Cosmopolis: a constitutional proposal for a world of sovereign self-governing cities and universal citizenship and subsistence

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Jul 7 2014 13:05
Cosmopolis: a constitutional proposal for a world of sovereign self-governing cities and universal citizenship and subsistence

Dear friends and comrades,

Below is my first attempt to elucidate the thinking behind and the sources in political practice and struggles and movements worldwide at the basis of my Cosmopolis proposal. If you have not yet seen my proposal for a universal constitutional order intended to provide a specifically political order to our collective current and recent practices, struggles, initiatives, commoning activities, and movements, it is below this message, and can be found at the blog:

My hope is twofold: that this will generate a widespread discussion and debate about what alternative institutional orders we can imagine and work for to get out of capitalism and free ourselves from the existing state powers and global governance tyrannies, and to provide a political and eminently practical vision of how our many initiatives around local subsistence like food and water sovereignty, commoning practices of all kinds, fair trade, living wage campaigns, alternative universities, renewable energy, immigrant and refugee rights campaigns, antiwar movements, and of course direct democracy movements like Occupy can be connected into horizontally linked but completely sovereign political form consistent with our principles of common ownership and management without capital or the state, ecological sustainability, equality, freedom of movement, and an end to exploitation and prisons.


What the Cosmopolis proposal is meant to accomplish:

The proposal for Cosmpolis is my attempt to address the perceived need for a political project that takes the lessons of Occupy, Indignados, the Arab Spring movements and other revolts since 2011 into account. It is also meant to address the discussions about what institutional or political form the commons can take, or how it can horizontally develop a full social order or “constituent power” that can also remain constituted.

I wanted to also explore some questions in a practical way:

How could national borders be abolished, yet not lead to a capitalist feeding frenzy for exploiting labor power globally?

How can that national state be “deconstructed” with as little violence as possible and without opening the door to slavery, local notables or global corporations taking over power – that is how can we avoid fueling the anti-state rhetoric of corporate and capitalist power and neoliberal discourse while still being able to fight against the power of the state on behalf of a different political power that could control these forces of exploitation?

How could we deal with violent behavior, breaking of the rules of commoning, abuses or violations of people, theft of common goods and services (privatization), enslavement, violence against women and children and other dangerous actions without prisons or the death penalty?

How could direct democracy actually run or govern society, rather than receding into mere discussion groups leading to disaffection or alienation?

How can commoning practices and forms of commons be coordinated, linked to each other, be made to be mutually reinforcing, in a horizontal way that does not leave it informal and open to attack politically from institutions? How can these practices as a constituent power become the institutional order?

How can we move away from a view of human beings as predominantly economic, rational, game-theory type actors, acting on self-centered individualistic interests to one that presents a different view of people consistent with the what is best in the humanist traditions, but avoiding the Euro-centrism, sexism and other limits of how that project was historically developed? In particular I wanted to revitalize the idea of people as political actors, as citizens in Aristotle’s sense, but in a universal way.

Finally, I wanted to answer a problem that is at the very center of our world today: the problem of human rights and of belonging to and membership in a community or society.

This is raised by Hannah Arendt in the chapter “The National State and the End of the Rights of Man”, and more recently by Giorgio Agamben. Arendt and Agamben make clear something that is more evident today than ever: that “inalienable human rights” are not worth the paper they are written on if you have no way to enforce them. If you must depend on your national state, you are at the mercy of that state, or at the mercy of other states and their willingness to let you in and defend your rights. Since your own national state is more than likely the one you are afraid of, and since as Arendt shows the international community is likely to stigmatize refugees more than to sustain them. In any case, refugee status is precarious, it is not citizenship.

I believe that today, part of global capitalism’s “moral order” is based on the idea of “humanitarian intervention” – that NATO, the US or the UN Security Council will intervene militarily to protect your human rights by bombing your country or destabilizing your country in reality putting your life and security in greater danger than before.

I have avoided the use of the term “rights” entirely in the writing of Cosmopolis. The entire project depends instead on two other bases: first, on what Arendt correctly addresses as the only “right” that matters – the right to belong as a citizen to some political community that one knows can be counted on to defend your rights, or to be free to go to some other political community that you can be a citizen of; and what Julie Wark in “The Human Rights Manifesto” and Peter Linebaugh in the “Magna Carta Manifesto” identify as the one right that counts and without which all others are null and void – the right to subsistence, that is to the commons. These two “rights” are best thought of as practices as Peter calls them and so “citizening” and “commoning” need to be universally available and enforceable by the very people who do them.

I have addressed that need as I have the other questions I raised above through the two key institutional mechanisms of Cosmopolis: city sovereignty and universal citizenship through free movement and the stipulation of acceptance of new arrivals and of citizenship after a 90 day residency period (echoing, but speeding up the “one year and one day” laws of medieval cities).

This is the commons plus immigrants if you like.

This leads to me explaining the principle institutional feature of Cosmopolis and why I think it is where we should put our specifically political efforts, the city (and the more rural township qua city as a less densely populated territory).

But first, a question arises: who the hell am I do such a perhaps arrogant or overly ambitious thing as write and circulate a proposed constitution?

I have two answers to this question:

1) What did James Madison have that I don’t have? Answer: slaves.
2) Nothing in the Cosmopolis proposal is my idea, not one thing except for the synthesis, the tying these proposals together into one proposal that is mutually reinforcing and sustaining. Everything in Cosmopolis exists today somewhere or has been practiced somewhere in the world at some point or has been proposed in a serious way by others. Indeed, I have tried to be faithful to the Marxist tradition of developing theory and practical proposals (“All power to the soviets”) based on the practice of movements and struggles.

So, about the city:

We need a political form that is immediately realizable, that does not have to be constructed from scratch in the face of a global market, and corporate, financial and state repression. The city already exists, and people can understand it as a sphere of political activity.

The city is small enough to enable to assemblies of residents in neighborhoods or in small towns to directly legislate and administer governmental power, and to delegate that authority in a controllable (by the people directly) way. The direct democracy of Occupy, Indignados and other movements can be a reality and actually govern the cities they have occupied. Lacking such a perspective meant that the movements had this as their implicit, latent project but that it was not developed because the problem seemed to be at the national and global levels. Indeed that is where the problem is, but the solution was always where the movements found themselves.

It is not an accident that the movements became movements in and of cities – Occupy Oakland, Occupy Denver, etc, and that even those movements not naming themselves for cities as in Greece, Spain and Egypt nevertheless occupied plazas, square or piazzas in major cities. The city and township are where these movements can realize their actual meaning and potential.

The city is indeed where all such non-state political projects that have been revolutionary and directly democratic have taken place.

Even before the city, the village is where common property and management by village assembly have been practiced since ancient times. But Marx’s continual protest that this form of communism was the material basis for the despotic state in the ancient world and in modern non-capitalist countries should be taken seriously: this is what happens when the regimes of common property in every locale are not coordinated at a more universal level, the constituent or dual power becoming constituted, the political sphere itself. The villages have until now lacked the communications and transport infrastructure and the access to universally produced wealth to enable them to openly challenge the state as the political authority. With modern cell phones, the internet and other infrastructure this is less of a problem, though this concern is why Cosmopolis stresses the need for technology transfer from the global North to the South, and the need to quickly build solar roads, high speed trains, light rail etc. linking areas.

As for the cities, this has long been a privileged political area but now must become universal together with non-urban municipalities (“townships” in the Cosmopolis terminology, but I am not fixated on the terms) so that the city no longer exploits the rural area. This latter goal is accomplished by the city and township being defined as the political identity of a territory that enables cities to be at least minimally self-sufficient in basic needs like water, food and energy and some basic production, and for rural areas to include a large enough population and enough resources to provide basic services like health care, higher education, transport and access to wealth.

The first known social revolution took place in Anatolia, in Catal Huyuk, 9,200 years ago, as the elite were overthrown in the course of a few weeks and replaced with an egalitarian city of modular houses that were conjoined by stairs and ladders:

From the first Sumerian cities which were governed by citizen assemblies (before the first kings), to ancient Athens and Vaishali, to the Italian and Belgian city republics of the middle ages and Renaissance, to the 1848 Revolutions which were all in cities and set up city republics, to the Paris Commune to the 1877 Railroad Strike in the US when workers took over and ran cities, to the Soviets of 1905 and 1917 – which we too easily forget were city governments of workers, to the Seattle General Strike of 1919, to Barcelona in 1936, to the Kwangju uprising of 1980 in South Korea, to Tiananmen Square, Porto Alegre’s participatory budgeting, to Occupy and the other movements of the past few years, from Thailand (the “Red Shirts” movement) to Egypt to Greece, to the autonomous Good Government Towns of the Zapatistas, the city has been a major, perhaps the key site of revolution, direct democracy, and the possibilities of another world.

The city already has some degree of commitment on the part of its residents. It can hold people’s loyalties and provide them a sense of belonging.

And it is not the national state. Here it has other qualities that are to be preferred: the city and even the township are cosmopolitan in ontology if not always in practice – they do not pretend to the ethnic homogeneity of national states with their origin myths. They do not require exclusion of ethnic minorities in the way that nations do. They do not even really have borders, the walled medieval cities notwithstanding. Cities have always been more diverse than other geographic entities – the earliest Sumerian cities that we know of had Semitic populations together with the Sumerians (whom we know almost nothing about).

And, by changing the scale of political authority and power to the city, we can, to use an Italian term “de-dramatize” the issue of borders and immigration. If people enter the US from Mexico there are only two options, you stay in Mexico or enter the US. If they go from North Africa to Southern Europe the same logic applies. It can seem an “invasion” even to those who don’t live near the border.

Cities are many in the world. There are always more places to go. At the same time, no commons regime or commoning practice can function without some minimal standard to how many people are included at any one time, who has a voice in managing the commons resources in question, and no direct democracy can function without some basis for determining who has a vote or who is eligible to govern (even if a very loose one such as ACT-UP’s old principle that you had to attend your second meeting before you had a vote, for Padova2020 here where I live it is at your third meeting). This was a lesson of Occupy in many places.

I have addressed these issues through the ideas of free movement to wherever one wants to go, the requirement (which comes from African and Native American village practices in many areas, and among some ancient Greek cities as well) that cities must maintain places of residence and resources for their

The 1% number by the way is proportionally nearly 3 times the current number of people emigrating to the United States annually.

Cities may limit the number of new arrivals in any given year, but this does not have the same impact as the US doing the same as there are always a lot of other cities to go to, and one can always wait for next year if the city one wants to go to has reached its quota of new arrivals for the year.

Just as importantly as the universal freedom to move to anywhere on the Earth to another township, and the easily overlooked freedom to opt out entirely from this worldwide order, opting out persons or communities having some territory, resources and limited but guaranteed income from the Universal money agency and being able to trade with cities and townships, is the crucial regime of citizenship.

People need to be citizens of where they find themselves. I have posited 90 days as a waiting period, one that demonstrates that one intends to remain a time in a place, while at the same time being so brief as to make really universal citizenship as a system. And here we have citizenship as a member of a community that is self-governing, where one immediately becomes part of the governing system, not dependent on representation or external authority to enforce your “rights”.

The cities are part of Cosmopolis, indeed they together constitute it. It comes into being when enough cities opt in by adopting direct self-government, local money, and protection of new arrivals (as a precedent to citizenship as they gain their collective sovereignty) in enough places to withdraw national tax payments and begin the new system. They can’t be a part without the universal aspects, like acceptance of universal money, of new arrivals and their citizenship rights, and so are not strictly autonomous or autarkic as in some of the federalist ideas of Murray Bookchin, many of whose ideas I have borrowed openly here. Indeed no federation of cities against other cities is permitted, so while the overall sovereignty structure is consistent with anarchism, this is not an anarchist order in the sense that the realist school of international relations see today in the order of national states.

So Cosmopolis is not “localism” instead of globalism. Indeed it is both more universal than global capitalism in scale and scope (and equality and inclusiveness obviously), and more technologically advanced – it posits even closer transport and communication integration between cities and townships, allows all people to go wherever they want with their citizenship and governmental authority mobile and their subsistence guaranteed both as members of a city and as recipients of the universal money deposits globally.

Cities have territory and self-defense forces only for internal order and protection and in case of having a hostile neighbor, but other than the direct right of community self-defense, no military action of any kind is ever possible or allowable unless the Cosmopolis as a whole as exercised through the delegated Regions (which always include 1/3 members from cities and towns not from that same region geographically, hence from the Cosmopolitan whole) approves and decides there is a common threat.

The main disciplinary instrument therefore is expulsion from a city. This in itself does not entail loss of citizenship, except for the period of exile, and in any case people found guilty of violations remain free to go to another city or, with the more likely option of returning to the city of their current residence, to go to a rehabilitation center run as a township by those exiled there (as their preference) and as citizens of that center for the time agreed on between the city whose rules have been violated and the center.

Slavery, trafficking, and related activities are treated more harshly, leading essentially to expulsion from Cosmopolis itself (the only form of involuntary opting out) due to their threat to the whole system of human freedom and self-government and common management.

There is no private property, nor any copyright and all scientific or other knowledge is immediately available through the internet and its presumed successors. Indeed hoarding of knowledge or technology is a practice that immediately potential boycott procedures. There is, for the short term, money, because I at least cannot imagine going from our almost total dependence on money (at least where communal land is not common) to non-monetary communism in one fell swoop. Besides, it is possible that Braudel and others are right and money is only an instrument in any human community (as David Graeber shows, money has existed for millennia before coinage, and most money today is likewise not coinage).

In any case, if capitalism is the imposition of socially necessary labor time as a universally applicable standard to enforce value production then that is not possible here. Aside from the abolition of property and the completely communal system of work organization, and the use of money to de-link completely work from income and subsistence, the dual money system, in which there are only local money which cannot be used outside a city or town and universal money usable only for trade between cities and their component cooperatives, means that there cannot be a single system of value and average rate of profit.

While there is complete freedom of association, there is no political or economic power in the hands of any ethnic, tribal, religious, or professional group. They will exist only for the use value they profess to exist for, scientific research (funded universally for specific projects, but with income of scientists still only that available to other citizens), religious exploration and practice, cultural activity and so on.

All work is cooperative and cooperatively managed, and everyone who wants to work will have work, but no one will need to work to survive. But most people will want to do something, whether it be design things, build things, help raise children, grow food, clean streets or whatever, though with the recent advances in renewable energy I foresee a high level of automation except this too lends itself to artisanal and handicraft and artistic work, since anyone can do any kind of work they like essentially.

I see this as a classless society, but it may not be a status-free one. I think that is fine and think that it has been a mistake of Marxists not to see the difference. Ironically, the Soviet Union may have gotten this part right to an extent. Not the actual material rewards of villas, privileged consumption for athletes, artists, and party members, but rather that where monetary rewards were not necessarily available, people were rewarded with prestige, the Lenin medal, etc. I think that the prestige in Renaissance republics of winning the competition to design the local cathedral or city hall door will return in each city in its own way. And each will choose the way of life it wants within these overall standards.

This is a green alternative, a communist one, a socialist one, a municipalist one, a universal approach, a local community-based approach, a world of commons, a world of cities, a world open to “immigrants” while abolishing immigration as such since the whole world is open to us all, a world without private property, with enough for all yet one that even some libertarians might prefer to the world of today.

I think an interesting test would be: would the actual populations of Vatican City, Mecca, Lhasa, Jerusalem and Salt Lake City prefer to remain as is under the tyrannies of state, market, corporation, finance, or be self-governing and never worry again about how to live and survive, free to come and go as they like but with the proviso that each year up to 1% of their population may be anyone else who wants to live there and who will also be a citizen of their city?

I would like to see.

I look forward to all your feedback.

Steven Colatrella

[b]21st Century Cosmopolis:

Constitution for a Better World
A Civilization based on Self-Governing Cities and Townships, Cooperative Self-Governed Workplaces and Public Finance, Sustainable Agriculture and Renewable Energy and Universal Access to Citizenship, Income and Subsistence. And how we can start it up now and already have in many places.

Steven Colatrella*

Article I – A Civilization based on self-governed cities and townships and universal access to citizenship

1.A – the City and the Township

A city shall be understood to be an urban environment of dense population that identifies itself publicly as a city together with that part of the outlying environment and residence areas required to allow for a minimal relative self-sufficiency in food and natural resources. All the residents of this area shall be citizens of the city. A first priority for the city shall be to connect all of its residential and resource areas by light rail, passable road with electric cars or other such transport as is ecologically sustainable within that city and which its citizens decide to use (such as boats in some watery areas), as well as provision of the appropriate means of communication (common wi-fi connections for all residents for example).

A township shall be understood to be a number of residence areas – villages, hamlets, towns, and so forth that are combined so as to reach the critical mass of population and resources needed to be relatively self-sustaining and to provide the services – such as health care, transportation and education – required for its citizens to achieve their full potential and to meet their needs. Townships will thus be generally of greater territorial size and lower population density but will otherwise function juridically as cities for all other purposes except where the specific issues of rural life, ecology and agriculture or related activities are involved. The same prioritization of linking of all the residence areas of townships by transport and communications that are efficient and ecologically sustainable shall apply to townships as they do to cities. Where appropriate, town meetings shall function in place of the urban neighborhood legislatures and the same process of selecting delegates with specific mandates and where needed township-wide referenda shall apply.

Resources for this project of integration of the territory of the city or township will be available through various means including the city’s own resources and cooperative workplaces, its own local money the creation of which is limited only by its citizens’ own needs and collective decisions, and by the world currency that in the first stages after adoption of this constitution. The availability of this currency, explained in greater detail below, will include extraordinary grants by the neutral planetary currency agency and taking into account the need for poorer regions of the world and cities with fewer resources to quickly reach the worldwide average level of access to technologies such as solar power, wi fi communications, modern light rail and high speed trains and satellite technology, so that they will be easily able to obtain these from those regions that have these in abundance. Further, as described below, graduates will accompany technology transfers as direct forms of grants, spending a required year in cities in the Global South to be sure that these have access and training in the use of these means.

1.B – Universal access to citizenship and self-government of cities by citizens

Every individual human being resident of a city or of a component part of a township for more than 90 days will be a citizen of that city, with all the rights and duties that these entail in that locale.

Everyone will be a citizen of some city or township wherever they live in the world unless they intentionally opt out by living outside all existing city boundaries and declare to public authorities in a nearby city or township their intention to opt out.

By opting out, a person foregoes the rights and duties of a citizen, and access to the resources available in a city will be provided only on the basis determined by that city’s citizens.

Every city will have as its ultimate governing body the legislatures of its neighborhoods, the full resident adult population voting in city-wide referenda or assemblies where feasible, (as determined locally with regard to geographic residency and age but no other basis for exclusion) and implementation of decisions will be carried out by the delegates sent to city-wide assemblies and councils of administration chosen from among these with mandates to enact the decisions taken locally by the residents themselves.

Each city and township will provide at least one day a week in which its citizens, except those providing emergency and life-and-death services, will be free from work so they will be able to attend assemblies, and carry out their citizenship duties. All enterprises – cooperatives and those small-scale private firms permitted in some cases by cities and townships – must remain closed except for those providing necessary life and death services. Those working in such services will be provided alternative means of participating – taking turns or other means as determined by each city and township in negotiation with the cooperative or organization in question.

Upon arrival in a new city or township territory, a person, family or group must inform the city public authority of their presence, so that the 90 day period may be officially counted. Since income for use in the local currency, access to work and other activities and voting and governing rights are based on citizenship which is easily available, there is a strong incentive for everyone to inform the city or township of their presence.

Should persons arrive in a city or township and remain for 90 days without the intention of taking residency and citizenship in that city, they shall announce their intentions to the public authority in that city and shall retain citizenship of the city of permanent residence so long as this accords with the residency and citizenship rules of that city as determined by its citizens. Should this option not be available, the city in which such persons are newly arrived shall provide them with citizenship even if this is not their intention. Except for persons opting out geographically and politically, no person shall remain without a residence and a citizenship status of some city.

Upon reaching adulthood, or as an adult upon having resided more than 90 days every citizen resident shall be enrolled to vote and to having full voting, administrative and other rights and duties of citizens of a city.

There being many cities in the world, therefore cities may, within reason, set some limits for periods of time as to how many new residents may arrive. This number may not under any circumstances be less than 1% of the population of that city as of January 1 of that same year over the period of a calendar year. Should this quota (10,000 new residents per 1 million population, or 10 per 1000) not yet be reached by December 31 of the same year, no restrictions on new arrivals and new citizens will be allowed.

Each city shall build, provide and maintain however a sufficient number of housing units at a high quality standard of safety, health and comfort equal to the total number of households (and of various sizes according to the likely sizes of families, groups or households), plus at least 1% which must be maintained as available for new arrivals.

Article II – Sovereignty of Self-Governed Cities and Abolition of National States and Capitalism

2.A – An orderly withdrawal from the national states

National borders are therefore abolished worldwide.

This constitution shall go into effect when a critical mass of cities worldwide and in key countries shall have approved it by referendum of their citizens, that is of all adults resident in the city for a period of more than 90 days.

Once this constitution has gone into effect, citizens of cities being the vast majority of the world’s persons shall cease to pay taxes any longer to national states.

2. B – A Communal Economy and the delineation of territorial access to resources

Every city and township shall be the collective owner of all the natural resources, land, water, and business enterprises within its territorial reach. That territorial reach will be determined by the General Council of Cities and Regions for its region, which will be constituted 2/3 by citizens of the member cities and townships of that region and 1/3 by citizens of cities and townships from other regions of the continent of which that region is part (North and Central America, South America, Europe, Asia, Africa and Oceania).

The members of General Councils shall be citizens of important standing in ethics, ecology, science, religion, learning or medicine and other fields, but shall not be persons with longstanding relationships to large scale economic or political interests apart from those of their city as a whole. These will periodically, as needed and appropriate, re-designate the boundaries of cities, and a General Council of Regions and Continent shall do the same for the regions making up a continent, with a General Planetary Council determining the boundaries of continents (much more rarely but if and when needed). Council members shall be nominated by citizens and elected city-wide.

Every city or township shall establish both a television station available by satellite (see below), and an internet portal, as well as a social media page, through which citizens, schools, artistic, scientific, political, philosophical and other groups as well as cooperatives may express their views, provide information to fellow citizens and which are available for viewing by other cities worldwide and by their citizens. The city shall be the owner of these media though their management will be by a cooperative as with other public functions.

Every city and township shall establish a public finance institution that shall create money and distribute it to the persons and organizations making up the city.

Every citizen shall, at birth, or after 90 days of residency, be provided with an account in which a sum of money sufficient annually for them to live comfortably shall be direct deposited. This money shall be the local currency, utilizable only within the boundaries of the city itself.

Every city and township shall establish a currency which shall circulate only within its own boundaries, and shall create this money through direct grants to the accounts of cooperative organizations such as business enterprises of all types, schools, universities and other learning or research institutions, health care, transport and all service organizations, and into the accounts of each individual citizen of the city. No other form of money creation public or private shall be permitted nor legal within city limits per se.

A Universal money shall also exist, which shall be provided, in proportions of no greater however, roughly 1/5 with regard to the local monies, by the global public authority (see below) through an agency that shall provide these funds (the 1/5 quantity with respect to the volume of money creation in that city of its local money) directly to the municipal authority to be distributed as determined by the citizens assembled of that city or township. Additionally, an amount which shall be the same for all persons on Earth shall be distributed directly to the personal accounts of each of individual citizen of each city and each opting out individual person. In initial stages of this constitution’s adoption, sums of Universal money shall include extraordinary grants to poorer areas of the world so that they may obtain the technology, means of production, goods, resources and training to enable them to quickly establish a renewable energy base, sustainable and easily accessible transportation and up to date communications, as well as sufficient housing, appropriate medical care and food production for their citizens’ needs.

The Universal money shall be the only money allowed to be used for all transactions between cities, between organizations and enterprises established in different cities, townships, or regions or continents, between individuals residing in and holding citizenship of different cities or townships, or involving any opted out persons.

At some point when and if the general and sustainable productivity, abundance or wealth of human beings collectively reaches the point where money is determined to be redundant, a global referendum shall be held on whether to retire all money in favor of direct appropriation of all goods and services and on what basis and it what detail such a system shall be established.

2.C. – Restriction of Large Businesses, Prevention of Capitalism Developing in the Interstices

Under no circumstances may any cooperative or other enterprise operate, be registered or engage in activity in another city or township, or in more than one city or township, except where requested to provide emergency aid. Nor may any enterprise of any kind composed of, founded by or operated by or with the work of opted-out individuals operate, be registered or engage in activity in any city or township.

No monetary unit or currency originating in or used in the opted out territories, communities or among the individuals consisting therein may circulate or be used for any purpose in cities or townships, and only the Universal currency may be used for any exchange between cities and townships, or their citizens and cooperatives and enterprises and any individuals, enterprises or communities and organizations that are opted out or that operate in opted out territories.

While cooperatives and other organizations and enterprises, as well as cities, townships, and associations may all act – as determined by the collective decision of their citizens or members – as a unit for purposes of carrying out their activities, and while these activities may include in some townships or cities that choose to allow this some representation, delegation or other voice in political or economic affairs of said city or township or the region of which they are a part, such recognition of corporate or collective existence shall never be understood, construed or asserted to be synonymous with the duties, powers, obligations, rights of and obligations of others to individual living human beings nor even of animals and other living things. This recognition of existence sui generis as a unit or collective is the recognition by cities and townships of the cooperative nature of the activity of the individual persons making up such units, and does not mean that these may use their advantages as collectives to outvote, out-finance, out-organize or in any other way to unduly and disproportionately influence decision making, administration or political and economic life in the cities, townships or regions.

The Business Corporation as a private interest is hereby abolished as are private financial institutions.

Should any of the activities or practices or institutions described in this article be discovered to exist in any city, township, region, or in or among any opted out community or individuals or organizations, or among any associations be they professional, religious, ethnic or tribal, scientific, artistic or of any other nature, these individuals or organizations shall be subject to a universal boycott of their work, products, services, travel, individuals (who will thus be denied the possibility of citizenship until such practices desist) or currency.

2.D. Prohibition of Debt and Credit
No city, township, citizen of either, nor any region, association, organization or opted out community, individual or organization may engage in the use of debt, nor expect collection or restitution of debt by others. All payments shall be made upon rendering of goods or services, or within no more than 30 days thereof, and since currency both local and universal shall be made available in sufficient quantities to guarantee the comfortable livelihood of all, this requirement shall not be onerous. Anyone or any organization or city, township, region, or other person or organization found to be engaging in the use of debt for any reason either as debtor (individual or collective) or creditor (either individual or collective) shall be subject to the penalties described for the practice of slavery and related activities.

Article III – Education, Work and Cooperation: Abolition of the wages system, institutional hierarchy and bosses.

3.A. – A cosmopolitan education for all building solidarity within and across territories

All citizens of a city or township shall be provided with a public education free of charge at schools run on a basis determined by the citizens of that city. All public education shall however be connected to the learning of practical skills at one or more of the cooperative organizations or business enterprises of the city, and the learning of a professional degree (engineering, nursing, software writing, history, etc.). All students in every city shall spend one semester of their Secondary School years traveling to other cities in their region to see how that city is governed, how its trades and skills are developed and how its cooperatives work. Upon graduation from University, all students in the regions north of the Mediterranean Sea, the Rio Grande River or the city of Vladivostok shall spend one year in a city in a region in the South of the world as a guest citizen, helping to provide transfer technology and other resources to enable those parts of the world to quickly arrive at a comfortable and sustainable living condition for their citizens, and students from the South will likewise reside for a year upon graduation in a city of the North so as to gain access to useful technology, knowledge and techniques while sharing the cultural knowledge and ways of their own city with the residents of the northern city.

3.B. – Cooperatives are schools of self-government and realization of everyone’s abilities

All business enterprises and organizations in every city shall be owned in the final instance by the city’s or township’s citizens as a whole. All enterprises involving more than 5 persons shall be managed as cooperatives by the workers together with the clients, patients or service-provided citizens relevant to that organization, the latter group (clients etc.) to serve on a rotating basis as in jury duty and for periods of not more than one year, and in proportion of 1/1 with the workers at the enterprise or organization. On all questions of work that do not directly involve or affect clients however, such as hours of work, safety at work, how to carry out specific tasks, and so on, the workers themselves will decide but will keep the clients informed of their decisions and where possible seek approval by the latter as a gesture of good will.

A City or Township Council with two branches shall administer the decisions taken by the citizens themselves and their delegates on a day to day basis. One branch will deal with city or township issues as a whole, including relationships with other cities and regions, and will consist of an appropriate number of citizens (for each city given its size and population) chosen by random to serve one-year terms. This council will also oversee, or will create an agency of some of its members and also including delegates from other cities in the proportion of 5/1 to oversee the decisions taken by the other branch, the Cooperatives Council in its role of oversight of the enterprises, organizations and funds provided publicly to these by the city in both local and global currency.

The Cooperatives Council will coordinate, administer and make rules for the cooperatives making up the economic life of the city. They will send delegates to the Regional Cooperatives Council which will coordinate and develop plans in accordance with the already expressed decisions of the cooperative assemblies and the City and Township citizen assemblies to deal with larger scale questions of management of common transport and communications, ecological repair and sustainability, resource management beyond the boundaries of cities and townships and other related issues.

3.C. – Regional coordination by delegated administration enables cooperation among cities and townships

A Regional Cities and Townships Council will coordinate the cooperation among cities in the region on issues of common concern, will oversee the organization of city self-defense without however exercising any authority over the self-defense organizations, will seek to develop needed common infrastructure by cooperation leading to the pooling of Universal money funds provided to cities for common uses approved by the citizens of each city and township by referendum and in neighborhood assemblies. But it will not have the authority for example to negotiate with other Regions or Continents on political or economic issues. These powers remain with the cities and can only be temporarily delegated for extraordinary purposes.

3.D. – Work as free activity for all without the whip of hunger or need and without bosses

Each city and township will insure that each citizen has useful work to do with a cooperative organization or enterprise. Cooperatives are schools of citizenship and self-government and the contribution to the general good is a central right and duty of all city and township citizens. Citizens shall be free to seek and apply for membership with any cooperative they choose and employment shall be determined by the members of that cooperative, as well as, in extreme cases, the ending of such membership if a member is determined to have violated basic rules, put others in danger, damaged the means of production or in some other way to have violated the norms of the cooperative to such a degree as to merit expulsion. But each cooperative shall be required by each city to hold a number of positions available to those requiring placement in useful work and an agency of the city chosen by random but overseen by the Cooperatives Council proportionate to the likely need for work placement beyond the immediate membership applications by the cooperative’s members. Those citizens placed in cooperatives by the Cooperatives Council agency shall be full voting and managing members of the cooperative in which they are placed on an equal basis with all others, with the same rights and duties. All new members of cooperatives become full voting and permanent members, subject only to the extraordinary disciplinary rules outlined above, after a 90 day probationary period.


Each cooperative will designate at least two days per week or 9 days per calendar month in which their members will not be expected to work, though these need not be the same day for each cooperative member, but these days are to be decided by the members themselves as appropriate for the kind of work they do and type of product or service their cooperative provides. These days may not ever coincide with the days which the city has designated for assembly participation in self-government, but are intended for rest and for the activities freely engaged in by cooperative members, their families and friends. The general tendency and overall objective is for less work time to be required with periodic reductions of required work time as the overall productivity worldwide rises. But many cities or townships may choose freely to carry out work in traditional or labor-intensive ways due to local cultural values. But work may never be imposed either by physical force (see the ban on slavery and related practices), by threat or practice of withholding needed resources or income needed for survival, by debt (see ban on debt), nor be required to exceed the number of days proscribed herein.

3.E. Provision for but limits on private business enterprise.

Some small privately run businesses, such as restaurants and some personal service businesses will continue to exist, and any citizen is free to seek and accept employment in any private business with 5 or fewer members, founders and their family members included. Should a family or household consist of more than 5 persons and wish to establish an enterprise, they may do so, but under the regulations established by that city for such organizations, but they may not employ other non-family member citizens.

3.F – Abolition of the Wages System. Income Separated from Work, with universal access to needs.

The wages system is abolished. No pay will be received or provided by cooperative or private businesses in any currency local or universal nor in kind. All citizens’ material needs are provided for by the guaranteed universal income through the direct transfer by the local and global public finance agencies, and by the rights and duties of their citizenship in their respective city.

Payment in global money may be provided to opting out individuals, though such payments may never exceed 1% of the funds provided to the city by the global authority.

Education, housing, health care, access to wi-fi internet and related networks, transportation within the boundaries of one’s city, and meals at a common neighborhood cafeteria (which may not be required by the city or township for more a maximum than one meal a week at the most should this be a local cultural and social norm established by its citizens, but which will be available to all in the neighborhood provided they inform the cafeteria’s staff of their intention to be present for the meal no later than at the closing time of the previous meal that same day), will all be provided free of charge to all citizens and a certain number of guests to be determined by each city or each neighborhood as each city or township decides.

Article IV – Collective Self-Defense and Security and Keeping of the Peace

Article 4.A – Collective Self-Defense both nonviolent and armed

Each city will be required to provide for two forms of collective self-defense: training in public school from Middle School age onward in nonviolent collective resistance, and membership of all citizens in an armed and trained militia.

The citizens will themselves establish and provide for the safety and security of their neighborhoods on the basis of their membership in militia units. Where cities and townships decide to delegate this collective security function to police, no individual may serve as a police officer in any capacity for a period of greater than 5 years. A rotation system similar to jury duty is advised and many variations on such a system are possible.

4.B – Penalties for violations of persons, rules or laws – instead of prisons

Any citizen or visiting person found by a jury trial to have committed a violent act or other serious violation of the laws or rules of the city will be provided with a choice: they may choose either 1) expulsion from the city to another city that has been found by the city agencies to be willing to accept them as a newly arriving resident and may not return to the city whose rules they violated for a time determined by the juries of that city, or 2) to opt out of city or township citizenship altogether with all the consequences that entails or 3) to go to a rehabilitation collective in which those from various cities in the same region found to have violated laws in some serious way together manage their existence, work and subsistence and where they will have the same access to local monies (in this case of the rehabilitation collective acting as a township) and global money but where their citizenship will be that of the rehabilitation collective for a period agreed upon by the members of the rehabilitation collective (acting through randomly selected members in a governing council) and the city that has found the person in violation. After that period is over the city or township may decide if they are willing to accept the person in question back as a newly arrived resident or not, but that person is otherwise free to move as a new resident where they like subject only to the available places for newly arrived residents/prospective citizens in a given city or township. No other stigma or record or limitation is otherwise attached to that person.

4.C. – The Death Penalty Abolished Worldwide

No penalty of death may under any circumstances be provided for or practiced by any city or township, nor by any other public authority or organization. Any city, township, region, or organization or community found to have practiced or to be about to impose the death penalty for any reason will be subject to a universal boycott by all cities and townships on their goods, services, travel by their citizens and should such practice continue may be considered by all other cities to be in a state of war with all other cities, the cities in its region being the first to be obligated to unite to conduct such a war, as always in cases of violations of human members of a city or township to be able to call on all other cities and townships for that aid that is required to quickly, effectively and with as little loss of life as possible end the war and bring the injustices that required it to an end.

4.D. – The Crime of Slavery and of Forced Labor and Trafficking, including Debt

The crimes of enslaving others, trafficking in persons, physical imprisonment of another, kidnapping or the use of violence or threats of violence to another, abuse of minors or disabled persons for one’s own use, pleasure, sense of power or exploitation of the other however fall under another category from other crimes. For even murder, horrible as it is, is a crime committed against another individual and the city and community of which they are part. But enslavement and these related practices threaten human freedom as such.

Therefore those found to have been guilty of engaging in such practices will first have their case re-heard by a jury at the Regional level and upon that hearing they may appeal to a Global jury. Should that jury find in their favor, they will nevertheless be required to spend a period of time under the penalty system outlined above as determined by the city involved and the rehabilitation collective. But should it not find in their favor they will be expelled from all cities globally as a global opt out, no longer eligible for citizenship in any city or township anywhere.

For purposes of this article, the taking on of debt by any individual, city, township, organization, enterprise or cooperative, or the granting of credit and therefore the imposition of debt on another individual, city, township, organization, enterprise, or cooperative or association, shall be construed to be an act of enslavement and the penalties herein described shall apply.

4.E. – Collective and Universal Self-Defense against Aggressors

Any city or township that invades or attacks another city, township or region with its militia or other organized violent force will be considered to be in a state of war with all of the cities and townships in the region who under the coordination of the Council of Cities and Townships and led by delegated leaders will engage in collective defense of the attacked city or region and will place the city and citizens found to be in violation of the peace in a sponsorship in which its self-government will be for a time to be determined subject to approval by delegates of the cities that provided a collective defense. Any individuals found to have committed war crimes on behalf of the aggression or responsible for the deaths of residents of the attacked city or region will be subject to the same penalties as apply to enslavement.

4.F. – Punishment of war crimes to apply to both sides in all cases

A body of the Global Council will also undertake an investigation to determine if any members or groups of the cities engaging in collective defense likewise are responsible for wrongful deaths beyond those necessary for the defense of the attacked city or region and these too will be subject to the same penalties as those of the aggressor city.

4.G. – In case of Oppression or Denial of Freedoms or Exploitation

Any city or township that engages in violations of personal safety, security or freedom of some of its residents or citizens, or of those of another, engages in exploitation in its business or political dealings with another, is found to have abused the ecological resources that are in use by other cities and townships, or in some other way is found to violate basic norms and values will be faced with a general boycott of its goods and services, a refusal of the global financial agency to distribute global funds (it will still be basically self-sufficient for its citizens’ needs locally and have its own currency but can’t participate in the global economic activity) and a travel ban on its citizens.

Article V. – Non-city or township affiliations and associations: diversity without power relations

5.A. – Other associational forms are non-governmental allowing the greatest cosmopolitan cultural diversity imaginable.

Since cities are many, the possibilities for cultural diversity are great. But cities are primarily public and political spheres in which citizens can act as self-governing beings, as citizens.

Other organizational forms, which are wider in geographic scope or in membership will arise and may exist, including networks, tribes, religious affiliations, gender, indigenous, scientific and professional associations, ethnic or language groupings, and artistic or educational affiliations, to name a few.

These may transcend city or region or even continent in scope and scale. But none of these may under any circumstances ever do any of the following:

1) Exercise governmental authority in any fashion. They may have self-governing bodies for their own organizational purposes and they may make and establish moral, ethical, normative or behavioral and theological/philosophical rules, but these can never be obligatory for their members except inasmuch as non-acceptance of such rules merely means one’s membership in these associations is the price of one’s own views or practices. These associations may not in any other way except expulsion from membership engage in any punishment, rehabilitation, nor may they establish prisons, physical disciplining of recalcitrant members, or engage in any act of violence. Any such practice will result in their no longer being allowed to exist as a membership organization in the region in which such action has taken place. Should such behavior become an ongoing pattern, the General Council may globally advise all cities on the need or desirability to ban such an organization from the city.
2) Coin or create or distribute money for any purposes except to pay their organizational expense such as for supplies. They may never have paid personnel working for them either for any reason.
3) Establish any militia or other armed group for any reason.
4) Hold territory as an organization, nor informally or behind the scenes wield governmental power in a city or township or region. Such a practice is to be reacted to by a general boycott of the city in question, and on its goods and services, restriction of funds by the global agency until such behavior ends and is understood to have ended, and travel bans on its members.
5) Own or control resources of use to one or more cities. Own or control any cooperative businesses.
6) Engage in acts of violence against other associations with which it is not in accord.
7) Engage in organized lobbying, behind the scenes or secret negotiations, bribery or other attempts to influence anyone in any temporary position of delegated authority of a city, township, region, continent or of the world in general or any authority thereof or of any finance agency, militia, nonviolent self-defense force, or cooperative of any city, township, region, continent or of the world in general. Such activity will be considered a major violation of law in every city and township and will result in the penalty system described above for violations.

The preceding section shall not be interpreted to exclude the initial founding of a city by a body citizens that happens to be constituted by a plurality, majority or even entirely by a single ethnic, indigenous, tribal, language or national group.

5.B. – Cities are open to all and are not tribes, nations, ethnicities, religious institutions or parties

But a city is not a tribe, ethnicity, or nationality, and anyone arriving subsequently to even such a township or city will be eligible for full citizenship on the same basis as all others after 90 days of residency. This of course does not mean that this person also becomes a member of the tribe or ethnic association which remains self-governing as an association subject to the rules outlined above. But as such that organization then has no authority over any individual in the same city except inasmuch as it can encourage its members to abide by its moral or philosophical guidance, and even this does not apply to the city or its citizens as such whether of that same ethnicity or tribe etc. or not.

5.C. – Avoiding conflicts of interest while maintaining absolute freedom of movement

No person may hold citizenship of more than one city or township at any one time, nor hold office of any kind in more than one city or township. Should anyone be found doing so, whether by accident, oversight or on purpose, they will have 48 hours in which to announce publicly which city they hold citizenship in, though that city may then investigate the question to determine eligibility. Should neither or no city involved find the person to be a citizen of their city, that person remains free to move newly to a city or township under the limitations established only by the available residency places and to then begin the 90 day process of establishing citizenship.

Article VI – Energy and Ecology, Technology and Weaponry

6.A. – Nuclear Energy Forbidden.

No use of nuclear energy is permitted for any reason by any city, township, or region or continent, nor by the global agencies, and certainly not by any association, though should so-called “cold fusion” which does not generate radiation be made practical whether this rule applies may be determined at the time according to the scientific facts and the judgment of citizens worldwide after an informed debate and discussion.

6.B. – Renewable Energy as a Material Basis for City and Township Political Self-Government and Ecological Sustainability

Every city and township will be expected to act as quickly as possible to shift to renewable energy sources, forms of transport, heating and cooling and hot water etc. that are renewable and to end use of fossil fuels. Upon its founding as a self-governing city, a first action should be to make an audit of the possible renewable energy sources (solar, wind, water etc.) available within the city or township’s territory, and then to establish, in cooperation with the educational institutions, research organizations, scientific and technological associations, and relevant cooperatives existing or which it finds it convenient or necessary to create the necessary resources – institutes, cooperatives etc. to develop to their fullest these resources, to manage the full transition (solar panels, windmills, solar roadways, light rail run by such sources, electric buses and cars and so on) to these resources.

Each city should, within a short time of a few years at most, be expected to be near 100% self-sufficient in renewable energy, nearly self-sufficient or the medium term and fully self-sufficient short term for its own food needs and health care needs, linked by light rail, solar roadways and electric vehicles to other nearby cities, linked by universal wi fi to the rest of the world, and self-governed by citizen assemblies, as well as producing its own currency and providing it to all of its citizens and cooperatives.

6.C. – Technology transfers, extraordinary grants of Universal currency and obligatory year abroad by college graduates as methods for universalizing the most advanced renewable and sustainable methods of energy production and conservation, transport, production, consumption, agriculture and housing:

As made clear above in several articles, as an initial process, those cities with a surplus of access to renewable energy technologies such as solar power or advanced windmills etc. or advanced and sustainable transport such as high speed solar powered trains and solar roadways are expected to make these available in any way possible, without imposition of forced labor conditions on their own citizens, to the poorer areas of their own region, continent, and the world. This process will be eased by the previously described extraordinary grants of universal currency to be spent on purchasing these technologies, and gaining access to the skilled use of them where needed, and by the requirement that college graduates spend a year in the opposite hemisphere to provide needed knowledge and training and to learn from the people they live with and work with there.

6.D. No hoarding of weaponry, all nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction strictly banned

The same applies to the most advanced but inexpensively produced and where possible non-lethal weaponry for collective self-defense. All nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction are banned, and the existing ones dismantled by the authorities in the cities, townships and regions where they exist. Thus no city can be blackmailed by threats of superior weaponry or force. All new weaponry that is designed (and it is hoped that within a short time no new weaponry would be developed as it would not be needed or desired and would serve no purpose) must immediately be made available on the Internet and its successors and so made universally accessible.

Any city or township or region found to be monopolizing technology or armaments will be subject to all of the boycott provisions described above for other violations and if necessary for the safety of other cities and townships and their citizens will be considered in a state of war with all other cities, townships and regions as an aggressor. Any individual, group or association, including those opting out that are found to be in such violation are subject to the same procedures as apply under conditions of enslavement or aggression as needed.

A Civilization of Self-governed Cities and Townships can only exist if the material conditions for such cities and their sustainability are available

Article VII – Putting This Constitution into Practice – How We Can Begin Now Where We Are

As for now, each city and town’s residents may begin to put this process into practice through direct action in anticipation of these methods becoming the legitimate authority of the city and the city becoming the legitimate authority politically.

1) All neighborhoods or small towns of all kinds everywhere in the world could begin immediately to set aside a time each month, say two weekend afternoons or weekday evenings, to hold assemblies, make decisions for themselves and set up a budget. This would immediately stand in a situation of “dual power” with regard to the established city council government. The idea is not conflict but to establish the greater moral authority, and democratic legitimacy of the assemblies.
2) Citizens could then declare a day, after several months or a few years of such practice, once established and once its authority had won over a critical mass of participants in the city, when they would refuse to go to work during that time because they intended to attend assemblies. They would demand that the existing authority authorize this new 4-day workweek (as noted above) but would not need to wait for that, for if an entire city refused to work on say Wednesday any longer it would become fact and other cities would follow.
3) Organizing through some association both a nonviolence self-defense training, which would serve for the struggle to establish the new system in the city, and a militia with training, now essentially legal in most parts of the United States and in some parts of the world. If the bearing of arms by citizens is not legal, the militia could exist anyway and train with innocuous instruments but show its organization, self-government, discipline and collective dignity. Under no circumstances should armed conflict with the existing police, or armed forces be undertaken.
4) Print and distribute their own money city-wide. Ithaca, New York deserves credit to have been the first to have attempted this approach to create community. Again, this can start as a nonprofit association and a “barter” system, but using money for what is really is: merely a points system to keep track of who owes what to whom for services rendered. Businesses, farmers’ markets, cooperatives and individuals can sign up and begin providing each other services using this currency. In some countries any income earned needs to be declared as income. Though if seen as merely a way to facilitate activity it could also be the practice to eliminate all such income at the end of the year and restart the distribution again the following year.
5) Set up cooperatives for buying, producing or any other activity to practice self-government.
6) Demand or set up where available land is to be had, community gardens and other methods to establish greater food self-sufficiency, and health and food sovereignty.
7) Establish well-organized food distribution systems through “Community-supported agriculture” (though I take Wendell Berry’s criticism of this particular title for these as reasonable) by making contact with local and nearby farmers to provide them a guaranteed market for their produce. Then, to create a critical mass of demand for locally produced and organic food to convince by protest, electoral power, or other means the local institutions such as hospitals, schools, universities, company cafeterias etc. to buy this locally produced food.
8) To set up cooperative “supermarkets” and buying groups to purchase in bulk that food and other products that near expiration date to be made available for local currency at a low price or free to the city’s citizens and those in need.
9) To set up, by pressuring even the existing city government, a local bank or credit union to serve as a place for all the city’s residents to set up an account.
10) Setting up cooperatives to provide other services, such as laundry services for the large institutions like hospitals, schools etc. in the city to start up a solid cooperative sector of the local economy.
11) Establishing a cooperative for local energy needs, and a public generator and utility, eventually freeing the city from dependence on oil companies, coal companies, utility companies and the like.
12) An alternative “Conflict Resolution” system where juries of city residents can utilize the option of temporary banishment from the city for those accused of medium-serious crimes as determined appropriate. Establishment of a Rehabilitation Collective for those who voluntarily turn themselves in and negotiation with the existing police, public prosecutor and public defenders offices (under public pressure by the movement of course) to accept this conflict resolution process as an easier way to obtain confessions, “convictions” and self-sentencing by those found guilty rather than the expense and violence of prisons (granted this one is the hardest to obtain under present conditions, but even establishing the alternative in the public mind is worth the effort).
13) Some initiative of engagement with the local police, such that the worldwide trend toward militarization of police is reversed or at least limited. For example to convince the police to no longer accept nationally-provided armaments and hardware. Again, a tough sell. But it takes the initiative.
14) Later to establish the assemblies as a legitimate form of authority recognized by law as the city’s ultimate governing bodies – this may in many places require changing regional, state or national law however.
15) A direct action initiative at a LATE stage (to put this first as I can imagine many of my anarchist friends wishing to do) to organize a city-wide withdrawal of taxes paid to national and state/regional governments IN COOPERATION with other cities doing the same (to have on city only do so would be suicide for the movement itself).
16) The preceding proposal for direct action tax withdrawal is only practicable for a network of cities that had first established significant levels of self-sufficiency in basic needs and also had well-established local currencies circulating AND which still had considerable access to products of the national or world market since until the establishment of a non-political agency to (acting more or less as the US Social Security Office does) supply the global currency for inter-city exchange such cities would be vulnerable to great economic hardship and the whole project could then easily lose support. Alternatively, a large network of like-minded cities could establish an alternative basis for exchange using a single currency between them (none has to change hands, just numbers in bank accounts in the publicly owned credit union/banks).
17) Knowing the possibilities of massive state repression at some point in this process the coordination of nonviolence self-defense groups citywide AND the local production of arms for self-governing militia should begin, not to provoke a conflict but merely to make clear to national states that military repression is not an option or at least would be a costly one.
18) Declaration of assumption of governing authority by cities, regions, and their coordination among themselves to begin to create the infrastructure for a planetary civilization based on universal access to citizenship for all, to provision of basic and comfortable subsistence for the needs of all, renewable energy, and self-government.
19) The neutrality of the coordinating agencies, based as they are on the retaking into the hands of citizens worldwide and their cities and townships as public spheres of participation and self-government are an end to the “state” as such though not to politics or political activity or government. These coordinating bodies have no authority, an act merely as oversight bodies to be sure that no is being exploited or oppressed at which point they must mobilize, on the basis only of being delegated coordinating bodies, the member cities to act together against a common problem or threat, or they act to coordinate the efforts for those projects, such as environmental repair, climate change reversal (mostly effected by these locally-organized changes but still needing some larger scale coordination), stopping any aggression by any given city or group, and for coordinating any infrastructure such as continental roadways, air travel (using renewable energy obviously) satellites, space exploration (we may be close to folding space to allow for “faster than light” space “travel” (by not moving at all of course according to Einstein’s General Relativity), and the like.
Thus these act more as juridical or mediating bodies and as delegated agencies to carry out tasks decided on by the citizens in their respective cities and townships, not as political institutions. This is in complete contrast to the existing United Nations, IMF, World Bank, WTO, G20, NATO and the rest. These global governance organizations will be abolished both by being disbanded by the movement of the self-governing cities and by the withdrawal of taxes to national states at the end of the process.
In many cases however, the penalty process involving enslavement or war crimes will apply to some of the heads of these organizations during their rule.
20) Thus, it would be possible to maintain an urban and global civilization in which everyone had a citizenship status, in which movement to where one wanted to live was much freer than today (the 1% minimum is roughly double the number of immigrants arriving annually to the US), in which the wage system and capitalism were abolished, in which money became a mere utility until it too no longer served, in which national borders and national armies were done away with, in which the global ecology could be restored and maintained, in which learning and teaching, healing, growing food, making useful and beautiful things, connecting human communities by transport and communications, could all be done for their own sake, rather than for profit. Where defending one’s community and keeping it safe, rehabilitating or where needed punishing of those who act violently or exploit without prisons or the death penalty, where in all probability ending war, and where community but universality at the same time in something that would be worthy of the name civilization would be possible without imperialism or conquest.
And we could start wherever we are, now, and indeed as these proposals indicate, many aspects of these have already begun, so we begin from something that already exists.

* The proposals here have come out of years of conversations with activists, comrades, friends and scholars, from studies of past societies, contemporary technologies, practical experience with cooperatives, community-supported agriculture, alternative political parties, green politics, socialist and communist politics, local initiatives to remake cities, studies of movements around the world and the like. I don’t take credit for them, they have been the result of the efforts of many people. Only the things that won’t work or are inadequate are my own.
The idea is to develop a political sphere that allows us to go from the experiences of direct democracy embodied in the many movements of 2011 (Indignados, Greek revolts, Occupy, the Arab Spring etc.) to the holding of a political sphere and self-governing it in a way that takes us past and out of capitalism. The city is big enough to allow for an “articulation” or ensemble of many “commons” activities including cooperatives and yet small enough to allow for citizen participation. It also allows for a vast diversity of ethnic and other backgrounds, and so allows for a localism that is not ethnically or conservatively based on specific customs. It defuses to some degree issues of immigration over national borders, since there are many cities one can go to. It allows for public ownership but citizen control and workers control, and avoids mass bureaucracy and state power, yet keeps politics. Indeed, it allows us to imagine everyone in the world having a citizenship status – here I had in mind the Medieval cities that allowed one to be a citizen if having escaped from serfdom for a year and a day. So, cosmopolitanism but local community as well.

So I do not name the following people and groups or cities because they would agree, approve or like this nor because they take any responsibility for any of my bad ideas, but merely to avoid plagiarism – I have learned so much from so many. Here is where I got most of this stuff from:

The Zapatista Autonomous Good Government Towns
Midnight Notes
A lot of friends, including but not limited to those thinking and practicing communing, among whom: Peter Linebaugh, Silvia Federici, George Caffentzis
Jonathan Feldman
Dan Karan
Dario Padovan
Linda Schade
Max Tomba
Cleveland, Ohio and it cooperatives movement
Gar Alperovitz
Porto, Alegre, Brazil’s Participatory Budgeting
The Shakers Villages
The Amana Communities in Iowa
Staughton Lynd
Murray Bookchin
Ithaca, New York
Burlington, Vermont
Massimo De Angelis
Wendell Berry

And so many others whom I thank even if they don’t like this idea.

Joined: 22-02-08
Jul 7 2014 13:07

Sorry, not sure why some images did not come out and only left the URL, others did show up, and yet others repeated. I will try to fix this later.


Joined: 6-01-07
Jul 7 2014 14:03

Well not all of this is awful but aside from my general aversion to these kinds of 'blueprints' for how we should all live, the 'cobbled to-gether' nature of it does not protect it from the many numerous critiques already made elswhere on this site of it's constituent influences and parts as derived from Bookchin, Graeber, the Zapatistas, various 'funny money' proponents and other blueprints from the likes of Parecon and 'Inclusive Democracy' as well as the overarching critique directed at other failed brands of 'gradualism'.

Joined: 22-02-08
Jul 8 2014 15:39


First, thanks for your comments. I am tempted, given how negative your overall impression of this is to say "you had me at 'not all of this is awful'".

Seriously, I openly admit the "cobbled together" nature. I am no great theorist, this is precisely an attempt to synthesize a bunch of things that people are already doing or that have been practiced to show how movement activity can lead in principle toward a different society without capitalism, bosses, representation, nations or states in any real sense etc.

Of the other people and groups you mention, Bookchin's was probably closest to the spirit here, so I l looked up posts of his work and the criticisms to get a better sense of what people on this site have said in criticism of that body of work.

I am embarrassed to say I had never thought of that before in all the years I have been avidly reading and only very occasionally posting here, to look up one of the best known anarchist thinkers of recent years and see that debate.

But strangely I don't see a lot of criticism of Bookchin here:

The other posts have only one or two comments, or are about the Spanish Anarchists of the 1930s.

Nearly all the comments are either reasonably favorable if not particularly enthusiastic, or openly individualistic (opposed to collective action of any kind) and so more like the libertarianism that is currently dominant in US political discourse, or about Bob Black's criticism of Bookchin.

Now one commenter on these pages said Murray seemed like a nice old man - anyone who knew him, including his friends, knows he was anything but. He was the orneriest person I ever met, Nearly always insulting to everyone. But he was brilliant in so many ways that I read all his books many years ago. Bob Black on the other hand make Bookchin look like a charming saint, and used to be threatening to friends in Processed World and other west coast activists.

But that is another story. Anyway, I had hoped to gain from your criticisms by seeing what people criticized about Bookchin, but found little or nothing.

What did you have in mind in particular? In any case I will still take up the idea and see what people say about David Graeber (who is a nice guy instead as well as brilliant, though he does not always convince me, but you are right in identifying him and some of Modern Money Theory folks as influences in this project) and also about another proposal you don't mention - Bolo Bolo by PM from many years ago which was a somewhat similar attempt to think about an alternative.

As to "how we should live" I did not intend for this to be such. I intended it to suggest where anti-capitalists could be put their time and energy - into changing the city and reinforcing it as a sovereign, directly democratic and somewhat self-sufficient site where we could live differently and through which we could withdraw power and wealth from the state, the corporations, finance, the global market, and the global governance organizations. But that each city, each neighborhood in each city (the real site of the legislative power anyway in Cosmopolis as neighborhood assemblies really rule all) and every association of cultural, religious, professional, scientific or whatever other nature would be free to do as it liked (but with political power only in the city assemblies based in neighborhoods) was at the center of the idea, perhaps I did not emphasize this enough. So there is no attempt to impose any single way of life, form of organization or cultural expression in any way here, in fact those who don't like Cosmopolis can opt out, have some territory to live on, go where they like and receive a basic minimum of income in global money to use for anything they need it for.

Joined: 6-01-07
Jul 8 2014 16:26

I wasn't expecting any thanks of course!

Just to be clear it is primarily Bookchins later Libertarian Municipalism strategy that I was thinking of rather than some of his earlier and better material on technology for instance, though there is a link in this strategy to some of his earlier writing on 'Athenian democracy' and in this his views can be criticised along with much of the rest of the left for a certain mistaken emphasis on the democratic form rather than the communist content as it were, and I'm not writing off Graeber in relation to some of his anthropological studies either but rather criticising his understanding of Marx's critique of the value form and other of his strategic political thinking.

Probably my and others critical comments on the 'Parecon' and 'Inclusive Democracy' schemes on this site would be a more relevant source for understanding my equal aversion to the approach in your scheme as well.

Maybe others on this site will think it worthwhile going through your proposal in a more forensic way but I'm not inclined to try that.

Joined: 25-12-11
Jul 9 2014 11:27

Hey guise! I had this really good original idea! What if we got some money, used it to pay for labour power and means of production, and then sold the products of the resulting labour for more money than we originally had!

I call it "the Cleveland Model".


Chilli Sauce's picture
Chilli Sauce
Joined: 5-10-07
Jul 9 2014 12:55

midnightsteven, while Jolasmo's comment above might seem a bit flippant, he's on to something. Having skimmed your proposal - it's long, man - it does seem to think that we can somehow adapt capitalist institutions to suit a fair society. That's not the case and that's the reason most regular libcom posters have criticisms of co-ops, Parecon, and some of Bookchin's later work.

I'm all for having a rough idea of how we see a future post-capitalist society, but that society will only be forged in revolutionary struggle where the ideas and aspirations of masses and masses of people will create, from the ground up, alternative institutions.

So not to poo-poo your proposal - I'm sure there hours of work went into that - but I think I'd rather focus on improving the lives of myself and the rest of the working class now in an attempt to build up the confidence and power to actually undertake the sort of revolutionary activity that will get us out of capitalism.

Joined: 3-08-05
Apr 24 2017 10:19

on a more factual note; it was my understanding that Catal Hayuk was built by hunter gatherers and not as a result of a social revolt.

Am I mistaken here?

I've always been fascinated by the fact that places like Gobleki Tepi and Catal Hayuk existed. does anyone have any good Marxist/Anarchist sources on this? It seems to be a field dominated by New Agers unfortunately.