Common Futures

Social Transformation and Political Ecology

Table of contents

• Prologue – Preface - Introduction
Chapter 1 (by Yavor Tarinski): Political Ecology and Social Change
• Introduction
• Roots of the Contemporary Crisis
• Domination and Oppression
• The Fallacy of Economic Growth
• The Overpopulation Myth
• Ecology Beyond Narrow Technoscience
• Interconnectedness of Ecology and Democracy
• Theoretical Outlines
• Democratic Traits of the Early Cities
• Towards Democratic and Ecological Cities
• Political Ecology in Practice
Chapter 2 (by Yavor Tariski): Theoretical Outlines of Direct Democracy
• Democracy as a Regime of Self-Limitation
• Forms of Social Limitation
• Democracy and Self-Limitation
• On the Contamination of the Revolutionary Project
• Self- Limitation and Education
• Ecology, Degrowth and Self-Limitation
• Conclusion
• Political Parties: An Obstacle to Democracy
• Ideology and the Saturation of Time and Space
Chapter 3 (by Alexandros Schismenos): The temporality of social movements
• What is to be done? Lenin’s question
• The question before us 
• Lessons from the past: The legacy of May ’68.
• Lessons from experience: The brief summer of the anti-globalization movement.
• The 2007-07 Greek student movement
• Rural movements towards social ecology
• The rebellious event of December 2008
• The Occupy movement in Greece
• The rise of the xenophobic Right
• The Yellow Vests against capitalist temporality.
• Modern technology and digital movements.
Chapter 4 (by Alexandros Schismenos): Conceptual Challenges
• The paradoxes of nationalistic discourse.
• Representative oligarchy and democracy.
• The temporality of autonomy.


From marginal activist groups to governments and interstate organizations, all appear to be concerned with what the future of our shared world will look like. Yet even amid the ongoing global crisis caused by capitalism, the potential for a different, radically rooted future has also appeared. Common Futures examines the social and political roots of the environmental crisis and the relationship between ecology and direct democracy.


"Tarinksi and Schismenos capture our unnervingly discordant experience of time. We are, on one level, stuck in the déjà vu of capitalism, where the presents just repeats itself and nothing changes, in fact nothing is allowed to change, despite surface appearances. But on another level we are hurtling blindly towards global ecological catastrophe, fearing a future that approaches with frightening speed. To change this ‘futureless present’, something else is needed, something that is not enmeshed in the same mind-set that it seeks to transcend."

"This is a timely book that seeks to break our present asunder, opening up the possible future of direct democracy and political ecology. Drawing force and inspiration from recent social movements which enact and agitate for a world beyond nationalism and alienated representation, the authors flesh out the political projects of direct self-institution, radical political ecology and social self-limitation, which promise to break with the 'eternal present' of (non-) representative democracy, nation-states and the unsustainable economics of growth. This is a future of life, freedom and real democracy that we can create together, equally, collectively and rhizomatically from the grassroots, in order to overcome the present dead-ends of elite rule, consumerism, ecological devastation and global injustice."

"How do we replace the figure of  homo economicus and his cut-throat world with that of the steward, caretaker to the living? Common Futures makes the compelling case that Cornelius Catstoriadis' notion of 'self-limitation'—at the heart of his thinking about ecology, democracy, and the necessary relation between the two--is where we begin."

"The authors argue forcefully that direct democracy and social ecology are intrinsically connected as they both involve collective self-determination and self-limitation. Confronting the environmental disaster and projecting energetically common futures requires the coordinated action of social movements. Mobilizing many voices of radical thought and events of rebellious practice of the last two centuries, Tarinksi and Schismenos outline a timely autonomist political ecology. Its readers will be challenged and inspired."