My Kingdom for a Lottery TicketPosted: November 22, 2011
So the elections came and went. The predicted result came out. The right wing Popular Party has an absolute majority. Like any political party anywhere anytime, they rallied under the slogan of ‘change’. Which means things will stay the same, or get worse. But even without campaigning they would have won all the same. The Socialist Party left such a mess that people instinctively voted for the other side of the medal. It’s the logic of a two party system. The socialists can relax and sit back. They will probably return to power in four years time. That is, if the revolution will not have triumphed by then…
The result of the elections might have been predictable, but that makes it no less paradoxical. In a country where a massive popular movement has started to shake society at its very foundations, it sounds strange that a neoliberal party with fascist roots would gain such an overwhelming victory. But it was just as strange that a party which calls itself ‘socialist’ has been supporting the banks and the financial system at the expense of its own citizens.
These first few days I’ve had many happy encounters with the people I knew and worked with in Communications, Extension and Audiovisuals during and after the acampada. But the most touching encounter was one with a perfect stranger who came up to me to ask if I were Oscar from the March on Brussels. All he said when I confirmed was: “Thank you. Thank you so much.”
It’s natural for me to make a comparison between Madrid last spring and Madrid now. I shouldn’t do that. The days of the acampada are legend, it will never be the way it was. Or, to use an analogy, in spring it seemed like everybody was madly in love with everybody else. Now it’s like people are married.
The heart of the movement is the Hotel Madrid. It’s where most of the commissions gather. Since it was occupied on Global Revolution Day the place has known a lot of social problems, of which I ignore the details. But most people seem to agree that the organisation of the hotel has slowly started to improve.
After walking around the corridors and talking to people who are active in the commissions I am very much tempted to put up my office here and continue working with Communications like I did in Sol. But on the other hand I am also tempted to move on. There is a National Assembly of the 15M movement planned in the libertarian communist village of Marinaleda, province of Seville, next weekend, which might be very interesting to cover.
In the last few months the movement has been occupying many buildings throughout Madrid and surroundings. This is completely logical when you have millions of abbandoned spaces whilst people are evicted from their homes as a result of the crisis. If the government doesn’t find a solution for them – as is its constitutional duty – then people will take care of it themselves.
One of the other occupied spaces I visited was the ‘15M Temple’, housed in an old garage near the former Audiovisual bunker. You wouldn’t say so from the outside, but from the inside it looks marvellous. The temple is open to all religions and atheists, and they have an excellent collection of Asterix comics in their library. I can definitely recommend it.
So things keep on moving here. No way the 15M is going to stop. But on the day of the elections I was a bit disillusioned. When the results came in, there was hardly anybody in Sol, only a small group of hardcore anarchists burning things and trying to attach a banner to the metro station. I had hoped that people would have turned up in huge numbers, to deliver a message to the future right wing government, saying: This is our space, we’re here, we’re staying and we’ll be watching you.
It didn’t happen. There were more people in Sol next day, waiting in line. It wasn’t the line in front of the rationing office, not yet. It were people waiting to buy a ticket for the traditional Spanish christmas lottery.
When times are tough, you can try to change society, or you can place your hope for fortune on a series of numbers, so that you won’t have to worry any more if you win. Many people do both. It’s another one of those apparent paradoxes, which will probably make perfect sense somehow.
‘Fight the one percent. But whenever you have the chance, join them.’