Changer la ville, changer la vie!
— Henri Lefebvre
One of the major contributions of Henri Lefebvre (1901-1991) to contemporary philosophy is his “critique of everyday life.” This is the term he used to describe the process within which is woven together all of the natural rhythms of the human body, the environment and society at large and the way that the everyday enables them to come together in the space in which life takes place. In three books (in 1948 Critique de la vie quotidienne; in 1968 La vie quotidienne dans le monde moderne; and in 1981 Critique de la vie quotidienne, III: De la modernité au modernisme) the main idea he explored was how everyday life has been ignored in studies of industrial production and technology. He understood how everyday spaces had been upended in zones of consumption from which the only means of escape are attainable by demanding and claiming the right to inhabit alternative spaces to those proposed by power, making possible a revolution that would permit us to inhabit space in a more open way, with more free time that would lend itself to greater revolutionary creativity. For Lefebvre, it is in everyday space where the workings of capital are most evident. If these workings were not upset, capitalism would reduce the quality of everyday life, making individual expression impossible. The critique of everyday life was therefore the only way of making possible an existence that was not conditioned by the abstract control of the means of capitalist production. The concept “colonization of everyday life” assumed the need to change not only time and space but behaviors and pleasure in the use of the city as well. The world was spellbound by the new needs that the population was imposing on it, identifying them as modern forms of behavior. As Debord said … … Young people everywhere have been allowed to choose between love and a garbage disposal. Everywhere they have chosen the garbage disposal. In a similar way years later, Raoul Vaneigem and the young people in the streets of Paris in May of 1968 understood Lefebvre’s concept of everyday life as a battle ground where the fight against the alienation and humiliation of the human being took place in the modern city, understanding a meaningful everyday life to be one made up of valuable individual situations.
For Lefebvre, the new urban age was characterized by forced displacement of traditional residents during moments when the ‘branding’ (urban rehabilitation and renovation, the transformation of traditional housing for lodging for tourists …) and an excessive increment in the price of land that resulted in expelling the traditional inhabitants out of the city that had previously belonged to them. Shows, spectacles, culture, the ‘spirit’ of the city were no longer symbols of the downtown areas. They became objects of consumption, or a form of merchandise. We are all followers of Lefebvre, according to Kanishka Goonewardena, who writes that “Lefebvre has been revisited for different reasons and by various different groups, including Marxists, followers of Heidegger and followers of Nietzsche, as well as anarchists, postmodernists and different kinds of liberal-leaning people” (25-26). The concept of the “right to the city,” then, is by definition reclaimed by those who demonstrate against gentrification, those who fight the taking over of tourists of formerly diverse neighborhoods and the forced evictions that result.
Bibliography of Digital Sources Goonewardena, Kanishka. (2012) “Henri Lefebvre y la revolución de la vida cotidiana, la ciudad y el Estado.” Urban. Nueva Serie 2 (2011-2012): 25-39. http://polired.upm.es/index.php/urban/article/view/1488 Harvey, David. Espacios de esperanza. Akal, 2005. https://www.akal.com/libro/espacios-de-esperanza_32342/ Lefebvre, Henri. El derecho a la ciudad  Capitán Swing, 2017 https://monoskop.org/File:Lefebvre_Henri_El_derecho_a_la_ciudad.pdf Rubio-Pueyo, Vicente. ‘Municipalismo en España: Barcelona, Madrid y las ciudades del cambio.’ Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung, 2017. https://es.rosalux.eu/publicaciones/municipalismo-en-espana/