Beneath the Pavement

From Autonomous Workers

The struggle over public space has been a long one. On the one hand, there are the forces of control. There are commercial interests which see the commons as theirs – to transport their goods, to advertise and sell their products, to facilitate the functional operation of the machine. Acting on their behalf are the police and politicians, who enforce this relationship of the public to the commons by criminalizing those who would dare to re-imagine a different use for it. They have had centuries to perfect the practice of maintaining order and compelling obedience.But wherever there are those who seek control over others, inevitably movements of resistance arise, movements aimed at liberating public space from capitalists and authoritarians. The Diggers, in 1649, had already started to challenge the hegemony of the ruling class over the commons, declaring their right to make use of it to feed themselves. They were eventually crushed by landowners and the government. Since then, the struggles can be traced, linking the Diggers with the Paris Commune, the Paris Commune with the Oakland Commune. And before, after, and in between, lay all of the small forgotten acts of rebellion, uncountable but building towards the same end.

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