The Impolitic Narrative of Grassroots Movements against Neoliberal De-Politicization. The Case of Commons


The essay aims to demonstrate that the process of de-politicization does not only affect political institutions but also the inspiring narrative of grassroots and anti-systemic move-ments engaged against neoliberalism. This circumstance is one of the most important reasons why, despite the huge and persistent crisis of neoliberalism, we do not witness a real hegemonic shift, and politics continues to be a very marginal forge of social life, as the neoliberal recipe pre-scribes. De-politicization is the main effect of "horizontalism", i.e. the descriptive and normative belief that social order is and has to be the ex post result of the interaction dynamics between social actors. Thus, a social order is much more desirable insofar as it leaves out the subject "as is", promoting a process of self-revelation. Our thesis is that both neoliberalism and the largest part of anti-systemic movements who pretend to oppose to it share this basic frame. The narrative of "commons" represents a special case of what we call "conformist alternatives". It develops an ambivalent tension: on the one side the search for pre-symbolic spontaneity and, on the other, the unmentionable search for hyper-symbolism. Finally, we identify a structural and then a socio-cultural reason that currently prevent re-politicization.

DOI Code: 10.1285/i20356609v10i2p493

Keywords: Commons narrative; Neoliberalism; Horizontalism; Crisis; De-politicization


Arestis P. (2005), “Washington Consensus and Financial Liberalization”, Journal of post-Keynesian Economics, 27: 251-272.

Arrighi G. (1996), Il Lungo XX Secolo, Milano: Il Saggiatore.

Bataille G. (1988) [1949], The Accursed Share. An Essay on General Economy. Vol. I Con-sumption, New York: Zone Books.

Bauman Z. (1999), In Search of Politics, Cambridge: Polity Press.

Bauman Z. (2005), Liquid Life, Cambridge: Polity Press.

Boltanski L., Chiapello É. (2007), The New Spirit of Capitalism, New York and London: Verso.

Cacciari P. (2011 ed.), La Società dei Beni Comuni, Roma: Ediesse.

Caillé A. (1998), Il Terzo Paradigma, Torino: Bollati Boringhieri.

Castoriadis C. (1975), L’Institution Imaginaire de la Société, Paris: Seuil.

Ciccarelli R., Allegri G. (2011), La furia dei cervelli, Roma: Manifestolibri.

Ciccarelli R., Allegri G. (2013), Il Quinto Stato, Firenze: Ponte alle Grazie.

Constant B. (1988) [1819], Political Writings, Cambridge UK: Cambridge University Press.

Cotturri G. (2013), La Forza Riformatrice della Cittadinanza attiva, Roma: Carocci.

Crainz G. (2003), Il Paese Mancato, Roma: Donzelli.

Crouch C. (2011), The Strange Non-Death of Neoliberalism, Cambridge, UK: Polity Press.

Dahrendorf R. (1983), Die Chancen der Krise, Munchen: Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt.

Dardot P., Laval C. (2014), Commun. Essai sur la Révolution au XXIème Siècle, Paris: La Découverte.

Donati P. (2012), Relational Society: a New Paradigm for Social Sciences. New York: Routledge.

Farlow A. (2013), Crash and Beyond: Causes and Consequences of the Global Financial Cri-sis, Oxford: Oxford Univeristy Press.

Fawcett P., Marsh D. (2014), “Depoliticisation, Governance and Political Participation”, Policy & Politics, Special Issue, 42(2): 171-88.

Flinders M., Wood, M. (eds. 2015), Tracing the Political. Depoliticisation, Governance and the State, Bristol: Policy Press.

Formenti C. (2011), Felici e Sfruttati, Milano: Egea.

Formenti C. (2013), Utopie letali, Milano: Jaca Book.

Gallino L. (2011), Finanzcapitalismo, Torino: Einaudi.

Giddens A. (2000), Runaway World: How Globalisation is Reshaping our Lives, London: Profile.

Ginsborg P. (2003), A History of Contemporary Italy: Society and Politics. 1943-1988, New York: Palgrawe.

Gramsci A. (1975) [1929-1935], Quaderni del Carcere, Torino: Einaudi.

Hardin J. (1968), “The Tragedy of the Commons”, Science, 162(3859): 1243-1248.

Hardt M., Negri A. (2009), Commonwealth, Cambridge Mass.: Harvard University Press.

Harvey D. (1990), The Condition of Postmodernity, Oxford: Basil Blackwell.

Harvey D. (2005), A Brief History of Neoliberalism, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Harvey D. (2006), Spaces of Global Capitalism. Towards a Theory of Uneven Geographical Development, New York: Verso.

Harvey D. (2011), The Enigma of Capital and the Crises of Capitalism, London: Profile Books.

Inglehart R. (1990), Culture Shift in Advanced Industrial Society, Princeton, N.J.; Oxford: Princeton University Press.

Jessop B. (2015), The State. Past, Present, Future, Cambridge: Polity Press.

Lasch C. (1995). The Revolt of the Elites and the Betrayal of Democracy, New York; Lon-don: W. W. Norton & Company.

Latouche S. (2014), Conelius Castoriadis ou l’Autonomie Radicale, Neuvy-en-Champagne: Le Passager Clandestin.

Lauriola V. (2013), “Indigenous Lands, Commons, Juridical Pluralism and Sustainability in Brazil: Lessons from the Indigenous Lands of Raposa Serra do Sol”, Journal of Latin America Geography, 12(1): 157-185.

Magatti M. (2009), Libertà Immaginaria. Le Illusioni del Capitalismo Tecno-Nichilista, Mi-lano: Feltrinelli.

Magatti M. (2012), La grande contrazione, Milano: Feltrinelli.

Mattei U. (2011), Beni Comuni. Un Manifesto, Roma-Bari: Laterza.

Morin E. (2008), On Complexity, Cresskill, N.J.: Hampton Press.

O’Connor J. (2002), The Fiscal Crisis of the State, New Brunswick, N.J.; London: Transac-tion.

Ostrom E. (1990), Governing the Commons: the Evolution of Institutions for Collective Ac-tion, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Ostrom E. (1994), Neither Market nor State: Governance of Common-pool Resources in the Twenty-first century, Washington, D.C.: IFPRI.

Ostrom E. (2005), Understanding Institutional Diversity, Princeton, N.J.; Woodstock: Princeton University Press.

Perna A. (2017), Lo Sviluppo Insostenibile, Reggio Calabria: Città del Sole.

Petrosino D., Romano O. (eds. 2017), Buonanotte Mezzogiorno. Economia, Immaginario e Classi Dirigenti nel Sud della Crisi, Roma: Carocci.

Polanyi K. (2001) [1944], The Great Transformation. The Political and Economic Origins of our Time, Boston, MA: Beacon Press.

Pörksen U. (1995), Plastic Words: the Tyranny of a Modular Language, University Park, Pa.: Pennsylvania University Press.

Rodotà S. (2012), Il diritto di avere diritti, Roma-Bari: Laterza.

Romano O. (1993), “Le illimitate accessibilità del codice tecnologico”, Democrazia e Di-ritto, 1: 73-88.

Romano O. (2014), The Sociology of Knowledge in a Time of Crisis. Challenging the Phan-tom of Liberty, New York & London: Routledge.

Scheper-Hughes N., Wacquant L. (2001), Commodifying Bodies, London: Sage.

Sennett R. (2006), The culture of the New Capitalism, New Haven, Conn.; London: Yale University.

Stiglitz J. E. (2003), “Challenging the Washington Consensus”, The Brown Journal of World Affairs, 9(2): 33-44.

Stiglitz J. E. (2010), Freefall. America, Free Market and the Sinking of the World Economy, New York & London: W. W. Norton & Company.

Streeck W. (2009), Re-forming Capitalism. Institutional Change in the German Political Economy, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Streeck W. (2014), Buying Time. The Delayed Crisis of Democratic Capitalism, New York: Verso.

Taylor M. C. (2001), The Moment of Complexity: Emerging Network Culture, Chicago, London: University of Chicago Press.

Weber M. (1968) [1920-1922], Economy and Society: an Outline of Interpretative Sociolo-gy, New York: Bedminster Press.

Full Text: PDF


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribuzione - Non commerciale - Non opere derivate 3.0 Italia License.