Essay of the Day: Multitude, Assemblies, and a New Politics of the Common

* Essay: A Common Assembly: Multitude, Assemblies, and a New Politics of the Common. Elise Danielle Thorburn. Interface: a journal for and about social movements, Volume 4 (2): 254 – 279 (November 2012)

From the Abstract:

“Contemporary experiments in organising the “multitude” have proliferated of late – from the encampments of Occupy to the Quebec student strike, the Arab Spring, and the European anti-austerity movements. These experiments, all appearing highly networked, have a political form in common – the assembly.

This organising model, the “assembly” as form, now seems to provide a point of convergence for a variety of left tendencies – including both jaded transversal activists who want a bit more vertical organization and vanguardists who have been forced to learn the lessons of horizontality.

It is a politics no longer split along traditional lineages, but rather opens us on to a politics of the common – something shared between people, not mediated by the State or capital. Using concepts drawn both from concrete activist experience and from the tradition of autonomism. This paper explores some of the genealogy of the assembly as form, and examines the autonomist notion of the common in order to see the convergences between emergent assembly projects – such as the Greater Toronto Workers’ Assembly – and theoretical tools that Autonomist theory has provided in order to being the project of thinking about how we can structure, coordinate, and organise movements so that they get us closer to the creation of a new world.”

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