Posts Tagged ‘global noise’

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


Global Noise

In #GlobalRevolution, Madrid, Spain on 14 October 2012 at 15:25

Global Noise on Times Square, NYC. Photo via @icicommence

October 14

Dear people,

I’ve been looking at the pictures coming in via Twitter from many a corner of the planet. I love it, the feeling of unity without borders, from timezone to timezone. This is us, a globalised public opinion that is fed up with a globalised system of exploitation.

On the other hand, it was but a mere reflection of last year’s unprecedented demonstrations of tens of millions of people in a thousand cities worldwide.

Back then it spewed forth waves of occupations, actions, consciousness. This year it was an anniversary happening. And I agree with a comrade from OWS when he told me that these things don’t make a lot of sense. ‘We’re still here’, seems to be the message.

But as far as Global Noise went, debt was another message. In Tokyo people gathered to protest against a meeting of the International Monetary Fund. Other concentrations that I know of took place in New Zealand, Australia, Berlin, Frankfurt, Budapest, Rome, Venice, Amsterdam, London, Stockholm, Paris, Spain and Portugal, New York, Mexico and the West Coast.

Global Noise London. Photo via @15mLondon

I witnessed the parade in Madrid. It was probably one of the biggest. But there was nothing much to say about it. Three words sum it up pretty well. Loud, civilised, boring.

There were about ten to twenty thousand people banging on drums and pans. The opening banner was ‘We don’t owe, we don’t pay’. While moving over the Paseo de la Castellana, people neatly keep to one side of the boulevard, leaving the other open for traffic.

Police presence was insignificant. There were far less lecheras and officers to control this crowd than there had been the day before to evict sixty people from Casablanca Social Centre.

In a few hours, the march arrives in Sol. People make some more noise, and then they disperse into the Saturday evening movida without leaving a trace. I take a walk, and I’m sad. At first sight, nothing seems to be wrong. Bars are filled, people are showing off. The only visible stain on this happy panorama are the men and women sleeping in the entrances of the shops. I have a feeling their numbers are growing and growing.

And while there are ever more people living on the streets, authorities keep evicting their citizens from abandoned buildings. Yesterday I witnessed how the masons, under police protection, walled up the entrance of Casablanca.

It’s not going to be the end of it. Already I can read the writings on the wall… “La lucha es el unico camino

‘Struggle is the only way.’

Madrid, Puerta del Sol. Photo via @kokekun

Casablanca episode V – The Empire Strikes Back

In Madrid, Spain on 13 October 2012 at 00:31

October 13, 0130 hrs

Dear people,

It lasted for about four hours. Authorities didn’t reflect on it, they struck back immediately.

At around eleven thirty this evening they sent police to shut down the housewarming party of the recently reoccupied Social Center Casablanca. And they made a show out of it.

I wasn’t there. I had just finished a translation into English of the comunicado from the centre’s website, which went up simultaneously with the re-occupation.

The text (down below) was an outcry of the neighbourhood against real estate speculation. It justified the occupation with the people’s need for a community space where they can shape their society together.

I just sent the piece up when I got a call. “They have arrived. I see six, seven, eight police vans. They are going to evict.” Then the line fell.

So I went. I almost got lost in the alleys of Lavapiès, but I couldn’t miss it. A long, long file of lecheras – or ‘milkmaids’ as the police vans are commonly known – was queued up in the streets. At a certain point, I stopped counting. Estimates say thirty.

I was impressed. Really. Like the epic scenes from Star Wars when miles and miles of Imperial Star Destroyer come slowly floating by over the screen. It was hard core.

The police had cut all the streets around the centre. I harvest the latest news and rumours. There were sixty people inside when it started. Police went in with a battering ram. They identified the people inside, then let them go. Thirty were still inside at the moment, and about to be released. Two were taken in because they had no ID on them.

I don’t know how gentle or violent the actual eviction was. All I saw when I arrived was a line of officers blocking a street.

They were ordered to disperse the crowd by pushing people down the road. All around the perimeter of the social center, this meant they were actually occupying a significant part of the neighbourhood. And the neighbours definitely didn’t like it. They made noise, they clapped their hands in rage, they banged against containers, from the windows they clashed their pots and pans.

And they hurled their outrage at the police. ‘Shame!’ ‘This is our neighbourhood! Get out!’ ‘You are to protect the citizens, not oppress them!’ ‘Mercenaries!’

I look at those officers. There are six in front of us. Only one has a shield. Two have guns. I look at their faces. Poor bastards. I really felt for them at that moment.

The shame in their eyes, it was touching. They did not like being there, and they did not make an effort to hide that. You could see they felt used. It hurt them when someone shouted that they had sold themselves for a plate of lentils.

Right there, I intuitively felt that authorities had made mistake. They enraged people by insisting on denying them access to a place that is legitimately theirs. They gave a exaggerated display of power tonight, and in the act they humiliated dozens upon dozens of police officers by forcing them to do this job.

Resistance will be punished harder in Spain, and oppression is being increased step by step. Around me there is talk of this becoming a police state. Then I look the officers in the eyes, one after another. True, this is police state strategy. But the line is very tin.

And this line is all they have. Riot police. Officers from the municipal corps make it clear they are something different. And the vibe from the army is that they will not suppress the population.

The thin line could break if we don’t give authorities reason to justify oppression. It comes down to simple fear. But the fear is not on our side. It’s on the police officer’s side. Fear to lose their plate of lentils. They enter Casablanca with a battering ram, because for the moment they are afraid to enter the place as citizens, and to join us in creating our own space, our own way of life.


Check out the video

Footage of the raid

from inside:

from outside:

Comunicado (Spanish original)

October 12

Inauguration of a newly liberated space in Lavapiès: CSOA Magerit

Today, as neighbours of Lavapiès we inaugurate a space that has been recently liberated. This decision comes from our need to have a place where we can come together and shape our social life. We believe it’s necessary for people to have places where we can build our lives freely and collectively. This is what we aim to achieve with the inauguration of the new Occupied and Selforganised Social Centre Magerit.

The reason we elected this particular place have everything to do with the situation we are currently living. The economic and social crisis that invested us has been largely caused by the greed of people who are playing with our lives. The real estate speculation (of which this space is a clear example) has affected a fundamental part of people’s lives: their homes, from which the whole social fabric stems. The construction companies, the real estate speculators, the banks, etc. (with the approval of the political parties and elites) are responsible for the fact that we have no home now, that education is expensive, that unemployment benefits have been reduced, that we are losing our fundamental rights – health, freedom of expression….

By liberating this space from speculation, we want to transform it, together with many people, into a real alternative to this ever more inhospitable world.

We want this new space to be open to all people from the neighbourhood, from the city, and from everywhere else, and we invite them to participate.

Come and discover what is behind this door… come to create it.

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, 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 🙂