Creating archipelagos of autonomous communities: Rural Okupation

What is autonomy and what are autonomous communities, are not simple or innocent questions. 

By “autonomy” we mean both collective life that is self-governed freely and in equality, and forms of life in opposition to currently reigning kinds of economic and political power, as broadly understood as possible, which we may summarise by the term “capitalism”.  But these are only the most general of “guidelines”, if they can even be so described.

In turn, if autonomy calls for community (for “individual” autonomy is illusory), how is “community” to be understood?  Is there a fixed, ideal definition of such a collective form, or is it to be imagined as essentially open, always in the process of becoming?

And what does any of this have to do with revolution, with the overthrow of capitalism?  But this question in turn assumes that we know what revolution or radical social change is all about, when we do not.  If revolution can no longer be conceived of as a storming of the Bastille, and if contemporary “reformist” or”national, social-democratic” projects rest finally upon geographies of exclusion (internal and external) and domination, the creation of autonomous communities, with all of their limitations, offers itself up as a politics of emancipation.  

In some sense, there will never be a final answer to any these questions, for they are answered in the practical attempts to create autonomous communities.  For our part, we can only share modestly the experiences of those who endeavour in this direction, and reflect upon those experiences.

With this in mind, we share an article (very freely translated) published in the portuguese based newspaper Mapa 19 (February-April 2018), which describes the makings of an archipelago of okupied, self-managed villages in the north of spain.

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Community against the State: Errekaleor

It is said that the history of peoples who have a history is the history of class struggle. It might be said, with at least as much truthfulness, that the history of peoples without history is the history of their struggle against the State.

Pierre Clastres, Society Against the State

Every effort to create and/or defend community will invariably pose the question of the State, for the former, in its fullest sense, is an expression of the capacity for groups of people to self-organise autonomously, in freedom and equality, whereas the State’s power rests upon exclusion and hierarchy.

As stated, the opposition is simplified.  But it underlines the anarchist intuition that freedom and equality are incompatible with representational, sovereign power (of any type), the historical (and ongoing) legacy of peoples living autonomously and rebelling and/or fleeing from the State, and the contemporary struggle for autonomies (in different ways-of-being-together).

The militant okupation of the neighbourhood of Errekaleor in the Basque country is one such contemporary example; an example that continues in its struggle for an autonomous, self-managed form of life.  We share below a statement from the collective, with a brief introduction. (alasbarricadas 20/05/2018)

We have already had occasion to publish news about the occupation, and in solidarity, we continue this work.

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In solidarity: Fraguas and the creation of community

We have recently posted a series of articles against the idea of a “revolutionary” government, against the idea of government or the State as an instrument of anti-capitalist reform or radical change.

We believe that in whatever guise, the State can never be a medium for the creation of autonomous forms of life.  The overwhelming testimony of historical events is reproduced daily, in the repeated failure of “social-democratic” projects (Syriza, Podemos and their like), as well as the frontal attack on autonomous community projects (most recently and emblematically, the Notre-Dame-des-Landes ZAD in france).

This last Friday, members of the rural community of Fraguas, on the outskirts of Madrid, were condemned for the unlawful occupation of an abandoned village.

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Joseph Déjacque: the State against boundless individuality

All that which is not liberty is against liberty. Liberty is not a thing that can be allocated. It does not pertain at the whim of whatever personage or committee of public safety that orders it, that makes a gift of it. Dictatorship can cut off the heads of men, but it cannot make them increase and multiply; it can transform intelligences into corpses, but it cannot transform cadavers into intelligences; it can make the slaves creep and crawl under its boots, like maggots or caterpillars, flattening them under his heavy tread, — but only Liberty can give them wings. It is only through free labor, intellectual and moral labor, that our generation, civilization or chrysalis, will be metamorphosed into a bright and shiny butterfly, will take on the human type and continue its development in Harmony.

The social revolution can be made only by the organ of all individually; otherwise it is not the social revolution. What is necessary then, that towards which it must tend, is to give each and everyone the possibility, that is to say in the necessity of acting, in order that the movements, communicating with each other, give and receive the impetus of progress and thus increase the force tenfold and a hundredfold.

Down with the Bosses!

Natural government and natural exchange,—natural government, which is the government of individuals by individuals, of themselves by themselves, universal individualism, the human self [moi-humain] moving freely in the humanitary whole [tout-humanité]; and natural exchange, which is individuals exchanging of themselves with themselves, being at once producers and consumers, co-workers and co-inheritors of social capital, human liberty, infinitely divisible liberty, in the community of goods, in indivisible property. On that day, I say, of natural government and natural exchange, an organism driven by attraction and solidarity will rise up, majestic and beneficent, in the heart of regenerated humanity. And authoritarian and propertarian government, authoritarian and propertarian exchange, machineries overburdened with intermediaries and representative signs, will collapse, solitary and abandoned, in the dried-up course of the flood of ancient arbitrariness.

On Exchange

Any physical or moral sensation is the result of a contact — a shock or kiss that places what is most pure in the lower into relation with what is most impure in the higher — circulation thus propagating from organism to organism and from sphere to sphere, from attraction to attraction, via the four gradations, variously and universally manifested.

The Theory of Infinitesimal Humanities


Man is an essentially revolutionary being. He cannot immobilize himself in one place. He does not live the life of boundaries, but the life of the stars.

The Humanisphere

If “classical” anarchism was bound by its rejection of State authority, Joseph Déjacque’s criticism extends to that authority’s multiple manifestations throughout society and society’s enclosure within the State.  Well before Gustav Landauer, Déjacque already understood that we were the State; but also, that we could be so much more.


Be then frankly an entire anarchist and not a quarter anarchist, an eighth anarchist, or one-sixteenth anarchist, as one is a one-fourth, one-eighth or one-sixteenth partner in trade. Go beyond the abolition of contract to the abolition not only of the sword and of capital, but also of property and of authority in all its forms. Then you will have arrived at the anarchist community; that is to say, the social state where each one is free to produce or consume according to his will or his fancy without controlling, or being controlled by any other person whatever; where the balance of production and consumption is established naturally, no longer by the restrictive laws and arbitrary force of others, but by the free exercise of industry prompted by the needs and desires of each individual. The sea of humanity needs no dikes. Give its tides full sweep and each day they will find their level.

On the Human Being, Male and Female


We share Joseph Déjaque’s essay “Down with the Bosses!”, continuing our overly brief  review of anarchist criticisms of the State.

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Peter Kropotkin against the State

We recently posted an essay from the Crimethinc Collective on the illusions of a “revolutionary state“.  As a complement to this text, we share an older essay by Peter Kropotkin on the same theme.

If there is an urgency in returning to the anarchist criticism of the State, it is motivated by the repetition of demands for State recognition, of calls for State driven reform (with the recurrent desire to win or take State power for this purpose), and the obstinacy of national “statist” independence movements, all of which assume that the State can serve as a kind of neutral instrument for creating greater freedom and equality, when states are simultaneously dependent and multiplying agencies: dependent on existing relations of domination, which they serve, and acting to multiply, and thereby renew-recreate, those same relations.  States are in other words instruments of colonisation, fed by and feeding power.  To imagine that they could then serve to “liberate” (“from” or “for”) is a tragic illusion; an illusion sadly repeated throughout the history of sovereign politics.

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The continuing nicaraguan insurrection

Nosotros iremos hacia el sol de la libertad o hacia la muerte; y si morimos, no importa, nuestra causa seguirá viviendo. Otros nos seguirán.

Augusto César Sandino

News from the from the Crimethinc Collective …

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A homage to the ZAD of Notre-Dame-des-Landes

What is happening in Notre-Dame-de-Landes illustrates a conflict that concerns the whole world.  It brings together, on the one hand, financial powers determined to transform the resources of living and nature into commodities and, on the other hand, the will to live that animates millions of beings whose existence is rendered precarious by the ever greater totalitarianism of profit.  Where the state and the multinationals that sponsored it had vowed to impose their polluting nuisance, in defiance of the people and their environment, they met with a resistance whose obstinacy, in the case of Notre-Dame-des-Landes, made power bend.  The resistance not only demonstrated that the state, “the coldest of cold monster,” was not invincible – as the technocrat who represents it believes, in the stiffness of her/his corpse – it has shown that a new life was possible, against so many lives mutilated by the alienation of work and calculations of profitability. This is a society experimenting with the riches of solidarity, imagination, creativity, re-natured agriculture, a society in the process of self-sufficiency, which built bakery, brewery, market gardening center, sheepfold, cheese factory, a society which above all built the joy of taking, in self-managed assemblies, decisions to improve the lot of each. It is an experience of trial and error, with mistakes and corrections. It is a place of life. What remains of human feeling in those who send cops and bulldozers to destroy it, to crush it? What threat does the free land of Notre-Dame-des-Landes menace the state with? None, but the political fortunes of a few politicians that turn the wheel of great fortunes. The real threat is the weight of a truly human society on the dominant society, eminently controlled by the dictatorship of money, greed, the cult of merchandise and voluntary servitude. It is a wager for the world that is being played out in Notre-Dames-des-Landes. Either the aggressive sadness of the resigned and their so pitiful masters will prevail by inertia, or the ever-renewing breath of our human aspirations will sweep away barbarism. Whatever the outcome, we know that the bias of life is always reborn from the ashes. Human consciousness is drowsy, but never goes to sleep altogether. We are determined to start all over again.

Raoul Vaneigem

(From lundi.matin 01/06/2018)

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15M: From legacy to future

Spain’s 15th of May movement of 2011 marks a shift in ways of thinking and doing politics, or to borrow Amador Fernández-Savater’s expression, a shift in desire.

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The anarchist critique of the state

We share, below, a sort of exercise of recollection, not of an event, but of the impossibility of “revolutionary government”, from the CrimethInc Collective.  However complex the State, however much it is inseparable from our everyday life (it is not only an external authority working upon us from the “outside”, but shapes us from “within”, to the extent that we are all in some measure the State), however much it is capable of appropriating regional, local and individual means and instruments of control and oppression, any emancipatory project of freedom and equality must contest it, on all levels.

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May 68 and the politics of desire: Amador Fernández-Savater

(photograph by Jean-Claude Seine)*

It is difficult, if not impossible, to close political debate, even for ourselves.  And therefore our announcement of the end of our series on May 68, with an essay by Tomáz Ibáñez, was premature.  Below, we share a further essay, this time by Amador Fernández-Savater, in which May 68 is read through a new politics of desire that breaks with earlier, radical opposition to capitalism.

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