27 Juin 2020
Metropolisation, Greater Paris: the indispensable democratic audacity
#Paris #metropolization #GreaterParis #metropolis #governance
In this modest forum, I do not venture to propose any institutional changes. I would simply like to share a few analyses that lead me to a very important question: metropolisation calls for democratic innovation. Quickly...
For work, for sports activities, for shopping, for culture, for leisure, for family and interpersonal relations, most of the inhabitants of the Greater Paris area live their lives well beyond the limits of their community. 800,000 inhabitants of the inner suburbs and the "grande couronne" come to work in Paris every day, and 340,000 Parisians work in the suburbs. The lived city ignores the fixed administrative borders.
"The metropolis is not a territory. It's a multi-scale system of territories, caught up in networks that integrate them into globalization" [Martin Vanier].
In order to take its full measure and open up to the future, this territory of life must explode traditional frameworks of thought, innovate and respond to several challenges: the challenge of adapting to global change (climate, biodiversity, etc.), the challenge of equality, the challenge of democracy.
Adapting to global change cannot be done within communal boundaries, not even by adding them together. We need public policies that are on the right scale, not only in terms of coordination but also in terms of definition, impetus, mutualisation and organisation. True for the fight against pollution, true for the preservation of nature, vegetalisation, the production necessary to feed 12 million inhabitants, the control of land to stop speculation, the rebalancing of housing and work, etc....
The challenge of equality because in this metropolis - one of the richest and most productive in the world - social and spatial inequalities are constantly growing. The metropolitan condition is tough: housing crisis, transport crisis, environmental crisis, gentrification, touristification. For the working classes, Greater Paris is experienced as an aggression.
Surprising, surprising, incomprehensible that in these conditions, with the exception of a few agreed references, the municipal election campaign has withdrawn to the local, the commune, hiding the metropolitan specificity.
This is the third challenge that was not taken up _ even though the metropolitan debate was put on the agenda by the Paris initiatives in 2001.
Yet this is now the front line of social emancipation: building a democratic contract that enables everyone not to lock themselves into a protective territory against globalization-metropolization, but rather to access the keys to this multi-scale world. It is not simple, it is not immediately within our cultural, practical and political reach. Reconciling the working classes and metropolization is _ to speak in the old fashioned way_ a central task of the progressives in the Greater Paris.
This calls for a completely different understanding of citizenship than that which refers to the "inhabitant", a reference which has led to a large extent to local democracy functioning in many situations as a syndicate of co-owners.
Metropolisation calls for a new democratic age
As always when faced with breakthrough innovations, the first reflex is to consider them too complex and risky. I'm told, "You want to take power further away from the citizens, you want an above-ground community."
Yes, it is a rupture, but the worst reflex is to cling to the democratic world of the past, whose modalities are no longer the world of today.
It is through the innovative and audacious grasp of a possible new democratic age within the metropolises that the critical left would have played its role in a global perspective of overcoming urban capitalism. It has not grasped it.
But there is still time, provided that we act quickly.
This column was written before the health crisis, in view of the first round of the municipal elections.
#Paris #greaterparis #metropolization #metropolis
Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)