Crisis — Time to Regroup, Self-Management — Means to Reorganize
Keywords:Deep adaptation, Yugoslavia, New Belgrade, Self-management, Mass misappropriation of space
As a principle of industrial and spatial organisation, self-management enabled Yugoslavia to shape its own socialism after the breakup with the Soviet Union and the rest of the Eastern Bloc — in 1986. It even represented the paradigmatic element of a proposal for an urban restructuring of New Belgrade submitted by Marxist philosopher Henri Lefebvre and architects Renaudie and Gilbaud. The Yugoslav experience of self-management is not the only one. The oldest precedent probably is the Paris Commune. Bottom-up self-management has unravelled the planet over, in factories of Eastern Europe, neighbourhoods in South American cities, and rural communities in North Africa and the Middle East, to mention some.
This essay will look at self-management as a critical socio-political paradigm inherently connected to spatial determinants and both a means and a goal of reorganising society in the contemporary moment and for the ever nearer future.
The narrative is positioned in a broader temporal context of mass misappropriation of space by mechanisms of power: be it state, corporate, state-corporate, or architectural; the context, that is, of “flat hierarchies” as the new office ping pong tables and bean bags and corporate campuses as the new public spaces, and in the narrower temporal context of a global pandemic forcing a redefinition of public and private, of work and labour relations.