What It Says In The Papers

From Evernote:

What It Says In The Papers

The new free monthly newspaper for the Madrid 15-M assemblies has been released. 

The paper will be financed and distributed by the neighbourhood assemblies that have sprung up across the city since the initial demonstrations and occupations of May 15th last year. It has had an initial 20,000 print run, with a medium target to double this. The end product is pretty impressive and comprehensive. Diagonal quotes the editor as saying that the fact of bringing out a print publication serves to give an image of coherence and solidity as a movement. 

The paper has sections on various struggles taking place across the different areas where the neighbourhood assemblies operate: justice for a young person who died in strange circumstances; reports of cases of police brutality; news on evictions, public co-operatives for food growing in urban areas with fertile soil, proposals for a cross-neighbourhood mobilisation over housing and human rights, demonstrations in defence of public health, human chains surrounding banks, a manifesto that calls for a public banking system and denounces the plunder of public savings banks. 

Then there is a section on 15-M in the Spanish state, with reports on the dismantling of the public health service in Catalonia, a state-wide meeting of rural collectives, anti-eviction actions, among other things. Then there is another section titled 15M Without Borders, with an analysis of Occupy Wall Street, reports from Davos, Romania, and Brazil. There is a Culture section, an Economics section with proposed alternatives to the programme of cutbacks planned by the government, an analysis of how to maintain a popular movement to oppose the planned labour ‘reform’, and plenty more.

All in all, it’s a very impressive piece of work that draws together what might be otherwise disparate struggles and initiatives and gives them a sense of coherence and common direction. Moreover, in light of the vicious agenda of privatisation and cutbacks planned by the Madrid regional government, it creates a sense of city-wide counterpower and resistance. 

Some 150,000 people took to the streets in Madrid yesterday to demonstrate against the assault on public services. The main unions were there, as were plenty of smaller unions, many workers collectives, and of course the neighbourhood assemblies that had sprung up after 15M. 


The demonstration took the slogan ‘Por lo público’. ‘Lo’ in Spanish is the neuter definite article. ‘Lo público’ then means, roughly, ‘what is public’. That is, it is not merely about the discrete range of services and amenities provided by State authorities, but about how those things are part of the fabric of a life lived in common. During the demonstration, a group of firemen covered a vast space in the Puerta del Sol with fire extinguisher foam. The newspaper Público reported that one banner read: "We don’t get depressed. We don’t get frightened. We don’t believe them. We don’t pay them any heed. We struggle. We will win." 


Here is a video, produced by the media team of acampadasol, of yesterday’s demonstration.

This is a translation of a piece published in the Madrid15M newspaper, by Ángel Luis Lara, who is a sociologist at the New School in New York and who has taken part in Occupy Wall Street from the beginning:

The new movements and the love deficit

One of the peculiarities of the new movements that have come about in the last year, from the Arab spring to the Spanish 15M or in Occupy Wall Street, is the emergence of a massive will to politicise existence, marked by the anonymous protagonism of everyday people. The collective seizing of squares and public spaces has constituted, for thousands of people, their first forays into political action, at the same time as it has rendered explicit their determined nonconformity with regard to the usual bosses from political representation and the media, as well as their desire for a truly democratic organisation of social life. At the end of the 19th century, Gabriel Tarde anticipated the idea of the public as the fundamental vector of future revolts. The new movements have updated the virtualisation of his intuition: publics rebel against the imposition of their condition as spectators. What is common to all the present movements is founded above all on this quality of insubordination: to stop being a mere object in the phrase and become its subject. We are the 99%.


If the global movement that preceded the current drift of movements was led fundamentally by activists and organisations, hence the name it acquired of ‘movement of movements’, the new insurgency has found one of its fundamental engines in everyday people and informal networks. Experiences in Occupy Wall Street or in the 15M have underlined to us that the "people without attributes" have given the movements their most potent attributes: creativity and imagination. These people have shown us that the sociability produced in Liberty Plaza or the Puerta del Sol was not only directly political in itself, but that the politics it gave rise to did not demand any specialisation of us, nor did it demand different capabilities to those we put to use day to day in our life. Occupy Wall Street and the 15M have grown around a social composition whose daily productive activities basically consisted of communication, the  production of subjectivity and relations or caring: exactly the same fabric of activities that activity in the squares has comprised.


From this viewpoint, not only have the new movements deactivated once and for all the Habermasian distinction between instrumental action and communicative action, but also, by contrast with the traditional models of the left, they have not made us pass through ideological filters or subjection to identitarian parameters: it is enough to be a person to be part of them. Occupy Wall Street and the 15M have revealed to us about politics what we had already discovered in relation to work: that it is becoming ever more indistinguishable from life. If one does not delegate one’s life, one has no reason to delegate politics. The constituent character and democratic radicalism of the squares has not been injected through speeches nor has it been extracted from some ideological corpus: it has emanated directly from sociability itself, from people, by being together. A true multitudinous exercise in reappropriation of our productive forces.

It was precisely that being together that placed the category of friendship at the centre of the new movements. Jacques Rancière said it a little while ago: "the true rupture is to stop living in the field of the enemy". However, the current movements are also serving to demonstrate just how much we classic activists have considerable difficulty unlearning the centrality of enmity: we feel more at ease in dialectical confrontation than in creative overflow, as Tomás R. Villasante would say. Far from allowing ourselves to go along with the strength of anonymity to the point of disappearing into the commons of persons, we tend to reaffirm ourselves as a difference, imposing our rhythms, our ideological abstractions and our identitarian corsets: when being together turns into activism it usually disconnects from everyday life and moves away from the concrete problems that brought us to the squares. It is a sort of privatisation of the movements: everyday people end up feeling alienated and they head off home.


Some friends who participated together in Occupy Wall Street have begun to think these questions starting from the category of love, using the conceptual approach of the biologist Humberto Maturana: "love is the emotion that constitutes the field of actions in which our recurring interactions with another make that other a legitimate other in coexistence with oneself". Far from accepting the other as a difference, we activists tend to impose on them our practices and our semantics: we are the incarnation of a love deficit. Our preoccupation with making politics of the commons is of no use if we are unable to turn politics into the most common of goods: in which everyone may take part. This is the ethical obligation that the proposition We Are the 99% imposes on us. As Maturana points out: love is constitutive of human beings: in order to learn it one only has to be everyday people. Let us dare to submit our points of departure to critical questioning, and our identities and affiliations, so as to promote a real and decided process of decolonisation in the movements. 


As bell hooks says, this is perhaps the most difficult step in the process of learning to love. At the same time, it is where true liberation leads us: from resistance to transformation. Why should we be satisfied with the revolt of just a few when in the squares we have been thousands and we have named ourselves as revolution?



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