Notes on the limitations of applied Autonomy under the conditions of current global affairs

A new dystopia for our societies?
21 March 2014

by George M. Chatzistergiou


"Autonomia" is surely a theoretical concept with many connotations, i.e. the right or the state of self-government, the freedom to determine one's own actions and behaviour and is commonly perceived as positive.

However, our collective human experience indicates that a concept can be applied in a perverse way when used for practical purposes in the socio-economic field.

Intrigued by the theme "Crisis Scapes and Self-Governance" I would like to discuss a number of issues: Is autonomy working at all nowadays? Can autonomy be sustainable in a planet much more interconnected than ever? Can it be effective in the threatening climate change conditions or in the current refugees' and humanitarian crisis?

As far as the urban environment is concerned, the examples of "gated communities" or shantytowns indicate how autonomy has been realized in both the upper and lower social strata in a completely perverse way. While the gated communities live in alienation to the surrounding population, the slums or super- ghettoes, function as damned "other worlds" in relation to the formal economies and the "normal" society. In this context, I would like to discuss that gap that separates theory from practice and wonder if, in the world of post-democracy that we share, there is any autonomy in the form of self governance at all.

It is imperative to discuss the laws and institutions of global governance since we aim at a sustainable, decent and creative life. A lot of innovative ideas and practices are needed towards that direction and, since we are talking about the urban environment, the solution is integration and not seclusion.