The Commons

The Media Against Democracy | The Economy of Crisis Capitalism and the Ecology of the Commons | The Sites of Neoliberalism: Urban Conflicts in Post-socialist Societies | Freedom to Creativity! Festival of Free Culture, Science and Technology

The Media Against Democracy


24 – 26 April 2014, Zagreb

The media and journalism are going through a turbulent and painful period of restructuring. Technological change and the economic crisis have cut the ground under the feet of already shaky print and electronic media and their business models. Journalism is eroded by parallel processes of the degrading of professional skills and the abolition of jobs. Media coverage is becoming more uniform and reduced to columns, agency news, and the publishing of PR announcements. However, the roots of these processes of economic rationalization are not recent. Although the Internet is most often seen as the cause of the collapse of traditional media business models, it has only accelerated the fundamental problems posed by the concentration of media ownership and commercialization of media content in the decades before the advent of the Internet.

At the same time, the initial democratic promise of the internet is also losing ground. Its success proved to be its curse. Although it transformed public and private communication – business, everyday life, relations of global political and economic power remained unchanged. As recent discoveries of mass surveillance of citizens have shown, everything that has made more democratic has also been made more vulnerable to control. The market processes of commercialization, concentration, and monopolization that pushed the print and electronic media into a spiral of crisis through previous decades are now pushing the internet into a similar crisis, only now magnified by the possibilities of technological control over communications. The increasingly thorough economic restructuring of the media is undermining their democratic promise.

The conference “The Media Against Democracy?” considers the combined process of the commercialization of the internet and the crisis of the media and journalism. On the analytical side, the conference approaches the issue through the prism of political economy, and on the practical side, through issues of the future of the organization and work in the media and the necessary media reforms in Croatia. Prominent domestic and international experts, media workers, political activists, and political actors took part in the

discussion: Des Freedman, Leopoldina Fortunati, Robert W. McChesney, Drago Hedl, Rüdiger Rossig, Milan Živković, Rasmus Fleischer, Marisol Sandoval, Marcell Mars, Sebastian Sevignani, Ladislav Tomicic, Brankica Petkovic, Nada Svob-Djokic, Helena Popovic, Vesna Kesic, Slavica Lukic, Sebastian Mondial…


The Economy of Crisis Capitalism and the Ecology of the Commons


22 – 24 October 2012, Zagreb

The commons have become a mobilizing credo of many social struggles – the fight against the privatization of public goods, against the commercialization of education and health, against cuts in public services, against the socialization of private risks, against debt, against the depletion of natural goods, against the plunder of space, against the creation of patent property over the biological foundations of life, against economic barriers to the availability of vital medicines, against the enclosure of knowledge and culture.

The commons are the slogan of social movements in which, on the one hand, the specific negative experience of advanced processes of commercialization of ever wider circles of non-market goods and services that form the foundation of social equality is crystallized. On the other hand, the positive experience of social self-organization, social solidarity, and democratic management of resources that appears in these movements indicate the urgent need for a political project of resocialization of the economy that will break the closed circle of capital and its instabilities.

The commons are an indicator of a specific historical constellation of the present moment – a kind of perfect storm – in which the forces of many years of economic crisis, socially disastrous austerity policies, decades of property transformation, and changing power relations between capital and labor have united. The international conference “Economics of Crisis Capitalism and Ecology of the Commons” had a starting point in the analysis of the genesis and the current state of the crisis, its consequences for the sphere of labor, for the public sector, and non-market goods of this or that type. The aim was to discuss the directions of political action and new political categories that would enable trade unions, social movements, and political actors to stop the paralysis imposed by the currently dominant interpretation of the crisis as a crisis of public spending and the unsustainability of the welfare state. Special emphasis was placed on considerations of how existing social

movements in the form of activist and civic groups can continue to operate beyond the immediate cause and the space in which they occur. And secondly, how can the processes of the so-called recommunalization – the returning of privatized goods into public hands – be advocated and implemented.

The conference brought together the perspectives of trade unionists, economists, lawyers, ecologists, activists for spatial justice, for public water supply, for public health, for digital goods: Massimo de Angelis, Michel Bauwens, Teodor Celakoski, Stipe Ćurković, Vladimir Cvijanović, Danijela Dolenec, Ana Đokić / Marc Neelen (STEALTH.unlimited), 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 co-organized by: the Multimedia Institute, the Center for Workers’ Studies, the Right to the City, and the Heinrich Böll Stiftung.

The Sites of Neoliberalism: Urban Conflicts in Post-socialist Societies

international conference // Operation: City 2008

4.-7.12.2008, social center Kino Mosor, Zvonimirova 63

The international conference The Sites of Neoliberalism focused on the transformation of cities, urban landscapes, and urban governance in Croatian and other post-socialist societies in Eastern Europe at a crucial time when urban development in these societies is increasingly under pressure from neoliberal policies and excessive economic exploitation.

The conference addressed issues of the impact of globalization and transition in the context of Eastern European cities; the introduction of neoliberal governance instruments; urban planning policies that promote business interests to the detriment of the public interest; declining citizen participation; urban struggles against the exclusion of citizens from decision-making and cultural practices directed against the privatization of public space.

A large number of phenomena that can be observed in Eastern European cities follow a similar logic of development to that of Western cities during the post-industrial, globalization period of the 1980s and 1990s. Nevertheless, Eastern European

development is marked by several features of the post-socialist transition: democratic deficits, corruption of public administration, failed privatization of the economy and new economic pressures on space.

The conference was attended by: 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 Gajsek, Vedran Mimica, Sasa Poljanec-Boric, Dafne Berc, Ana Dzokic / Marc Neelen, Emil Jurcan, Florina Jerliu, Dinko Peracic, Armina Pilav, Tanja Rajic, Dubravka Sekulic, Srdjan Jovanovic 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 part of the Operation: city 2008 program, two publications were published: A Handbook for Living in Neoliberal Reality (Croatian) and Sites of Neoliberalism (in English). Conference program team: Petar Milat (coordinator), Tomislav Medak, Leonardo Kovačević, Marko Sančanin


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

January 22, 2005 @ klub kocka, Split

January 12 – 15, 2005 @ Printing House “Borba”, Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computing, net.kulturni klub [mama], Močvara / Jedinstvo, Zagreb

February 1 – 5, 2006, Zagreb @ Borbara Printing House, Rudjer Boskovic Institute, Močvara, Zagreb Cinema

January 22-27, 2007 @ MM Center of the Student Center and Močvara

In the rift between the possibility of absolute access to cultural content through digital online environments and the denial of the right of access to cultural goods by restrictive regulation of intellectual property, a global movement for “free culture” was born.

Free culture is created by exchanging, connecting, and co-creating based on free and open content that authors voluntarily, or after the expiration of copyright, hand over to the public.

In this spirit of sharing and building free goods together – the spirit inherited from the free software movement and the scientific community – the “Freedom to Creativity!” Festival presents the most prominent examples of global cooperation and initiatives for free access and archiving of cultural and intellectual heritage, as well as collaborative projects for the production of new content given to the public for free use, copying and exchange.

The festival took place from 2005 to 2007, first dedicated to various efforts in the field of “free creation” – i.e. works for which the authors give others the right to freely exchange and process it without copyright infringement and publish these adaptations. In its second edition, the festival was devoted to the negative consequences of knowledge privatization through patents and copyrights in the fields of science, medicine, agriculture, and genetics; open access to knowledge, medicines, and technology and its (if it relates to knowledge) importance for a balanced global social development. In its latest edition, the festival was dedicated to radio frequency spectrum as a public good, open communication standards, and civic participation in media creation.