Monthly Archives: November 2012

The Nation of #14N

Photo: Espectacular foto de Madrid! #14N

 

Translation of an article by Jorge Moruno originally published on Público, 16th November, on the subject of Wednesday’s ground-breaking European General Strike.

#14N, we are a Nation

Was the 14N strike a success? The BBC’s international channel had the European general strike as its main headline and devoted nearly its entire bulletin to it. But we only have to cast a glance at the front pages of the more conservative press and observe their enraged attack to say yes, it has been a total success. And it has been so despite the large quantity of factors that hinder its development, such as the 6 million people who cannot opt to go on strike and those who supposedly can do so but in large number have their constitutional right annulled due to their precarious job status. To this whole range of obstacles we have to add the constant pressure of the police, who suffocatingly did everything in their power to prevent another constitutional right from being properly exercised: information pickets. Pickets that represent the last dam of democratic resistance in the face of the near total hegemony of the interests of finance over the media, when it comes to informing about the reality in which we live in this country.

But undoubtedly what has been most interesting about the 14N strike has been its deeply political character, widening out the horizons of what was becoming understood as a mere labour dispute, something that at any rate is still political. Rosa Díez [right-wing politician whose populist rhetoric has a more left-leaning hue than that of the Partido Popular – R] has not tired of repeating that the sphere of trade unions and labour has nothing to do with politics and the latter must be in charge of running common affairs. The problem is that politics cannot be reduced to parliament and especially not politics in capital letters – the politics that turns the tables in the game usually occurs in the sphere of collective disobedience and politics. Curiously, the same liberal Parliament that they defend as the only space for politics arises from the mobilisations that take place outside of the constituted order. Such as the Bill of Rights that comes out of the Glorious Revolution in England in 1688, or in its French version, the guillotine, which from 1789 gave way to the establishment of the parliament.

That refrain that gets repeated in order to convince the population that what exists is all that is posible, and that reality is what it is and can be no other, is the greatest ideological expression of all. What is held up as natural and unquestionable, but always in defence of a specific orientation, even though one might wish to portray it as the outcome of technical work done by professionals, is still politics.  What bothers financial and business elites, as expressed via the mouths of their parliamentarians, is the same thing that bothered absolute monarchs: a population that politicises itself and organises itself with the explicit intention of widening the democratic horizons regarding the decision of how the cake is divided out. Because for them, for the 1%, that a strike should be political is an abomination because those doing the talking are those who have no qualification to do so, precisely because as el Roto points out in one of his cartoons, their politics is nothing other than the politics of business. 


(“Your strike is political!” “Yes, and your politics is business”)

That is why this strike has been a complete success, why the regime’s media try to rein it in to figures about energy consumption, because they are afraid of recognising that the thrust of the protests is not so much identity forged around work, as that of citizens who reject the accelerated impoverishment of the country for the 99%. It is difficult for employment to be the sole element of cohesion when in many cases it is either non-existent or impossible for a stable community to be generated around it. Not only is it a movement of unions, but above all it is an embryonic overflowing of the multitude of the poor which goes beyond the labour strike. It is the politics of the effervescent multitude that narrows the margin between that there is and what there can be; outside but also inside parliament with a virus that has yet to be built.

One can recognise a tinpot patriot by the size of his flag, which gets bigger and bigger as more and more wealth produced by Spanish people gets handed over to German banks. He can be recognised by the patent contrast between his sad passion of shouting “I am Spanish” (“yo soy español”) when the national team wins at football and his total absence and apathy when they are ransacking his country. There are even those who prefer to sing with pride “I am a scab” (“yo soy esquirol”).

The English idea of the nation comes from when ‘the peoples’ laid claim to their ‘equality from birth’ against absolutism, an idea that became universal with the French Revolution. The people who went out to demonstrate on 14N, those who did not consume or did not work are in reality the raw materials of the idea of the nation: the nation of those who are equal and who build a country (patria) by confronting the absolute thieves of our lumpen-oligarchy. There can be no democracy without dignity, without shelter, without health and education, there can be no equality when so few rob so much from so many in so little time.

The UIP –riot police- work for Merkel, the picket of young people rightly shouted at the pólice on Madrid’s Gran Via. They work for Merkel, but also for the residents of the Salamanca district [posh part of Madrid] who looked on in astonishment, with contempt and indifference at the march of pickets through their streets, amid their jewelleries and luxury stores, and just as in Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables, their ‘demons attacked, spectres resisted’.

 

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This is no cause for being ashamed

I will scream if I hear one more person say they are ‘ashamed to be Irish’ on account of Savita Halappanavar’s death, or that it is a cause for ‘national shame’. One, there is nothing special about being Irish and her death has nothing to do with your ‘Irishness’. Two, you may have noticed that shame has been a weapon wielded by the patriarchal oppressor classes in Ireland for centuries, with an abundance of well-known and thoroughly brutal examples, particularly against women, to be found in the history of Ireland’s state institutions, including hospitals. Shame, as a psycho-social relation, isolates. It freezes in time and space, it neutralises and paralyses, and it dissipates anger. That is what makes it such an effective weapon. No-one ever embraced anyone else on account of a shared feeling of shame. No-one ever locked arms on the street in a protest because they were ashamed. Savita’s death is a cause for rage at injustice, and those who talk of shame are getting in the way.

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It was not a tragedy

Savita Halappanavar’s death was not a tragedy. To call her death a tragedy suggests it was the outcome of noble intentions gone awry. It suggests it was somehow inevitable. Most importantly, it lets the people responsible off the hook. At the very minimum, she was tortured and killed as a result of conscious and repeated decisions, taken collectively by members of this country’s legislature, who, out of a commitment to maintaining an order in which women’s bodies belong to the State, refused to legislate for the X case.

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Voices Supporting The Strike

What follows is a translation of an article originally published yesterday in PopPol magazine, by various authors, on the subject of the general strike now underway in Spain, Greece, Italy and Portugal, with protests in support across most European countries, including Ireland at 1pm in Central Bank Plaza.

 

 


Esther Vivas
, activist and militant in Revolta Global-Esquerra Anticapitalista:

There are an abundance of reasons: unemployment, poverty, precarity, cutbacks…Current policies merely increase the reasons for outrage and unrest. That’s why it’s so important to go on strike, since it’s the main instrument those of us at the bottom have for challenging power. A general strike is meaningful if it occurs within a sustained mobilisation over time and is not a mere one day hiatus.

This coming 14N, not only do workplaces and public services have to come to a halt, but we also have to bring about a social and citizen strike with strike committees in every neighbourhood and city, in which the unemployed, the precarious, the retired  and immigrants can have an active and important role.

The international dimension of 14N is one of its most important aspects. A general strike taking place in the main countries of the European periphery. The response to austerity policies must be cross-border. We will not defeat them country by country in an isolated manner. A spectre is beginning to haunt a Europe hit by crisis, adjustments, debt and austerity.

@esthervivas

Jorge Moruno, sociologist and author of the La Revuelta de las Neuronas blog:

Not only are strikes ineffective, according to the regime, but they can also become what prevents us from getting out of the shithole in which we find ourselves, since it is their fault that we give such a bad image to the outside world, one of instability, which causes a lack of trust among so-called investors. The fairy tale about how the dismantling of public services is a desert crossing in order to recover an already mystified past is claptrap at least. We are not taking the rap for our excesses, but rather maintaining the viability of the profits of the 1%; before and now. First with the massive expansion of credit and the ideology of property-owning capitalism in place of wages. Ensuring a fictitious ability to consume, the cornerstone of the process of accumulation, was the priority. Now, by contrast, we are all obliged to pay a debt that for the most part was generated by the same people who profited from the lowering of wages, sub-contracting, and temporary work. Now they are still at it, marketising public services and condemning us to neo-slavery. Debt, more than an economic relation, is a form of political and psycho-social domination, which paralyses us and wipes out any democratic perspective. The priority, therefore, is to guarantee the profitability of the same financial institutions and modus operandi that profited in times of ‘bonanza’. Their way out of the crisis? More crisis, neo-slavery or unemployment, precarity or barbarism: a tourism colony.

So, why so much throat grabbing and foaming at the mouth by debate  panellists, mass media and bosses’ groups? Not just because of the strike itself, but above all because of what it might give rise to in the future. Those on top have money, contacts and businesspeople at their disposal for practising politics, those at the bottom have as our only power the fact of being many. The strike is the expression of dignity, of how ‘worthy’ the human being must prove in defence of her life. Without disobedience there can be no rupture, without rupture there can be no movement, without movement there is no autonomy, without autonomy there is no alternative, without an alternative there is no democracy. Mobilisations are a means of forcing a vacuum in the sovereign power, whilst we go about filling it with the politics of the multitude. It is from this point on that we must discover the step from declaration to constitution. Syriza would be unthinkable in Greece without a broad cycle of protests in the streets. That is what really scares them, our potential ability to become the people of the many, those who deal out the cards that seek different rules of the game. Democracy always makes its way amid embraces and punches.
 
@JorgeMoruno

https://hiredknaves.files.wordpress.com/2012/11/a0458-huelga_14n_gasolinera_consumo_poppol_general_strike_scioppero_greve.jpg


Íñigo Errejón, political scientist and post-doctoral researcher at the Complutense University of Madrid:

Because no-one in their right mind trusts the traditional elites, who are leading us straight to Greece, or the lost Latin American decades of the 80s and 90s. The same prescriptions produce the same results, though to a different degree depending on the starting point. The cuts and the austerity discourse are basically a political offensive aimed at redistributing income and collective power even more towards privileged minorities, and to relocate Spain in a position of impoverished periphery. On this journey, we are undergoing a de facto constitutional modification and an oligarchical reordering of the regime of 78, one that excludes certain progressive agents who were crucial for its establishment back then.

Certain members of the Government party have tried to smear this strike by saying that it is ‘political’. They know very well it cannot be anything else. The elites have tied their fate and that of the entire political edifice to submissive compliance with the debt-adjustments spiral decreed by the Troika. The slightest protest clashes with the lockdown of an autistic caste. In this phase, they have drastically narrowed the margins for social dialogue or the recognition of any other most urgent social demands, amid a situation of accelerated impoverishment of the popular and middle strata. This is a dramatic but fertile terrain for the articulation of every social suffering, for political polarisation and the isolation of those who still rule. This General Strike thus inscribes itself within an incipient destituent movement, first of all against a Government which in a year has already squandered its original legitimacy, which is a lot weaker than it pretends. It is furthermore interlinked with an international mobilisation of the entire south of Europe, in a dynamic that will continue to grow against the financial diktat that is suffocating its peoples.

@Ierrejon 

Raimundo Viejo, lecturer in Political Science at the University of Girona:

Perhaps the right question would be: why should there not be a strike on 14N? There are so many reasons for having one that it would take pages and pages to name them all. For me, one sticks out above all: to overwhelm the regime democratically, to overcome the framework of the Moncloa Pacts, to cause the institutional design that has legitimated three decades of neoliberal policies to implode. And this solely to continue moving along in the destituent process that the 15M began and which continues to drive us on to shout that they do not represent us.

But at the same time, within the frame of this mobilisation, a constituent horizon must be opened; the expressive phase has to give rise to an instituent phase, to a new stage that produces the institutions that lay claim to the establishment of the political regime of the commons. If the trade unionism of the Moncloa Pacts was a response to the recomposition of power with regard to the implementation of the neoliberal project, the #14N ought to give us, through the path of praxis, the response to the recomposition of an antagonist bloc able to think, promote and establish the political regime of the commons. An alternative for recovering control over the world of life.  

@_Mundus


Segundo González, activist in Juventud Sin Futuro:

This strike can be the expression of the desperation of the 400,000 people evicted who from 2007 have witnessed the consummation of the mortgages trap designed by the same banking institutions who are now being bailed out with money that is being cut from health, education and the rest of social spending.

This strike can be the expression of rage from the 53% of young people who are unemployed and from all those who accept miserable wages and conditions because we are left with no alternative. The cry of all those who have left, who are leaving and who are thinking of leaving in search of a decent life far from this wasteland of unemployment and precarity. The voice of those who are witnessing how public education is being destroyed and how university is being turned into a privilege.

This strike can give a voice to those of us who see how our living standards are becoming more expensive at the same time as our purchasing power is being reduced. Those of us who suffer the rise in the price of public transport, prescriptions and increases in VAT. Those of us who suffer cuts in wages, benefits and grants. All those who are being deprived of care allowance and who have to work unpaid to maintain it.

This strike is also for those of us who see and suffer the way poverty is on the rise whilst the rich are becoming richer and richer. Those of us who are spectators to a game in which the elites rule for themselves and condemn the 99% of the population. Those of us who see how the spokespersons for the parties of the regime (PP and PSOE), of the CEOE [the employers’ organisation] and of the Troika request us to tighten our belts unto death, whilst they continue to live beyond our means.

This strike is the opportunity to hold all those strikes in common, all those motives that cause us direct harm or induce our rage. This strike can be a major opportunity to tear away at financial dictatorship and make an enormous contribution towards generating a collective identity capable of confronting it in a united way.

This exercise of dignity can lay the psychological foundations for the building of a political alternative with a transformative will that emanates from the different subjectivities that oppose the handling of this crisis. An alternative based in the distribution of wealth and power that makes those responsible for our despair to pay dearly and, at the same time, that lays the basis for a society in which the repetition of a catastrophe similar to the one we suffer today would be inconceivable.

This 14-N, let’s not work, let’s not consume, and let’s get out on the streets. On 15-N let’s stay mobilised and participate in building the alternative. Together we can do it all.

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Quick Notes on Tomorrow’s Referendum

I see no reason why my appalling record at predicting electoral outcomes is likely to improve any time soon and so I am inclined to take my own prediction, that the result of a referendum will be a No tomorrow, with a pinch of salt. However I think there are a few things likely to lift the No vote, and even if it turns out that a poorly-attended Yes wins the day, those things still deserve consideration.

The first thing is the general anti-political mood, which has yet to find formal expression. The Fine Gael – Labour government has been in office for 20 months now, and contrary to the constant stream of propaganda emitting from the government and a media that is sympathetic on the whole to the government’s agenda, things are not getting better for most people in Ireland: they’re getting palpably worse.

The effect of the relentless bright-sided briefings, award ceremonies and official pats on the head, supposedly in gratitude for national forbearance, will at best give people the impression that other people’s lives are getting better, while theirs –in many cases, deprived of a job, or of any respite in financial pressures that feed personal and family misery- is getting worse. That is, the effect will be one of deep resentment.

Although the media is sympathetic on the whole to the government’s agenda –internal devaluation and the maintenance of a ‘good business climate’- this sympathy doesn’t extend to individual politicians, or to the government as a whole, in terms of how it executes its responsibilities. Hence the drip-drip of lurid revelations about politicians’ lucrative pension provisions, expense claims, and so on. On the surface of it, this may seem contradictory: how can you support the government’s agenda whilst simultaneously undermining its ability to execute that agenda?

But underneath, it’s simple enough: the agenda, in keeping with that of Irish business elites and Troika supervisors, is to wrest those functions of the State intended to provide some guarantee of social solidarity and stability away from public control and ownership, and, as far as practicable, hand them over to private control, in the interests of profit. In order for this to happen, it’s crucial for public confidence in public institutions –and those who work in them- to be undermined. It’s no coincidence that the stories –subsidised by the public- about politicians’ fat pensions and sinecures should be emerging in the run-up to a projected €3.5bn in cuts in the budget.  

Such stories –alongside those of other high earners in the public sector, such as hospital consultants- are intended to feed the general impression of a public sector composed in the main of self-serving fat cats and faceless bureaucrats, protected by a shadowy cabal of union chiefs.  

To be clear, the point of all this is not to press for public institutions that operate more democratically: the point is to press for the destruction of the idea that public institutions ought to operate democratically at all, but that they should operate the way private sector firms do: in the interests of profit, or in the interests of ‘efficiency’ or ‘value for money’, to cite a couple of common euphemisms. The fact that exorbitant wages for top public sector bosses reflect private sector values, as specifically intended by the Review Body on Higher Remuneration in the Public Sector, is neither here nor there.

So, the day before the referendum, there is widespread resentment toward politicians, who in turn function as a kind of voodoo doll for unionised public sector workers. And alongside that, a growing mistrust of public institutions. And alongside that, a high profile example, not only of farcical government incompetence, but of the government’s intention to manipulate the public –with public money- into voting a particular way in the Children’s Referendum.

I think this will express itself in two ways in the referendum result: first, disengagement and apathy, resulting in a low turnout. Second, a vote against whatever it is that the government is proposing, motivated in part by anti-political resentment, and in part by the conviction that the government can’t be trusted to uphold the rights of children, because it can’t be trusted with anything.

The latter conviction has more than an element of truth: let’s recall that the so-called ‘Stability Treaty’ referendum, in which a Yes vote was demanded by the government, on pain of apocalyptic market vengeance, included the amendment that ‘provision of this Constitution invalidates laws enacted, acts done or measures adopted by the State that are necessitated by the obligations of the State under that Treaty or prevents laws enacted, acts done or measures adopted by bodies competent under that Treaty from having the force of law in the State’. Which is to say, the repayment of banker debt will always take precedence over children’s rights: that is what ‘as far as practicable’ means in the context of the Children’s Referendum. So much for rights.

It is also worth recalling, in this context, that CEO of Barnardo’s Fergus Finlay, one of the foremost advocates of a Yes vote in the Children’s Referendum, backed a Yes vote on the Stability Treaty. This should make us think about the degree of public authority enjoyed by charitable organisations in Ireland. One of the features of the pro-Yes campaign in the Children’s Referendum was a reliance on the opinion of charities, rather than informed discussion on the basis of a common understanding that rights are an essential element of democratic citizenship. “Don’t take my word for it – ask St Vincent de Paul!”, to paraphrase part of Fintan O’Toole’s argument in favour of a Yes.

However, this points towards a deeper problem: the widespread perception that rights have something to do with charitable provision. This perception is informed and framed by the Irish constitution itself, in its requirement of a ‘social order in which justice and charity shall inform all the institutions of the national life’. The effect is an impoverished public discourse with regard to democratic rights, kept that way by the structural reproduction of a hierarchical relation in the functioning of the Irish State. Whatever the result of tomorrow’s vote, the death of the old would appear a long way off.

 

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‘Impressing Germans’

This is a comment I left on an Irish Times article analysing the significance of Enda Kenny’s ‘European of the Year’ award by an association of German magazine bosses. The article was titled ‘Kenny’s chance to impress Germans‘.

No better man for the award, in my opinion. When German elites decide to hand out a European of The Year award, what they really mean is ‘European Most Likely To Make German Elites Look Good’ award. Ruling politicians in other EU periphery countries –Greece, Portugal, Spain- have had a very hard time keeping a lid on public discontent with their efforts to obey the demands of the German government and the Troika.

The brutal repression of democratic protest on the streets of Athens and Madrid -against the bailout of German banks, paid for by massive human suffering- have made German elites look bad. In Ireland, however, the right wing project of stripping away any vestige of the European social model has been proceeding very smoothly indeed. By 2017, according to IMF predictions, Ireland will be the neo-liberal state par excellence, with levels of government spending way below that of even the United States and the United Kingdom, let alone Germany. Thus the idea that German elites actually give a damn about what the Irish State is paying its political elites in enforcing such a regime is simply the product of a colonised mind. Shouldn’t good pupils get rewarded for their hard work?

Next week, Wednesday 14th November, there will be a pan-European general strike, and it will demonstrate that true European solidarity means resistance to the agenda of the German financial bourgeoisie and their confreres and flunkies across the continent. The fact that Ireland’s trade unions are not taking part is doubtless one more reason, from the point of view of Germany’s ‘magazine mavens’, why Enda Kenny should get another pat on the head.

 

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#14N: Recovering Ambition

Translation of post by Jorge Moruno, originally published in Público, 3rd November, on the forthcoming European general strike on the 14th of November.

#14N – Recovering Ambition

Strikes are older than Methuselah: literally. The first one recorded in history dates from the rein of Ramses III, and took place coincidentally on the 14th November 1152 BC, when workers protested the non-payment of back wages. Since then there have been infinite episodes of different expressions, by different actors throughout history: in 29 BC among the workers who were building Herod’s Palace, the tailors of Constantinople at the end of the 15th century or in England, where from 1549 until the end of the 18th century an ordinance punished strikers with the pillory, and in the case of a second offence they would have an ear cut off.

Our collective imagination regarding the strike continues to be fed by the idea that comes from the origins of the labour movement. Some authors locate it at the beginning of the 19th century, with the irruption of Luddism as a pre-industrial backlash, when numerous attacks on threshing machines took place in England because they left workers without jobs and lowered their wages. But during the French Revolution workers already took part in strikes, although the guild form, which later led to the guild journeyman, and bread riots, still predominated at that time. The implementation of the second industrial revolution, that of electricity, which small workshops first thought would democratise their access in light of the unequal position held by steam factories, turned out to produce as a consequence what came to be called the proletariat. The mass transfer from the country to the city, together with a growing division of labour in the latter, gave rise to the unnamed class of those who bear children –proletarii- , ‘the working class of the 19th century’, in the words of Engels.

If the 18th century it can be expressed as the country cramped into the cities –in Spain somewhat later-, at the beginning of the 21st century we can say that it is the workers piled up in the connected metropolis. The feudal serf, who worked the lands with the labour of his body, gave a part of his product to the lord. The proletarian uses his hands to work with the instruments of another and is obliged to give part of his time to the owner. The first gives, the second is given to. The precarian [precario] of the 21st century has to give at the same time as he is given. Not only does she put her arms to work like the labourer, and not only does she have to give over a part of the usufruct like the serf: she now has to give it all in body and spirit, in time and life.

 

The labourer of the 19th and 20th century was torn from the rural community and gradually moved to form part of the community of labourers. In the 21st century it is a matter of eliminating any trace of being ‘we-the-community’ to become ‘entrepreneurs’; whether on our own account, or on account of another, so that we look for the new form of community, so we can relate to one another, in the idea of the firm. Previously, communication, understood as the basis for creating communities and culture, remained the monopoly of life outside of work. Now, communication is included in work itself. Work that extends over life, beyond the time of the working day, thereby creating a reality in which the community that gives shape to culture springs directly from business communications. For this, and other reasons, the Economy minister Luis De Guindos declared a while ago in front of a forum of businessmen that “the labour market has to be brought to heel [in the original, domesticado].”

When the imperative of the entrepreneur is also demanded of any wage labourer; when the risk but not the benefits are democratised; when social communication inside and outside the firm is the bedrock of the knowledge economy; the core of the strike must focus on the direction that this communication is taking. The strike is won or lost in its capacity to communicate, to transmit powerful sensations and emotions that provoke, in the public sphere, an emancipatory publicity that replaces the present insistence of “there is no alternative”. Figures on the energy usage of industrial estates matter little when public perception does not depend on this factor. What it is does not matter as much as what it is thought to be, and for this reason, we must tear the monopoly of communication away from the business culture of the firm.

Demonstrations and pickets have as their goal the communication of a force in which acts and words go together so as to become power –potency- [potencia]. A necessary potency, without which rights do not exist, is to be found today additionally in other spaces and other forms.

Firstly, in the eyes of all those people whose work is to look for work, those precarious and irregular persons of every kind, disinherited of the support provided by the community, the workers’ strike seems distant from their material reality. In Madrid, the Oficina Precaria [literally, ‘Precarious Office’] has proposed the initiative of #14N without fear (#14N sin miedo), where one can anonymously fill out a form to denounce those firms that hinder or frustrate the right to strike and send pickets to these firms. To make sure this does not end up as a declaration of intent or mere social complaint, it needs to be given proper support, through co-ordination with the range of collectives, waves, assemblies and unions, together with a subsequent meeting at a social summit.

Secondly, one should consider the possibility of widening participation in the 21st century strike to all productive forces, and not merely those who demonstrate in line with strict working hours. There are sectors, who may not be in the majority but are central nonetheless, whose minds will not stop in a sit-down strike. The mobile phone should also be thought as the model for the new assembly line; the rapidly growing area of virtual consumption, and social networks, can also be other fields where production-communication operates.

 

From a wide angle, a great step has been taken in co-ordinating the general strike with other countries in Europe; we have to walk the path together against social exploitation through financial debt, if we want a Europe from, by and for the peoples who live in Europe. Closer up, we still have not found the appropriate responses to questions that appear clearer every day. We are still not able to supply a different narrative which combats the enslaving hopefulness of “let’s see if this gets sorted out” through divine inspiration, the cynicism of “it doesn’t make any difference, look out for yourself”, and fear: “don’t create a fuss – those at the top say it gives a bad image”.

 

Taking up the baton of Gramsci, we have to recover the sense of ambition normally considered on the left as something pejorative. To dethrone minor and petty ambitions and to those that are lofty, freeing them from opportunisms; given that ‘it all amounts to whether ambition is raised after creating a desert around oneself, or if raising oneself has as its condition –consciously- the raising of an entire social stratum’

 

The time of need moves more quickly than the time of alternatives, but given the magnitude of the problem we are faced with, Machiavelli alerts us that ‘if one waits for the difficulties to come along, the remedy is difficult because the illness has become incurable’. It is the time of political ambition, of liberating the extraordinary from the everyday, as Pericles understood greatness; the moment of political action that draws into light what is radiant, as Democritus conceived it. Today more than ever the words of Kropotkin hold weight: enough ‘ambiguous words’ about the ‘right to work’ -which the elites already destroy- and let us lay claim politically to ‘the right to well-being. Well-being for everyone.’

 

 

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