The city as an arena of democracy – from the Italian republics to the libertarian municipalism Mooray Bookchin

Lecture by Jan Sowa

Inquiry regarding democratic forms of social and political life is, to a large extent, a question of scale. Democracy was born and shaped in relatively small groups, such as tribal communities, and within European culture – in cities (first in ancient Greece, and in more recent times in Italian cities-republics at the end of the Middle Ages and at the beginning of the Renaissance). The emergence of modern parliamentarism in the eighteenth century was accompanied by discussions on the scale – opponents of democracy claimed that the nation-state is too large creation in order to be democratically organized. Contemporary democratic experiments with new, more democratic systemic solutions are often held within the range of cities, which the best example is the Brazilian city of Porto Alegre with a participatory budget established there. Hence, the city seems to be the best arena for further democratization of democracy.