This text was distributed in Finland as a leaflet by the communalists. Jyri worked with us in our workgroup phase, but chose not to get involved when we decided to move on to our organization phase and instead started working on Mexico solidarity.
Popular assemblies and confederations
Communalism is an ideology and a political movement, which aims for a direct
democracy. It abandons capitalism as ecologically unsustainable and inhumane.
However communalists do not seek for an alternative from strengthening the
state or taking over state power for themselves, but to the contrary from an
social order that rises from taking part in local popular assemblies and
libertarian associations based on them. Communalism provides a clear and
practical proposal for political institutions and praxis that enable social
According to communalists al political power should belong to local popular
assemblies. True democracy can only be accomplished if people take part in open
assemblies, where they can meet each other face-to-face and create social forms
of action together. Every member of a community should have an equal right to
propose matters to their neighbourhoods popular assembly to decide upon and
also to voice their opinions on them.
No act is democratically justified if it is not directly proposed,
discussed and decided on by the people – and not any form of an representative.
Managing these jobs can however be left for comittees or other forms of
workgroups that execute the decisions of the assembly under their close
scrutiny. Membership in comittees and workgroups, and also other jobs and
responsibilities, can be rotated regularly so that power doesn’t accumulate on
omission to a few based on “expertise” or knowledge. All members of a
community don’t of course have to take part in all deciding about all issues,
but all will have an equal possibility to take part in matters that are
important to them.
The size of cities and municipalities is crucial to fulfilling communalist
ideals of civic democracy and governance of cities and municipalities by their
members. Modern metropolitan cities have to be in the end decentralized to
smaller municipalities and communities. This also has sound ecological reasons
for it. Physical decentralization of cities will of course take a long time,
but they can be decentralized institutionally before that. Popular assemblies
can at first work as networks in block, neighbourhood and city levels.
Municipalization of the economy
Communalists propose that the economy should be municipalized and all privately
owned land and factories and other production facilities should be moved to
joint ownership by the municipalitys citizens. Decisions about economic
functions will be made by all members of the municipality in assemblies. This
would mean that economy as a whole will be brought amidst political
decisionmaking, and also that single factories or farms will no longer be
competing entities. In assemblies people would not only belong to their own
profession with their own conflicting interests, but they would work for the
benefit of the whole community. This way a basis could be created for an
economy purely ethical reasoning, where everyone would give according to their
abilities and receive according to their needs.
All economic activity or decisionmaking doesn’t need – or be possible – to be
limited to areas where people can congregate to meet in assemblies.
Communalists propose a confederation as democratical and libertarian municipal
alliances. It is a network of administrative councils whose members are
selected face-to-face in assemblies. The delegates can be recalled and changed
at any moment and they are responsible to the assemblies that have chosen them.
Assemblies also carefully regulate the delegates and give guidelines to their
action. In fact they are more messengers of assemblies rather then
representatives, since representatives make decisions for the communities that
they represent. Decision making and making policy decisions will be solely the
right of the assemblies. Only administration and coordination are
responsibilities of confederal councils.
If members of a confederation cannot get to a agreement through their
delegates, a confederation wide general election can be held, where the common
policy of municipalities will be decided. When creating a confederation there
can be an agreement among members that functions as a sort of a constitution
for the confederation and that defines every member community’s rights and for
example how they can resign from the confederation and what kind of issues can
be decided in whole confederation wide general elections.
An agreement like this would on one hand secure the rights of communities and
the people who live in them against the arbitrariness of the majority opinion
and also would make possible to take action for example in a case of a single
community polluting other communities areas. Also confederalism would
AR2010042805382.htmlt local communities from relapsing to parochialism.
Also economic cooperation should be expanded to cover the whole confederation.
Ideally acommunities would combine their strengths in local confederal networks
that would join even larger – ultimately even worldwide – networks where
production and distribution is planned according to the needs of a community
and their possiblities for production.
Assemblies as a force for changed
Some of the most central methods when striving for communalism are starting
local assemblies, strengthening and making their power legally binding and
radically democratizing existing municipal institutions. Local assemblies
should also create confederalist networks with other communities, so that the
movement can rise to be national and even international. This way directly
democratic political institutions would exist already before abandoning old
social order and a new relapse to oligarchy would be unlikely after a
revolution. Also functioning of assemblies could create many needed reforms in
peoples life already when political power officially belongs to the state and
state-like municipal structures.
When they develop assemblies will most likely come to a conflict with state
institutions and capitalist economy, because power cannot exist simultaneously
belong to both the state and corporations that govern the economy and the
people in directly democratic institutions. This way a revolutionary tension
will form, that causes assemblies to take all political power to themselves and
In addition to starting assemblies communalists also favor coops and
other cooperative forms of educational alternative economy. However these
should be regarded as mostly educational, because staying alive in the market
and growing to challenge capitalism is quite unlikely. Rather alternative
economys islands must adopt ever more practices from regular companies and they
must adapt to existing economy according to it’s terms. True struggle is
fought over political power that must also be used to force economic
activity to assemblies direct governance.