This is a translation of a truly remarkable, extraordinary piece by Guillermo Kaejane, not just in terms of the ideas it expresses but as a historical document. It was originally published on the madrilonia site. I regret not being able to do it full justice. There are probably a few errors in it.
The tagline on this site, by the way, reads ‘because you even have to pay to breathe’.
Seven key words on the Madrid-Sol experience and 15-M.
“I don’t want a new iPad, I want a new life”
– graffiti during the mobilisation of the 15th of May.
Time accelerates. The senses are shaken. Fear paralyzes the senses, vertigo sends them haywire. The permanent camp in puerta del Sol is pure vertigo. The hours pass quickly between one concentration and the next, but then time stretches. The nights are loooooong. Time contracts and expands, moved by a tide of people (mainly, though not exclusively, young people). It seems we have been there for years, and not even three days have passed.
Revolts are real when they change space-time.
The space-time created in the last days has a sole obsession: continuity. Paradoxically, this is only possible through interruptions. Through a physical “entrance and exit” from Sol. Keep the experience going even though you are not present. This is why the camp in Sol-Madrid (and so many others) can’t be understood without social networks. The continuity of the experience is achieved through deterritorializing it. I am in Sol even though I am at home. I am in Sol because I keep talking about it, because I can’t concentrate at work, because it doesn’t leave my head. And as soon as I can, I head off there again. I run there, I insert myself again in this new “social connector” and by this others can go and rest.
The classical conception of social revolts sets forth a scenario that ties together the gathering of forces, and continuity. If we keep at this longer, we will be more. If we keep at this longer, the tyrants will fall. This mystification is drawn from a simplification of what has gone on in Egypt and other Arab countries. Places from which we have not had any news of even the end of a process, nor of its seed, nor of its years of visibility and invisibility, its failed experiments, its one way streets and its setbacks.
What is happening these days is not final, it is not the decisive moment, it is the point of departure.
Communication is the form of political organisation. People become the medium of communication. Social networks are not so much the medium, as the expressive and organisational territory. Common sense is knit by way of flux and meme. From the logic of shared trust of Facebook one moves to the logic of direct experience of Twitter.
The slogan circulates and multiplies. With no official versions, rumour takes off. The traditional communications media find themselves in a Dadaist cacophony that brooks no interpretation. They cling on to what they can, they project their own conceptions.
The auto-narration of the process does not pass through (for the moment) live streaming, but the need to tell one another, to narrate what has been lived, the anecdote, the “I was there” intensifies.
The obsession of the communications media of retransmitting the demonstrations from their “interior”, as though they were “one more” points to an obsession with the loss of their centrality. The experts and analysts reveal themselves as incapable of thinking with their own head and return (to both left and right) a singular voice. The sensation for the spectator brought into the experience is the same as that of those fans of Lost who turned up to attempts at debates on Cuatro (Spanish TV channel – HG) to explain the end of the series: a mixture of stupor, embarrassment and clowning.
In these times an enormous expressive capacity is unfolding in which any person gathered in a group believes to be the representation of the whole. The sensation of empowerment is such, that one ends up believing that what each one does is represent everyone else. It is a reasonable logic, and difficult to get out of one’s head, but it has to be de-activated. The power of the movement comes from its unrepresentability. They do not represent us..because they cannot represent us.
As with any disperse network, there are a multitude of centres that are not “the centre”, but stations of sign repetition, of proposals and directions. Creativity is foremost. The hegemony of whoever holds sway (Democracia Real Ya? The assemblies in the squares? The commissions in those assemblies? Twitter? Me and my mates?) is totally changeable.
The assemblies are not spaces of production of a direction, but rather of a collective catharsis. Of an enormous desire to talk and talk and talk. Memorized registers are mixed together “The people united will never be defeated” with new forms of expression “Error 404 System Failure” “Downloading democracy” “This is not a crisis it’s a swindle”
In the institutional field madness reigns. In 72 hours we have seen the political class in its entirety move from “this is not happening” to “this is not important” to “this is dangerous” and in the last hours to “We are you!”. Once again, grotesque. The impossibility of fitting the mobilization into a clear “left-right” frame that has maintained social consensus since the transition begins to reveal a new logic of conflict: “Above and Below”.
Unable to control what is happening, the control mechanism over the movement is a simple question, a constant question: What do you propose?
The demand for proposals is a control mechanism. A way of filling up the vacuum of the unrepresentable. A mechanism that is not the preserve of the media and the political class, but also of some expressions of the movement. Getting an answer enables putting the rebels in a place. It enables one to say “ah, they’re utopian” “ah they’re populists”, “uff, they’re leftists”, “ah, what they want is impossible”, “Oh how naïve”, “Bah, they aren’t radical”, “Ooh, they have some reasonable things”.
What is imposed, however, is silence. Or something very similar to silence, which is a cacophony of contradictory signals.
However much anguish it might generate, maybe a good point of departure would be to say “Contrary to those of you who fake knowing everything, we don’t know yet”. The person who urges haste wants to get somewhere soon. This is not the case.
In the squares, the very discussion is more important than its conclusion. The responsibility is to defend and extend that. To continue discussion. To continue speaking. To trust in the same common sense that has brought thousands of people to resist in the streets for days. Until know, it hasn’t gone too bad for us.
This logo, this slogan that cuts through the whole mobilisation is one of its constituent parts and from this, the media and the political class have decided not to give it much thought. But it is quite easy: “Democracy”, not any old democracy, but a real one. The real is opposed to the simulated. This means that the logo (or one of the logos) under which the movement is built says that what institutional power calls democracy is a lie. And it demands the construction of something else that breaks this simulacrum. But on top of that, it does not set it forth in utopian or far off terms. We want it now. “Now” means urgency, “now” means nerve, “now” means we have to be able to touch it, that it has to cut through our live, that it is not babble, but construction. That it does not exist, and, as such, it has to be made.
6. And so, tomorrow?
It is very difficult to think about tomorrow when you are so taken up by the events of today. It is even more difficult when the rhetoric of the political class has always sustained itself on what happens tomorrow. In the movement tomorrow is unthinkable at the moment. Only the now exists.
For institutional power, the elections of next Sunday 22nd May are a moment of relegitimation. A moment of restitution of governmentality. A moment for putting one’s foot up on the desk and get back to drawing up the map of the possible.
The elections have functioned for the moment as a sketchy element and, perhaps, a unifying one at a symbolic level. But in the camps, in the meetings, etc, the words heard most are “connect”, “extend” and “build”.
On the 23rd of May one will begin to resolve this question mark, as a painted slogan read on the day of the demonstration.
“I don’t want a new iPad, I want a new life”
PS – Point 7: Joy, joy, joy.