Tomás Herreros and Emmanuel Rodríguez: This is the Democracy, stupid #spanishrevolution #15m


On May 15: From indignation to hope

Sunday the 15th of May marks an important point of inflexion: from the network to the street, from the conversations at home to the mobilization; but especially, from the indignation to action. Hundreds of thousands of people, summoned across the network, plain citizens, have taken the streets with a clear claim: the demand of real democracy, a democracy not at the service of the big interests, but of the persons. A direct critique to the political class, that from the beginnings of the crisis, has governed behind their backs and under the rule of what is always euphemistically called ” the markets”.

In the next weeks and months, we will see how this claim for “real democraciy now!” develops Everything indicates that its power will go on growing. The best way to prove its`power is how it is taking hold of the squares in different cities. The social network is in favor of the movement, and its replication in streets and squares makes it stronger. Today, and far from predictions always uncertains, we can already present some conclusions.

Firstly, the movement of May 15 is right in its critiques. The way we know politics, they way polical parties are today forcing the the weakest sectors of the society to pay for the crisis, has led to the indignation of an increasing part of the society. In the last years we have witnessed , amazed, the multimillion euro rescue of big banks, side by side with the social welfare cuts. The destruction of the elementary rights and privatizations, that have diminished the already sketchy  Spanish welfare state. Today nobody doubts that this way of practicing politics is a danger for our present and our immediate future. Precisely, the indignation grows when faced with the cowardice of our politicians, unable to control the power of the financial sector. What happens with the promises of an humanized capitalism after the crisis of the subprime? Where is the promise to finishing with the tax havens? What happened to the control on the financial system? Where is the taxation of  the speculative revenues? Where is the the proposal of discontinuing funding fiscally the richest?

Secondly, the movement of May 15 is much more than a warning for the so called the Left. It could be (in fact it most probably will be) that on May 22, day of local elections and also of the autonomous communities, that the Left will be defeated. In such a case it would be a prologue of what surely will happen in the general elections. What is certain, is that the institutional Left (parties and big unions) are the target of the political indifference produced by its incapacity to present new solutions in the context of the crisis. And it is in this framework that one finds the double explanation of the Left electoral defeat. Lets say it loud and clear: the problem comes simply from the extreme inequality of the wealth distribution, worsened by the financial discipline. On the other hand, the Left doesn’t know how to make space and work with the emergent movements that claim democracy and freedom. What mattered more the millions of mortgaged or the big banks interests? And what to say of the new cinema Law Sinde? Whose side was Zapatero on? On the side of the people who are shaping the net or the side of those that want to make it a business? Why is left not capable of taking sides with the citizenship movement? If the Left is not capable of leaving the script of the financial and economic elites, and of proposing plans B to get us out of the crisis, it will always be in opposition. The time for extensions is gone, simply put: the left must change or die as social legitimate actors.

Thirdly, the Movement May 15 shows how the citizenship, far from being a passive actor, has proved able of organizing and shaping itself in an epoch of institutional abandonment and strong crisis of political legitimacy. The new generations have been able to network, inventing new ways of being united, without falling on obsolete ideological cliches, armed with their wisdom and pragmatism, escaping from the political preconceived categories and from big bureaucratic devices. We are witnessing the construction of ” majority minorities ” who demand democracy to end the the war of “all against all ” and the imbecile atomization proposed by the neoliberalism; who demand social rights in opposition to the logic of privatization and adjustment imposed by the economic power. And it is quite certain that the pre-established old schemes, the impossible return of the State claimed by almost all the left parties (from the most radical to the more moderate) will not work. Reinventing the democracy demands nothing less than new forms of distribution of wealth, global citizenship with independence of the place of origin, the defense of the commons (environmental resources, knowledge, the education, Internet and the health), and other forms of self-government of masses that would overcome the corrupted present forms of government.

Fourtly, we must remember that the Movement of May 15 is linked to a current of thinking shaped in different parts of Europe, resulted from the rejection of the so called austerity policies. Reivindications and mobilizations that are challenging real things, the dream of this mute and amorphous Europe that the political and economic elites are promoting. It is about the UKUnCuts’s campaigns confronting the politics of Cameron, of Geraçao a Rasca in Portugal , or of what happened in Iceland after the refusal of citizens to pay the financial rescue. And also, and especially, it is inspired by the so called ” Arabic Spring “, that across democratic revolts Egypt and Tunis, that succeeded with the dismissal of their corrupt leaders.

We do not know where the spirit of May 15 is heading to. But what we can already be certain of, is that there already exist at least two plans against the crisis: the cuts or the invention of the real democracy. We know the results of the first one, not only has it not returned the economic “normality”, but it has made us” all against all ” and “every man for himself”. Of the second one, which promotes the absolute democracy, we only can say that this is just starting and that it marks our direction. It is to this second one we sign in.

Tomás Herreros and Emmanuel Rodríguez (Nomadic University)


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