By Tim Hardy
(Image by DRYAsturies.)
How big does a demonstration have to be before the media pays attention?
Sunday saw enormous demonstrations in 57 Spanish cities by people marching with the cry of Democracia Real Ya. Occupations of town squares followed including the occupation of Madrid’s Puerta del Sol by 150 people who plan to stay until 22 May after police failed to evict them at 5am this morning. More demonstrations are planned for tonight.
Yet the world’s press is almost silent.
Twitter, however, is alive with the hashtags #acampadasol (camping at Sol square) , #democraciarealya and #spanishrevolution
Like UK Uncut, this is a movement organised by social media, a set of shared ideas around which the young can mobilise. Their manifesto lacks the sophistication of more established political movements yet speaks of the outrage felt by millions and a deep dissatisfaction with the political establishment where those outside look from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again and find it impossible to say which is which.
The relationship between activists and the media is a contentious one. There are serious problems with a lack of representation in the papers and on the television and there is systematic dishonesty practised by large sections of the press. We may turn our back on the mainstream, but there is also a constant danger that our media becomes our ghetto if our stories do not come out to a wider population.
But as Gandhi wrote:
First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.
We don’t need corporate approval of our ideas to share them or to be told what we can chose to believe. Politics in the age of the internet is different. It is also far less about grand political theories than in the past where opposition required significant organisation and more about ideas that resonate and around which people can mobilise (in what Joss Hands has called a QARN: a quasi-autonomous recognition network). Historically, to be a Marxist, for example, has always required a certain commitment. But now anyone who cares about the destruction being carried out on our society by the wealthiest can decide to go on a UK Uncut action or to take to the streets with Democracia Real Ya without worrying about ideological purity.
Perhaps it doesn’t matter that the press are silent. Perhaps it is enough that we share our ideas and the stories of those engaged in similar struggles around the world through blogs and social media. There will come a point beyond which the world cannot ignore the size of these movements. And when that day comes, we will almost have won.
The Democracia Real Ya site is down right now but a copy of their manifesto in English is below.
We are ordinary people. We are like you: people, who get up every morning to study, work or find a job, people who have family and friends. People, who work hard every day to provide a better future for those around us.
Some of us consider ourselves progressive, others conservative. Some of us are believers, some not. Some of us have clearly defined ideologies, others are apolitical, but we are all concerned and angry about the political, economic, and social outlook which we see around us: corruption among politicians, businessmen, bankers, leaving us helpless, without a voice.
This situation has become normal, a daily suffering, without hope. But if we join forces, we can change it. It’ss time to change things, time to build a better society together. Therefore, we strongly argue that:
The priorities of any advanced society must be equality, progress, solidarity, freedom of culture, sustainability and development, welfare and people’s happiness.
These are inalienable truths that we should abide by in our society: the right to housing, employment, culture, health, education, political participation, free personal development, and consumer rights for a healthy and happy life.
The current status of our government and economic system does not take care of these rights, and in many ways is an obstacle to human progress.
Democracy belongs to the people (demos = people, kr�tos = government) which means that government is made of every one of us. However, in Spain most of the political class does not even listen to us. Politicians should be bringing our voice to the institutions, facilitating the political participation of citizens through direct channels that provide the greatest benefit to the wider society, not to get rich and prosper at our expense, attending only to the dictatorship of major economic powers and holding them in power through a bipartidism headed by the immovable acronym PP & PSOE.
Lust for power and its accumulation in only a few; create inequality, tension and injustice, which leads to violence, which we reject. The obsolete and unnatural economic model fuels the social machinery in a growing spiral that consumes itself by enriching a few and sends into poverty the rest. Until the collapse.
The will and purpose of the current system is the accumulation of money, not regarding efficiency and the welfare of society. Wasting resources, destroying the planet, creating unemployment and unhappy consumers.
Citizens are the gears of a machine designed to enrich a minority which does not regard our needs. We are anonymous, but without us none of this would exist, because we move the world.
If as a society we learn to not trust our future to an abstract economy, which never returns benefits for the most, we can eliminate the abuse that we are all suffering.
We need an ethical revolution. Instead of placing money above human beings, we shall put it back to our service. We are people, not products. I am not a product of what I buy, why I buy and who I buy from.
For all of the above, I am outraged.
I think I can change it.
I think I can help.
I know that together we can.I think I can help.
I know that together we can.