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05 2020

Sub-urbia. The emergency of subverting the present

Kike España

Translated by Kelly Mulvaney


The enclosure that will be loosened today in Malaga is the most visible and palpable, but it is not the only enclosure from which we suffer. They are many, of very distinct kinds, and none is characterized by its easy legibility. We feel them, we suffer from them, but not very often do we identify them. For this, we need tools. What enclosures are we referring to if we can already move around, if we can go to bars and museums, if we can vote and protest (this only a bit), if we can meet?

The answer is not simple because the structure of mechanisms that enclose us is already part of our common sense, our present. A job, a house, a family, a car. The prettiness of the city center, the modern flair of the apartment. A shopping center, the mall at the pier, a movie that doesn’t make me think too much, the museums, tourism, the outdoor seating at the bars. Holy Week. The hotels/Airbnb/skyscrapers, innovation, the relative importance of bicycles, the comfort of Uber/Glovo/Amazon. The startups, the entrepreneurs, creativity, the necessity of selling oneself. The necessity of representing (something/to someone). Property, gender, the indifferent rejection of the marginal/excluded/poor/different, charity. Paternalism, assistance, profit, individuality. The enclosures of the neoliberal form of life (and the neoliberal city) are many. They do not disappear in Phase 1, nor do they disappear in the new normalcy.

Living in common is more than this.

It can be felt at gatherings, in the “real assembly” in Marx’s words, and in the hundreds of social mechanisms of cooperation, solidarity, support, care and affect that are produced every day, although they are not so visible. But gathering is not enough. Tools are needed. If the existing ones do not work, it is time to invent new ones. Tools that are critical because they emerge from this critical situation. That work to unmake and surround the neoliberal enclosures and to multiply subcommon social mechanisms. That facilitate distinct forms of living together based in mutual care.

Sub-urbia emerges today as an attempt to put some critical tools for subverting this present into circulation.