Nuovo Cinema Palazzo, "The Creativity of the Common"

The Creativity of the Common
Nuovo Cinema Palazzo

The following considerations are food for thought derived from and developed throughout a series of meetings and debates with the occupants of the Teatro Valle occupato and other subjects sharing the process of creation of the “common”.

The constituent dimension of the common good
Let’s begin with the centrality and historical urgency of the practice we are producing with the creation of the common good. We believe that what the traditional legal models are now compelled to face is, more than the regression of state sovereignty, the relation between constitutions and social autonomies, and the regulatory claim of the first over the latter.

To this regard, our effort is not employed in the direction of a wholehearted defense of the Constitution, nor towards its absolute abolishment. It is rather aimed at creating a dialectic relationship with those institutions in which we find a potential “gap” for creative intervention, therefore penetrating the legal system, regaining the means of affirmation of our struggle, of collective action, and of a new battleground for ourselves and others.

More and more movements and collective experiences are speaking out on constitutional principles. Again, the aim is not their safeguard: movements perceive themselves and place themselves within an autonomous, constituent and founding perspective, and, starting from a political scenario that is in progressive dissolution, movements are advancing towards the creation of legal rights and forms of self-governance. Movements are creating breaking points from within, tracing new paths by practicing transformation.

The practice of self-governance generates new settings for relations, functioning, management and regulation methods, eliminating the boundaries of specific subjectivities, connecting to a social elements whose composition cannot be inscribed within classic territorial borders, nor within networks linked to production and labor models. The practices naturally prefigure the models. The translation and reproducibility of these models generate the prototypes of new institutions.

Action beyond reclaiming: creating autonomy, practicing self-governance

A concrete plan for autonomy develops from action, not from institutionalized nouns (education, cultural production, healthcare). The creation of art and culture, the production of a response to our needs unveil the collective ability to satisfy such needs, setting them within a perspective of possibility, in a horizontal scenario of cooperation, much beyond a purely demanding position.

These are the means with which we escape domination of our lives and bodies.

The direct practice of our needs, the undermining of the bio political pervasiveness enable us to generate constituent processes, to create new institutional models which constitute a forefront, for ourselves and others, and give life to the places in which we carry out our struggles, that are both a meeting and a starting point.

Against speculation: illegal legitimacy

The practice of common good does not develop, however, outside of the struggles and of their factual nature. In this perspective, the crucial role played by the fight against speculation in the experience of the Nuovo Cinema Palazzo represents much more than just a narrative element. The re-appropriation of the Cinema Palazzo by the occupants has inverted the balance in a power play where the city is generally dominated by real estate speculation, by infringement of local building regulations, by a consequent corrupt political and economic system. The affirmation of the principal of illegal legitimacy against legal illegitimacy, translates into confronting the current legal system, while a new one is already being written in practice.

The (constant) political use of law not only goes in the direction of determining the legal means to strategically sustain our action, but extends to the re-creation of legislation not only as regards encoded law, but also including common law and the judicially held law.

We are aware that legislation registers the modifications determined by the change of balance in current power plays. The court ruling with which the Rome civil court denied the reintegration of possession of the structure to the Camene spa can be read in this perspective. The legal system does not directly coincide with the law.

The practice of rights: the right to culture

The need for a place destined to culture, many kinds of it, is not the aim and the object of our struggle, it is on the contrary the actual substance of our action. The first step we took was to connect the fight against real estate speculation to the issue of the cultural dimension as central in life. This passage was instantly and instinctively achieved without the need for thought; it later became a political process gaining clarity along the way. The awareness of the urgency of a cultural revolution is what drives the creative action of the Cinema Palazzo, the rediscovery of its original vocation, in response to a widespread demand.

The need for social relations and exchange, the subtraction of our existence to the relentless monetary domination of life: these are the practices that have determined the means to break the idea of a homo œconomicus whose choices are driven only by individualistic and utilitarian considerations, an idea dominating not only the economic sphere, but also the un-critical realm of politics held hostage by financial dictates, and a legislative system inspired by liberal anthropology.

On the contrary, our resistance is deeply rooted in the human and creative dimension of our existence in which culture plays a leading role. We assert the importance of culture as a basic and fundamental need: not reducible, inalienable, indefeasible.

Demolishing private property

Our experience produces practices of collective re-appropriation that question private property.

Our experience challenges the essentially absolutist view typical of legislation concerning private property. By practicing collective re-appropriation, our experience contradicts, disperses and reformulates this view, referring to a different meaning of possession, focusing on the way we relate to our territory and to our city.

Beyond the classic forms of production and labor, towards the right to citizenship

The city is the main scenario in which contemporary conflict takes place.

Fordism labor organization surpassed, the re-organization of the market economy on a global scale designates the city as the place for capitalism to attempt its renewal and survival. Capitalism requires ongoing urbanization processes, in order to absorb the exceeding products continually being produced. Overproduction is absorbed by urbanization and vice versa. The right to citizenship, intended as the collective control of this strong link between urbanization, production and use of the capital surplus, represents a main goal in the political struggle. Social movements are becoming more and more a constituent voice on the metropolitan political scene, with the ability to alternate means of protest to creative and imaginative forms of action, putting forth alternative models of radical metropolitan democracy.

New subjects and “commoning”

The new subjects revolving round the creation of the common good are giving rise to new experimental forms of citizenship reaching beyond the concept of territorial community and subjectively defined community , redefining them through broad experiences of re-appropriation. Referring to the relational nature of goods, practices building the common good achieve the idea of citizenship as an adherence to a project, not merely limited to administrative guidelines (in accord with a property and census oriented view) but thought of as the ability to cooperate towards obtaining a common process.

Citizenship becomes the subject whose shared aim is to create a collective city -“project” centered on its use value, opposed to a “product”- city, based on trade value.

Beyond the territorial community

The experiences we are focusing on are based on relations of recognition and broad cooperation and do not intend to reproduce a nostalgic view of closed communities nor, on the contrary, do they portray the post-modern ideal of a city user crossing multiple spaces without ever belonging to a collective reality. These experiences bring forth the idea of community as a vast network functioning fluidly on different levels, entering into relation with local realities as well as with each other on a national and European scale.

We are not interested in rights of common from a standpoint of immediate or direct recognition, but as a troublesome element to disrupt the private law and state structures. Rights of Common evoke an archaic and collective strength, and interest us concerning the development of a scene of discourse that addresses a different way of possessing, and a new way of being citizens.

Our effort goes in the direction of translating, modeling and re-inventing the rights of common. The rights of common are linked to the land, to material needs, to a community depicted over time as closed and defined. On the other hand, our experience is essentially linked to the city, to immaterial needs that are central in our lives, and to an open and free/accessible community.

The practice of care and management of the common good is what will determine the belonging and the right of ownership use. This practice is what determines our belonging to a community, defining us as holders of a right of common intended with a double meaning: the right to access and the duty to tend to, administrate and develop the common good in its social and collective function.

These rights and obligations are not necessarily based on territorial proximity or on the formal geographical belonging of the common good, but on the access, the use, on the relations and social ties that are constantly being generated in relation to the use of the good.

Beyond the governing community: commons as a dispositif (device) of direct and radical democracy

The self-governance of common goods also requires participation in the collective manage mechanism which involves the community of reference and thereby creates participatory management aside from the ownership of the goods. We think this community must be repeatedly redefined and potentially expanded. The relationship between whoever occupies or whoever cares for these goods and the other members of the populace is always open and osmatic.

The idea of a restitution beyond the subjective “we” achieved in the “common” is self-contained. For this reason the tension is in producing self-governance based on the spaces managed in an expanded way, targeted on diverse generations and cultures, on rooting the community in a prospective citizenship looking to the future and on high. Spaces like the space dedicated to parenthood, managed together with parents arriving from the neighborhood and throughout the city; a study room progressively opened to student management; projects which increasingly range in the direction of co-planning with others and groups; artistic residencies which provide companies with the time and possibilities for producing works which would otherwise not come about in a special mechanism, and not episodic, open to the “common” of the city with the idea of contaminating other subjects in the progressive practice of expropriating physical and symbolic spaces.

Towards a federative and relational practice

The plurality of constituent practices and the subjects who generate and practice them and force them on in an uninhibited and autonomous way provide the occasion for a federative and relational practice for the struggle beyond fragmentation and also beyond the search for a single synthesis.

The occupations which spread nationally in a direct and progressive fashion took shape in all of Italy in 2011 and 2012 to thereby draw a map of the “common” raised beyond the single realities. In the dialectic and multipolar relationship between various occupations, each experience contained factors of growth and specifics in elaborating and studying its own identity and, in putting history into perspective with various intensities and duration, fueled common repertoires of investigation and struggle. Each contributed to the creation of a dynamic which was, in part, uncontrollable, deeply transformational, making rebellion without the seeds of failure imaginable. Not only did this generate new outposts for the struggle but also produced the practice, the mentality and discourse on the common good. Independent institutions which were neither public nor private based on the concept of common use and affirming the fundamental the need for creating networks of similar experiences from the time of their founding; specific experiences with their differences but which shared the same constituent capacity and same universal vocation (universal not in abstract terms but very real; the partiality of an experience always looks to translatability).

Being in a relationship, creating different nodes in the same mechanism net may, however, not be sufficient if it fails to provide a core to the constituent process going beyond the mere “structural” side. In this sense, we believe that the new form of federalism beyond the state can come as the opening of a path to build relations among the different institutions of the common. A process which is open, agreed to, horizontal and capable of involving a plurality of powers and institutions arising out of the experience of the common good. Common goods are actually polycentric in nature and this require a deeply democratic approach (the principle of decentralization, a subsidiary status, diffuse sovereignty and special legislation) as well as an economic approach (the ways of producing common goods which lead to our dependence on money and the markets).