SPAIN: The plaza is creating good citizens, that is, problematic citizens.

28.05.2011 § Leave a comment

This conversation is one of the thousands that occur every day in the Plaza, except for the details of what can be shared in Public.

Trans.  Maxine Holz.
Interview between Stepahine Grueso and Amador Fernande-Savatar.

S. I’m not big on demonstrations, but the 15-M seemed necessary. Like so many others, I am fed up with a half-rotten social, economic and political system that has no consideration for people or for the world. Despite this, the feeling at the demo was not sorrowful or hostile.  To the contrary: it was like a party, with a lot of joy circulating.

Am. The call for the demo anticipated the spirit of the [Plaza del ] Sol: it was radical, but open and inclusive. So much energy was liberated that some people just couldn’t  go back home and they decided to occupy the plaza that  very night. This gesture was very surprising and very moving to me. It might never have resulted from the discussions or political calculations of a more organized assembly, and can only be the product of the improvisation of a group of people who decide to do what they want to do and act against all predictions.

S. The occupation (acampada) grew a lot after the eviction, which we all felt was intolerable. Now it’s impressive. Today there is a child care center, solar panels, a library, a clinic, cleaning teams that leave everything impeccable, plenty of food. It’s like a small city. There is an enormous collective effort to care for the space to create a small habitable world where we all fit, even for just a few days. It’s the same as what we saw months ago in Tahrir Square.

Am. We have gone from taking the street to creating the plaza. The democracy we want looks a lot like the organization of these plazas: egalitarian, active, cooperative, up to the people. It’s completely the opposite of the politics of the politicians. That is why they don’t represent us. This movement radically questions that consensual culture, the deproblematizing, depoliticizing culture called The Transition Culture. The two most popular slogans you hear are “they don’t represent us” and “they call it democracy but it isn’t”.

S. We are enjoying the beauty and we are also learning, educating ourselves. During these days I have met many very young people. I have been overwhelmed by their warmth, their intelligence, their organizational abilities, their commitment, their love for the commons . (amor por lo comun).  This is totally opposite to the stereotype of an egoistic and brainless youth we hear about.  The plaza is creating good citizens, that is, problematic citizens.

Am. These labels are a technique of the government: the separate the protestor from the rest of the population, as though they had nothing in commmon. But in the plazas, a huge collective intelligence has destroyed all these divisive stereotypes. As they say in one of the thousands of awesome posters that are everywhere: “ we are not anti-system, the system is anti-us’

S. The people are now the most powerful means of communication. We are   connected individuals producing our own choral story of what is going on and the conventional media have fallen behind.  I bought a cell phone for personal communications, leisure and the internet, but now I see it more as a weapon of self-defense.

Am. I ask myself where this self-organizing knowledge that has spread  in the plaza comes  from, and I find a possible source in the net culture.  In the free culture scene there is a deep-seated idea of community as a group that creates collectively, where there is cooperation amongst equals, the possibility of touching and modifying what another person does. We aren’t just protesting against something, we are now a rare species of community.

S. Election day hasn’t meant much for us. Sure, many of us have voted but we’re already into something else. We understand that what we have going us much more important and ambitious than some election, and we are working on that. I think we should agree on some basic points in common, get the maximum support for them and fight for them forcefully (con fuerza). I am left with two things: changes in the voting laws and regular access to public information. From that we can begin to build the future.

A. The experience of collective power (protagonismo colectivo), speaking out and cooperating with people you don’t know ,is already an irreversible victory. So many people have been transformed: their demeanor,  their dispositions and their relation with the world . [La mirada, la disposición y la relación con el mundo de muchísima gente se ha transformado- literally: the looks, the disposition and the relation with the world of many, many people have been transformed]  Right now there is an impulse to take charge of life in common (la vida comun) which seems to me unstoppable. Besides, from now on, as they said in Egypt: “we know the way back to Tahrir Square. “


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