Alternatiba and Blockadia: the twin pillars of translocal eco-territorial struggles

“From our point of view, although these two processes have distinctly different points of departure; they open up spaces that both enlarge and radicalise the citizens’ dynamics for climate justice. They enlarge it because they are grounded respectively in the opposition to the devastating project that is affecting our daily lives, and the development of experiences that improve them and provide us with a glimpse of tomorrow’s world. These two processes therefore make it possible to include fringes of the population that would otherwise not become involved in the classical activist spheres.”

In my own theorizing of the proposed strategies of the commons movement, I have always insisted on combining two aspects, the struggles of social movements for resistance and change, AND the concrete reconstruction of prefigurative practices, the creation of the new society within the old. This is of course what the labor movement did in the 19th century and not so innovative, but it has been lost in many 20th century movements.

But in this dispatch from the climate justice movements, by Maxime Combes of Attac France, it turns out to be the proposed strategy of that movement for 2015.

What is needed is to link the survival struggle of humnanity against climate disruption, to a broader view of a phase transition to a commons-centric society, as we propose and explain in the Commons Transition Plan (, i.e. to apply the twin strategy proposed by Maxime Combes, to the construction of the post-capitalist commons society. At least, that is my proposition .

Excerpted from Maxime Combes:

“The evaluation carried out by the Climate Justice Action and Climate Justice Now! already identified that the construction of a global climate justice movement should not depend on the agenda of the global summits: after the success of the non-violent civil disobedience action Reclaim Power on 16th December 2009, there was commitment to decentralise and disseminate the organisation of peoples’ assemblies at local and regional levels.The aim is to fight projects that damage climate and implement direct solutions through translocal forms of solidarity – solidarity between struggles or alternatives that are anchored in local initiatives – as a vector of the construction of a global movement. This is a huge challenge and is ever-present: how can we relocalise and anchor our imagination and mobilisation in the experience and concrete realities,including of our daily lives, in a perspective of rediscovering the power of acting together? The power of these acts will be all the stronger and greater if we are able to move beyond the logic of awareness-building and citizens’ mobilisations that are undoubtedly too linked to an heuristic analysis of science and expertise; it’s not enough to be aware that climate change exists to actually take action. Although the many experts’ reports do not mechanically imply implementing measures and policies that rise to the challenge, they have not led to generalised citizens’ mobilisations either. On the contrary, they have probably led to incredulity more than to commitment to act. Two citizens’ dynamics appear to us to contribute to the process of relocalisation of struggles and imagination; they also include the perspective of a global climate justice movement, as they confront the structural causes of global warming. The first is grounded in the “frontline struggles” that aim to halt the extractive industry from expanding (from shale oil and gas to new mining projects), and the construction of new useless infrastructure that is imposed and ill-adapted (airports, motorways, dams,stadia etc). As a result of the powerful mobilisations in North America against building new pipelines for exporting tar sands oil from Alberta in Canada; this new dynamic of international mobilisation is called Blockadia. The flip side of this coin is the dynamic of innovation, development, strengthening and highlighting of concrete alternative experiences, be they local or regional or global – that all aim to effect deep change in our production models as well as the consumption patterns that have thus far proven unsustainable. By using the name coined in October 2013 in Bayonne (in the French Basque country) byBizi! And dozens of Basque, Spanish and French organisations we could, by extension call the citizens’ movement that is up and running Alternatiba; it is now taking various forms in the four corners of our planet.

These two dynamics clearly represent an eco-territorial change in social struggles, to use the term coined by the Argentinian sociologist Maristella Svampa to characterise the rise in struggles in Latin America that combine the language of ecologists and the practice of resistance and alternatives grounded in territories.

Territory is not understood in this sense as confetti to be saved from the damage of productivism, industrialisation or neo-liberal globalisation. On the contrary, it is a space for building resistance and alternatives; in other words the place for imagining and experimenting how toreach beyond existing, unsustainable economic, financial and technological models. Here there is no space for selfish attitudes like “not in my back yard”. Preservation, promotion and resilience of all territories make up the overall picture. To some extent, the mobilisation against shale gas in France and many other countries that are calling for “Neither here nor anywhere”, especially when they are combined with the demands for radical energy transition, are all part and parcel of the same logic.”

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