The revolution is like the tide. It’s rising. But it comes with waves washing up and flowing back. I love this movement, I love the solidarity it has created and the hope for a future that is based on human instead of economic values. But I can’t sing its praise all day. I cannot refrain from criticising things that need to be criticised.
It has been going on for a month and a half now, and with summer coming it seems like many people need a rest. I don’t blame them, I would need a rest myself, but there will be time for that.
Since the acampada has ended we haven’t yet been able to establish the same unity between people, working groups and commissions that we enjoyed at Puerta del Sol. I’ve noticed and I’ve heard that many of the collectives are falling prey to a kind of autism. They are talking a lot about themselves and their internal organisation. They seem to forget they only exist in function of something bigger.
This is probably natural, given the new situation in which we are no longer concentrated in our own little village. But there’s another thing that worries me. Some commissions and some individuals seem to be thinking they are important. They are not. In a revolutionary sense importance can only be applied to actions and results.
The Communications and Audiovisuals committees have both had their troubles in adapting to the new situation. To deal with this, Communications has officially been transformed into an umbrella of various subcommittees responsable for press, tv, social media, internal, external etc. Audiovisuals has had its own troubles over the last few weeks and is trying to reorganise.
Things are changing fast. With the marches coming in from every part of Spain, with the rebellion in Greece and other places going on, and with the steady diffusion of the movement all over the world, it’s hard to keep up with everything.
Fortunately there’s no lack of initiative. Yesterday we started with a two day Popular Debate on the State of the Union. The Economy working group has presented its alternatives to the dictate of the EU and the IMF.
The bottom line is that the crisis should be paid for by the ones who created it. Tax havens should be abolished, the ultra rich evaders should be retroactively taxed, banks nationalised, pension ages reduced, minimum wages raised etc. Right wing economists will say it’s not possible. And maybe, given the current system, they are right. But we’re done with the current system. We have our best economists working on this, and they’re going to make it possible.
Audiovisuals has suffered a lot from lack of people and motivation these days. Their livestream team was not present to cover the first day of our State of the Union. But this also showed the strength of our movement, because in the absence of Audiovisuals, the Neighbourhoods commission has spontaneously taken over to cover the event, and the following demonstration out of solidarity with the Greek people.
Waves are washing back, and waves are washing up. The movement is capable of regenerating itself. It must be. The future of the revolution depends on a continuous flow of new ideas, and new people.
I know that many people are eager to join our movement. But I have heard stories of commissions that closed their doors, saying they didn’t need more help. Comrades, this is pure bullshit. We always need more people, and if someone says otherwise, ignore it. You do not need to ask permission to anyone to be a part of the revolution.
If a commission, or a working group or whoever pretends to represent the movement turns into an exclusive club or no longer lives up to our expectations, it should be washed away and replaced by new waves of revolutionary enthusiasm. The movement presents itself as horizontal. If she is, she should be privatised, completely. Whoever wants to join, do so. Set up your own alternative commissions. Exchange information. Share your footage and your films and your photos freely. This is not our revolution, it’s yours.
Street fighting has broken out in Madrid. Yesterday I witnessed a battle in the alleys of Lavapiès. Guns, rifles and grenades were used. The ammunition was water.
Today the fighting has reached Puerta del Sol. At nightfall two groups of armed guerillas entered the square with shopping carts full of water grenades. The ensuing bombing left dozens of people soaked.
The summer has begun, in Madrid as well. Spanish tradition demands that the ocasion be marked by a celebration during the Night of St. John. People get together, on the beaches, in the forests and in the parks. They bring beer and calimocho, the typical Spanish mix of Coca Cola and cheap red wine. At midnight they light their fires, they take out their drums, their guitars, and they dance. It’s heavily tribal. I like it. There’s a massive monastery-like ruin overlooking the park. There are fires burning everywhere, a thick smell of wood and hash hovers over the grass. Wherever I look, people are dancing. Some of them are jumping through the flames, hand in hand.
An important part of the midsummernight tradition is that you write down on one piece of paper all the bad things that happened to you during the last year, and you burn it. On another slip of paper you write down the good things that you would like to happen next year, and you keep it.
I burned a couple of personal things, and I watched on as the wind carried away the smoke and the ashes. The other paper I safely put away. You cannot show it to anybody, because then it won’t come true. It doesn’t matter. I’m sure most people share the same hopes for this year. Not only for themselves, but for us all.
Every day new popular marches are departing from various cities in Spain. Valencia, Cádiz, Compostela and Coruña are already on the way. Yesterday in the bunker we have also seen images of the column departing from Barcelona.
It was one of those exquisite moments of historical ambiguity. The term ‘column from Barcelona’ resonated a famous episode from the Spanish Civil War, an anarchist march from Barcelona to Madrid in 1936, known as the Columna Durruti.
History has known many heroes, great and small. Horatius Nelson, Michiel de Ruyter, George Washington, you name them. Most of them are nationalist heroes. Their names and their legacy belong to a single nation.
The revolution has its heroes as well. Spartacus, Emiliano Zapata, Che Guevara. These people don’t have a fatherland. Their legacy belongs to all of man kind.
Buenaventura Durruti was the great revolutionary hero of the Spanish Civil War. He had been a miner and a mechanic, but above all he was a romantic. He started fighting his battles against injustice long before the war began. He was part of an anarchist group that assassinated a Spanish archbishop in 1920s. The bishop was said to have financed death squads to hunt down rebellious workers. After the assassination, Durutti had to flee. He went to Latin-America where he participated in acts of sedition all over the continent. He went to Paris where he picked up his occupation as a mechanic and a revolutionary.
When the second Spanish Republic was proclaimed in 1931 he went back to participate in workers’ revolts. The republic was notoriously instable. In the few years of its existence forces from the far left to the far right have tried to take control of it. In 1936 armed conflict ensued. Francisco Franco and other conservative generals made an attempt to take power and only partially succeeded. As a reaction to the coup, many workers and peasants rose up. Durruti participated in the revolt in Barcelona as part of an anarcosindicalist militia.
The city was taken. The red-and-black anarchist flag was waved from the roofs and from the windows. Workers took over factories and shops and set up assemblies to operate the means of production and distribution collectively. Peasants took over from the landowners. Churches were looted and burned.
This is the historical context in which the Columna Durutti was formed. Three thousand armed anarchists marching from Barcelona to Madrid, liberating villages and peasants on their way. It was one of the great revolutionary adventures of the twentieth century.
So yesterday we saw the images of the Columna from Barcelona. A couple of dozen people with backpacks and a banner saying ‘15M on the march’. They will walk about twenty kilometers a day, they will ‘liberate’ all the villages they pass. They will hold assemblies on the squares. They will invite people to join their march.
“This is our time,” I thought. “And it will only get better.”
In november 1936 Durruti and his column entered Madrid in time to help defend the city against the initial attack of the fascists. He was hit by a sniper bullet. The origin of the bullet will always remain a mystery. Durruti was still alive when he arrived at the building that was turned into a makeshift field hospital. It was the place where he died. Before the war it used to be the Ritz hotel.
“It is we the workers who built these palaces and cities here in Spain and in America and everywhere. We, the workers, can build others to take their place. And better ones! We are not in the least afraid of ruins. We are going to inherit the earth; there is not the slightest doubt about that. The bourgeoisie might blast and ruin its own world before it leaves the stage of history. We carry a new world here, in our hearts.”
– Buenaventura Durruti
I know that you people are all very excited about the Spanish Revolution. You can’t wait for something like this to happen over there. Well, I’ll tell you, there is no reason to wait. You can start this revolution right now, right here. That’s why I have prepared a little Vademecum for the 21st Century Revolutionary.
Most banks simply want to make a profit, no matter how. Traffic of arms, money laundering, speculation, death and destruction, to them it doesn’t matter just as long as they make a buck. They can do so because you allow them to. So close your bank account today and transfer all your assets to an ethical bank that invests in sustainable projects. Keep yourself informed about what your bank is doing. Demand transparency about their investments.
Use less of it and use it better. Don’t put your electrical equipment on stand-by, but switch it off completely. If it’s cold, take a blanket. If it’s hot, don’t be a wussy, close up and get used to it. Leave the car, take the bike. Or else start to drive hybrid. Install solar panels. There’s no need for you to depend on an external network. You can create energy yourself, together with your neighbours. As a community you can be completely energy-independent.
Be conscient of what you eat. Know well what chemical fertilisers and pesticides are used to produce your food, and what preservatives, colourants and other shit is added to it. If cancer is the number one cause of death there must be a reason for it. Start eating biological food. It’s better for you, it’s better for the environment, and it’s better for the animals. Stop going to the supermarket, start going to grocers and bakers. Better still, start looking for biological farms in your vicinity and buy your products directly from there. Better still, create your own vegetable garden. At least you can be sure of what you eat.
Distrust of mainstream television, radio, newspapers and magazines. No media outlet that depends on advertising or on the state is independent. Inform yourself through the internet. There are lots of independent media sites. Choose the ones you like and bookmark them.
Do you want democracy? Then there’s only one thing you can do: organise assemblies. Start with the street you live in. Come together once a week to get to know each other and discuss the common good. Do you want trees to be planted? Decide it together and plant them yourselves. Don’t wait for the city council. They’re only bureaucrats, they live somewhere else, they don’t really care. Once your local assembly is a success, organise a neighbourhood assembly, set up thematic working groups, participate. Then organise a city assembly in the same manner. Soon the bureaucrats will be superfluous. And you will know what democracy really means.
In modern society houses are build only once, but they are paid for many times over. The price of a house is only half the price you pay. You pay more or less the same ammount to the bank in interest. Each time the house is sold, the banks earn the entire price of it once more. There is no reason why you should keep paying perpetually for something that already exists. Once you have democratically organised yourself as above, stop paying your mortgage and your rent. The banks parasiting on your labour through real estate slavery will collapse. Better still, build your own house in the country. Use sustainable materials. It’s not that difficult and it doesn’t cost much. Inform yourself. Everything is possible.
You don’t like your job? Call in sick and start thinking about your future. Think about what you want to do, think about what you’re good at. Create your own job, alone or together with other people. Make it something satisfying. Don’t be afraid. Fear is what keeps us from being free. You can start a new life as from next week. Many people already did.
Get to know your fellow men. Help people who need help, without a catch. Instead of going to the mall, visit an old folks home. Keep them company. Listen to them. The elderly have a lot of things to tell. They can be interesting or they can be annoying, but they all need to be treated as human beings. Remember that they are our parents and grandparents. They are the ones who gave us the gift of life.
All good things start with the right education. So choose well in what way you want your children to be educated. Choose a school where each of them can develop his or her abilities to the max. Don’t teach them to compete, teach them collaborate. Don’t fill their heads with bullshit, teach them to think by themselves. If you don’t find a school that is good enough, then get together with other parents, and educate your children yourself. The state says you can’t do that? Fuck the state. Who are they to decide what’s best for your child? The state should be at your service. If it isn’t it loses all legitimacy. Don’t be afraid to defy the state. The future of your children is much more important.
The internet is a magical means that has given us access to all the knowledge and all the cultural heritage of man kind. Make full use of it. Instead of watching television, download a movie. Instead of listening to the radio, download music. Don’t listen to the people who say it’s ‘illegal’. They are only defending the interests of the discographical industry. We don’t need the discographical industry any more. They are a dinosaur from the 20th century. All past music and movies is cultural heritage that should be freely accessible. All contemporary music and movies as well. If you want to spend money, you go to a concert or to the cinema. The only time you will want to pay for recorded music is when you encounter an unknown group of musicians on the street or in a theatre, selling their own disks. If they’re good, support them.
Plant weed. Plant lots of it. Don’t believe them when they say it’s illegal. It can’t be, it’s a plant. Not only: it’s the most useful plant you can imagine. It can give you paper, cloth, oil, biofuel and much, much more. The late Henry Ford built a car completely made out of cannabis in the 1930s. It was fully operational, it went on cannabisoil and it was 100 percent sustainable. Soon after that cannabis was banned by law. Coincidence? Not at all. Expose the truth, start planting it wherever you can. In your garden, on your balcony, in the fields and in the parks. Everywhere you encounter a bit of earth, plant a seed. Weed can save the world. And you can smoke it as well.
Take a look in the mirror. Ask yourself the following question: ‘Am I really sick?’ If the answer is yes, go to a doctor. If the answer is no, open your medicine cabinet and throw it all out. When you have started changing your life as above, you will find out you don’t need all these drugs. The occasional joint will be enough to calm you down and help you put things into perspective. Also, stop being afraid of filth. Filth is good. Your house doesn’t need to be polished to shine. You don’t need a shower every day. In a sterile place your immune system will get lazy. You will pick up every virus that passes by. So clean less, and when you clean, use biodegradable products. It makes no sense to clean your house if it pollutes the environment.
Start hitch hiking. Pick up hitch hikers yourself. Don’t be afraid. It’s a good thing to know people. Especially when they’re travelling, because it means they’re open minded. You don’t need to spend money to travel. The less you spend, the more interesting your trip and the people you encounter. Start couch surfing and offer your couch to people passing by. We are a globalised world, so let’s start acting like globalised people. Cross borders and cancel them out. No-one is illegal. This world belongs to all of us. If people are starving, we have a moral obligation to open our doors and feed them. If we don’t do that, what kind of human beings are we?
Stop buying shit that doesn’t last. We all think that when we throw things away, they ‘disappear’. Well, they don’t. Modern consumerism turns raw material into trash, with only a very short intermediate state in which the material is a useful product. This is what keeps our economy going, the production of ever more trash. Think about it. Try to imagine our daily global trash production. Once you do, you know why you should stop throwing away all the things you throw away. When something breaks down, try to repair it, or have it repaired by someone else. It used to be normal. It should be normal. And if you really don’t want something anymore, bring it to a second hand shop. Maybe someone else likes it. And once you’re there, take a look around. Instead of buying something new, buy something old. Break the circle. Make things last.
In the end, comrades, it all comes down to a few simple things. Spend less money and spend it better. Stop being afraid, for fear is their most powerful weapon. It turns us into slaves. Start informing yourself, for knowledge is power. Get together, for we all share a common destiny. Then start to act, and use your common sense. When people begin using their common sense, you will have a revolution.
All the best,
Modern western society can cater for almost every possible emotion. Lust over love, fear over hatred. Adrenaline. Drugs. Even beauty. Even freedom. But most of all, gluttony.
One of the few emotions it cannot cater for is solidarity. We all know the word. But as long as you don’t experience the emotion, you don’t know what it means.
All of us are supposed to contribute to society. Quite literally, we are supposed to pay our taxes. But other than that it’s each man for himself. The skills you need to thrive in western society are centered on promoting yourself, to the detriment of others if necessary. Competition is more important than cooperation, networking is more important than communication. Wit is more important than intelligence.
For quite some years I’ve had a problem with this mentality. I didn’t see the point in making myself useful for a society I resented. That’s the reason I became a sheperd. I would guide my herd of goats through the valleys of Tuscany, or through the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, and I’d be content. Animals are completely honest. They will never pretend to be something they are not. I appreciate that.
Then came the revolution. I had to go back to the city. I was finally offered the opportunity to do something really useful for society. Overthrow it. Or at least play my part in it.
So now here I am, networking all day long. The other day in the bunker I linked up with a comrade from ‘Agora’, our radiostation. We started making plans on radio coverage of the popular marches to Madrid. Not only in Spanish, but in English as well. We began brainstorming on the coordination of video footage for our live television channel. We decided to talk to Extension about this. So we took a nice walk through sunny Madrid from the Audiovisual bunker to the squat that houses our ministry of Extension. We have a fruitful talk with one of the coordinators. We agree that there’s no time to pass through assemblies and commissions. Personal initiative gets things moving. We set up mailing lists, exchange contacts and go back to Puerta del Sol. On the way out I see that people are already working on the giant map of Spain with all the marches indicated. I like the sight of it.
At Sol we pop in at the Art commission, which has left its headquarters in the square. It consists of eight huge panels locked together, it looks like an Italian baptistry. We speak a bit with the comrades inside to see what they’re working on. It’s very interesting stuff. Holographic projections, happenings, photo exhibitions and more. “Only through art can we spread the revolution”. We exchange contact details. Who knows what great things we can do together with Audiovisuals.
Next to the information point there is a very small habitation made of just a couple pallets, a tent coverage and aluminum foil to reflect the sunlight so that it stays nice and cool inside. I met another comrade there the day before, son of a very wealthy Spanish family. He is working on sustainable technology as part of the Infrastructure committee. After studying abroad for a couple of years he speaks an awkward mix of Oxford-English and Harvard-American. Now that he is back he has joined the revolution, because it’s the right thing to do.
Western society teaches you to distrust your fellow men. Everyone is a potential competitor. They could steal your ideas and make money out of it. You should beware and you shouldn’t hesitate to stab someone in the back. He would do the same to you, it’s all in the game.
This mentality has completely changed at Puerta del Sol. In the heart of western society a new society is born, based on different values, not quantifiable in money. People have started to treat perfect strangers as brothers and sisters. They are freely sharing ideas. They are happy to know each other. They are putting things into practice, united by something that has been missing for a long, long time.
The common good.
All the best,
I’m starting to have doubts about the effective secrecy of our bunker. And I have valid reasons for that. Today I was working on my daily translation when a journalist from a Spanish tv-station walked into my office with a camera crew.
They were preparing an item on Audiovisuales. Now, I’ve noticed that the journalist’s curiosity is always awakened when he or she encounters a foreigner in the core of the Spanish Revolution. So usually they want to do an interview with me. Only this time I didn’t let them. I started interviewing them myself.
“Tell me something about how to make television. I want to learn.”
There is hardly enough time for it. They have some more shooting to do at the university. “Why don’t you come along? I have a taxi waiting outside. I’ll explain it on the way.”
So next thing I know we’re on our way to the Faculty of Information Sciences. The building is a horrible piece of concrete. “I have spent five years of my life in this place,” the journalist explains, “the original design was meant to become a prison in Canada. But apparently the government decided it wasn’t humane to lock up prisoners in a place like this. So they used the blueprint to turn it into a university building.”
In one of the underground cellars an honoured guest from Iceland will be received today. I had already encountered him this morning at the photo opportunity in Puerta del Sol. His name is Hördur Torfasun. He is an actor, a poet, and the driving force behind the Icelandic revolution.
I doubt that many people will know anything about the Icelandic revolution. We all heard a lot of talk about what went wrong in Iceland, but for some reason, when things started to go right, it didn’t quite have the same news value. That is why Hördur is here to share his experiences with the comrades from Puerta del Sol.
He is an admireable person with a strong sense of what is right and what is wrong. His story starts the day when the police arrived in the middle of the night to take away his neighbours. They hadn’t done anything wrong. But they were black. Political refugees from Ghana. The police showed them a document written in Icelandic which apparently stated they had no right to be here. They were taken away and put on a plane.
The next day Hördur went to the ministery of justice. He demanded an explanation. He didn’t receive any. So the next day he came back. He was ignored once again. So he came back. Every day at twelve o’ clock he stood in front of the ministery of justice waiting for an explanation.
It didn’t take long before he started to attract attention. Iceland is a small country. People began to take up the cause. The minister finally promised that he would look into it, but he said that it could take a couple of months.
“No,” Hördur said, “you have one month, starting today.”
That was years ago. The family from Ghana is living happily ever after in Iceland again. They have noticed that the place has a future.
It didn’t seem that way back in 2008 when the country went bankrupt just like that. “Something has gone terribly wrong here,” Hördur said. So this time, every day at noon, he went to parliament. But he didn’t go in. He stood in front of it, and he started to talk to the people passing by, to the parliamentarians going in. He wanted to understand what went wrong, he wanted to know what could be done about it. People joined in. For months and months in a row there were popular assemblies outside of parliament, and lots of music. Come Christmas time the people decided they had talked enough, they would hold a silent protest every day. That’s when the government really got scared. They resorted to violence by sending in a group of drunken infiltrators to break up the protest. The plan backfired. The next day a batallion of Icelandic grandmothers protected the crowd from further violence.
The government resigned.
Since then a Constituent Assembly consisting of twenty-five citizens without political affiliation have started drafting a new constitution. The work in progress can be followed every step of the way through the internet. All citizens are invited to join in by sending suggestions.
This is just one aspect of the Icelandic revolution. The people have also decided with an overwhelming majority that the banks are to be nationalised and that the state of Iceland will not pay back its debts to their British and Dutch creditors. “The EU has threatened to take us to court,” Hördur says, and he raises his middle finger. “This is our answer. They can go f*ck themselves.” Applause.
Iceland has decided to make a fresh start. But in order to do so, justice must prevail. During the last fifteen years the country has been ravaged by financial pirates and political corruption beyond all imagination. A thorough criminal investigation is under way. It’s going to be a difficult and dangerous task. The Norwegian lawyer specialised in corporate crimes, who will lead the investigation, can count on round-the-clock protection from fifteen bodyguards, because the people she is up against do not mess around. But even if it takes years, the full truth will be exposed. It’s a promise, says Hördur. These bankers are not going to be bailed out.
They are going to be locked up.
The last few days I have spent in what is now colloquially known as ‘the bunker’. The cave of Audiovisuales.
The place is looked after by the sweet little lady I described as the true face of the revolution, comrade Maria. Together with her daughter she also checks out the national and international press. She is better informed than most of us. When I got a call this morning from the journalist of the Financial Times who had interviewed me at Sol and who wanted my confirmation on a march on Brussels, I should have put her through to her. It turned out she knew. ‘Yes, they’re planning a march. Didn’t you know?’
I didn’t. The only thing I knew about was a few dozen other marches. It was the hot topic at the General Assembly last sunday. The idea of marching on parliament from the various neighbourhoods of Madrid has apparently been a good one. This time people are planning to walk to Madrid from all over Spain. In more than twenty cities preparations are under way. Santiago de Compostela, Granada, Cádiz, Murcia, A Coruña, Barcelona etc. etc. The column from Valencia has already left. All of the marches should converge on Madrid on July 23. On the way people from all the villages and cities of Spain will be invited to join. It’s going to be historical.
So here I am. I was thinking of packing my bags to visit Spain, and now Spain has decided to come to Madrid. I’m excited. I immediately want to start drawing an immense map of the country, trace the routes, put it up on the wall and cover it with coloured pins. Then every day I will call around to get information from the spot so that I can move the pins accordingly. Then I would lean back in my comfortable chair, I would put my feet on the table, I’d look up at the map and I’d say: ‘Wow.’
But there’s more I want to do. I want to contact the comrades of Extension, I want to get information from all the marches, I want them to send footage, lots of footage so that we can make something like a daily two-hour television show for our channel to report on what’s happening. I want images of the country side, I want images of the people putting up their tents in the middle of the forests and the mountains of Spain, I want camp fires, guitars, assemblies, village squares, church bells. I want it all, every night at prime time.
Then I get a call. Forget the map, forget the marches. It’s comrade Afrah. I am needed as a voice in a chorus. “Take everybody along. Today we’re recording ‘Puerta del Sol’”, the hymn of the revolution. So after a short trip with the metro we’re in the private sound studio of one our musical comrades, gathered around a microphone. We come from Spain, from Greece, from Turkey, from Venezuela, from Morocco, from Holland. We are the world. And we sing about what this world is going to be like, and how it all started in Puerta del Sol.
It’s late when we come back to the bunker. I look through the papers, and I’m content. They start breathing the wind of change. I can feel the first pearls of sweat breaking out on the foreheads of the bigwigs in Brussels. They urge Spain and Greece to push ahead with the austerity measures, no matter what the citizens may think about it. Those measures are absolutely necessary. “There is no plan B.”
I don’t remember the name of the most venerable sir who said this. But he can rest assured. He doesn’t have to worry. He can go home.
We’re working on plan B.