Between the 15th and the 22nd

[originally written in Spanish on the 18th May 2011, translated by Belentxo]

Underneath we find those who fight and who are listened in other voices, other languages.” Insurgent Subcomandante Marcos, Manifiesto de la Otra Campaña  (“Manifest Of The Other Campaign”) (2006).

It’s still too early to establish a genealogy of the uprising in Spain –or should we say in Europe?- , as Raúl Zibechi did regarding the Argentina that broke out in 2001 and 2002 after a decade full of privatizations, reforms and neoliberal adjustments. In his book, Zibechi wrote that “the new world is no longer the place to be reached after a long crossing. It is the crossing itself”. And it is inside that crossing where juvenile (not that much) movements that converged on May 15th, can be found.

Most of Spanish journalists, too used to speak from and beside the Power, are puzzled with those micropolitical movements that are spreading across Spanish multiform hydra. Media information supports the perspective of main political parties and keeps restricted to the impact that they could have on municipal and regional election of May 22nd. It was the intense communication from thousands of young people with precarious situations and also from unemployed people, those who demonstrated, twitted and later camped, which obliged media to pay attention to them, though till now there hasn’t been any other violence than the one the police made. These young people (I insist, not that young) are starting to share, as their Arabian and European neighbors have done, some of the features that made of Argentinian experience something special: its autonomy from the State, political parties and tradicional trade unions; the reappropiation of urban public spaces; the horizontality; a democratic practice contrary to representation; a brand new self-esteem and the construction of new identities. The so-called social networks speed up and facilitate what ten years ago, at culminating moment of antiglobalization movements, was made through e-mail or by traditional assemblies. At popular uprising of 2004 March 14th, the prominent media were mobile text messages.

Economical and even political resemblances with Argentinian case start to accumulate. The visit to Madrid, in those days, of an Argentinian group of politically active research called “Colectivo Situaciones”, represents for that reason a happy coincidence. Those who have the fortune to meet them –or read what they write- will be able to know tools and methods to interpret things, tools and methods unknown by columnists waiting for the fate of their favourite party. In reference to movements, there are sill important differences regarding Argentina: European institutional density, multilevel; preeminence of State as almost the exclusive field for politics; different systems of parties; or the absence at Spanish protests of the poorest and the excluded, who in the Argentina of strong inequalities were though starring people. The poor is a relative category, but in Europe they tend to get identified as the underclassed that never fitted into traditional working class: today it is the spectrum that keeps working class terrified. Poor people in Spain can be found in misery quarters –where survival strategies are developed, often subversive, and which we prefer ignore or despise-, or between immigrant people like those who camped in Murcia after the earthquake of May 11.

Somehow, current protests represent a rejection to the impoverisment known as the adjustment promoted by public and economical powers who sequestrated the word “Democracy”.

It is still to be seen what are the relationships between May 15th and 22nd. Demonstrators and supporters are hesitating between the #nolesvotes (#dontyouvoteforthem) as a rejection to all kind of representation (at every level) and the restriction of such a request to only predominant political parties at a state or a regional level: in short, powers and political families who made the political transition. At municipal elections it is the end of the hegemony of parties and local political bosses that is at stake. They built for decades power structures based on patronage relationships rooted often at Franco’s system itself. To those structures professional politicians keep sticked, and desperate middle classes also, just to maintain their status and jobs. Also in this matter it is possible to learn form Argentinian lessons, since in Argentina that issue was never solved.

Anyway, at May 22nd election it is precisely civic movements, born beside several demands, which often contribute to bring a new air in towns gangrened by indebtedness and urban development corruption. To do so, they have had to pay either the toll of the party-form, or to adopt hybrid forms, but at least they open spaces and possibilities. The question is not exactly to choose necessarily between voting or abstaining, or between electoral and street movilization, choices that can only be valued strategically in a concrete situation. What is important is the infinite proliferation of political experimentations, in and out of the city councils, the slow and difficult construction of democratic commons. It isn’t worth judging: just participating and accompanying.

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