neoliberalism functions via a trick of inviting us to ‘resolve’ systemic issues via personal strategies, to think care without thinking reproduction. To do so, it mobilises and depoliticises ethics, and evades systems thinking. This leads to an individualization of collective
problems, and to a perpetuation of systemic injustice. In this sense, ‘care’ has become a buzzword of advertising and arguments that de-politicise collective matters.
Care work is eternally assigned to women as mothers, wives, maids and nurses, ever more outsourced to migrants and poor women via transnational value extraction chains. Stuck at opposite ends of care chains, women are often alienated from one another, and from caring where they might most like to, if they could do it with autonomy: with their communities and families, their homes and territories
caring labor et al
Because even if as women we care a lot, with bodies and minds, we don’t necessarily care as we’d like to. These kinds of struggles are what this book sets out to map, in relation to childcare as well as unlikely places like institutions
Our care impasse is also to do with how we deal with vulnerability. To do with those of us – all of us – who receive care. Children, the sick and elderly may come to mind, but don’t be fooled – it’s all of us, a lot of the time, who receive care. If we can’t see the care we receive, it’s often because we didn’t look carefully enough, lured by the idea of our independence. Care-receiving is devalued and rendered as taboo or shameful, based in the notion that vulnerability and precarity are an exception. We keep thinking that only some have needs, or that some have more needs than others. That’s not true: it’s just that some have their needs more taken care of than others. This inability or at best clumsiness in dealing with needs is a grave problem for our capacities to engage collective care..t
much deeper.. we don’t even know what our essence/legit needs are (ie in sea world)
we need to find and org around legit needs
But building commons that care is also a most promising task in my account, since commoning is about the (re)production of subjectivity.
If we knew how to value our interdependency as much as our powers of self, we would be in a very different place today vis-à-vis the communities and ecosystems we are part of
to democratise would primarily mean to involve everyone in this care, rather than merely in decision-making
I. Common struggles: from autonomy to interdependence and back again
No commons without community and care
We call their ways of operating and relating commoning, a verb. So, if we ask: how can we common as we’d like to?..t Then community and care are a key part of the answer.
2\ if we create a way to ground the chaos of 8b free people
Recognition of needs is a key part of such commons thinking..t Care commons emerge from shared needs and from the subsequent creation of relations – not from the mere availability of a specific ‘resource’ (space, money, etc.).
When we speak of social reproduction commoning (Barbagallo, Harvie & Beuret 2019), we refer to
activities and projects that address our basic needs: for shelter, food, water, care, etc. In this context, needs are starting points for reproduction commoning as a way of building community not on the basis of identity or status but of shared material and life conditions – and indeed also, but not primarily, of desires.
need to org around legit needs
Women, carrying the everyday responsibility of caring
for their families and communities, have led many resource struggles – for water, food or land, for instance – and developed a myriad of organisational forms and strategies in this arena. Practices of collective shopping, gardening, cooking, squatting, farming and resource pooling, setting up autonomous healthcare or childcare centres are some examples of care commoning.
This is not just about commoning care, but also about thinking care as commons. Like the seas, the wind, the air, rivers, soils, sunshine and so forth – common conditions to life on earth – we may see care as common to the life of communities on earth. Care is not altruism but what communities – no matter their size – do to sustain life in common. This vision of care co-emerges with concrete questions of self-organisation across these pages
Rather than render commons as a matter of (good, bad, ugly) governance or inscribe them into modernist accounts of progress, commons are always an immediately practical, embodied and collective matter, and a matter of experimentation. Their failures are not a tragedy so much as an occasion to reflect and learn.
Which criteria should need to be met in order for a childcare project to qualify as a commons infrastructure?
Is self-management sufficient, or are accessibility and democratic structures and processes also criteria?
no.. no.. can’t have any form of democratic admin
These definitions are relevant because, rather than merely drawing on academic literature, they are based in the self-definitions and guidelines that commons initiatives have come up with in the Spanish and Barcelona context.
doesn’t matter if still in sea world
Minor genealogy I: Commons between autonomy and institutions
New cultures of collaboration question the paradigm of individual authorship, genius and the figure of the artist, with a myriad of collectives and networks of cultural workers and hackers emerging
The notion of ‘institution of the commons’ came to embody a double claim: a recognition of the institutional dimension of autonomous spaces of creation and organisation beyond the public, as a ‘commons’ of the city; and a becoming-common of existing public cultural institutions, addressing ways of enabling cultural programming, research and education that are in touch with social struggles rather than representative of the state. A key historical reference for this vision was Italian autonomism, particularly the work of Antonio Negri: Negri and Hardt had just published Commonwealth, generating debates concerning self-government, commons and institutions and drawing on exchange with Spanish and Italian social movements.
In 2011, an event changed the horizon of the commons and of the political in Spain: the 15M movement.. thousands of precarious and declassed people took to the streets in Spanish cities. They opposed austerity and called for real democracy, first establishing encampments to occupy main squares and then moving into neighbourhoods with their newly formed organs of struggle and mutual support.. Difficult to sum up in a couple of paragraphs, the 15M was an extremely powerful movement that changed subjectivities and fundamentally reoriented several generations of people in relation to politics, embracing self-organisation and contesting the status quo, in a spirit of solidarity and empowerment
In the 15M context, debates and practices of the commons found fertile ground.
debates.. not fertile ground for common\ing.. sucks up too much energy..
Many returned to their lives, and participation in assemblies decreased. Others debated how to take the struggle forward, and soon arguments for moving to a new level emerged. Might it be possible to subvert the system from within? Some activists strongly disagreed and found this to be a dangerous proposition, yet others preceded to experiment along these lines. Podemos and the new municipalisms were bids for trying to change democracy from within, in very different ways: where Podemos stayed focussed on the state, arguing that now a party organisation was necessary, the new municipalisms built on the local dimension and the power that had been built there. A tension between the strategy of Podemos – more classical and abstract in its quest for building power – and that of new local electoral campaigns more rooted and embodied in concrete practices and collective processes – was *unavoidable, but often also productive.
The common denominator of these practices is experimentation, rather than strategy or party line..t
It is however key to understand the experimental, transversal and situated politics that leads from the 15M into municipalism – a matter of micropolitics. Micropolitics means not just the socio-affective politics of relations between individuals or groups, but also the tactics and strategies derived from embodied and situated experience, in their connections with local and translocal histories and struggles.. This conception of *changing the source code, the proper ‘DNA’ of politics and institutions, was fundamental to the spread of a desire to take on capital-P politics. This led to a myriad of initiatives that prepared the ground for grassroots candidatures
*not a legit re\set.. so not fundamental to a better world..
The model for those was never the political organisation, the party, but rather *the social network, the neighbourhood assembly and the social centre. There was a belief that there was enough social force and intelligence present not just to take power, but to invent new forms of political and institutional organisation.
*matters little of all still in sea world
After the 15M movement: From institutions of the commons to candidatures of the commons
Let us now look more closely at the debates and conceptual productions that made a municipalism of
the commons possible.
‘..we thus started a reading group… (Observatorio Metropolitano Barcelona 2013; my translation from Spanish).‘ These spaces of debate were crucial for the development of autonomous knowledges and practices of the commons in Spain, also providing the ground for some important feminist and anti-racist discussions. They carry the legacies of militant research towards alliances of self-education projects, in autonomous bookshops and social centres where Nociones Comunes courses have their home
conversation is huge.. but people have to be legit free first.. otherwise debating/discussing same song
ie: a means to undo our hierarchical listening to self/others/nature
Following the launch of these experimental candidatures, a period of vivid social creativity and composition ensued, building singular grassroots campaigns that set up powerful debates and imaginaries of change in many cities. One of their premises was to build *massive popular support: the idea was to *win, not to form new oppositional parties. In 2014, an initial signature campaign set itself the margin of having to reach at least *30,000 signatures of support in Barcelona, a target that was amply achieved.
*win popular support et al.. red flags we’re doing it/life wrong
The renaming soon made a lot of sense, however, as the logic of the political work being done in the neighbourhoods and across thematic areas came to open a processual horizon about *reinventing institutional politics from below, building structures and horizons that were **no longer just about winning.. open processes of elaborating electoral programmes, through joint research and discussion, as well as joint campaigning and reaching out (Zechner 2015)
*doesn’t matter if from below/above.. if still about institutional politics.. **still about winning.. so many red flags
Largely speaking, the municipal candidatures did not banalise the term to the extent that it becomes void or depoliticised, but as the name gets replicated, it does become a brand name of sorts. Yet it is not broad use that makes for banalisation, it’s the careless appropriation of political terms by those who no longer have any stakes in them. In those municipalist circles with an open ear to local as well as remote genealogies of electoral politics and social movements, there is a struggle to keep ‘the commons’ politically charged. They do not always succeed. Still, my hypothesis here is that it is useful to look at intentions, processes, relations, outcomes and effects in relation to one another, through a micropolitical lens, in order to understand where things go right or wrong
things go wrong if there’s any form of m\a\p..
ie: no legit common\ing if any measuring, accounting, people telling other people what to do
Minor genealogy II: Feminist subversions of the commons
I focus this genealogy on childcare, as an aspect of feminist politics often taken to be unrelated to social movements or indeed institutional politics. As a key condition, an embodied challenge and an enabling constraint, childcare is all but anecdotal for politics – not just for policy but indeed also for politics itself. Here we will see how and why childcare shapes politics
The 15M, new feminisms and struggles for reproductive rights
How to even imagine building a family? Whether it was singles, couples or larger nuclei of people that
were asking this question.. the sustainability of lives in common, and the possibility of building crossgenerational alliances and homes came to be a key concern. Family should be a matter of choice too, to the extent that people can embrace one another and set limits as well as spaces for themselves: many young and not-soyoung people were forced to move back to their parents’ homes due to the financial crisis and its unemployment,.. Conservative politics was to set people back to having no choice but to stick with their families, no matter how abusive that might have been, for children and mothers in particular.
A new politics of interdependence: The case of childrearing
What started as a mothers’ network providing mutual aid and care, sharing spaces and taking turns in looking after children, grew into a more solid structure as the children moved from being babies to toddlers. Babàlia soon came to include a pedagogue and fixed schedule, and a space where pedagogues and parents work together to raise children. A grupo de crianza compartida – shared childrearing group – with a distinctively activist, feminist ethos. Rethinking care was on the agenda.. Babàlia is not the first parent and educator-run childcare project in the history of Poble Sec, but it is special because it is fully collectively run and comes out of social movements.
The bestselling book Where Is My Tribe? (‘Dónde está mi Tribú?’, Del Olmo 2013) reflects on raising children in individualist societies and facing a lack of support networks, ..
Care autonomism and the ‘feminisation’ of politics
the following pages trace incremental feminist learning processes that keep shifting and reinventing the articulations of interdependence and autonomy
II. Childcare commons: mothers’ sympoieisis, the neighbourhood politics of care and municipal policy
Childcare commons as vector of political change
‘The mother’s chat group is faster than the healthcare hotline’ – local urban wisdom in Poble Sec
Defining care and childcare
What is childcare? Right before and after birth, childcare is about learning to care for small humans, and childcare groups are about mutual support and advice, as babies are strongly attached to their primary carers (mostly mothers). As babies grow bigger, childcare also comes to refer to the care that another person or group can provide a baby with as parents (mostly mothers) go do reproductive or waged work.
They aim to hold the care cycle, as Joan Tronto describes it, together: to avoid alienating separations between caring-about, taking-careof, care-giving, care-receiving, and indeed also caring-with
(Tronto 1993, 2009).
But different aspects or phases of care are neither distributed nor valued equally in our societies. In raising children, the emotional and organisational aspects of care – as caring-about – are mostly left to mothers as the infamous mental load (planning meals, birthday parties and gifts, doctor visits, playdates, observing well-being, minding and sustaining relations, etc.). This mental, emotional and relational labour is very intensive and requires continuous movements of taking care of. Thirdly, the very material, physical and skin-to-skin/hands-on aspect of care – as care-giving – is also highly invisible and undervalued while mostly performed by women and indeed migrants (mostly women migrants as nannies)..
When sustained and naturalised, these crucial phases of care, whether for children or other beings, remain underappreciated, unlike the sporadic and public declarations or gestures of care that can come from people (often men, often white persons) with power
The politics, ethics and organisation of care, in its different phases and manifestations, is thus the touchstone to which we will refer in analysing childcare commoning. Tronto’s description of care cycles matters greatly to mapping out the subversive as well as sustainable potential of collective models of (child)care provision, in that it allows us to detect power inequalities and divisions of labour, visibility and valorisation. Her added emphasis on care-receiving and caring-with, as the moments of vulnerability and solidarity which are often ignored in speaking about care, urge us to also consider the other(s) in care, adding a crucial ethical dimension.
all matters little if we don’t grok (listen deep enough to) our legit needs.. otherwise we’re just the same as those white men you mention.. perpetuating tragedy of the non common.. by parenting/caring via maté parenting law.. graeber parent/care law.. et al
Childcare within, against and beyond neoliberalism
Del Olmo writes about how new forms of motherhood (‘nuevas maternidades’) question narratives that equate waged labour to empowerment, and label ‘staying at home’ to care as regressive: ‘quote from del olmo’
Questioning discourses of choice in childcare and neoliberal contexts is an important labour that feminists are mostly left with (Barbagallo 2016). Mothers are all too easily patronised and underestimated.
this is a distraction..
Childcare commoning thus emerges in the context of a new wave of feminism based in affirmations of interdependency, care, diversity and post-work imaginaries that point to mutual aid and defense networks (Ni una Menos, see Mason-Deese 2018), community and commons (see e.g. Guiterrez Aguilar, Federici, Vega Solis), new social rights (basic income, care income 1), and feminist economics (e.g. Pérez-Orozco 2014). These have brought forth new politicizations of care, childcare and feminist motherhood (e.g. Del Olmo 2013; León 2017; Llopis 2015; Merino 2017; Vivas 2019). The political focus thus shifts from work to life, from integrating women into existing systems to redefining those systems altogether, and from addressing the state at large to addressing municipal and regional institutions more in particular.
we need a legit new econ sans any form of m\a\p
ie: oikos (the economy our souls crave).. ‘i should say: the house shelters day-dreaming, the house protects the dreamer, the house allows one to dream in peace.’ – gaston bachelard, the poetics of space
‘It takes a village to raise a child’
There is one dimension that connects and underpins all the childcare-related organizing in Poble Sec: the more or less informal networks of mothers (and, to a very limited extent, fathers).
The mothers’ networks are spaces of commoning that create lively links between public institutions and spaces (health centres, playgrounds, nurseries), commons spaces (grupos de crianza, social centres, cooperatives) and the private spaces so pivotal to childcare (the home, the family). These networks, though informal and non-committal, often end up being stronger spaces of reference than both public and family systems. Women trust and seek each other for advice and help.
take the loneliness out of parenting and motherhood in particular: ‘quote on tribe ness’
maybe.. but surface.. bandaid.. not getting to the root of what we need
The Spanish version of ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ is ‘para educar a unx niñx hace falta una tribú’ – one refers to the village while the other refers to the tribe. The notion of tribú is often used to affirm broad solidarity and care, and radical mutualist networks that in fact transcend the family. Tribú and village are connected. In Poble Sec, parent activists often refer to the grupos de crianza and other care networks as their ‘tribú’, a very extended family existing in relation to a specific common territory and revolving around the care of its young as well as elders.
we all need care.. if we say just children and elders.. we’re missing it.. and we’re missing how they care for those in the middle
In 2018, we tried to tackle what enables us to make childcare a matter of commoning, in the context of a colloquium that asked ‘Hace falta un Poble Sec para criar?’ (does it take a Poble Sec to raise a child?) My answer here contains many of the ways in which we ended up answering this question, feeding on the great collective intelligence of Poble Sec’s childcare commons.
It takes a generational process to raise a child
Generational consciousness is strong in these commons, leading to a development of organisational intelligence about the cycles of ageing, institutional passage, health, relationships and groups, all of which are part of what’s collectively discussed and responded to in these care commons and networks in Poble Sec. Family trajectories are criss-crossed by breakups, rent raises, moves, job loss and search, illnesses, moments of depression, displacement, and so forth; the ties they build fluctuate, vary, weaken.
By accompanying the emergence and (dis)continuities of ties, childcare groups and mothers’ networks come to be *rich in knowledge and an understanding of different rhythms, cycles and generational processes
*rhythms and processes of whales
This is a dimension much overlooked in commons research: the ways in which bodily, seasonal, economic, political, and many other kinds of rhythms intersect (Michon 2007) with processes of generation and resurgence. Generation doesn’t only refer to biological reproduction here, it implies collective precedence and resurgence of many kinds
i’d say there is no legit commons research (to date.. it’s all research of whales in sea world).. we haven’t yet let go enough to see what legit common\ing .. what legit free people.. would be like.. how they would dance
It takes mothers’ chat groups to raise a child
Through online chats, mothers exchange advice, things, information, arrange meetings, joint walks, playdates, talks and workshops, organise or join baby blocs, disseminate campaigns and events, and discuss all sorts of matters from medical to political to personal. Not requiring moderator functions, these groups are inclusive of anyone wanting to join (within the technical limit of 256 participants) and refuse any regimentations of political, personal and practical debate. To the subjects involved – mostly women – this doesn’t amount to chaotic or un-rigorous communication but to the conscious embracing of a politics that does not cut out the background noise of life (far from Arendtian notions of political rigor). Chat groups act like a digital background or murmur that nourishes and sustains everyday encounters and lives.
rather.. a very nice way to medicate ourselves in sea world.. not legit commoning/caring
Reproductive commoning thrives on addressing multiple and changing needs, rather than centring on a single resource or task.
makes little diff what it does.. if not org’d around legit needs
Their rhythms give connectedness a texture, structure and meaning… ‘So rhythm is an essential element of embodied knowledge […]’ (Rolnik & Bardet 2018; my translation from Spanish), and a key to grasping the generational as well as generative nature of feminist care networking.
*rhythm of whales.. has little to do w the care we all need
For now we move on to look at the more formally organised childcare commons that emerge out of mothers’ networks
Laboratories of interdependence: Self-organised nurseries
Austerity and precarity thus produced an increasing demand, capacity and desire for self-run childcare projects that could provide alternative support networks and forms of education.
Who looks after kids in the neighbourhood?
The self-organised childcare projects – grupos de crianza compartida – thus account for a considerable proportion of early-age childcare in Poble Sec.
Another way to answer the question about who looks after children is to say, again: mothers.
Groups might shift from being more parent-run to being more teacher-run and vice versa, and involve different degrees of sharing the work of childcare as well as organisation. Their ethos is that parents, pedagogues and children work together and constitute a strong care network or tribú – recognising that modern urban parenting is a very individualising and precarious matter that requires the invention of new support structures.
Commoning and valuing care
These self-organised groups combine and articulate matters of pedagogy, care and organisation, in ways that can transform all these dimensions, and build sustainable alternatives (to the public and private nursery systems) for bringing up children and creating community
but not for legit free people.. only for whales
In the terms of Joan Tronto’s ethics of care, they combine concern (caring-about) with action (taking
care of ) and with labour (care-giving) in reciprocal ways that centre on children as subjects and agents (carereceiving), as well as solidarity-based relations to the neighbourhood and beyond (caring-with).
graeber make it diff law et al..
support one another in the daily struggle to extend their families beyond the nuclear family and other alienated forms.
today.. we can do better than this band-aid/surface healing/medicating/cope\ing ness
They are part and parcel of postwork, care-based feminisms that centre on politicising care as work as well as ‘placing life at the centre’ (Pérez Orozco 2014)
but not placing the essence of human being life.. at the center.. rather.. ‘life/death’ at the center sea world
They push for children’s rights and spaces for free play.
Interlinking of different phases of care serves not just as a definitional criteria for speaking about radical collective care practices, but also for speaking about commons. How radical or transformative can commons or indeed care be, if they don’t articulate reproduction and care work (care-giving), the sharing of vulnerability (care-receiving), caring-with as solidarity, alongside concern (caring-about) and taking-care-of (action)?
rather… how radical/transformative can commons/care be if they do articulate those things? not radical enough.. we need to listen deeper and org around legit needs
Dual neighbourhood powers of care
It matters that the origin of commons-based nursery alternatives also lies in the public system: like many others, Pepi encourages fluidity rather than opposition between commons- and public organisation
if we were all legit free.. there would be no need for fluidity between commons and public ness.. all the same
As translators, traffickers of knowledges and resources, and matchmakers or mediators, these kinds of women play an important role in a social ecosystem like the one described here.
what we need is legit matchmaking/translating ness..
ie: imagine if we just focused on listening to the itch in 8b souls.. first thing.. everyday.. and used that data to connect/coord us.. we might just get to a more antifragile, healthy, thriving world.. the ecosystem we keep longing for
Creating fluidity between the public and the commons is an art, but not one that’s practiced in isolation. It depends on the strength, claims and resilience of self-organised initiatives (such as the PEPI and the grupos de crianza), which allow public-based agents to open spaces and resources up to commoning
Within, against and beyond the economies of capital
This is one of the most significant factors in how much self-organisation and transversal care the grupos de crianza are able to muster: the level of employment and income of families, as well as the kind of employment – public sector workers tend to engage with the politics of childcare commoning more than workers used to private sector hierarchies and ethos. The situation of families, as well as the composition of childcare groups, can change within short timespans and reconfigure groups drastically. Since the grupos de crianza are entirely self-funded via fees, they are very volatile to such shifts. Should they receive public funding to become more sustainable, fair and accessible?
w/ubi as temp placebo.. needs met w/o money.. till people forget about measuring
econ souls are craving
Synergies (and aporias) between the commons and the public
Do commons initiatives merit public funding? When? How? These are the million-dollar-questions (or more likely, within given budgetary frameworks, fewthousand-euro-questions)
ie: 10-day-care-center\ness et al
She argues that the term ‘economía social y solidaria’ might be misleading, because this economy is not for disadvantaged people.
no econ with any form of m\a\p is for legit free people
If commons are to be transformative social practices that lead to not only more democracy but also to more equality, then what basic requirements must they meet?
if common\ing is to be transformative .. basic reg is to org around legit needs
Barcelona en Comú’s ambivalence over self-organised childcare groups
López recounts how childcare groups end up being caught in a field of tension between different *policy areas, narrating herself as **defender of these groups who fought hard to have them included in the ***electoral programme in 2014 and now finds herself very frustrated: ‘.. So we thought to tackle it from the viewpoint of furthering ****cooperatives..’
Local parent activist Javier Rodrigo cannot see any reasons why these models should not be expanded towards childcare: ‘The question is: Why can this model not be applied to a model of childcare when there are already these other models? The city of Barcelona has some 50 neighbourhood community centres and playspaces, of which 80% are managed by citizens: it’s not such an unusual thing. *The problem is that when we talk about education we’re very quick to generate a binary between the private and the public
hari rat park law et al
Beyond public vs. commons
There is sometimes a clash between the temporalities of human reproduction and care, those of neighbourhood organising and community formation, and those of institutions. Here again a rhythmic-temporal and generational gaze is crucial. A child goes through very different phases and needs in its first years of life; a rent contract runs between 3–5 years in Barcelona; a legislature lasts 4 years; these can intersect and overlap in various ways
The families who pioneered radical collective childcare infrastructures after 2011 are now organizing around primary schools
But reducing the debate around self-organised childcare to a polarity between private vs. public is to miss out on a lot of things.. To grasp self-organisation as a sympoietic matter, we must try to understand and reimagine the ecosystemic relations between the commons, public and private spheres
let’s try org-ing around legit needs
Aporias and precedents
Facing internal limitations
Commons are about building possibilities for making new kinds of decisions – involving risk, insecurity, vulnerability, and becoming.
Learning from precedents
Like many commons activists in Poble Sec affirm, it’s important to not have to reinvent the wheel constantly, to draw on sources and experiences other than one’s own
i think this a moment in time where we need to go that deep.. ie: good bye cycle.. mostly.. because we now have the means to quit trying part\ial ness.. and because we’re dying from it.. for (blank)’s sake
Talking childcare politics
These four approaches tend to overlap in the different experiments and approaches to self-organisation, commons and care that exist in the social ecosystem of Poble Sec. There is plurality, fluidity and also articulation across different feminist lines of thought, in ways that often seem messy, but ultimately *attest to a lively political culture that dares to imagine itself in different ways
*not diff enough.. let’s try something legit diff.. let’s org around legit needs
Schools of care
Imagine we were to institute schools of care. Imagine a municipal government, driven by feminists and commons activists, for instance, gets the idea that care needs to be central in our society and that everybody, from now on, should be encouraged to learn about it . And to learn not by way of books merely, but by doing. Imagine they have beautiful ideas about pedagogy, understanding that the time of disciplinary schooling is over. And that they need to lead their cuidadanes (their caretizens) out of capitalist impasse and the binary between privatisation and state management, that they want to create and support commons institutions, for instance, schools that function on the basis of self-management, because they know that learning by doing and self-organising are usually the most powerful ways of producing and sustaining useful social knowledge.
oh my.. may skim here
Imagine, perhaps, that they have implemented a city-wide basic income, also known as care income, that *allows people to participate in those schools without being stressed for time or money – that anyone can join these schools when they have kids.
*so maybe not stressed for time/money.. but stressed for supposed to’s of school.. and why would they be going to school if not for a future job.. so.. still .. stressed for time/money as well.. oi
rather.. imagine if we let go of money and school and work.. so that people can be legit free
Children as subjects of care
They (children) look after us by making us engage,
feel, respond in new ways – they increase our affective
spectrum and our capacity to act, as well as compelling us to stay with the trouble. But is that valid? Do they do
that by volition, or just because of their *needs? Are they **proper subjects, making decisions?
oi.. we have no idea..
But do children always take and never give? Are they incapable of taking-careof and care-giving? Clearly they are not, but due to their bodies, stages of development, the worlds we keep them in, they care differently
In the school of care, it’s clear that everyone cares
according to their ability and their needs.
In this way, child-care can transform how we think
about learning. The school of care, which of course also does research and publications,
leads us to question the adultcentrism of much previous academic work, and to ask why ‘children are not seen as *competent social actors’, even
should lead us to not even think in terms of *that
they don’t treat children as too small or stupid to participate in solidarity actions, demonstrations, political processes.
rather.. they don’t treat children any diff than adults in attempts to condition/oppress/violate them.. with supposed to’s/assumptions of how we should live.. that happens with any form of democratic admin.. w any form of m\a\p.. no matter how good/pure/nice/child-friendly we make it sound
children too care about (others – tronto care theory), indeed they are able to *articulate this as soon as they begin to speak, yet they are **not heard in their expressions of care. Coincidentally, children’s expressions of care often concern plant and animal welfare, ascribing subjectivity to living things that are not just human: ***this sensitivity of children, this ‘animism’ that adults try so hard to exorcise from them, is a crucial element for social and ecological change.
**none of us are.. we can’t even hear ourselves.. that’s why we’re in desperate need of a means to undo our hierarchical listening
Those of us more reliant on care, whether old or young, *know our needs best and are best placed to design processes and infrastructures of care
The childcare commoning of the grupos de crianza respects how kids want their needs met and encourages their collaboration in designing spaces, protocols, processes. In Barcelona’s childcare groups as well as feminist municipalisms, children are drawn into processes of everyday collaboration and co-design (of nursery or urban spaces, for instance), in dialogue with families, educators and planners. Facilitating ways for children not just to co-decide but to co-care is a powerful way of nourishing liveable futures.
Imagine a city full of schools of care and translocal networks of schools of care, organising exchange programmes, cooperations, international solidarities.
we’ve got to imagine deeper.. otherwise.. same song
The city of play
Now imagine a city where it’s safe to play in most public spaces – and by virtue of that, to care (there is a connection between play and care, as we will see shortly)
city sketchup et al
A city of care is what many have imagined in Barcelona
doesn’t work if all the people aren’t legit free as well.. ie: if doing all this play after hours.. not legit
that’s why we need to org around legit needs first .. so that we’re quit sucking out all our energies..
III. Commoning power: the micropolitics of municipalism
Starting points for micropolitical enquiry
We often fail to learn from failures, those rich sources of knowledge
indeed that.. that was our main focus to getting to a nother way for 8b people to leap to.. and after we did think we were on to something.. it was our main focus in reaffirming/letting-go of ideas/imaginations we had.. ie: why didn’t it work there?
And micropolitics can teach us a lot about institutions,
democracy, the state and building power.
It seemed urgent to try to generate some conversations
and produce and assemble some knowledges, no matter how modest, on this question of micropolitics.
huge red flag if we think we have to train.. assemble knowledges.. arrive at some intellect ness.. et al.. what is essential.. what will make the dance dance.. is (and has to be or it won’t work) already in each one of us.. we just need a means to undo our hierarchical listening so we can hear/see/be that
This is where we pick things up. With a lot of questions.. What does it mean to go from being a movement activist to being a party activist, or even an elected official? What social-relational dynamics does this shift of power imply?
Social movements, parties and institutions are social and cultural spheres with their own logics, traditions, forms, languages
This is what we are interested in here: ways of embodying, inhabiting and thinking politics within and
across different spheres of power.
The micropolitics of building & claiming power
Now shifting from the rearguard to also follow the stories of frontline agents of municipalism, we find a series of dynamics: a steep learning curve, vivid collective experimentation, struggles to situate oneself, tensions between confluence and unity, encroaching professionalisation, experimental engagement with the public sector, internal power struggles, exhaustion and declining forces, reorientations, maturations, and more.
so many red flags
Building power (2010–15)
The years and movements preceding the new Spanish municipalisms are incredibly rich in organisation, experimentation and prefiguration. They yield incredible processes of learning and building power, and are what enabled people to envision a new wave of municipalisms in the first place. The great intelligence and wealth of Spanish movements lay in their capacity to build power transversally: across inhabitational, networked, organised and finally also institutional social spheres
The starting point for this diagram was the ongoing crisis of social reproduction across different spheres of life (with effects like individualisation, unemployment, evictions, crisis of organised labour, crisis of representation), and the new strategies that social movements were inventing to address it. The diagram has two main axes: a horizontal one marking a tension between relation/individuality and organisation/collectivity; and a vertical axis connecting inhabitation/composition with representation/mediation. Between and across these axes, different problems, experiences and strategies for building grassroots power and equality exist. The diagram shows us different spheres of social power
(in graph – top left: institutions; top: the state; top right: public sphere, social media; bottom right: playgrounds, homes; bottom left: workplaces, coops, unions)
imagine this ‘chart’ laid out on 15 slides on top of page here: undisturbed ecosystem
These spheres (quadrants of chart) are places where we put energies and hopes, and invent dispositifs and tactics: none has primacy over another, and there is no given or ‘good’ way for movements to work within these spheres. Each political conjuncture requires a different approach, in tune with where social energies and concerns lie.
only problem is .. that limits us to a finite set of choices.. and because we’re limiting ourselves in that (sea world) way.. we think we need all the irrelevant s listed.. (aka: we have no idea what our legit needs are) ..
we need is to listen to itch-in-8b-souls first thing everyday.. and then use that data to connect us.. quit wasting our energy trying to manage everything.. start trusting us/nature/alive-living/imagination/curiosity.. et al
The pathway that the series of minor genealogies traces in this book is striking because it moves through different spheres of building power in a quite smooth and agile way.
spheres of power have nothing smooth and agile about them.. unless they are made smooth/agile via structural violence (no matter how nice/caring we make it sound)
The combination of finding strong ways of reaching across social spheres of power, and of building continuity in learning and collective becoming, is what enabled many initiatives and movements to thrive.
no movements to date have legit thrived (grow/develop well or vigorously).. (ie: thriving has to be all of us.. otherwise it’s just a temp peak of excitement at best)
Minor genealogy III: Power from the streets to the institutions
Building electoral power (2014–15)
.. electoral campaigns, also mobilising via social media and viral campaigns.. It could only claim to reshape representational politics because of this path it took there: its source of real social power.
All those (listed all kinds/types of people) together laid claim to the institutional sphere in the sense of
wanting to shape not just demands, representations and policies but also structures and modalities of political decision-making
*Gathering people around specific political as well as territorial concerns, Barcelona’s municipalist drive entailed the formation of vibrant, open thematic as well as neighbourhood groups (ejes or axes) that collectively discussed and drafted **policy proposals. ‘If we are capable of imagining another Barcelona, we have the power to change it’ was one key slogan of incipient municipalism, as it ***called everyone forth to reimagine the city.
***1\ not everyone .. because public consensus always oppresses someone(s) 2\ not legit re/imagining.. because most/all of us are not us.. we have no idea what our legit needs/desires are.. need to detox (set us free) first
The *commons had already been there in a lot of municipalist claims and imaginaries, and would now ground a more specific claim to how the city was to be reshaped: through a new **institutional politics of the commons, the agenda of which was to be set by movements.
*not legit common\ing
This refusal of old forms and models of social contract came with the invention of many new terms and names.
this is why (david on) creative refusal isn’t enough.. is still time sucking cancer
this *language politics was indeed performative, creating **new worlds.
**new sea worlds.. not new world where people are legit free
Into the institutions (2015–17)
Then came the time of walking into town halls, taking up offices, formulating and advertising positions in the party as well as institutions, shaping relations between the new parties and the old institutions, as well as crucially: shaping and (re)imagining the relations between party-institutional municipalism and the city’s social movements.
red flags that we’re energy sucking ourselves
As Barcelona’s new mayor Ada Colau said: ‘We almost needed a year to properly understand how the administration functioned: it’s one thing that you decide to do something, and another that it gets executed.’
Imagine the conversations between veteran administrators and a bunch of younger and older activists-turned-politicians, with the latter formally in charge but also critically dependent on the formed
Platform to party, can you hear me?
not platform to party.. but can you hear me is huge..
what we need is a means to undo our hierarchical listening.. hearing matters little if not legit voices first.. et al
ie: tech as it could be
Moving on – 2017–19 – Málaga/Madrid
The pros and cons of investing in institutions were a matter of debate.
It (doc) undertakes a balancing act of evaluation and envisioning, concluding that: ‘Barely two and a half years later, the conflicts, the wearing down of people and networks, as well as the ruptures, make it difficult to believe in the possibility of sustaining these spaces, unless this is done at the cost of sacrificing the model of democratic municipalism (autonomous and horizontal) initially laid out (MAC3 Málaga 2017).’
energy suck.. not sustainable
Social movement commons set out from those who were kept out, off and invisible, those who lacked rights (be they labour, social or citizenship rights).
has to be for all of us from the get go.. or it won’t work/dance
2\ if we create a way to ground the chaos of 8b free people
A second mandate: Staying with the trouble?
Elections, elections, elections. The amount of attention and energy that had gone into electoral struggles between 2015 and 2019 was enormous, not just because of municipalism’s reign but also because of the surge in Catalan independentism and fierce power struggles at the state government level. By 2019, a sense of exhaustion with the dominance of electoral politics appears, as does another chance to claim power in municipal elections, to move into a second phase of city govnerments and consolidate what has been started and learned.. This meant launching new groups and platforms that could mobilise votes, as well as building door-to-door activism and campaigns.
During that time, the renowned geographer David Harvey, too, was asked to comment on the advancements of municipalism in Barcelona and whether he was disappointed: ‘No, I’m not. I think we have enough experience at the local level to know what’s possible and what isn’t. It doesn’t surprise me, I don’t expect a new administration to enter and magically do things. I might desire that things had gone better. But I hope they keep governing. It’s very easy to critique from the outside. But quickly you realise that there’s been a very strong opposition to Colau. That the media have not been on her side. That capital isn’t on her side either. That they have no economic resources. That the regional government is not on your side and tried to boycott you (Harvey 2019; my translation from Catalan).’
so wait.. why aren’t you disappointed david harvey?
This story of municipalism is also about staying with the trouble, and as Donna Haraway would put it, ‘It matters what matters we use to think other matters with; it matters what stories we tell to tell other stories with’
what matters is 8b people grokking what matters to them.. everyday.. let’s listen for/to that
Municipalism and social movements: Anatomy of a relation
Respecting the autonomy of social movements has been a touchstone of municipalist ethics and politics in Spain, at least in ambition
Communicating vessels between movements and institutions would need to enable embodied, situated accounts and learning. They would need to undo, as such, the binary between discourse and silence, and open onto embodied, material, situated dimensions and ways of learning and articulating.. can act as communicating vessels to the city administrations.
naming the colour ness.. killing/blinding us
From the social centre to city hall and back again: A story from the Casa Invisible in Málaga
Brainstorming key terms for municipalist micropolitics with people from Casa Invisible and Málaga Ahora in 2018, 9 this came up: promise to oneself, ethics, meme-ification, integrity, opposition, transparency, inertia, velocity, privacy, intimacy, affinity, loneliness, incapacity to explain, incommunicability, distance, capture, change from within, to give nothing to the institution without changing it. As well as these: favoritism, corporativism, disconnection, lack of communication, lack of collective responsibility, opportunism, lack of micropolitical accompaniment. Those are powerful starting points for a micropolitical vocabulary of municipalism.
The problem of participation reflects the difficulty of trying to produce a subject of politics: you cannot fabricate collective agency
It was born out of a collective micropolitical sensibility that grasped the importance of subjectivity
(individual and collective) as what lies at the base of any profound transformation.
yeah.. let’s org around that: subjectivity (the quality of being based on or influenced by personal feelings, tastes, or opinions.. the quality of existing in someone’s mind rather than the external world.)
There is power in dissociation: The micropolitics of refusing to care
..in refusal of formalised politics
Anarchism is the living memory of violence, and in the face of it, a commitment to keep caring. By refusing to care for those who take part in injury.
yeah.. we can’t do that.. has to be all of us or it won’t work/dance
many people directly identified as libertarian municipalists, but because they came from squatters, radical feminist, anti-war, anti-gentrification, anti-racist movements. Originally at least, they also carry the refusal to care for power in their DNA: the rejection of authority and control brings on a fierce and productive energy. Cultivated in times and contexts of oppression, repression, violence, this energy spans generations and continents.
that’s sad.. but it doesn’t matter to how we org.. what we need is an org that makes all those (authority ness et al) disappear on their own.. not that makes us spend our days refusing things
Pin appreciates the fact that anarchists have a global vision of the city and that because they don’t need to prove themselves to the institution, they do not fear conflict. ‘Because *what conflict does is give voice or influence to people who usually don’t have it’ and because ‘it’s not all about recognition and things being super fun’
oi.. that’s still *seat at the table ness.. not legit voice
The categorical refusal to care towards those in power implies a strong committment to caring with those without much power-over.
again.. none of us are free if one of us is chained..
This refusal to care is a powerful act, too, and a legitimate one. From a feminist viewpoint, refusing to care is often important for self-care and self-preservation, and just as we choose our battles we also must choose our fields of care.
Institutions without bodies: Rhythms, affects, embodiments and subjectivations
The rhythm of the electoral cycle is not the rhythm of life and its unforeseeable musicality,
nor that of the city and its infinite noises. But *for some years we have exceedingly adapted our
rhythms to the monotonous electoral noise and its resonances in the media (España Naveira 2019;
my translation from Spanish).
*for all the years
Struggling to care
Our struggles to care have to do with what we define as legitimate needs. .t
Do institutions meet preexisting needs, or produce needs in the first place? The welfare state is an institutional-ideological construct of the post-Second World War period, an exceptional construct we relate to ambivalently today (Neilson and Rossiter 2008). It (welfare state) has also shaped, if not *constructed, how we think about needs. And that thinking is **now changing, as we confront capitalist ruin and reimagine articulations across autonomy and interdependence.
*needs for to cope with sea world
Institutions without bodies
No (wo)man’s land
Commons politics should mean being part of a community rather than just speaking about commons: yet how institutional workers are to conceive of such a community remains a difficult question
ie: a nother way
Lessons for collective practice
Within, against and beyond the state
Minor municipalist strategies
IV. By way of concluding: struggles for care, struggling to care
Both interdependence and autonomy
The task we face, of reinventing ways of respectfully co-inhabiting this planet with others of all kinds and bodies and cuerpas, whilst seeing capitalist destruction and its coefficients of patriarchy and colonialism firmly to their deathbeds, really requires us to get creative..t We need to build autonomy from corporate-financial markets and indeed also from the states that defend them, to rebuild ways of depending on one another carefully.
We learned a lot from the American Indigenous tradition. They speak in a properly poetic way –
I really like how they put it. They speak of the four flowers of the common, saying: land/ground/soil, work/chores, assembly and celebration. These are the four things that make up the possibility… There have to be these four things in order for there to be a common (Gutiérrez Aguilar 2017b)
yeah.. i don’t think so.. esp not work/chores and assembly
what we need is to have an infra/org around legit needs