Archive for June 2nd, 2011

Eviction Notices

As might be expected, from the revolts in Spain, via a sudden, electrifying process of the re-politicising of a population, there are now a bewildering range of materials getting produced, proposals aired, ideas developed. It is hard to keep track of them at a remove. I doubt it is much easier when you are in the thick of things.

Some stuff is great, other stuff, not so great. If you are going merely by mainstream news accounts, you may have noticed that the coverage of the 15-M movement in these parts has been piss-poor on the whole, mostly treating the demonstrations (and the assemblies, which are seldom mentioned) as simply a headache for the government, generated by high unemployment, but without paying any attention to the fact that the movement exists to oppose the reigning political and economic order.

Democracia Real Ya Valencia 20M

The initial critique of the economic system as appeared, for instance in the DRY manifesto, has been given less attention of late – I doubt this is simply because the assemblies have been taken over by hedge fund managers – but because coverage will focus on the most tangible and digestible elements of the phenomenon, in this case, the drama of the presence of the demonstrators on the streets, and the initial agreements arrived at by the various assemblies.

However the core of the idea expressed in the original slogan of the DRY manifesto -that people are not commodities in the hands of bankers and politicians- is what underpins the persistence of the movement. The DRY formation is focusing, as its next event, on stopping an eviction in Madrid, on the 15th of June.

On the surface of it this may seem a fairly modest thing to do. One eviction, when there are already thousands of evictions taking place? However, assuming it captures public attention -and there is no immediate reason why not- it reinscribes this question of human beings existing as mere commodities, from the standpoint of bankers and politicians. And it re-emphasises the need for popular solidarity and resistance -democracy- in reaction to this commodification of human existence. I am guessing the intention is to generate popular mobilizations against evictions throughout the country.

Whereas the initial exhortation for the 15th of May was to “Take the Street!”, resolving the matter of who precisely owned and controlled officially designated public space (eventual answer: the people, not bureaucratic and institutional power) the event planned for a month later, while seemingly more restricted in its scope, may prove a lot more ambitious than at first glance, since it is a direct challenge, on the part of popular power and in full view of the public, to the legitimacy of the rule of financial institutions over people’s lives.

I get the sense that onlookers in Ireland, who may say grand things about wanting to ‘import the Spanish revolution’ here, are not paying much attention to the specifics of what is unfolding in Spain at the moment, in terms of how people are organizing and why they are doing it in this way and not in other ways (for instance, by calling for the official involvement and support of trade unions and political parties). It is understandable that people get seized in inspiration by #spanishrevolution and start bandying #irishrevolution around, but for the moment, there is no revolution.

What there is is the re-politicizing of a population after decades of a system which is given the name ‘democracy’ but which concentrates political and economic power in the hands of a few, and which simultaneously foments apathy, impotence and subordination among the many. Examples of this re-politicizing can be glimpsed in the various manifestos and resolutions that emanate from the various acampadas and assemblies, which people have attended in the hundreds of thousands, but it extends out into social networks, but not even the sum of all these gives the true picture of what is underway.

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