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Libertarian municipalism is a political program developed by libertarian socialist theorist Murray Bookchin, to create democratic citizens' assemblies in towns and urban neighborhoods. The assemblies in these free municipalities join together to replace the state with a directly democratic confederation.
Bookchin became an advocate of face-to-face or assembly democracy in the 1950s, inspired by writings on the ancient Athenian polis by H. D. F. Kitto and Alfred Eckhard Zimmern. For the concept of confederation, he was influenced by the nineteenth century anarchist thinkers. Bookchin tied libertarian municipalism to a utopian vision for decentralizing cities into small, human-scaled eco-communities, and to a concept of urban revolution.
Bookchin's The Rise of Urbanization and the Decline of Citizenship (1986) is an overview of the historical conflict between city and nation-state, which also presents his municipalist program. In Burlington, Vermont, Bookchin attempted to put these ideas into practice by working with the Northern Vermont Greens, the Vermont Council for Democracy, and the Burlington Greens, retiring from politics in 1990. His ideas are summarized succinctly in Remaking Society (1989) and The Murray Bookchin Reader (1997).
While Bookchin long placed libertarian municipalism within the framework of postcolonial anarchism, in the late 1990s he broke with anarchism and in his final essay, The Communalist Project (2003), identified libertarian municipalism as the main component of communalism. Communalists believe that libertarian municipalism is both the means to achieve a rational society and the structure of that society.
Another program in which independent communities form a confederation was written by the Swiss historian and philosopher Adolf Gasser. His work led to an alternative proposal for a European community—the Council of European Municipalities and Regions—which was co-founded by Gasser in 1951. It still exists today, but has limited power since the centralized European Union became the European organization with the real power.
- Murray Bookchin, The Rise of Urbanization and the Decline of Citizenship (1987 and 1992); Murray Bookchin, Remaking Society (1990 and 1998); and Janet Biehl, ed., The Murray Bookchin Reader (1998)
- Berlijnse reflecties: Gemeentevrijheid als redding van Europa?. Berlijnsereflecties.blogspot.com (2006-07-11). Retrieved on 2013-07-12.
- Discussion on Gassers book Gemeindefreiheit als Rettung Europas (in dutch language)