Charter for Europa - 1.0

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This version of the Charter is the result of an on-line work of small groups (and of the general discussion in the mailing list democracy@fundaciondeloscomunes.net), between the 2nd and the 31st of March.

Edit in the links - This page is locked - Every month a new version is published in a locked format. Changes can be done in the links and are later discussed and integrated in the new version.

Preamble 1.0

1. We live in different parts of Europe with different historical, cultural and political backgrounds. We all continuously arrive in Europe. We share experiences of social movements and struggles, as well as experiences of creative political work among our communities, on municipal and national levels. We have witnessed and participated to the rise of multitudes across the world in 2011.

In fact, the European 'we', we are talking about here, is unfinished, it is in the making, it is a performative process of coming together.

2. In the wake of the financial crisis we have experienced the violence of austerity, the attack on established social and labour rights, the spread of poverty and unemployment in many parts of Europe. We have faced a radical transformation of the constitutional framework of the EU, which has become more and more the expression and articulation of capitalist and financial command. At the same time we have lived through a profound displacement of national constitutional frameworks, we have learned that they do not provide any effective defence against the violence of the crisis. In the ruins of representative democracy, xenophobic chauvinisms, ethnic fundamentalisms, racisms, new and old forms of fascism proliferate.

We rise up against all this.

3. We want to initiate a different kind of constituent process on the basis of social and political struggles across the european space. This Charter aims to open up a process towards a radical political and economic change of Europe focussing on the safeguarding of life, dignity and democracy. It is a contribution to the production and creation of the commons, a process of democratic regeneration in which people are protagonists of their own lives. In the squares and the networks we have learned something simple that has changed forever our way of inhabiting the world. We have learned what 'we' can achieve together.

We invite people across and beyond Europe to join us, to contribute to this charter, to make it live in struggles, imagination, and constituent practices.

Democracy 1.0

4. The crisis of representative democracy cries out loud.

A double movement is happening. A crisis produced from above: international financial markets, rating agencies, private think tanks and corporate media are undermining the democratic instruments of decision-making for implementing policies. But the credibility of democracy is also questioned from below. To talk about democracy is to (re)appropriate the common sense of democracy. Peace, participation, common responsibilities, social well-being, open access to resources. To talk about democracy means to talk about a process of social organisation for realising the collective desires against the overwhelming mechanisms of gerontocracy, oligarchy, corruption, austerity.

5. The 2011 uprisings across the world have rescued the living meanings of democracy. When we claim for democracy in Europe we do not aim to restore the luster of the old national constitutional democracies, bur rather to invent the institutions that can catch up with the cry of "They don't represent us" spread by those uprisings. We want to claim back our belief to this old concept of the "cratia" (governing/ruling) of the "demos" (the people). Hold on to this concept. Hold on to its transformation. Hold on to its renewal.


6. Our liberal constitutions are being used for private interests and have to be redesigned urgently in order to be instruments in the hands of the many. We are experiencing a post-democratic turn in Europe. On the one hand the Troika imposes budgetary decisions as well as social policies without democratic legitimation, bypassing sovereign entitlement of any kind, as well as hiring technocrats as presidents to protect the interests of the few. Security, in a similar way, has become a central process in the emptying of significance and performance of democratic institutions, constructing translocal mechanisms that displace justice and peace from the everyday life of society to the interests of the elite. Austerity and security are prefiguring a general transformation of the role of institutions on the global level, that would make democracy impossible.

7. How to renew our constitutions means asking ourselves how to invent our democracies. How can we re-think a democratic self-governance in pluralist and participatory experimental ways? How can we learn from the democratic practices on the squares around the globe and think of them as re-invention of participatory processes in the assembly of the many, in order to give ourselves our own rules, laws and rights? How can this process be pluralist, federalist, based on networks and assemblages, movements and relations instead of identities, functions and roles? We envision here something beyond the juridical form of democracy bound to a national sovereign. We are opening up this concept, to spread democratic practices into the social, the everyday, into production and reproduction of life. This means that the state needs to be under scrutiny, challenged by the diffusion of participatory practices and the invention of democratic tools from below.

8. The process of inventing this new kind of democracy to live in the 21st century is the process of a collective rewriting of our constitutions.This process cares for the guarantee of rights to the commons, of the transformation of citizenship, of equality and freedom, autonomy and collectivity. Democracy as a process. This charter wants to be a contribution to the collective production of a democratic Europe. Nuestra Europa.

9. Democracy in Europe means for us a two-sided process in which both "democracy" and "Europe" are intertwined, (re)appropriated and reinvented on the basis of the transnational social and political struggles of a new kind. Democracy must be a new word in a Europe of radically democratic multitudinous uprisings. In this sense the first tension we address is the contraposition between insurgent "governed" and "abducting" governors: the relationship between debt and guaranteed basic income as destitutive tension for a new form of democracy against the policies of austerity to reinvent democracy. Second, the need of "exploding" the institutional problem, both inventing institutions for the commons and problematising the state. Third the question of governing as a social practice, as critical but affirmative engagement with the technocratic distance of governance, and as invention of a new form of participatory and pluralist dispositives of performative democracy. Finally, we address the tension between citizenship and the borders, that is the flourishing of autonomous practices to guarantee collective rights. Democracy for Europe.

Income/debt 1.0

10. The relationship between debt and unconditional basic income is the most significative expression of a destitutive tension against the policies of austerity, as well as an instituent practice to shifts our understanding of wealth from production to reproduction, from wealth to commonwealth. This is the most distinctive contraposition of the crisis - a contraposition between "abducting" governors and insurgent "governed". Debt and income are the two sides of the same coin. Money as tools for circulation - the need of money of the commons.

11. Debt has, nowadays, become one of the main mechanisms of both capitalist governance accumulation in Europe. It works as a multilevel system thought the whole society. Debt seems to affect everyone. Everyone seems to be in debt. Since consumption happens through credit, the social reproduction of life is tied up with the rise of debt. Workers, students, unemployed… no one seems to escape from the new debt-fare.

The financial system is war machine to privatise not only social rights, transforming education, health, housing into debts, credits and insurances, but also to privatise political rights. Facing the crisis of the debt, the Troika has been forcing the people to suffer from policies of austerity, reforms of the labour markets, to save creditors and to protect the interest of the few. Nation-states have been driven into bankruptcy, and finance usurped our right to govern ourselves. Rating agencies, bankers and financial institutions do not represent us. The struggle for democracy is about fighting against these policies of austerity dreadful to the many. And it is up to the many to find ways out of this crisis.

12. Unconditional Basic Income (UBI) is the answer to the recognition of another understanding of the production of wealth, a commonwealth. The commonwealth is made of the vital and cognitive faculties of the human beings, from knowledges to bodies, from relations to sensations, from languages to movements, from sensualities to thoughts: there is always production. UBI can be the monetary remuneration of social productivity and of the productive time, not taken into account in the existing labour contract. This measure should be accompanied by the generalisation of minimum wage on a European level. Basic income together with minimum wage makes possible to expand the range of choices in the labour market, where the possibility of refusing bad jobs will open up new modes of social life and social production.

Commons/state 1.0

13. Democracy as a process goes along with the constant collective production and use of the commons. This collective production of the commons is the only way to prevent poverty and war and to create social and cultural wealth. It is a matter not only of defending the public policies that sustain education, health, culture and social well being, but also of moving forward towards new institutionalities of the commons as the means we produce to live together. To do that, the people of Europe have the right to organise themselves in the horizontal way of the many thereby creating and performing a new form of democracy.

14. New institutions like these are already being invented and created all over Europe. Many of them are emerging in the struggles against the crisis, the austerity policies and their impact on the everyday life of the people of Europe. They are the first steps to reinvent a political space beyond the dichotomy of the public and the private sector that sustained the political space of modernity, in which the state on the one hand and the market on the other guaranteed the reproduction of power and profit. These institutions are based on collective decision making and they have to grow stronger in order to have an impact on the everyday life of society for replacing step by step the dysfunctional structures of the nation states.

15. State and governance shall not prevent this, but shall respect this process of democratisation. Governance and national institutions of education, city development, art, research, social and physical well-being have to be democratised and shall provide the means for these new institutions of the commons to become real, to spread and to be sustainable. This can happen only at a transnational level, fighting the global logic of profit and understanding Europe as the space of a democratisation from below in the affirmation of the commons.

Governing/governance 1.0

16. The problem is not what form of State is the more appropriate for democracy, but rather that everything depends on how do we want to be governed. Democracy relies today on the possibility of the self-governing of the people about the main issues of our lives in common, from labor relations to welfare systems, from food production to healthcare systems, from energy and water production and distribution to border controls and from justice administration to financial institutions.

17. The prerogatives of absolute command of a separated body of professional politicians and technicians can no longer be the guarantee of a government of the people by the people. The complexity and unpredictability of contemporary social and political systems have contributed to the degeneration of representative democracy into a technocratic authoritarian system, a “government of the unchangeable reality”, that relies on the administration of fear and submission. But complexity, danger and unpredictability can be no alibi for a blackmail on the power of democracy.

18. The governing of the many by the many based on social participation is an actual possibility to address the present situation. We have to get rid of the very idea of the State as One (and hence also of a possible European mega-State). The power of the One as a master and manipulator of complexity is incompatible with the practice of real democracy. This is the unsolvable dispute within the UE: federalists, proposing a powerful federal european State (even on the basis of a residual subsidiarity principle), against confederalists, aiming to keep the asymmetrical status quo and federalising just the financial monitoring of the monetary union at the service of private banking. This is the solution of the Troika: technical governments who are the really existing mega-State federalism. Their symmetrical counterparts are the "we alone" nationalist and populist returns to an imaginary "real sovereignty".

19. A democracy of the many can only be a distributed democracy, and a self-governing of the many by the many can only be achieved through open and bottom-up networks, expanding and distributing democratic power, and hampering the persistence of top-down technocratic command structures. The governance of the commons of social cooperation and the preservation and management of the natural commons is in need of these distributed method of governance. No One power can live peacefully with the radical democratic core of the new commons based on collective intelligence and collective production of ideas and sentiments. There can be no One and only Power over the commons, but just a system of distributed democratic counter-powers deciding on the basis of their continuous interactions, conflicts and negotiations and of the participation of the many in the management of the common affairs.

Citizenship/border 1.0

20. "The border is wherever I'm controlled and asked for my papers" (migrant, Paris). The various manifestations of borders that we are challenging and fighting against from day to day reflect different situations: they are geographical and state borders, detention camps for migrants, electronic control systems, walls and barbed wires [1]. But they are also internal controls, visa regimes, and the airports controls. The borders of Europe now reach far beyond the geographical limits of the EU member-States, or even the candidate States, establishing an externalisation of migration controls, extending the border further away [2].

21. Physical borders of Europe are continuously contested and reshaped by the movement of those who cross and are being crossed by them. Various practices and routes bring people to enter, leave and re-enter the space of Europe. These practices are central in contesting what is Europe today and in foreseeing what Europe may be tomorrow. A redefinition of citizenship in Europe must start from migrants’ practices of crossing and reclaiming citizenship beyond its nationalistic and exclusionary origins, and to acknowledge the borders as dispositives to reshape the organisation labour, as in the case of “feminisation” of labour and global migration, “affective labour” - migrant caretakers and sex workers [...]

22. Challenging citizenship in Europe is perceiving it ‘from the border’ itself - we imagine and practice an open, ongoing and inclusive citizenship, disconnected from the place of birth and the place of departure, independent from permanent or temporary residency in one place, and instead grounded on a shared, open and democratic social space. This is our Europe.

The citizenship of ‘Nuestra Europa’ is the claim for migrants’ rights [3]. It is also the multiple movements of the internal migrants in Europe, which express and respond to the deepening disparities and inequalities dividing the different citizenships that inhabit the European space.

24. Looking at Europe 'from the point of view of the border' we cannot ignore the significance of the ongoing social and political struggles of both individuals and entire communities, such as we have recently seen in Ukraine and Bosnia and Herzegovina, where the demand for reshaping the borders of Europe screams from the top of peoples' lungs. We need to constantly question any position of privilege that downplays demands for ‘inclusion’, however this term may be contested, of anyone who experiences material constraints and differential treatment to access social rights and freedoms. Increasingly this is a reality also for internal migrants of EU member states who see their access to welfare curtailed in case they do not demonstrate they are worthy of it.

Next edition of the Charter - 30th of April

Footnotes

I don't know how to integrate footnotes...

[1: such as the Spanish SIVE, military control naval missions such as the ones organized by Frontex, walls and barbed wires of Ceuta-Melilla, and Greek-Turkish border]

[2 bilateral and EU agreements with countries of origin such as those with Northern African countries or Turkey]

[3 as recently stated in the Carta of Lampedusa]