The Summer of 2011

In Acampada Sol, Madrid, Spain on 3 June 2011 at 14:58


All exits of the square are blocked by Mickey Mouse. He has miraculously multiplied himself and has occupied strategic positions. People cannot escape. They have no choice but to be photographed with him.

Whether this round-eared apparition has an official permit of the Walt Disney Company is to be doubted. Actually, I shouldn’t even talk about this. Seven hundred riot police on standby is bad enough already, but once Disney finds out that there are illegal mice roaming around at Puerta del Sol, then we will really be in big trouble!

There’s a good mood on the square. Life goes on as if it were completely normal for people to take their destiny into their own hands. There are performances all day long. Dance, spontaneous jam sessions, at night there is cinema. On the edge of our village a cloth is hung up so that people can watch movies and documentaries they would never see on television. And I’m not even talking about the ever-admirable infrastructure that ensures us day and night that our village has food, water, electricity, internal and external telephone lines, internet, and that the waste is neatly separated and disposed of. Or the working groups which are steadily giving shape to a new kind of politics. It a miracle, Puerta del Sol. It really is.

I can imagine that the established order feels offended by all this. It is confronted with its own shortcomings and failures, and worse: it is confronted with its own redundancy. The young people who are the driving force behind this project are no doubt the best educated generation ever in Spain. They have a lot of potential, and the only thing they want is an opportunity to prove it. Now they have taken this opportunity themselves.

There are no leaders and no followers in the Free State of Sol. If you want to do something you don’t have to ask permission to anyone. You just do it. This way, Mehmet and I have been active in Audiovisuals today, in preparation for the launch of our international news network. I’ve never seriously engaged in visual coverage, but I discovered that it was my kind of thing. Choose people to interview, prepare questions, pick locations, determine angles, closeups, panoramas and a few nice shots for the atmosphere. The guys from Editing will then be able to make something out of it.

Today, among others we received a visit by two comrades from Lyon. So we made an interview with them. And then it’s great to hear that everywhere our movement is based on the same peaceful principles. Respect. Direct democracy. Assemblies and working groups. Restraint with alcohol. Music. It really seems like a collective global consciousness is emerging.

1848. 1968. 2011.

The authorities don’t know what to do with us. Ignore us, minimise us, criminalise us. It doesn’t work. On the first night of meetings in Lyons, the police made a half-hearted attempt to clean the square. The next day the people returned. The officers didn’t seem really motivated for a crack down. They are not completely unsympathetic towards our movement, according to our comrades from Lyon. How could they? What intelligent person can seriously claim that we are a bunch of nihilists? Who can walk around the squares and listen in to the various assemblies without feeling a certain pride?

The shopkeeper associations here have claimed in the press that they are suffering record losses, that the camp in Puerta del Sol is a filthy mess, that the transit of people and goods has been blocked, and even that the rule of law is in danger! Our Legal commission has issued a comunicado saying that the city’s own sanitary council has concluded that hygienic conditions in the camp are excellent, that the occupants ensure the continuous flow of traffic themselves and that many shops in the neighbourhood have actually increased their revenue. Our own research has also shown that many of the smaller retailers appreciate our project. I’m not surprised they do. Their fight for survival against the big chains is also our fight. All in all there are very few people who really have a good reason to be afraid of us. Mainly politicians, bankers and speculators. And they are.

At the moment people are saying there are 350 riot police and 350 special forces already present in Madrid. Rumours say there will be an eviction on Monday or Tuesday. Generally these affirmatons are received with indifference, the same indifference with which we have ignored the municipal elections. If the square is cleared we will come back, or we will occupy another square. We are no longer tied to a particular location. We are being visited by delegates from various occupied squares in Spain and France, and by curious sympathisers from Germany, America, Holland, Australia and elsewhere. They want to see for themselves what democracy looks like, they want to learn from us. Tomorrow a video conference is organised with our comrades in Lyons.

No eviction can cancel what has happened on the Puerta del Sol. ‘Let them come, if they want’ is the prevailing thought. Our movement will only be strengthened if the big wigs decide to crush our Free State.

Comrades! Don’t just sit there, but join in! It seems that in Amsterdam there are already small scale assemblies being celebrated. Go make something out of it. Spread the word through all the networks. Organise yourselves, nobody can do it better than you. Do not fly to a distant country on holiday this year, but camp out together on the Museumplein or in the Vondelpark. Exchange ideas, get to know and to appreciate each other. Stop this eternal whining about money for once. Give space to intelligence and creativity. Be happy to be human. And who knows, in many years you will look back with a dreamy smile on that historic summer of 2011…

All the best!



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