Regional and Urban Policies – ELSU Session

David Morcillo – PCE
In time of financial capital, the principal power of the left is in the city. Capitalism is an urban product and resistance must also be urban. The fixity of capital in cities presents a problem for capitalism. The new movements are characterized by horizontal relationships, they want to occupy not expropriate. The second step should be to change the uses of space, using public space for assemblies The third step is to change lifestyles – these are one of the ways that capitalism dominates the working class. Changing lifestyles can help change forms of production.

Pedro Bingre
Seeing a return to a rentier economy, back to the Ancien Regime. Trying to go from capitalism to socialist democracy but we are regressing. This is because neloberalism equates land and capital, thus making rent and interest equivalent. Neoclassical economics does this to depoliticise the idea of rent. Land is not equivalent; it cannot be produced, and hence has no cost, only a price, which is not reached through a ‘transaction channel’. Landhas no marginal utility. Trading prices equal the capitalised future earnings of prospective users. V = a/t where v = the value, a is the expected annual net rent and t is the interest rate. As interest rates decrease, the value tends towards infinity, independent of demographic changes. The PIIGS economies all reveal a disconnect between housing prices and occupancy as houses have been built as an asset, not for need. In Portugal 70% of the debt is derived from real estate and land speculation captured a third of total spending. The real estate bubble presents us with a major problem, as young people are not able to rent or buy. Portugal expects a loss of 25% of its population with parallel housing shortages and housing surpluses.

Sylvia Gabelmann – Die Linke
Next election is 2014. Major opposition is SPD/Greens, who largely agree with incumbent policy. Die Linke is approximately 12% of parliament. Unemployment is not too high although there is a lot of precarious and low wage ork. Real wages are now below 2000 level. Only smll and isolated movements exists. Trade unions orient to SPD and social partership, accepting fundamentals of neoliberalism. Die Linke has not benefited from the crisis, in fact surveys indicate a decline, with an expected vote share of 6-9% in next election. They lost many seats in regional parliaments. Die Linke is active in Bloccupy, which is a coalition of left forces. She believes they can only succeed by uniting movements of the streets and unions with electoral parties.

A German speaker from the floor raised concern over recent training of German military for urban warfare in modern cities. A Finnish speaker pointed out that Left discourse does not include rural problems or address their need for services. The Left is limiting its appeal due to its focus on urban populatins. A French speaker commented that her involvement as a municipal councillor in Paris showed that the councils led by Communists can fight against real estate speculation. Another French speaker asked what the role of neighbourhood democracy is and how it should relate to municipal councils.

Daniel Morcillo
New movements are important but not enough to change this world. Must produce left and Marxist policies for the cities. It is also necessary to create a collective urban identity. There’s no contradiction between democrativ struggle and fight against speculation. Believes in public housing. References movement against mortgages in madrid, says it shows left is somewhat out of touc. Needs urban policies in health, housing, education and child and elder care. New movements necessary to create a broader movement, but left organisation around services are needed. Change requires political organisation.

Pedro Bingre
Municipal housing and rural housing are connected. How do we make land accessible. There are two solutions – nationalise land or implement a land tax (Henry George). This is beneficial because increasing tax will cause will cause a decrease in land prices as it will discourage speculation and force land into market. I Portugal 1/3 of land is vacant. Also supports public housing. Suggests poly centric cities (i.e. multiple city centres) with approximately 30% of housing being provided by municpalities. Should also transform small villages into ‘micro-cities’, i.e. villages with greater occupational diversity. Army in Portugal has a democratic character.

Sylvia Gabemann
We see new movements because of a new social/political mood and the rise of social media. She has a perspective from below and suggests housing cooperatives o buy land and also occupations of unused housing.

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