Even though I spend my days here in Communication spreading the revolution in all the languages I know, sometimes it happens that I have to gather the news about our village at breakfast from the El País daily news paper.
When I arrived here, the papers were quite often full of praise. There was talk of ‘exquisito civismo‘ with regard to the organisation of Sol. One columnist rejoiced that the people had finally taken possession of the public space. She described how the squares have slowly been taken away from us in recent years. The trees that have disappeared, the benches that have been replaced by terraces, drinking fountains that don’t give water any more. The square, where once the elderly and their families gathered at dusk to gossip and to let their children play, has turned into a hostile space. A space that is only used when there is money to be earned, with markets, or publicity stunts by big corporations.
It was about time that public space was taken back by the public. That was the spirit emanating from the newspapers. But after the elections the news about Acampada Sol quickly fell back to the Madrid pages. And because the pages about Madrid also need to be filled, every day someone was sent out to a write a nice piece about the acampada. These pieces increasingly focussed on our village’s problems. Despite active discouragement, at night there is still heavy drinking being performed at the Western fountain. Some people queue up at the Kitchens three times a day, but they do little else. A full colour photograph has been published of a rat held up by its tail. And it seems the ladies of Feminism have had to endure sexist remarks and harassment.
From Communication we have issued a press release stating that these are the same problems that society as a whole has to cope with, and that we try to resolve them our own way on the basis of mutual respect.
Another point of criticism is the decision-making process. And there’s something to be said for that. The search for consensus, for something that everyone can agree upon, is extremely hard in a large assembly. And besides, what value can a proposal have if absolutely nobody opposes it? It leads to indecisiveness, especially with regard to the continuation of the Acampada Sol. Many of the commissions and working groups want to pick a date when we will lift our tents in grand celebration so we can concentrate on weekly assemblies and the slow expansion of our movement into civil society. But there is a hard core of unyielding campers in the outskirts of our village who want to stay as long it takes, until something changes. Few of them actively participate in the movement. They only attend the General Assembly to block proposals.
Now, what I read this morning in El País was about the delegation of Murcia. In the National Assembly they have illustrated their own system of democracy which seems to work out pretty well. In Murcia, sovereignty doesn’t reside in the General Assembly, but in the working groups. The General Assembly is only an advisory body where everyone can submit their ideas. The working groups will then elaborate all the input and decide on policy by consensus. Some think this system is antidemocratic. But in Murcia they deny that: “Anyone can submit ideas. But if you want to decide about them, then you have to participate. All people are free to join a working group.”
Personally, I think it is a good system. And again I wonder about all the creativity being released once people start thinking together.
In Greece, the protests are becoming more massive by the day. Tonight, more than a hundred thousand people gathered in Athens. Tens of thousands in Thessaloniki and other towns and villages. During the General Assembly we were supposed to open a livestream connection with Syntagma Square. The guys from Audiovisuals have spent the entire afternoon in preparations. Our Greek comrade was in direct telephone contact with the square. But once everything is ready for the broadcast and the buzzing sound of people with great expectations dies down, a summer downpour bursts loose. Puerta del Sol is flushed, the meeting is adjourned. Everybody runs home or to the tents. The gods are not on our side today, but the roar coming up from the camp when the rain stops is no less triumphant because of it.
Later in Communication we see live images from Athens. Not only the crowd is growing, it’s also becoming better organised. With the Audiovisual comrades we look on admiringly as laser beams flash up from the masses. It’s a pure display of power. I am already looking forward to the pictures of tomorrow …