Silvia Federici, professor emerita for Political Philosophy at Hofstra University, Long Island, NY; political activist and author of several books, including "Caliban and the Witch"
Facing mass unempoyment, precarisation, evictions and cuts in social services, more and more people in the US and other parts of the world are reconquering public spaces beyond in order to create new forms of production and reproduction: the Commons. In cities like Detroit and New York urban gardening is flourishing. This is not only about food, according to Silvia Federici, but also about reconstructing the social fabric and reclaiming control of our lives. These "communities of resistance" could become - when they join into networks - a vital force of social and ecological transformation.
As social services are cut back, more and more work is relocated to households, according to Silvia Federici. Especially women are often overworked, as they have to do both: wage labour and care work. The life expectancy of women with low incomes has declined by five years over the past decade. Also children are heavily affected. According to statistics, one out of four children in the US is suffering from a mental disorder. But "hyperactivity", "attention deficit" and "depression" are medical masks for a social issue, says Federici: Children, being deprived of their childhood and lacking attention, are being sedated by drugs. At the same time the care for the elderly is often sourced out - even to foreign countries - to save time and money.
Since the occupation of Zuccotti Park in New York City in Autumn 2011, new offshoots of the Occupy movement have formed. After Hurricane "Sandy" hit the East Coast, people organized "Occupy Sandy" in order to help poorer communities which were left aside by public aid. Facing a massive debt crisis because of soaring tuition fees, unemployment and public service cuts, the platform "Strike Debt" was created in order to resist the power of banks and to fight for social justice and democratic rights.
In her classic book "Caliban and the Witch", Silvia Federici uncovers the roots of capitalism in the 14th to 16th century. Capitalism has not evolved organically, as it is often claimed, as a liberation from the chains of feudalism, but rather as a counter-revolution against the massive social movements that swept all over Europe in these days - from the heretic movements of the late Middle Ages to the Refomration and the Peasant's Wars. Thomas Muentzer's motto "Omnia sund communia" - "everything belongs to everybody" - was emblematic for these egalitarian movements and relinks them to the modern Commons movement.