For the occasion, parliament has changed seat from the glass subway station to the other side of the Western Fountain. Pieces of white tape indicate the ‘benches’ and the aisles. The parliamentary seats are courtesy of the PIP, the Permanent Information Point. They consist of a single piece of cardboard, and they serve the practical purpose of protecting your behind against the concentrated heat of the stones after a day of Madrid summertime sun.
It’s the second day of the State of the Union.
The sharp line dividing the majority of parliament from the opposition is the line of the shadow. When the first speaker, a professor from the neighbourhood of Arganzuela, takes the microphone, the sun has an absolute majority. People are standing on the side. Something must really be changing in Spain, because it’s seven o’ clock, and without there being any good reason, things are starting on time.
The hemisphere of parliament is a sundial. As the comrade speaker talks, the shadow is advancing. People are taking their cardboard seats as he goes. Sometimes they wave their hands to show their approval. When the speaker is done, the sun has retreated, the shadow has filled up parliament, and people have gathered around to listen.
He speaks about Greece. He says democracy is based on debate. On the confrontation of ideas, the discussion of alternatives. It requires time and patience, the willingness to listen and to admit that someone else might have ideas better than your own.
Then these people in suits and fancy cars with little flags come along. And they say: You’re broke. But don’t worry, we are prepared to save you. It won’t come cheap though. First, you will sell us everything you have. Railroads, harbours, phone and electrical companies. Your complete infrastructure, everything that’s useful. The rest you can dump. As for the remainder of what you owe us, you will make your own people bleed for it. Don’t dare to touch our offshore accounts. It’s an offer you can’t refuse, because if you do… it’s going to be the apocalyps. And you will go down. So make up your mind.
You can phrase it in any way you want, but it remains obscene that something even vaguely similar to this can be proposed, not to a state or a government, but to a people.
And how is it possible that another handful of people have the right to seal this far reaching decision without opening a wide debate among the citizens and without obtaining a large consensus? This, our speaker concludes, is not what democracy is about.
Comrades, my mom is here! I’m overjoyed. For years she has been saying my generation has all the reason in the world to rebel. “Like we did, in ‘68! So why don’t you! Where did we fail in your upbringing?!”
I couldn’t help but take it a little personal. And fortunately I still have the age at which I can impetuously take part in a revolution, so I was quite happy to show her she hadn’t been completely right about my generation after all.
Unfortunately I can hardly spend any time with her. From a certain point in the day meetings, commitments, assemblies and other occasions begin piling up until deep in the night. Today I was at the radio, with my comrade Irene. We were interviewing two revolutionaries from Iceland. A film maker and the president of the association of debtors. They came to explain a bit about the current situation in that brave little country. Their revolution is in danger of stagnation. The work on the citizens’ constitution continues, but the new government is dangerously lending its ears to the economic establishment. Our nordic comrades stress the need for international mobilisation and the sharing of experiences. The revolution is going to be long, and we should never underestimate our opponent.
It’s hasn’t yet been three months since I arrived in Spain, and I feel a bit uncomfortable to speak Spanish on the radio. Learning a language is like learning to walk. But walking is one thing, it’s quite another to be able to dance.
The next part of the program is centered on the marches. I’m really content. This is what I wanted, a live report from the people that are walking hundreds of kilometers to come to Sol. And with many thanks to comrade Irene it has become possible. The technician answers the phone, he puts us through. From deep out of our headphones comes a voice. It’s Cristóbal, with the people marching in from Coruña.
“¡Hola Columna Noroeste! ¿Qué tal?”
They feel fine, tired but content, it has been a good day’s march. Junior Woodchuck talk. They are at 4200 feet. They’re ascending the mountains of León to reach the plateau of the Old Castilia under the blistering sun.
P.S. Our radio is at http://madrid.tomalaplaza.net/directo-radio/. Tune in at night.