Media against Democracy | Economy of Crisis Capitalism and Ecology of the Commons | Poprišta neoliberalizma: Urbani sukobi u postsocijalističkim društvima | Sloboda stvaralaštvu! Festival slobodne kulture, znanosti i tehnologije

Media against Democracy



24.-26. April 2014, Zagreb

The media and journalism are undergoing a turbulent and painful period of restructuring. Joint forces of disruptive technological innovation and economic crisis have pulled the rug under the ailing print and broadcasting media and their production models. Journalism is being undercut by parallel processes of deskilling and lay-offs. Media reporting is increasingly becoming uniform and reduced to opinionated journalism, agency news and press releases. However, the roots of this process of economic rationalization are not of recent making. Although internet is frequently blamed for obliterating the business models of traditional media, this has only precipitated the fundamental problems of media in contemporary capitalist democracies that were set in motion in the decades before the internet with the growing concentration of media ownership and commercialization of media content.

At the same time, the early democratizing promise of the internet to allow everyone to access the broadest public seems to have been eviscerated. In many ways its success proved to be its failure. As it transformed our communication, our economies, our everyday, it failed to displace the dominant operations of social and global power. As the recent revelations of blanket surveillance of citizens had shown, it made everything that has become more democratic more fragile in the face of power. And we could claim that the same economic forces of commercialization, concentration and monopoly that plunged the print and broadcasting media into a crisis spiral decades ago are now driving the internet into a similar crisis, only amplified by the capacity of technological control over communications. The growing economic streamlining of the media is foreclosing their democratic premise.

The conference proposes to look at the intertwined processes of commercialization of internet and crisis of media and journalism. On the analytical side it proposes to approach the predicament from the framework of political economy of communication, while on the practical side it wants to look closer at the future facing media and journalists and the prospects of progressive media reform in Croatia. To discuss this it brought together prominent scholars, media professionals, political activists and policy makers, including Des Freedman, Leopoldina Fortunati, Robert W. McChesney, Drago Hedl, Rüdiger Rossig, Milan Živković, Rasmus Fleischer, Marisol Sandoval, Marcell Mars, Sebastian Sevignani, Ladislav Tomičić, Brankica Petković, Nada Švob-Đokić, Helena Popović, Vesna Kesić, Slavica Lukić, Sebastian Mondial…


Economy of Crisis Capitalism and Ecology of the Commons



22.-24. November 2012, Zagreb

The commons have recently become the mobilizing credo of social struggles – struggles against privatization of public goods, against marketization of education and healthcare, against cuts in public services, against resocialization of private risks, against debt, against landgrab and privatization of public space, against patents over biological foundations of life, against economic barriers to vital drugs, against enclosures of knowledge and culture…

The commons are a rallying call for social movements, crystallizing on the one hand the negative experience of advanced processes of growing commodification of ever broader segments of non-commodified goods and services that are at the foundation of social equality. On the other hand, crystallizing the positive experience of self-organizing, social solidarity and democratic management of resources that emerge in those movements and point to the urgency of a political project of resocializing the economy that could break the vicious circle between the capital and the political governance of crisis economies.

The commons are an indicator of a particular historic conjuncture of the present moment – a sort of a perfect storm – where an enduring economic crisis, socially devastating austerity policies, decades-long transformations of property relations and shifts in balance of powers between capital and labor have all joined forces. The international conference “Economy of Crisis Capitalism and Ecology of the Commons” took as its point of departure the analysis of the emergence and current stage of the crisis, its consequences on labor, public sector and non-commodified goods of various kind. The discuss was focused on avenues of possible political action and new political categories that would allow labor organizations, social movements and political actors to stop the paralysis imposed by the current dominant interpretation of the crisis as the crisis of public profligacy and unsustainability of the welfare state. A particular emphasis was given to how existing social movements in the form of activist or civil groups can continue their action beyond the immediate occasion and location of their emergence. And, secondly, how can we advocate and implement processes of remunicipalization of privatized goods.

The conference provided a venue for exchange between positions of trade unionists, economists, legal experts, environmentalists, activists for spatial justice, for public water systems, for public healthcare, for the digital commons. The roster included: Massimo de Angelis, Michel Bauwens, Teodor Celakoski, Stipe Ćurković, Vladimir Cvijanović, Danijela Dolenec, Ana Džokić / Marc Neelen (STEALTH), Trevor Evans, Pippa Gallop, Ursula Huws, Mario Iveković, Dmytri Kleiner, Marko Kostanić, Jovica Lončar, Ugo Mattei, Tomislav Medak, Yann Moulier Boutang, Martin Pigeon, Dušica Radojčić, Dubravka Sekulić, David Price, Felix Stalder, Asbjørn Wahl, Mislav Žitko.

The conference was jointly organized by: Multimedia Institute, Center for Labor Studies, Right to the City Zagreb and Heinrich Böll Stiftung Croatia.

Video documentation of keynotes, panels and interviews can be found here.


Neoliberal Frontier

international conference // Operation:City 2008

4.-7.12.2008, Zagreb

International conference “Neoliberal frontier” was aiming to rethink the transformation of cities, urban landscapes and city governing in Croatian and other post-socialist societies in Eastern Europe at the moment when the development of cities in those societies is more and more under the pressure of neoliberal policy and excessive economic exploitation of space.

The conference discussed questions of globalization and transition in the context of Eastern-European cities; introducing the neoliberal governing instruments; an urban planing politics that go in the favour of the interests of business over the public interest; weakening of citizen participation; urban struggles against the exclusion of citizens from decision-making and cultural practices directed against privatization of public space.

Many phenomena present in the Eastern-European cities are following similar logic, the one that western cities went through during the post-industrial, globalization period of the 1980s and 1990s. However, Eastern-European development is marked with some specificities of post-socialist transition: privatization of the economy and the new pressure from the party of economy on the space.

Conference participants were: Neil Smith, Jason Hackworth, Boris Buden, Keller Easterling, Ines Weizman, Brian Holmes, Edi Rama, Jochen Becker, Artemy Magun, Boyan Manchev, Stefan Nowotny, Daniel Chavez, Gal Kirn, Gerald Raunig, Paul Stubbs, Keller Easterling, Miran Gajšek, Vedran Mimica, Saša Poljanec-Borić, Dafne Berc, Ana Džokić / Marc Neelen, Emil Jurcan, Florina Jerliu, Dinko Peračić, Armina Pilav, Tanja Rajić, Dubravka Sekulić, Srdjan Jovanović Weiss, Ivan Kucina, Arjen Oosterman, Andrej Prelovšek, Kai Vöckler, Sabine Bitter / Helmut Weber, Maroje Mrduljaš, Mirko Petrić, Ani Vaseva, Zoran Pantelić, Teodor Celakoski, Blaž Križnik, Doina Petrescu, Dimitry Vorobyev.

As a part of the Operation:City 2008 programme, a newsletter “Neoliberal frontier” was published. Conference team: Petar Milat (coordinator), Tomislav Medak, Leonardo Kovačević, Marko Sančanin


Freedom to Creativity! – Festival of Free Culture, Science and Technology

22 January 2005 @ Split

12 – 15 January 2005 @ Zagreb

1 – 5 February 2006 @ Zagreb

22 – 27 January 2007. @ Zagreb

The global movement for “free culture” was born in the strife between the possibilities of unlimited access to cultural content through digital networks and restriction of rights to access cultural production by regulation of intellectual property.

Free culture is established through exchange, development and co-creation, and it is based on free and open content that the authors are willingly, or after the expiration of copyright, giving to the public to use.

In that spirit of sharing and common development of goods – the spirit that is inherited from the movement for free software and academia – festival “Freedom to Creativity!” represents the most prominent examples of global cooperation and initiatives for free access, and archiving of cultural and intellectual heritage, as well as collaborative projects that are producing new knowledge accessible to the public for free use, copying and sharing.

The Festival was held from 2005 till 2007, first focusing on different efforts in the field of “free creativity” – e.i. creativity made by authors that are giving others free access to their work, without violation of copyright. In its second edition, the Festival focused on the negative effects of the privatization of knowledge through patents, copyright in the field of science, medicine, agronomy and genetics; open access to knowledge, medicine and technology as well as its (referring to knowledge) importance for more equal global social development. In its last edition, the Festival focused on radio-frequency spectrum as a public good, open communication standards and citizens’ participation in the creation of media.