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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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PhD Arcadi Olvieras on Crisis in #Spain at #AcampadaBCN on 20th May #SpanishRevolution

Arcadi Oliveres, PhD in Economics of Autonomous University of Barcelona, spoke on Friday May 20 2011 in the afternoon before a large audience in Barcelona, ​​during the protest movement of the Outrageds that reached across the world in the midst of the Plaza de Catalunya demonstration​, part of the called ‘#acampadabcn’.

No to the pensions fund

Investing in a pensions fund automatically makes us accomplices of speculation, we will be involved necessarily in awful things without even being aware, our money will finance corporations that do regretful things, we cannot go to demonstrations such as these, against the war, for example, without being aware that our money may be going to an arms factory.

Fight the Tax Fraud

Tax fraud in Spain is of 80.000 Euros. By preventing tax fraud we could raise pensions by 60 %, making any pensions fund unnessary.

Banks involved in money laundering

EL PAIS published “ Big Spanish banks launder sistematically money from drugs in tax paradaises”.

A week after this news was published the complete Executive Board of the bank BBVA resigned

Nationalization of banks

We should nationalize the banks that have received public funding, and this is not socialism, marxism or leninism, even Mr George Bush, who cannot be suspected of being a leflist, nationalized two american banks after funding them. Mr Gordon Brown, the former British prime minister, did the same thing.

Here in Spain we have given money to many banks and we haven’t nationalized a single one.

Ending hunger is possible

Since the begining of the crisis, banks around the world have received a total of 2.7 milion dollars.

With this amount of money given by goverments to banks famine in the world could be erradicated for … 54 years!

Rescuing Greece is too expensive

The time has arrived to create two Euro currencies with different speeds in Europe, depending on each country capacity. A euro for Germany, France. Belgium, Holland… and another for Spain, Greece, Portugal or Ireland.

Last year Spain payed 10,000 milion Euros to rescue Greece, and this week we will have to pay more. 10,000 milion Euros is exactly the amount of money that Zapatero has taken from Spanish citizens by freezing pensions, reducing civil servants salaries, stopping the funding for economic development, or discontinuing the “baby check”, etc… here are the 10,000 milion of euros we have given to Greece…

Working hours

The biggest impact of this crisis is not financial, but laboral. So, what should we do? Create new jobs, for sure, but could we create jobs for all the unemployed? No. In Spain there are 5 milion unemployed people, could we create jobs for all of them? Impossible! We could create some, but never 5 milion new jobs. I tell you, the only solution to this problem is that those employed work less hours so others can work. This is Solidary Distribuion of Employement. There is no other solution to this problem, that those fortunate enough to have a job reduce their working hours so others can be employed. This means that we have to fight to reduce working hours, (which is the contrary of what Zapatero is doing, he is extending the retirment age). Is this utopian? Not at all. A former French prime minister, Lionel Jospin, did this in France 12 years ago, and in less than two months 1,5 milions of new jobs were created in France… In our case it is impossible to solve the problem in less than 4 years.

Yes to “economical decrease”

But I tell you something, if one day we manage to get out of this crisis we cannot NEVER AGAIN, talk of economic growth, this is over! We the privileged people of the North that have exhausted the natural resources, the planet cannot sustain this anymore. Now is time to talk about economical decrease, and never again about growth.

This is linked to the ecological footprint

STOP the military expenses

You know that the Spanish goverment has not increased pensions, then how much have they saved by not increasing them? 13,000 milion Euros. On the other hands the Spanish goverment has spent 1,300 milions Euros of its budget building a fighter plane called the “Euro Fighter”, the saving in pensions has been spent building this plain jointly with Germany, Italy and the UK. Some years ago, the former German Prime Minister, Gerhad Schroder said that he will do his best take Germany out of the Euro Fighter project. This plane is very expensive and 15 years behind American models, and it is designed to attack USSR, which no longer exists… Schröder attempted to abandon the project, but after few weeks he said, “I wanted to leave the project but manufacturers, bankers and military haven’t allowed me” So, who is really in charge of German democracy? Bankers, manufacturers or military? And think it is quite clear.. Spain has never even attempted to abandon the project. Once they invite us into something, there we stay…

Don’t blaim immigrants

We cannot blame immigrants for this crisis, it is not their fault, and still they are scapegoats.

We are using them as scapegoats and some political parties of fascist tendencies… OK today I don’t want to talk about that during this elections campaign… they are taking advantage of all this with electoralist objectives…

This planet belongs to everybody and borders should be abolished. Besides, even from a very selfish point of view, we should be aware of what immigration is about, Spain needs immigrants because our population is growing old.

The ElectionsBoard is wrong

Don’t get discouraged, the Elections Board has no right to forbid this. The Elections board is trying to block any type of participation…

Final Manifesto

(Reads) “We are united by this upsetting situation, for our precarious lifes and general inequality, but above all we are united by a wish of change, we are here because we want a new society that will prioritize life above economical and political interests. We feel opresed by the capatialist economy and we feel ignored by the present political system which doesn’t represent us. We are working to achieve a deep transformation of the society we live in, and above all we work to make society the protagonist of its own tranformation”.

You all are the protagonists, thank you very much.

Original video (Catalan):

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After 15th May, a challenge: reinventing democracy

– TRANSLATION – Original source (Spanish) at DESPUÉS DEL 15M, un reto: reinventar la democracia (

During these days events have gone fast, and we haven’t have much time to assimilate everything. The camp out and the assemblies here at Puerta del Sol, have allowed many of us to find ourselves, to talk and imagine the capacity of so many minds and bodies working together. When politics awakens, when you are able to step outside the farce that represents what we call democracy, new horizons and objectives, that seem impossible, open up. This is why we are proposing some ideas that can help us understand, between all of us, the importance of what has been achieved up until now, and the magnitude of what lies ahead.

1. The hymn that has been sung the most is “they call it democracy, but it’s not”. This is because, first of all, democracy means a form of government where people can participate directly in public affairs. When you identify democracy with the summoning of elections, with a Constitution, with the right of representation, it becomes equivalent to institutions that can be completely empty. Simply, talking about democracy means talking about debate and active citizenship in public affairs before elections, laws and delegation of responsibilities to political agents. Because of this, it is fair to say that democracy is an act that is much more present in the Puerta del Sol than in actual Spanish institutions, electoral fights and political slogans.

The institutional reform that we could come to propose, our revolution, to call it something, would not have to be one that plans to make the electoral law a more proportional one, or jailing corrupt politicians and bankers. Even though these could  and should be included, our reform implies recovering public power for direct participation, with referendums, democratic control of common resources and new ways of deciding with the help of technology.

2. There is no democracy without equality and freedom. When limited to consumer choice between two brands, that even though they appear different in the end they are the same thing, something that happens with the major political parties (PP – PSOE), the idea of democracy is a ghost. But it is even more pathetic and false when the democratic institutions these parties control are under the yoke of a few. The crisis we have faced the past years has taught us that politics in Spain is at the will of market forces: first it is necessary to guarantee the investor’s benefits and only then (in the long term) comes the well-being of the population; it is more important to rescue financial institutions than to maintain or strengthen social rights, for example. The absence of equality and freedom is perfectly visible in our society today: it can be seen in the exercise of a law that is not the same for everyone, in the use of debt as a mechanism to maintain life under control with ever falling salaries. Even here, in the camp and the protests: how many illegal immigrants can participate without fear of arrest? What kind of freedom is left for a life chained to mortgage payments, that because of Spanish law you will still have to pay even after being evicted?

This is already a declaration of our intentions. Our struggle can be defined in simple words: we want equality and freedom so it is possible to have a truly democratic society, because without these basic ingredients it is impossible. To achieve this we need not only prosecute corruption but also guarantee the things that permit a minimum of equality and freedom, for example, liberty for immigrants to move freely and not be the object of permanent harassment. The freedom to declare yourself bankrupt when you can no longer pay mortgage. Equality too, but the type achieved through education generated and managed by everybody (no more public money for private institutions);the kind achieved with equal access to health care and the right to be autonomous (nurseries or honest pensions. And above all, equality of conditions for a worthy life that can only be achieved by sharing resources equally or controlling speculative rents. In this way nobody should face the misery of unemployment or the brutal exploitation of life.

3. These past days have taught us important lessons: legitimation and consensus that forces the right to think and to participate politically in the hands of professionals is as fragile as a house of cards. It took terns of thousands of people on the streets with a clear message to provoke, first  the unrest and disbelief, and then the hysteric reaction of politicians and media. Today, yesterday and surely tomorrow, many newspapers like El Pais and other Prisa group journalists have invited us to think about the danger of shouting out that “there is no democracy”. They have thrown at us their defensive arguments about the institutional state of affairs, making us believe that we must choose between “parlamentarism or totalitarianism”. Without a doubt these great conquests of the democratic transition in our country are forgetting the most important fact, that these institutions are worthless if the laws they uphold are only useful for maintaining the interests of a select few. They also forget that democracy should be, above all, a daily exercise for every citizen.

Many financial, political and media agents have been invaded by the fear that the system will finally be seen for what it is, that the big business of political representation will finally be naked and shown as a simple business in the hands of charlatans on the payroll of corporate interests. The political parties, recently displaced, for the first time, from the center of the political spotlight have reacted trying to assimilate the new situation. Their position has moved between the incipient attack from the new right and their media to a movement to which they don’t have or never will have any possibility of belonging, to the pathetic attempts of left wing groups to incorporate the movement into their agenda. This type of action will always fail because it is precisely because of it that the protests have been called for. Against the general lack of orientation of institutions, the 15M movement has already achieved a first victory: that is, that instead of having to stand another dull election campaign, full of inept candidates and political programs, where nothing really important is ever talked about, the whole political spectrum has been made to take a stance towards the proposals and the issues raised by our movement: What is democracy? Who has social rights? Who has rights over common riches?

The road that is left to walk after the 22nd, after the elections that, we insist, will not make any substantial changes, will be long. After the temporary camp at Sol we will have to put our intelligence and our imagination to the the task of opening up spaces where real politics can be made, the type of action that can produce changes in the life we live in society.

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