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Posts Tagged ‘25s’

Occupy Reality!

In #GlobalRevolution, Madrid, Spain on 28 October 2012 at 14:44

Acampada Bankia Madrid

October 28

Dear people,

It has been one and a half year, and let’s face it, almost all that our movement has been able to produce are assemblies and demonstrations. I’m getting tired of those. My head starts spinning if I think of all the millions and millions of man-hours spent in talking and listening to other people’s bull shit without any practical result at all.

What’s worse is that the whole concept of assemblies has been steadily deteriorating over time, instead of evolving into something more constructive. By now, assemblies are open microphones with nobody really caring to create an orden del día or to take notes.

So people take the mic and shout their ideas. “Let’s call for an indefinite general strike!”. Applause. “Let’s all stop drinking Coca-Cola!”. Applause. “Let’s all go home, because it’s cold!”. “Excellent idea!”

This is not revolution. This is nothing at all.

Let’s start to look around. Let’s admit that we are still playing ‘their game’. They are not afraid of us. They have no reason to. We have to change the game. We have to occupy reality. We have to learn.

Don’t get me wrong, but we have to learn from Hezbollah, Hamas, and the Greek fascists.

Why? Because they know how to build up popular support. They know how to build community spirit. They offer food to those who are hungry. They offer shelter to those who are homeless. They offer help to those who are unemployed. And they thrive. Mamma mia, they thrive!

The unforgivable mistake of these groups is that they actively create divisions and encourage hatred by selectively serving one kind of people on the basis of their ethnic origin. In this case the Greeks and the Palestinians.

We have to do better. We have to create unity. “If we do not treat our fellow human beings as brothers and sisters, then sooner or later, it will be war.”

War is playing ‘their game’. War can never be won.

So building unity must be the next level. We must create community spaces for the locals and the immigrants. We must set up community kitchens. We must share what we have. We must turn to local organic farmers. We must create our own industries, our own society. That will be playing ‘our own game’. That will be revolution. Direct democracy will not work if it doesn’t stem from a society in which everyone feels represented.

How can we build this society? We need spaces, covered spaces, especially because winter is coming. Fortunately, these spaces exist, and they are distributed over all Spanish cities and neighbourhoods. They are called ‘Caja Madrid’, and they belong to Bankia, which belongs to the people.

The offices, the headquarters, the franchises, and all the empty houses owned by Bankia are public space and can be legitimately occupied. They can be used to house evicted people, they can be used for assemblies and working groups, they can be used for community kitchens, theatre, etc.

Publicly owned Bankia keeps evicting citizens every day. It’s time for the citizens to take what’s theirs, and to evict Bankia’s management from all the public property they are illegally occupying.

If we really want to make revolution, then let’s stop talking about it in endless assemblies, and let’s get it done.

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March to Congress, 27-O

In Madrid, Spain on 27 October 2012 at 22:01

Solfonica performing at Neptuno, photo via @acampadasol

October 27, 2300 hrs

Dear people,

Today was the last of three days of actions planned by the 25S for the end of October. Forty thousand people marched from Plaza España to congress, according to positive estimates. I can’t confirm the number, but I can say that it was pretty big.

The choice for Plaza España was symbolic. Around the square you will find some of the highest skyscrapers of Madrid, and they are completely empty. With five hundred evictions per day in Spain, you could fill them up in a couple of days.

We take the Gran Vía. We have the drummers with us, and they make the difference. Protest is so much more powerful if there is a good beat to it.

Neptuno is filled with people already when the march arrives. And there’s more music. The Solfonica orchestra gave one of their spectacular performances in the middle of the crowd.

Another performance picked up the news from these days in a very confrontational way. Six people walked up to the barricades, white as corpses, with a rope around their neck. ‘Evictions’ was one of the signs they carried. ‘Unemployment’, was another. It has reached 25% (52% among youngsters), and it made all the headlines.

At nine o’ clock people sat down with their backs to congress, waving their hands, observing a minute of silence. It brought back sweet memories of Acampada Sol last year. Afterwards, a simple slogan thundered over the square. ‘Resignation! Resignation!’

An assembly was organised to speak about how to continue the protest, but it wasn’t well-structured, and moreover, it was cold. Very cold and windy. So people soon left.

Winter is here. And the evictions continue implacably, every day. So the struggle will have to continue as well. The next appointment in Madrid is for November 1-4. ‘Agora 99′, a meeting of European activists on debt, rights and democracy. Everyone is invited.

Budget Night

In Madrid, Spain on 24 October 2012 at 02:17

October 24, 0140 hrs.

Dear people,

After a month of recess, 25S ‘Surround Congress’ has reconvened. Thousands of people were there, far too many to take part in either the assembly on the debt (on the left side of the barricades) or the assembly on the constituent assembly (on the right side of the barricades).

The call had been to paper the barriers with messages and proposals, and so people did. Lots of stuff. The idea behind it was to do something different from last month. In that respect, we also marched around congress through the alleys, singing and chanting. But they didn’t less us come far. At the end of Calle Lope de Vega, six police officers and one lechera blocked the way. Collective intelligence went in tilt. After a quarter of an hour, we turned around and headed back down to Neptuno in victorious retreat. There was a musical band to receive us.

That’s how the evening started to end. I greet many familiar faces, some of whom have come from outside of town. I meet an old friend, he has just arrived here from his night shift in the hospital. Lots of things have changed for the worse since the last time we spoke.

As far as he is personally concerned, his wage has been slashed by 30 percent, he puts in more hours, his taxes are raised, his job is at risk, and unemployment benefits are being cut. On top of that, he could be fined for taking part in this demonstration.

As far as his employer is concerned, it has seen better days. Private contractors are moving in to take over more and more branches of the hospital. Apparently, in Castilla la Mancha privatisation is almost complete, and now the corporations are eying for Madrid.

Not only medical personnel is having a hard time. Austerity has also struck the municipal cleaning department. The frequency of collection has been decreased. Workers can be laid off. Trash is piling in the streets.

In particular, the budget cuts of the government strike the latest generation of civil servants, the ones who were hired on temporary contracts that will not be renewed. The older generation will have to do more for less, but they are still safe. Private enterprises follow the government’s example and treat their workers accordingly, “or worse.”

As far as the country as a whole is concerned, my friend is still one of the lucky ones. The amount of evictions of people from their homes is rising fast. By now, (former) middle class families are being thrown out on the streets. Generally, these people bought their homes a few years ago when prices were crazy. Those who could afford it bought a second house as an investment, believing prices would never go down. Spain’s building frenzy was unmatched in Europe. Now there’s no-one who would buy those houses. They lay vacant.

Here in Madrid, very silently, but on a wide scale, individuals and collectives have started to open up homes for themselves and for those who have been evicted.

They live like Morlocks, underground; they are forever burdened by debt. Being forced to live out on the street is not enough. Your mortgage stands, until it’s paid off in full.

Not so long ago, Spanish ‘Bankia’ bank imploded and was resuscitated with public funds by the government. Since yesterday, about fifteen people are camping in front of Bankia headquarters. They demand, at the very least, that the mortgage debts of those evicted are extinguished. “If Bankia is ours”, one of the slogans says, “then give us back our homes.”

We’re at the barricades, it’s eleven PM. The parliamentarians come out. They have been discussing the proposed ‘budget of the debt’. People yell their slogans at them, then they go home, if they have a home to go to.

Analysis and Agenda

In #GlobalRevolution, Madrid, Spain on 15 October 2012 at 11:04

October 15

Dear people,

“It was an occasion to go to church. A ritual for the hard core of the movement. We failed to inspire the masses.”

This is a brief description of what happened on October 13, and a pretty accurate one indeed. Throughout the global revolution network, people are analysing why, and what this means for future mobilisations.

Madrid is now concentrating on the upcoming events. These will be less global, more relevant to Spain. They were drawn up by the Action commission of 25S last week. I have found no evidence that they were ever consensuated by the assembly, but they were published on the site, which makes them official enough for me.

Oct 19 – We will present a document at Congress to express our refusal of the current budget in which one fourth of all expenses is destined to pay the debt.

Oct 23 – While the budget is discussed, we will organise debates at Neptuno and surround parliament with a human chain, as from 7pm. We will stay there for as long as the parliamentarians are inside.

Oct 25 – Day of decentralised civil disobedience. In Madrid, in Spain and all over the planet and the solar system, local collectives and assemblies are invited to do whatever they see fit.

Oct 27 – Massive demo from Plaza España over Callao and Cibeles to Neptuno.

That’s it for now. I was actually pretty pleased about it. On paper it’s a good balance of content plus localised and centralised actions. You will get all the news as the ideas turn into practice. For now, I’m logging off.

Take care.

*

Occupy Links

First Wave

¡Casablanca Vive!

In Madrid, Spain on 12 October 2012 at 19:53

October 12, 2230 hrs.

Dear people,

Columbus day in Spain is known as the ‘Day of Spanishness’. It’s celebrated with a military parade over the boulevards near congress, and it’s the perfect thing to parody.

Thus, a peace parade was organised to celebrate the ‘Day of the Native Peoples’. It started with a popular lunch on the Opera square, with native food from the Americas, followed by a fancy dress party in all the colours of peace. Police were there, they moved to identify all participants.

I didn’t witness the parade, because there was another event at the same time which promised to be interesting. A concentration on the central square of Lavapiès to protest against the eviction of Casablanca social centre last month and to reclaim access to the Library and the Archive of the Acampada Sol stored there.

It wasn’t widely publicised. And there was a reason for that. Underground voices were saying it was a cover. The true motive of the call was to reoccupy the place.

And so it was. It became a perfectly orchestrated celebratory action. The peace parade served as a diversion. Police didn’t suspect a thing. We went marching there with a drum band playing happy revolutionary tunes. In the meantime, a commando squad had already entered the place. When we walked up to the building they stepped out on the balconies and to the crowd’s delight they launched a giant banner which rebaptised the place as Magerit Occupied Social Centre.

There were a few hundred people out on the street cheering. In a few minutes a police car arrives. After ten minutes there are three police vans with a couple of dozen riot police. People form a chain outside the building to protect it. They chant. “One eviction, another occupation!” became “One eviction, the same occupation!”. They keep on chanting. The crowd grows. Police don’t know what to do. Finally they leave and people stage a victory party.

When they evicted the Casablanca last month, it was without judicial consent, and as such, illegal. Maybe next time authorities will think first before they act.

Live news from the inside is that the library is all there. It used to be 4000 volumes during the acampada. Now it’s ten thousand. I have no news about the state and presence of the banners and artworks at the moment.

The bad news is another. Since a couple of days the Spanish government changed the penal code. In the face of current social unrest, they have raised penalties for resistance against authority. Inspired – maybe – by Obama’s NDAA, they have opened the doors for indefinite detention. And, most dangerous of all, it aims to criminalise internet activism.

Up to a year of prison for people who call for illegal demonstrations through social networks.

The time has come for all of us to put on a Guy Fawkes mask.

“We are Anonymous. We are Legion. We do not forgive. We do not forget. Expect us.”

Check out the images. http://bambuser.com/v/3056971

http://www.livestream.com/globalrevolution/video?clipId=flv_27ef50b9-7c76-441b-b59e-cc80153ff5c3

Debt: A Fairy Tale

In #GlobalRevolution, Madrid, Spain on 12 October 2012 at 12:56

October 12

Dear people,

For Spain, every week is debt week. It may explain why the ‘Debt Week’ as it was organised worldwide didn’t attract particular attention here in Madrid.

There were manifestos throughout town which announced the slogan ‘We don’t owe, we don’t pay’ but which didn’t announce any particular event until today. After intensive research I was finally able to find out that certain things had actually been organised, but I don’t know of anybody who went there.

One thing that’s gaining attention is tomorrow’s Global Noise pan bashing. It will pass over the monumental Paseo de la Castellana from the European Union offices to Sol. It’s not going to be as big as last year’s Global Revolution Day, but it’s going to be on all continents except for Antarctica. The sun won’t set on this one for a good 24 hours.

The ultimate goal of the ‘We don’t owe, we don’t pay’ campaign is to create a civil screening of the debt. People are convinced the debt is illegitimate. On the website, the organisers have tried to explain why.

First of all, it denounces last year’s change of the constitution, which was adopted in record time under pressure of international financial institutions. Article 135.3 states that ‘Repaying the national debt is absolute priority.’ Over anything. Social expenses, education, health care.

Now the question is, where does the debt come from? Until a few years ago, it was hardly a problem. Everything seemed to be booming.

The anti-debt campaign explains the context of neoliberal policies as they have been gradually implemented throughout the world since the 1970s. Tax cuts for businesses, deregulation of financial markets, privatisations, flexibilisation of the work force.

The crowning achievement of this effort in Europe was the common currency, emitted by the newly founded European Central Bank around the turn of the century.

The scope of the ECB is to control inflation, not to eliminate it. Inflation is a built-in growth stimulus. But it’s counterproductive when it gets out of hand.

To do its job, and to maintain its independence, the ECB cannot lend money directly to the national governments. Instead it lends to private banks at a low interest rate. This way money is cheap, which should encourage growth.

The private banks act as mediators between the ECB and the national governments. They borrow money from Frankfurt at 1%, and they lend it to Berlin at 4%, or to Paris at 5%, to Rome at 7%, to Athens at 15%. It’s perfect business, like running a casino. You can never lose.

The interest rate the banks demand on their loans to national governments depends on the financial health of the nation. If the government enjoys confidence, the interest rate will be low. You have little risk and so you will make a low but steady profit. If a government can’t meet its financial obligations, like Greece, the interest rate is much higher. This extra profit should make up for the risk you are taking of investing in a country that may default. It’s completely logical. The less money you have as a government, the more you will have to pay in interest. The more you have to pay, the more likely a default becomes. The more likely a default, the higher the risk for investors, so interest rates on loans go up, which makes it even more difficult for a country to pay them back, etc. It’s a vicious circle.

Such a country has to be bailed out with public funds from healthy economies like Germany or Holland or Finland. This money doesn’t even touch the countries in need of support. It directly goes to finance the private banks who are speculating on the economic troubles of the nation in question.

And so on and so on. There is a lot more to it, but this is one of the basic mechanisms. If the ECB were allowed to lend to national governments directly, the Greeks would be able to accede to loans at 1%, and maybe, just maybe, they could start to recover.

Or maybe not. There is another problem with a common currency. Some nations are net exporters of goods and services, like the Germans and the French, and others are net importers, like the southern European countries. Net exporters generally make more money than they spend, and net importers spend more money than they make. To finance this difference, the net importers have to borrow money and so they accumulate debt. It’s an old story. Until a decade ago, the net importers could control their debt by periodically devaluating their national currency. As a side effect, this made their products cheaper to buy, it stimulated manufacturing and export and it helped to balance their deficit. One way or another, they got along.

With the common currency issued by the ECB and controlled by private vultures, this is no longer an option. The southern countries have to adhere to German financial rigour, or they go broke.

For an investor, bankruptcy of your debtor is the big risk. Fortunately, in the last twenty years the financial markets have evolved in such a way that they found a method not only to protect themselves against this risk, but to turn default in just another way to make money.

Here in the Spanish Revolution nerve centre, you will find Jack. He is the man behind our 24 hour news channel globalrevolution.tv, among many other revolutionary activities. He is a mathematician and an ex Wall Street banker, one of the people who built the credit bomb in the mid 1990s. Today he is implementing the same strategies that created the financial boom of the early 2000s to spread the meme of global revolution.

He can tell you the story of how Wall Street works. I myself once tried to do so through the characters of Donald Duck and Uncle Scrooge.

It went like this, more or less.

Uncle Scrooge is the richest man in the world. His nephew Donald Duck is the man in the street, perpetually at odds with his creditors in his struggle to provide himself and his three nephews with a decent living standard.

As a lower middle class duck, Donald has frequent dreams of luxury and fortune. He would love to own a yacht.

Scrooge has the ability to turn everything into money and power. He issues his nephew a loan of ten million dollar to buy a yacht. And not just his nephew. He rounds up all the homeless he finds in the park, and grants each of them a multi-million dollar loan.

These debts are worthless. But uncle Scrooge pays his credit rating agencies to give the loans triple A status, which allows him to sell them as a good deal to investors under form of CDOs (Collateralized Debt Obligations).

Scrooge knows that the debtors will default. It’s not his problem anymore, because he sold off all the debts, but he knows of a way to make even more money out of thin air. His financial minds have invented something called a CDS (Credit Default Swap). This is an insurance against your debtor going bankrupt. But the curious thing with a CDS is that it you don’t have to be the creditor in order to buy this insurance. You can bet on anyone else’s debtor going bankrupt.

So Scrooge goes to an insurance company and takes out a Credit Default Swap on Donald going bankrupt. It’s a sure bet, he issued the loan himself.

After a month, Donald and all the homeless of Duckburg fail to make their payments. Scrooge cashes in on his CDSs from the insurance companies. Both the banks to whom he sold the trash loans and the insurance companies where he placed his bets go bankrupt.

At this point it’s a full blown economic crisis. If the banks fall, everybody’s savings are at risk. It’s a disaster. The government has to step in to bail out the banks and the insurers to guarantee people’s pensions and avoid economic collapse, chaos, civil war, revolution. In other words, it has to pay the bill of Uncle Scrooge’s perverted profits with public money.

The government has no choice. It depends on Uncle Scrooge, because Uncle Scrooge is the richest duck in the world. He owns everything. He makes the law, and he says: ‘Look, there is a way out of this. You just need to adopt the following austerity measures. Lower taxes on my enterprises, raise taxes on the common people through VAT, lower pensions, sell me your hospitals and infrastructure at bargain prices. Etc. etc.’

Change the name of Uncle Scrooge with Goldman Sachs, and Donald’s name with your own, and this is more or less what’s happening right now.

Good night again, and good luck 🙂

Oscar

Solar Power

In Madrid, Spain on 7 October 2012 at 23:24

 

October 7

Dear people,

Madrid is a beautiful city. But most of the time you fail to notice it as a result of the traffic.

Today, the one revolutionary event we stumbled upon was the Critical Mass. Thousands upon thousands of bikers peddling down the Gran Vía. It changed the city, it changed the air. It turned Madrid into the splendid place it really is.

Then we arrive at the Crystal Palace in Retiro park for the weekly assembly of the Coordinadora 25S. Five hours of exhausting discussion. Fortunately it was a sunny autumn day, otherwise I wouldn’t have resisted.

My personal conclusion is that the #25S is running out of steam. The coordinating assembly has given life to something that it is not able or not willing to pursue. Already it has lost the greater part of the activist wing which had adhered to this project’s original scope. ‘Surround congress until the government resigns’.

The people who are left are desperately trying to give meaning to the whole thing and to continue some form of mobilisation.

Today’s final consensus was vague enough to turn into something decent if there is the right inspiration behind it. October 23-25, when congress discusses the budget for 2013: organisation of a ‘people’s congress’ to discuss an alternative budget. October 27: demonstration at Neptuno. That’s it.

Supposedly, fear is a factor. The images of police shooting at a crowd and indiscriminately clubbing school girls and old men have caused some people to want to avoid confrontations. The same images have enraged other people to such a point that they are eager to go back to the streets and confront themselves with police.

Some of them are ‘specialists’. We held a secret meeting with them on urban guerilla strategy the other day. Just in case such a strategy is called for.

Naturally I won’t give you all the juicy details, also because the subject of ‘active resistance’ is very thorny within the movement. Nonviolence is a founding principle of 15M, but nonviolence doesn’t mean you always have to sit down waving your hands while police are charging with clubs and rubber bullets.

To some people, the specialists are known as the infamous ‘black blocs’.

Originally, black blocs are small autonomous units of antifascist militants who smash up banks and corporate franchises. They have their roots in the 1980s squatter movement in Germany, and in particular West-Berlin. They went international at the WTO riots in Seattle 1999, and in Genoa 2001.

In contemporary urban guerilla, the primary goal of these specialist units is to actively protect a crowd against police brutality. They provide first aid to the wounded, they carry substances that bring relief against tear gas, they try to prevent people from getting arrested, and they try to liberate those who are. They are armed and dangerous.

Aside from protecting the crowd, they counterattack police. If there are enough specialists active, and the crowd backs them up, police don’t stand a chance. They get swept away. Last time this happened was in May of this year, during the general strike in Barcelona.

Usually, once police get routed by the mob, the specialists torch a few Starbucks franchises to celebrate the event. It’s plain vandalism, but with a little bit of discipline, you can take control of the city. There is nothing to it.

The movement here in Spain has been dividing itself in a radical wing and a moderate wing. Actually, there is more than one division within the Indignados/15M/25S movement, however you want to call it. In general though, all the currents are flowing in the same direction.

Evening falls, I’m in Sol for the general assembly, together with comrade Max from the March to Athens. “It’s a kind of weekly ritual”, Max says, “like going to church.”

“It sure is, and just like church, most people have stopped attending.”

Still, compared to last week, and compared to the 25S assembly in the park, this week’s GA was pretty refreshing. There was serious content for once, and as a result, it attracted a crowd of discreet proportions.

The theme was energy. In the last five years, the cost of electricity in Spain went up 70%. Most of it turns into pure profit for a handful of (mainly foreign-owned) corporations. The lion’s share of this energy comes from unsustainable sources like natural gas.

These sources are not only overpaid for by the consumer, they are also heavily subsidised by the government. At the moment only a tiny amount of total energy comes from renewable sources. These used to be subsidised as well, until the Popular Party was voted into power. Cutting every economic incentive to develop the use of renewable energy was one of the first things they did. Among other polluters, Repsol Spanish petroleum was much obliged.

In the face of this, citizens, social collectives, environmental organisations and trade unions have formed a ‘platform for a new energetic model’. Their scope is not only to stimulate the production of renewable energy, but also to decentralise it.

Energy independence at the smallest possible scale should be a primary goal of the revolution. Together with food independence it’s an essential condition for a future society in which humans can govern themselves democratically, and be free.

*

Occupy Links

First Wave

Neurons

In #GlobalRevolution, Madrid, Spain on 5 October 2012 at 19:45

October 5

Dear people,

I prefer the barricades. But when all is more or less quiet here in Madrid, then surely something is happening elsewhere.

It’s not easy to get your hands on all the info, not even when you are in the centre of the Global Revolution network like I am. A lot of news doesn’t get out, neither through the conventional channels, nor through our own channels. Take Greece for example. The other day, a hundred odd dockworkers who hadn’t been paid for six months occupied the ministry of defense. They were all arrested. After that, a furious crowd surrounded the headquarters of police. The only written accounts we could found about all this were in Greek.

In the meantime, the Portuguese government has announced new austerity measures and tax increases. Last time they tried to do so, a million people took the streets and made the government swallow the measures.

This time, one of the Portuguese trade unions has called for a general strike on November 14. At the moment, 9pm CET, hundreds of people are gathering at parliament in Lisbon to protest.

In Spain the word ‘decadence’ in relation to the political class has been trending all day long. The Popular Party spokesman accused the judge who acquitted the #25S detainees of being a ‘posh anarchist’. He said he would hold the judge accountable for any aggression that members of the political class might suffer from here on.

That’s it for this brief update. We are having a worldwide conference about October 13, Global Noise, right now. It’s amazing. We have people from France, Spain, Scotland, Netherlands, London, New York. The neurons of the movement are coming together in the virtual space. I hope to see them back on the streets very soon.

Acquitted with Merit

In Madrid, Spain on 4 October 2012 at 17:26

October 4

Dear people,

In the heat of the moment, some people say that Spain is a dictatorship and that police are even worse than the grises, the grey-uniformed officers of the Franco regime.

These people don’t know what they are talking about. Dictatorship is China, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, etc. In Spain, hardly anyone under 50 knows what dictatorship means in practice. Me neither.

In theory it has to do with open and violent repression, pure fear, absence of protection from the law, among other things. This is the classical idea of dictatorship. But the concept is changing, it’s adapting to 21st century reality.

In Italy, during the Berlusconi years, the modern variant was dubbed ‘sweet dictatorship’. It was no longer about brutal repression, it was much more subtle. Sweet dictatorship means ridiculing, delegitimising and criminalising any kind of opposition with the active collaboration of mass media.

In Spain, the governing Popular Party is the direct heir of the Franco regime. Instinctively they don’t like people who voice their opinions. They prefer the ‘silent majority’. Only when the opposing Socialist Party is in power, they send their supporters onto the streets in defense of conservative Spain’s ideals of nation, church and family.

Since they returned to power last November, the Popular Party has been working on its own version of ‘sweet dictatorship’. It would take a detailed analysis to show you exactly how it works, an analysis which I’m not able to make right here. But I can highlight some of its aspects.

On repeated occasions, people participating in popular assemblies have been subject to identifications by police. In many cases, people were fined for minor offenses.

Hitting people in their wallet is very effective. You scare them out of demonstrating or simply getting together in the street to talk, and at the same time you increase government revenue when it is most needed.

If fines are not enough, you scare people with the phantom of prison. This is what happened to the 36 people who were detained on 25S. Under pressure from the ministry of the interior, six of them were charged with crimes against the higher institutions of the state.

This morning they were judged. A small crowd had gathered outside the high court to support them. “We too organised 25S” were some of the slogans they brought. Police identified every one of them.

To back up the charges, the information brigade of the police had asked Google and Facebook to provide details on the people who operated the 25S website and mail accounts.

According to SER news outlet, the two companies handed over 50 IP addresses and one telephone number, but refused to give names or other information. The judge also asked two banks to turn over names and account info of the people who had rented a bus which would take protesters from Valencia to Madrid on #25S.

Alarm bells went ringing all through the social networks. Is the sweet dictatorship turning into a real dictatorship?

The answer came this morning. ‘Not yet.’ The Spanish justice system gave a formidable demonstration of independence, maybe too formidable. The high court upheld its original reaction to the charges. ‘You must be kidding.’

The requests for information on the part of banks and Google and Facebook were dismissed as no longer necessary. All defendants are free to go. There was no way that organising a demonstration or trying to jump a barrier constituted an attempt to enter Congress with the intent of altering the normal proceeding of the parliamentary session. In his verdict the judge explained he was surprised that authorities wanted to make it look that way.

He even went further, and this is where things got ‘too formidable’ to be true. According to the judge, “calling on people to ‘surround parliament indefinitely, to demand the resignation of the government, the dissolution of parliament, the decadence of the constitution in order to start constituting a new system of political, social and economic organisation’ cannot in any way be called a crime, because no such crime exists under Spanish law, and even if it did, it would be a serious assault on the freedom of speech. For we will have to agree that it is not up to us to banish the expression of any idea, however distant it might be from our own ideas, or however contrary it might be to the current constitution of the state. And neither are we to banish any idea about historic or contemporary events, especially in the face of the acknowledged decadence of the so-called political class.”

The key word here is ‘decadence’. The judge fully admitted the decadence of the current political class. This is as true as can be, but in order to give a neutral verdict, a judge shouldn’t give his own personal opinion, whether it be favourable to the cause of the revolution or not.

It’s not the political class that’s on trial here. Not yet, at least.

Check out today’s events on bambuser:

http://bambuser.com/v/3033882

http://bambuser.com/v/3033679

*

First Wave

Occupy Links

Bull Fighting

In Madrid, Spain on 2 October 2012 at 21:29

October 2

Dear people,

Spain is like a bull fighting arena. The people are the bull, authorities are the torero, and the financial world is on the stands yelling: ‘¡Olé!

All the while the fury of the people keeps mounting. Instead of acknowledging public outrage, the delegate of the government in Madrid is waving a red piece of cloth by proposing to change the law in order to limit the people’s right of demonstration. Apparently she attaches more importance to the motorists’ sacred right to drive by the Prado Museum at any given hour.

In these days we seem to have found an ally in part of the international press. Especially the New York Times has been very critical of the Spanish government’s handling of the crisis. Last week they published an article called ‘Hunger on the rise in Spain’. It gave the dramatic image of young people who recently turned homeless, searching through the garbage in the city of Girona.

Girona is one of the richest cities of Spain. Most of its revenues come from tourism. According to the article the town council decided to lock the dumpsters to keep up appearances towards visitors from abroad.

A few days later, under the unequivocable title ‘Europe’s Austerity Madness’, op-ed columnist Paul Krugman suggested that ‘far too many Very Serious People have been taken in by the cult of austerity, by the belief that budget deficits, not mass unemployment, are the clear and present danger.’ He adds that this cult stems from a widespread North-European view wherein certain virtuous countries know how to balance their budget, while certain others are more dedicated to making fiesta with money they don’t have. According to Krugman, further austerity comes down to ‘inflicting pain for the sake of inflicting pain’ and is actually hurting the Spanish capacity of economic recovery.

Resistance against all this austerity is spreading into sectors that may seriously threaten the Spanish government’s security. In bull fighting, the torero has six aides who can help distract the bull in case of danger. Today, these aides went on strike.

In occasion of the ‘day of the police’, members of five police unions demonstrated in front of the interior ministry, and in front of government buildings throughout the country. They accuse the government of ‘hiding behind police interventions to avoid giving explanations to society.’

‘The politicians who keep cutting our salaries are the same ones that exploit our work for personal benefit in the face of the general public.’ They go on to accuse certain politicians of lying, of not keeping their promises, and of resorting to actions ‘of doubtful legality’.

Two of the police unions have announced they will organise the ‘biggest demonstration of security forces in history’. The appointment is for November 17, here in Madrid. I wonder who the government will send in to guarantee law and order…

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