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Everyday Revolutions

Everyday Revolutions

Marina A. Sitrin


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In the wake of the global financial crisis, new forms of social organization are beginning to take shape. Disparate groups of people are coming together in order to resist corporate globalization and seek a more positive way forward. These movements are not based on hierarchy; rather than looking to those in power to solve their problems, participants are looking to one another. In certain countries in the West, this has been demonstrated by the recent and remarkable rise of the Occupy movement. But in Argentina, such radical transformations have been taking place for years. Marina Sitrin tells the story of how regular people changed their country and inspired others across the world. Reflecting on new forms of social organization, such as horizontalism and autogestión, as well as alternative conceptions of value and power, Marina Sitrin shows how an economic crisis spurred a people's rebellion; how factory workers and medical clinic technicians are running their workplaces themselves, without bosses; how people have taken over land to build homes, raise livestock, grow crops, and build schools, creating their own art and media in the process. Daring and groundbreaking, Sitrin shows how the experiences of the autonomous movements in Argentina can help answer the question of how to turn a rupture into a revolution.
'Marina Sitrin's feet are solidly planted in Argentina -- and in this book she gives a wonderful introduction to the concepts and practices that have animated radical politics there for over a decade. But she is also able to reach up and, on the basis of the Argentine perspective, grasp the promise and importance of revolutionary activity elsewhere, from the encampments in Spain and Greece to the Occupy movements and beyond. The result is an inspiring and practical guide for understanding what revolutionary politics can be today.' Michael Hardt, co-author with Antonio Negri of 'Declaration' 'In the last decade, few things have inspired and influenced me more than Marina Sitrin's reports from Argentina. She was one of the few to paint a clear picture in English of the extraordinary social movements there in the wake of the 2001 economic collapse, to understand the depth and breadth and freshness of the Argentine vision and realization of another way of thinking, connecting, organizing, working, and loving. With this book we have a more analytical, thorough portrait of that generous-spirited insurgency than ever before, one that is intensely relevant to the economic downfalls and social uprisings in Greece, in Spain, in the United States, and elsewhere. It will be a precious tool for anyone trying to build a new society.' Rebecca Solnit, author of 'A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities That Arise in Disaster and Hope in the Dark'. 'Marina Sitrin shows us that something new and global is taking hold in democratic politics, moving beyond the nation-state system of the past 200 years. Her knowledge is deep, based on engaged participant research that began in Argentina and continues, transnationally today. By tracing how citizen actions, "prefiguring the world they wish to create," measure democracy by a different yardstick, this book documents the emergence of horizontal, democratic forms that are empowering movements around the world, and gives us reason for hope.' Susan Buck-Morss, author of 'Hegel, Haiti, and Universal History', 'The Dialectics of Seeing' and 'Walter Benjamin and the Arcades Project' 'What happened in Argentina just over ten years ago is happening in the world today. A refusal to accept, a refusal to be the victims of capitalist crisis. A creation of other ways of organising, other ways of living, a surge of political experiment. An inspiration for the Occupies and Indignados. This is a timely and inspiring book whose ideas spill over from the streets of Buenos Aires into Tahrir Square, Zuccotti Park, Sintagma and Plaza del Sol. Just the discussion we need.' John Holloway, author of 'Change the World Without Taking Power: The Meaning of Revolution Today' and 'Crack Capitalism' ''Everyday Revolutions' follows a path from below, through 'other worlds', giving words to these worlds, and showing what the official media hides and the academy is not capable of seeing. It delves into the field of ideas and concepts, but not from the perspective of books and 'papers', but rather from lived experience. It contributes to our being able to visualize revolution, not as something to accomplish one day, far in the distance, and in the place of presidential palaces, but instead in the daily life of regular people, a continuing process of change whose protagonists are not the leaders, but all of us.' Raul Zibechi, activist, researcher of social movements and author of 'Dispersing Power: Movements as Anti-State Powers' and 'Territories of Resistance: Urban Periphery in Latin America'. 'Most books do not have the good fortune to be published exactly at the time when they are most needed. Marina Sitrin's 'Everyday Revolutions has that distinction'. At the moment when the social movements that exploded in 2011 from Cairo's Tahrir Square to NYC's Zuccotti Park are now facing a moment of reflection to determine what is next, Sitrin offers a tool box of concepts (horozantalidad, autonomy, autogetion) acquired in her decade-long research 'from below' of the Argentinian revolution that began in 2001 and continues to this day. These concepts are essential to understand contemporary revolutionary politics and Sitrin's straightforward prose provides an accessible and inspiring path to them. 'Everyday Revolutions' will be an indispensable guide to the tracing and participating in the course of social movements in the coming years.' Silvia Federici, historian, feminist activist and author of 'Caliban and the Witch: Women the Body and Primitive Accumulation' and 'Revolution at Point Zero: Housework, Reproduction and Feminist Struggle'. 'In 'Everyday Revolutions' radical transformation of life is as affective as running a factory, as concrete as raising children, and as utopian as struggling for dignity. Marina Sitrin has managed to bring to life various strands of contemporary social theory to understand the power of horizontal relations among commoners in struggle.' Massimo De Angelis, author of 'The Beginning of History: Value Struggles and Global Capital' 'When we stop, when we refuse, when we pull the emergency break - this is when cracks in the system erupt and spread. But cracks are simply cavities if they are not filled with something. In Everyday Revolutions, Marina Sitrin writes about what it is that fills those cracks, not as stop-gaps that serve to plaster together an ailing system. No! This is a texture that moves - it is the movement of new social relationships & practices of self-organisation held together and energised in resistance by an affective charge that creates, in those inbetween spaces that circulate horizontally between us, the bonds that empower us to change the world together and for the long-haul. Everyday Revolutions truly conveys not only what an affective politics is, but what this affective politics can do. Moving with the movements it both describes and analyses, this is not just a book, it is a companion on the journey through the worlds worth fighting for in the streets, squares, factories, fields, chat rooms and classrooms of our everyday lives.' Emma Dowling, Queen Mary, University of London. 'From one of the most politically committed and globally engaged thinkers of this generation, Everyday Revolutions is a must read for anyone interested in understanding the recent history of horizontal politics in Argentina and its importance for social movements today.' Sujatha Fernandes, author of 'Who Can Stop the Drums?' and 'Close to the Edge' 'At a promising moment when people in all over the world are seeking to reclaim their lives in the face of systems of power that have failed them, Marina Sitrin's smart and incisive analysis of horizontalism and autonomy in Argentina as an alternative form of not-power is a critical, timely, and lively contribution to understanding both why and how. Crackling with acuity, bits of history, and keen insights of a participant observer and social scientist, Sitrin joins those making an activist social science indispensable for those of us committed to both close, careful scholarship and passionate about social justice.' Eric Seblin, author of 'Revolution, Rebellion, and Resistance: The Power of Story and Modern Latin American Revolutions' 'A living history of a living revolution, Everyday Revolutions shows us how people in Argentina, not 'political' or 'activists', but rather 'actors', 'protagonists' and 'historical subjects', are moving from fissures and cracks to creation. It shows us how these people are deepening the rupture of December 2001, changing themselves, changing society, changing the world -- and leaving the state behind. Reading 'Everyday Revolutions' we read of the emergence, the collective self-making, of new people. Beautiful!' David Harvie, author (with The Free Association) of 'Moments of Excess: Movement, Protest and Everyday Life' and editor of Turbulence: Ideas for Movement. 'Marina Sitrin has long been pioneering the kind of intellectual practice, that is now becoming more and more crucial, with its cherished sensitivity toward the struggling/questioning/thinking in common from which all revolutionary thoughts arise. With both passionate and rigorous analyses of Argentinian processes, her Everyday Revolutions embodies what theory can and should do today in the age of global insurgency.' Sabu Kohso, independent writer and translator, who has published several books in Japanese and Korean, on anarchism, people's struggles, and urban space. 'Essential reading for those trying to understand or enact the global movement for horizontal democracy.' Michael Schwartz, author of 'War Without End: The Iraq War in Context' and 'Radical Protest and Social Structure' Selected Praise for Marin Sitrin's previous book Horizontalism: Voices of Popular Power in Argentina 'To read this book is to join the crucial conversation taking place within its pages: the inspiring, maddening, joyful cacophony of debate among movements building a genuinely new politics.' - Avi Lewis and Naomi Klein, co-creators of The Take 'This book on the many facets, phases and possibilities of the insurrections in Argentina since the economic implosion of December 2001 is riveting, moving, and profoundly important for who want to know what revolution in our time might look like.' - Rebecca Solnit, author of Savage Dreams and Hope in the Dark. 'The movements in Argentina have been among the most creative and inspirational in recent years. Marina Sitrin's collection allows us to learn from the activists themselves and continue the experiments in autonomy and democracy they have begun.'? - Michael Hardt, co-author of Empire 'This book is really excellent. It goes straight to the important issues and gets people to talk about them in their own words.' - John Holloway, author of Change the World Without Taking Power 'This is a book for anyone who wants to understand what it's really like to change society from below.' Jeremy Brecher, author of Strike! And Globalization from Below 'Marin Sitrin should be commended for all the hard work that went into producing the book, a work of political love and compañerismo.' Javier Auyero, author of Contentious Lives 'These are the voices of Argentina's grassroots activists, captured amidst the most important burst of democratic innovation the world has seen in the last decade. Listen, and learn how to make history from the bottom up!' Marie Kennedy, co-editor of Radical Politics of Place in America, and Chris Tilly, co-author of Glass Ceilings and Bottomless Pits
Marina Sitrin holds a PhD in Global Sociology and a JD in International Women's Human Rights. Her first book, Horizontalism: Voices of Popular Power in Argentina, is an oral history based on the then emergent autonomous movements in Argentina, published in Spanish (2005) and English (2006).

Table of Contents

Section Title Page Action Price
More Praise for Everyday Revolutions i
About the Author iii
Title page\r v
Copyright vi
Dedication vii
Contents ix
Acknowledgements xi
Preface xiii
Introduction 1
Argentina: a crack in history – 19 and 20 December 2001 1
From cracks to creation: the emergence of horizontal formations 4
Revolution with a small ‘r’ 6
New social relationships 7
The state 12
Challenging the contentious framework 13
Walking – and slowly 13
1 A brief history of movements and repression in Argentina 15
An action 15
HIJOS: an introduction to the movements 17
The beginning: the 1990s 19
The dictatorship 25
Revolutionary armed struggle: the 1960s–1970s 26
Peronism: the 1950s–1960s 28
Radical labor movements: 19th–early 20th centuries 30
Conclusion 32
2 From rupture to creation: new movements emerge 33
‘One no, many yesses’ 34
What is rupture? 36
Rupturing ‘No te metas’ and fear 40
From a dignified worker to dignity 44
The formation of new solidarities: ‘El otro soy yo’ 47
Conclusion 60
3 Horizontalidad 61
Practicing horizontalidad 65
Challenges to decision making within horizontalidad 73
Horizontalidad continues as a tool and goal 81
4 New subjectivities and affective politics 83
Protagonism, subjectivity, and a new language for politics 83
Affective politics 88
Decision making and affective politics: the Southern Non-Violent Coordinating Committee and the feminist movement 96
The personal is political 98
Beloved community 99
5 Power and autonomy: against and beyond the state 101
Power 102
Power and the state 107
Autonomy 115
Conclusion 122
6 Autogestión, territory, and alternative values 125
Conceptualizing autogestión 127
Organization of recuperated workplaces 131
Challenges to autogestión 140
Five specific recuperated workplace examples 143
Autogestión in the neighborhood assemblies 167
Barter 167
Territory 173
New values 176
7 The state rises: incorporation, cooptation, and autonomy 183
What is a state without legitimacy? 183
Hegemony and social consensus 185
Money and services as control 192
The movements dance with dynamite 193
Conclusion: it’s a war, not a dance 202
8 Measuring success: affective or contentious politics? 203
Dreams, dignity, and a yardstick 203
We are the HIJOS of the 19th and 20th 210
A sociological framework to understand the movements and their success 211
Conclusions, implications, and practical applications 217
Notes 225
Introduction 225
Chapter 1 226
Chapter 2 226
Chapter 3 227
Chapter 4 229
Chapter 5 229
Chapter 6 229
Chapter 7 231
Chapter 8 231
Bibliography 233
Index 251