postvirtual

21st Century Revolution

In Acampada Sol, Madrid, Spain on 2 June 2011 at 22:47

People,

In the eastern outskirts of Puerta del Sol you will find a statue of a bear climbing up against a tree. It is the symbol of Madrid. Since the occupation it has been turned into Speaker’s Corner.

Today there was a Moorish woman standing on a box with a three foot long receipt in her hand. I couldn’t read what was printed on it from a distance, but much of it was highlighted in yellow. She talked about Jesus, and the list in her hand was filled with sins. She makes a great emotional performance out of it. She looks like Mary Magdalene. The people gathered around listen silently and nod. A woman has a tear in her eyes. “If you believe in Jesus”, says Magdalena, and she puts her hand on her heart, “then the whole bill will be paid.”

I love it. This is also part of the revolution.

I return to the Communications tent. These days it’s my home. You can find me there almost the entire day, writing, translating, gathering information or talking to people. Occasionally I walk over to the Extension commission to look at the world map, which is covered by more and more red dots every day. Now it’s also happening in Buenos Aires. We are on all continents. I am content when I go back to read the daily reports from the French squares. A seed has been sown, and it has begun to germinate.

A comrade of Food I comes up to the counter. He beckons me enthusiastically. “The shopkeepers have been saying that they make 80% less revenue because of Sol. That is utter nonsense.” He shows me a series of printed sheets with numbers. “These are the sales figures of the five closest Starbucks branches over the last two weeks of May. Compared to last year they have made ten percent more profit.”

“Fabulous!” I say. “We should published this immediately. Where did you get this?”

“I work at Starbucks. I gained access to the system.”

These are our boys. We are everywhere, and we are unstoppable.

In the evening an emergency meeting is held in Communications. The mood is down. We have just received a message that 700 elite troops of the Spanish riot police are marching in three columns to Madrid. It only takes the order of the internal affairs minister for them to begin the eviction.

What to do? We have a protocol. We sit down, we lock arms and we don’t respond to provocations. SMS messages will be sent out in all directions: “Sol is cleared. Come help us.” But I have my doubts whether it will be a matter of photogenic and romantic resistance. “Try to reason from their point of view,” I say, “if they want to vacate the square they will do it at five o’clock in the morning when the least number of people is present. A clean sweep. It will be over before it can be properly documented. Keep this in mind. Continue to upload data and make sure USB devices are well hidden.”
On the table in the back our friend Mehmet continues to upload videos onto the Internet. I tell him about the police mobilisation. It almost seems as though he is satisfied. “Really? It can start any time now?”

“Any time now,” I say.

We decide to take a stroll around our village. Who knows, it might be the last evening. We walk under the tarpaulin through the center, past the Library into the “suburbs” on the edge of the square, where most of the tents are pitched. People are singing and playing the guitar. We walk back through the streets on the other side, to Eastern part of the square where the General Assembly meets every night. Mehmet is an extraordinary person. He has a political awareness and culture that amazes me. He speaks just as passionately about Marx and Engels, as he does about Buddha, Spinoza and Tolkien. He tells me a great story about anarchists who have stolen the ashes of Trotsky from his urn in Mexico two years ago. They mixed the ashes with flour and baked cookies with them. Then they sent them to Trotskyist parties all around the world. “Have a taste. At least that prophet of yours is good for something!”
I adopted him as my little brother. We stand in the middle of the square where the General Assembly has just ended. We observe our village under the clock of Puerta del Sol.

“Mehmet,” I say, “I have this idea that many people are focussed on the search for truth, be it in a religion or in an ideology, in philosophy or science, or in the revolution. I do not understand this. What’s so exciting about the truth?”

“You can only feel it. It absorbs you”, he says. “People are fascinated by truth because they fear it. The truth is the only thing that isn’t subject to change, the only thing that never decays. And that’s nothing. Horror vacui is where it all comes down to.”

“Then I still don’t understand it”, I say. “I do not feel it. Maybe because I am more fascinated by beauty. That’s what I’m looking for. That’s why I’ve joined with the revolution. For aesthetic reasons.”

Mehmet folds his hands in front of his face and nods at me. He has adopted me as a big brother.

We walk over the paths that have been traced between the tents in the suburbs. We join up with a few comrades to suck on a water pipe. We are totally relaxed. Whatever happens, our movement will continue. Greece has awakened, France is awakening and even in Italy there are assemblies being organised. This is the democratic revolution. And we, we are the chosen ones. Not only because we are able to witness it, but also because we have the possibility to be a part of it.

Back at the staff table of Communications we encounter Riccardo, the Sicilian cameraman. He is being visited by Vlad, a comrade of Audiovisual, who also found himself to be in the right place at the right time. He comes from New York and he specialises in live streaming. In two days he taught our Spanish comrades how to set up their own TV channel. After that he went out to grab a beer. Now the Spaniards can manage on their own.

“Good ideas travel quickly in a non-hierarchical society quickly.” Thanks to Vladimir, we have a twenty-four hour news channel on http://www.livestream.com/spanishrevolutionsol. The content is being shot daily by twenty of our comrades. The Assemblies are broadcast live and are currently drawing an average of 8000 viewers. Now Vlad has popped in at Communications to make plans for further expansion. Our new channel is focused on Spain. We also need a channel with content in English. “People are dying to have news from here.” Hence that Mehmet, Riccardo, Vladimir and I have decided on the spot to form the International Brigade. Tomorrow we start shooting material.

The next step is to set up live streaming over mobile phones. In case of police action this is essential. The tactics you should use in this case is ‘the Triangle’, Vlad explains: if there is a crack down somewhere, you need to make sure you have three people on the spot filming from different angles, so that you frame at least one other person with a camera. The police can’t do anything then. If they attack someone who is filming, then someone else will shoot it. And that’s not good for their pr. “It’s like taking out a witness.” Moreover, they can not confiscate the material because it is transmitted directly onto the net. “This tactic was first used in Toronto,” Vlad says, he’s a veteran. “Almost all regular television crews were eliminated. But not one of the guys filming with their phones was arrested.”

In the 21st century urban guerilla is an information war. And we will prevail, comrades. You need not worry about it. The International Brigade is already operational.

Regards,
Oscar

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