By Carlos París*
Fifteen months have passed since the ‘indignados’ started their encampments in Madrid, Barcelona and in different places of Spain. Camps from which protest marches were called and massively swelled the streets of our country. And today, or more precisely during these past days that have extended endlessly, again urban spaces have filled with crowds protesting and demanding the right to a decent human life of which they are being robbed.
The motor of the indignados movement was the widespread rejection of a world that was being governed in an unacceptable manner. Dominated by lies. By invoking a nonexistent democracy, to which a voice rose screaming ‘Real Democracy! Democracy Now. A silent people governed by a degrading commercialism, for which humans are but a tiny commodity. By mechanisms that rest on discrimination and inequality. In favour of the privileged. It was a world that had opened its young eyes, even if within the movement there were those that had been activists for many years, it had a fundamentally youthful character. It was this same elemental nature of rejection that denied any form of representation, using the unique model of assemblies as a democratic organization. An approach that was suspicious not only of current politics, but of politics and parties in general.
In the crowds that are mobilized today, rejection takes on the character not only of intuition but of palpable evidence….In the terrible evidence that the current economic powers, of which the European governments serve as lackeys, like “political commissars of capitalism” – an expression of Saramago – are guided by a cannibalistic voracity. Which, in the belief that the danger of communism gone, seek to crush the majority of the citizens and eliminate the welfare state. With a drive that is especially powerful in the weaker parts of the European Union, as is the case of Spain, together with Greece, Ireland, Portugal or Italy.
The former government of Rodriguez Zapatero had already bowed to these demands, in what was suicidal behaviour. But now, Hurricane Rajoy…is ripping through the last remnants of the welfare state, but also the material existence of a good number of citizens, who are condemned to starvation by cuts in unemployment benefit. Or the elimination of social care support for the elderly. Or the credit restrictions on, and even the disappearance of firms. And we are witnessing the spectacle of a state government that shows no mercy with their own public servants. A huge group that includes ministry employees, teachers, researchers, physicians, nurses, judges, police, firefighters, military. Whose numbers and position in Spain was already precarious compared to the European average, and who now see a reduction in their income and recognition at work, putting in difficulty education, health, safety, the entire operation of a modern state. At the same time some of the most skilled workers are emigrating, putting to the service of other countries the skills and training they gained in Spain.
Many of the protesters are people with years of work and experience. Some of the unhappy ones who voted for the Popular Party, duped by his fake promises. And they now fill the streets, along with the unemployed, who are seeking what has become impossible: find a job, one of the many jobs that the Popular Party was to “create”, according to its electoral propaganda aimed at securing power. And in this quick overview, we can not forget the impressive march of the miners. Eternal leaders in the struggle for a more socially just world.
What is new and impressive is the unity of the citizenry that the despotic policies of Rajoy are achieving. In a photograph of one of the demonstrations in Barcelona, next to a banner of the Unified Trade Union of Police there was an anarchist flag. In Valencia uniformed police mixed in with the mass protests and in Madrid, the anti-riot police removed their helmets in a move applauded by protesters.
We need to build on this singular unity. Because what is at stake are not only the interests of isolated sectors of the population, but the elimination of any role of the citizens in society. Taming them with the threat of a future even worse than the unfortunate present. And the open plunder of the independence of nation states.
Only this can explain the imposition of measures which, far from boosting economic activity, paralyze it, both in the public and private sectors. And which have not improved the classification of the economy by the credit rating agencies. The Jeffersonian definition of democracy as ‘government of the people by the people, for the people’ has been replaced by the ‘government of finance capital by finance capital for financial capital.’
But protest it is not enough, however massive it is. We must organize and take action. The creation of an international movement in Europe…In Spain a new Popular Front, whose achievements and future projects were so savagely destroyed, in order to overthrow the Second Republic. In which, in view of past and unfortunate experiences, the miracle of the unity of the left is achieved. And it should be clear that the failure of capitalism should lead to the conquest of a society in which the means of production and financial institutions are owned by the people, and not by a predatory minority.
*Philosopher and writer. President of the Ateneo de Madrid.
July 23, 2012, El Publico
Translation by Revolting Europe