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Rebel Cities: From the Right to the City to the Urban Revolution

Rousing manifesto on the city and the commons from the acclaimed theorist

Long before Occupy, cities were the subject of much utopian thinking. They are the centers of capital accumulation as well as of revolutionary politics, where deeper currents of social and political change rise to the surface. Do the financiers and developers control access to urban resources or do the people? Who dictates the quality and organization of daily life?

Rebel Cities places the city at the heart of both capital and class struggles, looking at locations ranging from Johannesburg to Mumbai, from New York City to São Paulo. Drawing on the Paris Commune as well as Occupy Wall Street and the London Riots, Harvey asks how cities might be reorganized in more socially just and ecologically sane ways—and how they can become the focus for anti-capitalist resistance.

Reviews

  • “Whose streets? Our streets! In Rebel Cities David Harvey shows us how we might turn this slogan into a reality. That task—and this book—could hardly be more important.”
  • “David Harvey provoked a revolution in his field and has inspired a generation of radical intellectuals.”
  • “Challenging and timely.”
  • “Forensic and ferocious.”
  • “Harvey’s clarion demand [is] that it is “we”, not the developers, corporate planners, or political elites, who truly build the city, and only we who can seize back our right to its control.”
  • “Intellectuals in the Occupy movement [will] appreciate Rebel Cities' descriptions of the historic and international parallel of urban struggles to reclaim public space and build culture, and be intrigued by Harvey’s musings on how to grow a lively, resilient revolutionary anticapitalist movement.”
  • “A consistent intelligent voice of the left.”

Blog

  • Under the Flag of the Universal Republic: Essential Paris Commune Reading List

    The Paris Commune was one of the most momentous and influential moments in the history of the Workers' Movement. Despite lasting just 72 days, those few short months in 1871 were felt across the world. 

    Profoundly internationalist and including in its leadership a number of inspirational female revolutionaries, the Commune opened up new emancipatory and libertarian possibilities and tools that are still being used by thinkers and activists to this day.

    To celebrate the launch of Gavin Bowd's new book The Last Communard: Adrien Lejeune, the Unexpected Life of a Revolutionary, which explores the radical history of the Commune and its aftermath through the extraordinary life of Adrien Lejeune, we bring you our essential Paris Commune reading list.



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  • "Cities, like cats, will reveal themselves at night" - an extract from Nightwalking: A Nocturnal History of London

    Extract from Nightwalking: A Nocturnal History of London by Matthew Beaumont

    In the dead of night, in spite of the electric lights and the remnants of nightlife, London is an alien city, especially if you are strolling through its lanes and thoroughfares alone.


    In the more sequestered streets, once the pubs are closed, and at a distance from the twenty-four-hour convenience stores, the sodium gleam of the street lamps, or the flickering strip-light from a soporific minicab stand, offers little consolation. There are alleys and street corners and shop entrances where the darkness appears to collect in a solid, faintly palpitating mass. There are secluded squares where, to appropriate a haunting line from a poem by Shelley, night makes ‘a weird sound of its own stillness’. There are buildings, monuments and statues that, at a distance, and in the absence of people, pulsate mysteriously in the sepulchral light. There are foxes that slope and trot across the road, in a single motion, as you interrupt their half-shameful, half-defiant attempts to pillage scraps from upended bins. And, from time to time, there are the faintly sinister silhouettes of other solitary, perhaps homeless, individuals – as threatened by your presence, no doubt, as you are by theirs. ‘However efficiently artificial light annihilates the difference between night and day’, Al Alvarez has commented, ‘it never wholly eliminates the primitive suspicion that night people are up to no good.’


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  • Our London podcast: Take Back the City!


    Dan Hancox
    hosts the Verso podcast in collaboration with Compass for the latest conversation in Our London, a series of discussions looking ahead to the 2016 London Mayoral and Assembly elections. Amina Gichinga and Linda Bellos join him to discuss London and its tensions—and how the capital could be changed for the better. They look at Take Back the City, a grassroots campaign to address inequality and the imbalance of power in the capital, and explore what we can learn from the Greater London Council's work in the 1980s before its dissolution by the Thatcher government in 1986.


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Other books by David Harvey