The Spanish State: new resistance and self-management in the heart of the crisis

José Luis Carretero Miramar
Member of the Institute of Economic Sciences and Self-management (ICEA)
Spain

Self-management, syndicalism, constituent processes, popular resistance, class positions… this whole string of expressions have again found meaning in the Spanish State, tied to current events and material reality.

Social conflict and its expressions, constructive or destructive, unfolding in what was the global capital of the real-estate market and “the easy life,” of “party nights” and wild speculation.

More than three decades of a political regime that succeeded Francoism and is internationally recognized as a democracy (despite the obvious gaps in the institutional architecture and rules built out of the fibers of the earlier dictatorship), together with an economic proposal centered on construction, which has led to the greatest real-estate bubble in history (at least so far; records are made to be broken), created an especially conformist society, enormously resistant to even the slightest change in the political sphere, connected by the so-called “consensus” of the Transition.

Three decades of glitz, Olympics, entry into the European Union, adoption of the euro, fierce bipartisanship, the formation of an omnipresent “political caste” connected to the big parties and the different “clans” of construction business owners, worship of an untouchable monarchy, and iron control of information. These are the essential elements that structured, in terms of politics and the social narrative, the general pact of the elites, which proved enormously stable, and allowed for a certain inequitable redistribution, permitted by the temporary entry of a traditionally backward society into the First World.

But the magic threatens to be broken with the emergence of the global crisis of the capitalist system. Since 2008, a trillion euros of real-estate wealth have evaporated in Spain, and external debt, public and private, is figured by several sources at close to 2.3 trillion (million million) euros. It must be kept in mind, also, that this is mostly private debt of financial institutions and big businesses of the IBEX-35, in the midst of a process of socialization.

The data on social reality is more than alarming: an increase of 8% in poverty since the beginning of the crisis; an unemployment rate (in the first quarter of 2013) of 27.6% of the active population (6,202,700 unemployed, the highest rate in the European Union, together with Greece); more than 500 evictions1 daily; the first cases, in June of 2013, of malnutrition of grade-school children and fainting in the classrooms due to a lack of food; a total of 1,900,000 homes with all occupants unemployed; an unemployment coverage rate of 63% (which is to say, only 6 out of 10 unemployed are receiving some benefit or public subsidy for their situation)…

We could go on. The figures are chilling and testify to a dynamic of social and economic disconnection that has dragged the country into some of the last places in the European Union and a “debt trap” fed by social cuts and austerity measures imposed by the “Troika” (the Central European Bank, the European Commission, and the International Monetary Fund). To avoid the bankruptcy of financial institutions, in summer of 2012, a European line of credit of 100 billion euros was accepted, of which 40 had already been used, in exchange for new reform measures, inspired by the most orthodox neoliberal creed.

Social resistance to this process has, of course, existed. It has been expressed primarily in the emergence of an innovative and massive phenomenon: it is called the May 15th Movement (or 15-M), which has experimented with new forms of political intervention and, of course, as we’ll see, with the recourse to self-management as a mechanism for productive organization.

If the only response to first round of cuts (pension freezes, salary cuts for public functionaries, privatization, and spending caps for the Administration) made by the socialist government in May of 2010 was a shy and disorganized strike by public functionaries and a one-day general strike on September 29th of the same year (which was weaker and more isolated than expected, maybe because of the demobilizing effect of the time since the measures), the following onslaught (deferred pension cuts in February of 2011) were only answered, given the passivity of the major unions that signed the agreement, by localized strikes in the Basque Country and Catalonia, and weak mobilizations by alternative syndicalism.

In March-April of 2011, the situation seemed to have stalled. The Left not affiliated with the Socialist Party generally showed a painful weakness and was lost in discouragement due to its inability to mobilize in the face of cuts and unprecedented social aggressions that were happening at a dizzying speed.

It was in this scenario that the events of the 15 of May of 2011 came as a wake-up call. Just before municipal elections (held the following weekend, and which the Right had every expectation of winning), a group of young people was camping in Madrid’s central Puerta del Sol plaza, after being violently dispersed by the police following a demonstration against the crisis, encouraged by fledgling platforms like Democracia Real Ya [Real Democracy Now], or Jóvenes Sin Futuro [Youth Without a Future].

After resisting several attempted evictions and encouraged by the recent imagery of the resistance in the plazas of Arab countries in previous months, the encampment ended up becoming a massive phenomenon, with moments of high emotion, like when, thanks to the massive citizen presence, they stood up to the threat of the use of force by the police.

In a few days, the scene in Puerta del Sol became a veritable swarm of assembly-based and pluralist initiatives that tore through the seams of the old Left. Additionally, the movement was quickly imitated, and the camps were expanded throughout the country at a dizzying speed.

Additionally, the large assembly in Sol didn’t take long to facilitate its own expansion into the neighborhoods of Madrid, beginning a movement of popular assemblies in every district and in adjacent cities. All this created a dynamic of unified and massive participation, mainly centered on neighborhoods with more of a history of neighborhood marches, like Lavapies, Vallecas, or Retiro.

The eviction and the dispersion of the different camps did not prevent the transformation experienced by antagonistic sectors in those brief days from continuing for months (and even years), profoundly and innovatively, beginning a new cycle of struggles and expanded popular participation.

The proof of this new vitality has been the new social movements that have been building in recent years, some of which we will mention now:

Movements in defense of public services (the “Tides”)

The social cuts suffered as a result of austerity policies imposed by Europe have largely centered on implementing an ever-accelerating process of dismantling of State public utilities. Settings like education or health, therefore, have become the center stage for social conflict.

Starting from the experience of earlier citizen and union movements (like the anti-privatization Health Coordinator of Madrid), revived by obvious aggression by autonomic governments and fed by new participation by sectors that traditionally had stayed out of protests because of their situations of relative economic well-being (like specialist doctors), the movements have worked on the creation of a recognizable image (the green T-shirts of teachers and white for health workers in Madrid, for example) and of the promotion of mass activities like demonstrations, sectoral strikes, workplace closures, performances, or occupations of public places.

An example of that was the secondary education strike in Madrid during the last months of 2011, which motivated the beginning of classes on the street, by teachers, as well as the emergence of assembly organization mechanisms (the so-called Green Network) or the use of practices like blocking central city streets or occupying schools.

However, their dispersion, the often times ambivalent attitude of the major unions, and their inability to converge at the same time and place have meant that, while they are far from being defeated, they have been slowing down “separately” and “in turn” in different Autonomous Communities (let’s remember that in the Spanish State, certain public utilities, like Education or Health, are the responsibility of the autonomy communities [regions], which establish different regulations, though equally neoliberal, concerning the personnel they have hired).

The Platform of Those Affected by Mortgages (PAH) and the struggle against evictions

The gigantic real-estate bubble created in the Spanish State over the last decades has created, in the heat of the crisis, a socially unsustainable situation. Hundreds of thousands of mortgage-holders have been unable (with the increase in unemployment and the drop in the prices of their houses) to keep up with their debts. The banks have insisted on evictions and continuing to pursue the former owners with the idea of making the most possible from the loans (let us remember that in the Spanish State, civil legislation does not allow for cancellation of payments, which is why the mortgage-holder, after being evicted and the house auctioned, continues to owe the part of the loan and interest not paid by the amount from the auction). The situation of abandonment and social exclusion that evicted families end up in has pushed some people to suicide.

Coming out of the struggles against the increased cost of housing at the beginning of the century, the Platform of People Affected by Mortgages (known in Spanish as PAH), which is assembly-based and has numerous local chapters across Spain, has organized debtors to confront evictions and promote a change in legislation.

So, PAH has launched the “Stop Evictions” campaign, which consists of the attempt to physically avoid judicial dispossession through the massive presence of neighbors and activists. This campaign has undoubtedly borne fruits, both in the media (PAH has been transformed into the figurehead on the prow of social marches, and its leaders, like Barcelona’s Ada Colau, into well-known personalities) and in practice (at this writing, more than 711 evictions have been avoided this way in recent years).

Additionally, PAH has fought for a Popular Legislative Initiative on the topic of mortgages, with three fundamental points: an immediate moratorium on evictions, cancellation of payments (that the debt be considered repaid with transfer of the house), and the formation of a public park of houses for social rent. The initiative was finally processed in Congress, under popular pressure, but its content was totally decaffeinated by the deputies, so as to not damage financial institutions. During the processing of the text, PAH launched a campaign of peaceful escraches against the legislators, which resulted in having to face obvious attempts at criminalization by the media and the dominant political parties, which reached the point of insinuating relationships between Ada Colau[^47] and terrorism.

Since September of 2010, PAH has also implemented its own “Obra Social,” consisting of the occupation of empty buildings belonging to the same banks that carry out evictions, by neighbors and families that have been object of dispossession. They have occupied ten buildings in Catalonia and another twelve in Andalusia (the famous “Corralas”), as well as some individual buildings in other places. On several occasions (like in the Catalan town of Terrace, where the occupation affects eleven families) it has been possible to legalize the situation through social rent contracts with local cooperatives.

So, the Platform of People Affected by Mortgages has become one of the essential pieces of popular mobilization, and one of the principle tools to go from mere demands to the implementation of effective and participatory solutions from the grassroots. Its popularity has grown like mushrooms, and its frenetic activity in resisting evictions has expanded through neighborhoods and towns, often times in parallel with the emergence of popular assemblies of 15-M or neighborhood organizations of mutual support and the solidarity networks that have proliferated in recent months.

Labor resistance and general strikes

Also since 2010 and the beginning of austerity measures set in motion under direct orders from Brussels, the Spanish labor community has been restless and changing, although it is true that, given the consistently passive attitude of the major unions, not as much as might be hoped.

We must remember that, together with cuts for public-service workers and massive layoffs, the labor situation has been marked by two large reforms in social legislation: one under the socialist government of Zapatero, and the other under the direction of the conservative executive of Mariano Rajoy.

These reforms amount to “revolutions” in labor law, seriously affecting essential elements of labor relations like dismissal or collective bargaining. The common thread between them is the increased flexibility to be able to fire workers (lowering severance costs, introducing new causes or eliminating procedural requirements), thus making it possible (for the businessperson) to individually and unilaterally modify working conditions. We are also approaching the demolition (which is out of control, because in fact, even concrete sectors of the bosses have opposed it) of the Spanish system of collective bargaining (going to an architecture based on the preeminence of business agreements, on the facilitation of dropping what was agreed on due to difficulties faced by the boss, and on the “dynamic” essence of collective agreements).

Resistance has taken the form of frequent worker mobilizations, even though in many cases they weak, and centered principally, as we have already indicated, on public-service workers (some in obvious situation of precariousness and very easily affected by reforms, like janitors or municipal service workers), and on three large General Strikes, convened by the major unions almost unwillingly, under pressure from the union rank and file and from alternative organizations and citizens.

Some mobilizations (like the ones held by the Metro workers of Madrid or the air-traffic controllers, in 2010) have had important impacts on the media, and nearly all have found themselves up against a widespread media narrative aimed at presenting the workers as “privileged,” because they still have jobs and “good” working conditions in a context of uncontrollable expansion of unemployment and precariousness.

General Strikes at the state level since the beginning of the crisis (September 29, 2010, March 22 and November 14, 2012) were forced on union leadership by the grassroots and alternative syndicalism, because the leaders of C.O. and UGT2 have repeatedly resisted creating a Greek-style dynamic of continuous labor unrest. Each strike has been bigger and more socially diverse than the previous, and in this framework, the possibility has begun to take shape of the emergence of new forms of action related to the neighborhood work done by the 15-M Movement.

Precisely, the inability of the growing precarious layer of the proletariat to mobilize, and the difficulties in creating the necessary job security to carry out an isolated one-day strike in the sectors most adhered to the new labor norms based on temp work and the increased flexibility in dismissal, have been the main ballast that have prevented general strikes from working like they did at the end of the ’80s, paralyzing all of social life.

In the framework of work stoppages centered mainly on industry and some public utilities, many services and businesses only close as the protestors pass, opening their doors again minutes later, which would only seem to be able to be addressed through the rebuilding of an authentic autonomous local counterpower capable of weaving networks between workers subject to precariousness in the same surroundings.

In this scenario, the activity of alternative syndicalism (organized mainly, though not exclusively, at the regional level, by the anarcho-syndicalist organizations CGT, CNT and Solidarity Obrera), has consisted of forming “Unitary Blocks” to converge with certain assemblies of 15-M and other social organizations in ongoing action campaigns aimed at forcing a call for general or sectoral strikes (like the one in several kinds of public transportation that happened in a coordinated fashion in Madrid and Barcelona on September 15, 2012). The fragmentation of “minority” syndicalism and its internal struggles (even inside each organization) make it hard for them to present a viable alternative, today, to the majority, except in Basque and Galician areas, where nationalist unions of assorted kinds have managed to sweep away the prominence of CO and UGT, calling several general strikes in their respective territories, with a broad following.

“Constituents”: A new republicanism?

Without a doubt, one of the most surprising phenomena from the wave of mobilizations sparked by 15-M has been the emergence of a whole new narrative, with an organizational and activity framework defined by the demand for the immediate opening of a “constituent process,” both at the national level and at the scale of concrete territories like Catalonia.

Constituted around cross-class alliances that are difficult to define and classify from the perspective of the previous transformative Left, the new “constituent movement” (which is not made up of one unified, concrete organization) has come to life in specific mobilizations (such as September 25, 2012, as an emblematic case of the several attempts to launch a peaceful “assault” on Congress) and in debate mechanisms and growing formal connections (such as the Constituent Days convened by the Coordinador 25-S).

Together with State structures (like the Coordinator created after the mobilizations of September 25, the Constituyentes organization, or, on a level defined in the media as the most radical, the Coordinadora En Pie), the perspective of transforming the Constitutional architecture has also permeated new independence initiatives, mainly in Catalonia, following the largest mobilizations for self-determination in that territory since the end of Francoism.

The ideological foundation of this world is tremendously varied. In this cross-class and often confrontational amalgam, narratives can be found in defense of assemblies, of the new Latin American constitutions, of wikigovernment and forms of electronic democracy, of Swiss-style participatory democracy, of single-member districts of Anglo-Saxon inspiration, and more. The common thread is the denunciation of the anti-democratic nature of a political architecture built on the mythologized Spanish “Transition.” This was an institutional construction based on consensus among elites, depoliticization of citizenship, an unrepresentative “partyocracy,” and tendency towards corruption and the defense of the most ancient imaginings of the earlier social conservatism (monarchy, privileges for the ecclesiastical hierarchy, etc.). Many of its “topics” unconsciously amount to a new version of the historical, pre-Franco “federal republicanism”; but its discourse and its people can be traced to enormously varied environments (some centralist parties with rightward leanings, certain libertarian tendencies, fans of Anonymous, several tendencies of the “autonomous” world, classic Marxists, “life-long” republicans, independents…).

All these movements presented so far are some of the knots in a more and more complex and multifaceted net. Encouraged by the parties and unions of the “classical” Left, the autonomous initiatives of the social movements of the previous decades, popular assemblies and various organizations derived from 15-M and the “Tides,” coordinators, platforms, and networks of all kinds, the social movement has reached a previously unknown magnitude and gained respect for its breadth, its ability to advocate, and, at the same time, its pluralism and organizational and thematic heterogeneity, in a scene that is complex, rich, and also, it must be said, often times enormously confusing.

In the middle of this boiling magma, resorting to the self-managed perspective and the revival of earlier experiences, or the building of new initiatives, around cooperativism, is more and more popular, being very topical at the moment.

Neighborhood assemblies, often times transmuted into “solidarity networks” or “precarious offices,” together with earlier organizations, like certain unions or autonomous social movements, have favored and promoted the building of cooperatives and other experiences (like bartering networks, time banks, social currencies and markets, or the occupation of houses and towns), as an essential tool to face the immediate effects of unemployment and impoverishment, and as instruments that can prefigure the new social design sought with the demonstrations, beyond the neoliberal model based on predation and looting.

They are varied and heterogeneous initiatives, whose common thread is often times a practical approach to obvious collective problems, like impoverishment, the scarcity of housing, the destruction of nature (ecology is a major focus of most of the experiences, both from the point of view of their environmentally responsible design and in the narrative built to try to legitimize them), the conformation of an experiential and axiological alternative to the capitalist world, or the creation of community and social density in the neighborhoods.

This new emergence of self-management has often times been based on the revitalization and expansion of earlier projects, like credit unions and organizations of ethical banking, like Coop57 or Fiare, or like the popularization of associative libraries and counterinformation media with deep social roots and a long history, for example, Traficantes de Sueños [Dream Traffickers] or the newspaper Diagonal.

A good example of this revival of what had already existed would be the expanded audience for the latest occupations of land by laborers of the SAT (Sindicato Andaluz de Trabajadores, or Andalucian Workers Union) to work it communally. While the experience carried out in the Sevillan town of Marinaleda since end of the ’70s has come back into the public eye with the action campaign in supermarkets carried out by this organization last summer, and has been criticized or praised by the mass media, what is certain is that the recent occupation of other farms like Somontes, in Palma del Río (Córdoba), has also gained widespread attention.

On this farm, which belongs to the Government of Andalusia and which was barren and abandoned land until its occupation the fourth of March, 2012, the landless workers of the SAT have already raised more than 55 hectares of organic wheat and 74 of other crops, installed a drip-irrigation system, bought numerous cows, and resisted various attempted evictions.

And together with the revitalized processes are the new creations. "Precarious offices" and mutual support offices, time banks, social currencies (such as the boniato [sweet potato], of the Social Market of Madrid), agrarian initiatives (like the Garaldea farm, near the town of Chinchon, in Madrid, where work is done cooperatively in an ecological setting by people in situations of social exclusion), Cooperativas Integrales (that are betting on creating a whole system parallel to capitalism, from a holistic perspective that means attempting to build a set of social services and health cooperatives), new networks, like Madrid’s Red de Colectivos Autogestionarios [Network of Self-managed Collectives] (which renounces public subsidies) or consumer and producer cooperatives. Right now, all this shows the vitality of a whole cluster of new initiatives, of enormous creativity, which enjoys an increased popularity since the wave of mobilization began the 15 of May, 2011.

We should mention the appearance, as a simple example, in the neighborhood of Palma-Palmilla of the Andalusian town of Málaga, of “Er Banco Güeno,” located in an occupied branch office of the financial institution Unicaja, abandoned more than seven years ago. This is a project that started after the General Strike of November 14, 2012, and after the attempted eviction of a neighbor in the District. It is made up of a soup kitchen (which is not financed by the government) for the unemployed and families with economic problems and offices of Social Rights and of People Affected by Mortgages. It is also the meeting place for the local chapter of 15-M, the Association for the Integration of the Gypsy Community of Palma-Palmilla, and Baladre (a network of activists against unemployment put together in the 90s). It has also become the center of neighborhood struggles for the right to water, which is of special importance in the town, because the Municipal Water Enterprise (EMASA) is now attempting to demand (in a time of cuts and massive unemployment) that many neighbors with flats that are not in the Property Registry make back payments for service since the beginning of the water supply, in 1976.

So, it is a plural and heterogeneous world. A bit confused and contradictory, as well. Numerous kinds of legitimizing narratives and various ideological constructions have been decanted into it, including classic or renewed anarchosyndicalism that has borne fruit in the form of initiatives like the Institute of Economic Sciences and Self-management (ICEA) and other union organizations (let us remember the enormous depth of the Spanish self-management revolution, during the Civil War of 1936-39); eco-feminism and the narrative about degrowth articulated by thinker-activists like Carlos Taibo or Yayo Herrero; the narrative of common goods and their defense, sectors linked to the so-called “area of autonomy” (a clear example is the “Foundation of the Commons,” which is close to other projects like the Dream Traffickers bookstore, the publisher of the “Manifesto of the Commons,” or the self-training space “Common Notions”); "reform" and eco-socialist Marxism, with an eye on Latin America and in their experiences of social entrepreneurialism (we should mention the publication of a number of books based on the magazine El Viejo Topo [The Old Mole]); the apologetics of “integral revolution,” linked to the Integral Cooperatives set in motion by the activist Enric Durán, consisting of a holistic structured position that encompasses the personal, and tries to build “an entire life on the margin of capitalism”… these narratives are sometimes contradictory and complex, which leads to a churning, at this very moment, of the perspectives in defense of self-management in the Spanish State.

The attitudes of, and responses from, what we might call the “classic Left” (parties and unions, and even earlier social movements) to the emergence of 15-M and of the current self-management tendencies, which are built ideological constructions that are often times confusing and ambiguous and have a large dose of heterogeneity, were, from the beginning, ambivalent and somewhat contradictory.

The institutional Left (principally the parliamentary party Izquierda Unida [United Left], which is closely linked to the Communist Party of Spain, though not exclusively) and the major unions first tried to act in accordance with their usual practices towards social movements: making use of them in the media, without too much attention to their background (which is profoundly anti-system, more than anti-government) and channeling collective practices into institutions. The plan, obviously, did not work. Cayo Lara (the maximum leader of IU) was shouted down by participants in the attempt to stop an eviction in Madrid, when he made the opportunist choice to start speaking with journalists, ignoring (based on his institutional position) equilibria and collective decisions. However, he did manage to show his intelligence by not making the matter into a reason to split with the movement, while his coalition incorporated figures belonging (or, at least close) to 15-M on their electoral lists, and the grassroots of his party participated actively in many popular assemblies. The attitude of the Socialist Party (PSOE), however (if the organization that began the process of social cuts can be describe as Left), has been just the opposite.

Its youth leaders and activists have shown an attitude that often times borders on aggressive and contemptuous, especially after the failure of several crude and insultingly brazen attempts at manipulation and appropriation of the movement in the media. Its social discredit is noteworthy and glaring, and its political inability is clearly shown in its tendency to burn bridges with social movements and, on specific occasions, like the escrache campaign of the PAH, even favor their criminalization.

As for the non-parliamentary Left, the large majority of the parties of the Marxist variety has participated, more or less decidedly, in popular assemblies and mobilizations. Some, in fact, have taken advantage of the movement’s momentum to strengthen links between them and to build unified platforms and alliances, which are still under construction and which may have electoral arms, like Alternativas desde Abajo [Alternatives from Below] (where sectors converge that range from militant ecologism to Trotskyism, plus citizen platforms, like Julio Anguita’s Frente Cívico [Civic Front]) or Unión Popular de Clases [Popular Class Unity]. Only the most decidedly Ultra-Orthodox and minority sectors (like the one represented by writers called “Marat”) distanced themselves actively from 15-M, even denouncing it as a right-wing plot, without actually providing a viable alternative and staying on the margin of the development of events.

Autonomous and libertarian initiatives, however, have also participated enthusiastically in the new dynamic, including the most “orthodox” sectors of anarchism, which, despite leveling occasionally ferocious criticism at the Movement (as “social-democratic”) have not avoided using their media collectives and their networks to try to expand its discourse. The criticisms have mainly come from sectors that are centered on “ruralist” perspectives and simplistically “anti-State,” with a narrative that often times borders on so-called “anarchocapitalism.”

The incipient danger, which did happen in the first days of the camp in Sol, of control of the Movement by initiatives that come from new talk on the Right (republican or “constituent”) focused only on the modification of the Electoral Law and on passing off as progressive various measures called for by business lobbies and conservative politicians (like the forcible recentralization of the State), was discerned clearly during the constitution of the neighborhood assemblies, where it became clear to see that there was a class essence to the rage about the budget-cutting measures of Spanish governments and the ideological hegemony of the Left (understood in an innovative sense, very broad and very plural) in a movement that naturally tended to have a narrative that was opposed to neoliberalism, if not directly anticapitalist, as well as seeking a deepening of democracy.

What has been creating (or created from the beginning) misunderstandings and dysfunction between the “classical” Left and the movement of the plazas was precisely the plural, heterogeneous, assembly-based and, even, interclass essence, of a dynamic that burst out of the ideological and organizational corsets of a “social left” settled in to collaboration with the regime or passivity and aimlessness fed by internecine sectarianism. The neighborhood assemblies, and other mobilizing dynamics like the struggles for public services or against evictions, made activists and non-activists, neighbors with different ideological and personal histories, all collaborate. That created (and creates, to be sure) great confusion and contradictions of all kinds, but it was the indispensable base of a horizontal reconstruction of the social fabric which has allowed it to legitimize narratives that, previously, were absolutely marginal.

The essential danger around the dynamics of the “classic Left” (a danger that increases just as the Movement ebbs, when the people in the grassroots stop meeting directly) is the return to the festival of internal confrontations and struggles for power and control that are so common in its world. It is a way of operating that excludes and scares many sectors that are often times very active in practical terms, but that are most depoliticized in ideological terms. The possibilities granted by the new reality of extending anti-capitalist narratives, or those that lead to social transformation, only can be made use of with respect for, and convergence with, the people in the street, and by making clear efforts to stop cuts and to constitute a new reality, and that means not turning common spaces into “internal battlegrounds” of the Left, but grounds for creativity and cooperation.

The moment requires an inclusive pact between all sectors affected by the brutal neoliberal offensive. The building of that large social alliance creates an ideological space to show off the practice and theory of self-management and resistance, and to give it a profound, transformative, democratizing, and social base. The confusion, however, is inevitable (and maybe creative). The process of raising the consciousness of a society dedicated to individuality and a consumerist frenzy (which Spain was five years ago) is plagued with dead ends and attempts that are, on occasion, outlandish or just plain wrong. But energizing the process, getting it under way, demands the convergence of the people and fraternal discussion, as well as organization and political pedagogy.

In this scenario, self-management and cooperativism begin to be seen as one of the essential parts of the new movement, as a practical alternative to impoverishment and misery, and as something to be built to affirm the new reality that is boiling up from the neighborhoods and the people, against the sad designs that the Troika wants to impose on us.

Madrid, June 26, 2013.


  1. In Spain, evictions are executions of debtors’ mortgages. (Editor’s note).

  2. Comisiones Obreras and the Unión General de Trabajadores are the leading majority unions (Editor’s note).

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