The start of the revolutionary season has become a success. Yesterday, February 23, people all over Spain massively demonstrated against the ‘coup d’état of the markets’.
The date was symbolic. The demos came exactly 32 years after the latest attempt of coup d’état. Some of you may remember the pythonesque images of army officers storming into parliament without knowing what to do next.
Yesterday, all the different waves have united. Students, teachers, miners, doctors, nurses, firefighters, the 15M movement, the platforms against mortgage foreclosures, etc. etc.
In Madrid there were over a 100.000 people, in Barcelona over 40.000. In every other big city in Spain there have been demonstrations, as well as abroad. Solidarity actions were organised in Brussels, London, Paris and Amsterdam.
This time, I haven’t witnessed it in person. But it has been all the more impressive to see the images of the crowds coming in via livestream.
At the Spanish parliament, after the demo, there were speeches by representatives of all the waves, and a concert of the Solfonica orchestra. All the while, in the crowd, someone walked around with a cardboard guillotine…
After the demo there were reports of police firing rubber bullets and charging protesters near Atocha railway station. Over thirty people were arrested.
February 23, noon.
I’m so excited. Today is the Grand Opening of the Revolutionary Season 2013! Everybody is going to be there. The white wave, the green wave, the red wave the blue wave. Wow. It’s going to be rainbow, it’s going to be everywhere, and it’s just the beginning.
The Puerta del Sol continues to be occupied. Police may harass, police may evict, but they can’t refrain people from returning to their square, over and over again. Notwithstanding the cold, notwithstanding the rain.
People are fed up. They demand that the government resigns, they demand that the economic system serves them, the people, and not the financial and political elites.
In particular, people demand free education, universal health care, decent affordable housing, an end to political corruption, an end to the discrimination of women, gays, coloured people etc. etc. In short, people demand a human society. Today will be the opening salvo. It’s going to be big.
We might not achieve this ambitious yet reasonable goal today, or tomorrow. Not even this year. But we’ll be back, for as long as necessary. We are the people.
The waves will converge on parliament. The building will be stormed. Check out the marches and tonight’s aftermath on SpanishRevolution.TV and on GlobalRevolution.TV.
Me, I’m in the studio for a change. If all goes well with the connection, I’ll be doing comment and translation live on GlobalRev.
Good day, and good luck!
It won’t take too long before I can start writing a blog about the ‘Dutch Revolution’. The newspapers have been announcing it for weeks: Holland is the new Greece. And since yesterday, when the figures came in, it’s official.
I’ll try to give you an idea.
Before the crisis started, Holland had three-and-a-half big banks. One of those collapsed and was nationalised in 2008. Another one could only be saved with a massive injection of public funds. The third is a cooperative bank, still pretty safe, and the half bank was nationalised a month ago. This one had always been specialised in savings accounts, but when the economy went through the roof in the early 2000s they decided to compete with the big banks and started building castles in the air.
The bank massively invested in real estate, mostly in Spain, in 2008, which turned out to be neither the time nor the place to make a lucrative investment. They were able to creatively mask the fact that they were broke for almost five years, but when a run on the bank began to take shape the state decided to take over.
It’s a curious thing. For the last twenty years or so, EU legislation has outlawed public support of national industries, but obviously for banks one can make an exception. They are, practically, above the law.
A very reasonable Dutch law says that no public servant should earn more than the prime minister (about 200k euro per year). Fortunately there are ways to circumvent this. Over the last few decades the government has outsourced much of its tasks to semi-public entities, whose managers have the advantage of being able to fill up their pockets with bonuses, without the disadvantage of having to respond to the public.
These are the modern ‘regents’ as they say in Holland, an urban oligarchy that divides lucrative jobs among each other, without possessing any capabilities to speak of.
Now, what goes for semi-public entities, doesn’t go for the nationalised bank. The bank is public, but the social-democrat minister of finance still hired a banker for over twice the allowed pubic salary, while stressing that all employees will see their pay checks and pensions cut.
Of course, with the banks being exceptions, you can break the law, if you’re a minister. Because you need a good banker, and you won’t find one for less than 50,000 euros a month. It’s not me who says so, no, it’s the market, and the market is always right.
You’re allowed to doubt, sure, but doubt is ridiculous. I would say: why a banker? Weren’t they the ones who caused this mess in the first place? Are we absolutely sure we can’t find a capable person that will cure a bank for less than half a million per year? And instead of a banker, can’t we find a renowned economist, a professor maybe? Someone with enough self-esteem to lack the need for an exuberant pay-check?
Sure we can. But we have to convince our so-called representatives to make it happen. They still have the nasty habit of listening to the priests of high finance who keep predicting doom and destruction if their advices are not put into practice to the letter.
Well, if it’s going to be doom and destruction, we better make sure it’s going to be fun as well.
One Dutch columnist wondered, ‘Why haven’t the windows of the banks been shattered yet? Why haven’t they been burned to the ground?’
He was smart enough to add that he wasn’t instigating anyone to do anything. He was just wondering.
Me too, I’m just wondering what it’ll take. In 2008 the whole economy collapsed, and yet, nothing was done to punish those responsible, or to avoid it would happen again. The high priests could keep harvesting their bonuses while the rest of us were asked to make sacrifices. Then in 2011, occupying all over the globe, people tried to make a change, peacefully. But nothing happened. The high priests are still there, they are laughing at us from their ivory towers.
So what will it take?
A demonstration? Or two? Three?
A riot? Or two? Three?
A molotov? A bomb? Or ten?
An armed insurrection?
Hell yeah, all of it. And you know why? Because we are humans goddamned. We might be sedated by comfort, but deep down we realise that we are being screwed over every day. Deep down we’re longing to be free, waiting for the moment when it all explodes and we will smash up the ivory towers of power.
Remember, this is Holland. The fucking best place in the world to be born in. And it’s sinking.
How come? Why Holland? You want to know more? Alright, listen. I’ll teach you a word of Dutch, a very important word. No, it’s not ‘apartheid’. You already know that one. It’s ‘hypotheekrenteaftrek’.
Got that? No? Okay, once again, slowly: ‘Hy-po-theek-ren-te-af-trek’. It means tax deductability of mortgage interest.
Holland is maybe the only country that still gives this type of incentive to stimulate people to buy a house. It made real estate prices rise much faster in Holland than in other countries. Especially because many people took a mortgage that they didn’t bother to repay, because prices were rising anyway. A house was an investment, a chicken with golden eggs.
Or at least, that’s what it used to be. Now it turns out it was only a bubble. New laws state that if you take a mortgage, you have to pay it back. The hypotheekrenteaftrek will be phased out. The result of this is that hardly anyone can afford a house at the current inflated prices. Those prices are starting to fall. And they will fall further, they will readjust at normal levels of the countries surrounding us. Which is what, half the current price? A third?
The real estate bubble in Holland, like in Spain, has been the motor of the economy for years. Now people find the value of their assets going down every month. They are reluctant to spend. The economy is in recession, unemployment is soaring.
So, we have a country which is ruled by ventriloquist bankers, and politicians sitting on their lap. We all have to pay. Not only the home-owning middle classes, also the students who no longer get subsidised to study, but who will have to indebt themselves American style before joining the ranks of the unemployed. And the elderly of course, the people who built up this great country and its once admireable welfare state. Right now, while the baby boom is reaching the pension age, the government has decided to close almost half of the elderly homes. They can die at home, agonising on the floor for days, there’s no money to take care of them, or let their offspring do that, like the days of yore. Come on! We need three billion to buy a bank, another ten billion to buy the latest generation of super cool jet fighters! We can’t take care of our elderly! They’re useless anyway.
So what’s left? Maybe the last traces of the famed Dutch tolerance? Hardly. We are decent people, we don’t do drugs, we don’t do hookers. So we don’t want others to do it either. Foreigners can get their weed from a dealer in the alleys. We don’t want them in the coffeeshops anymore. And the social-democrats prefer the prostitutes of the red light district to return out of sight, to the shabby parking lots on the edge of town, to get fucked for a shot of heroine without any health care at all.
It’s a lot better this way. The real estate value of the red light district is (still) huge. The brothels can be turned into a luxury shopping district with classy restaurants. Hell yeah! Let’s be proud of ourselves. We are such decent people.
So, let’s get back to the big question.
‘How long will it take?’
We tried to be reasonable, a few years ago, when we occupied. We can also be unreasonable. After all, we are the 99 percent. We are too big to fail. If the powers-that-be are deaf to our most reasonable demand of an economy that serves the people and not the bankers, then there is no reason to talk to them anymore.
All we can do, at that point, is to bring them down with whatever means necessary.
Today was #16F. A nationwide demonstration for the constitutional right to decent housing. It is ongoing. First estimates say that 80.000 people marched in Barcelona alone. Many thousands more marched in dozens of other cities. The people demand that parliament votes a popular bill against foreclosures into law. And that the government resigns.
Tomorrow, more demonstrations. This time for the right to universal health care.
After a massive demo on Saturday, people in Murcia took the square in solidarity with Sol. This morning, while a growing share of the Spanish population demands that the government steps down and that a popular bill against foreclosures is adopted, both the camps have been evicted by police.
The move comes after a cold and rainy night. Defiant occupiers were holding the square for the eighth night in a row, making an appeal through Twitter for more blankets, canvases and something warm to eat. It took little time before the call was heeded. ‘Start gathering some cups,’ somebody tweeted, ‘I will be down with a pan of soup in 15 mins.’
Since this morning’s eviction police do not even allow for a backpack to be placed on the ground. People have been protesting and holding signs in the square all day. They vow to keep occupying the square one way or another. Tonight, there will be demos in Sol and throughout Spain.
The objective is to bring down the government. Because a government that ignores the just reclamations of the citizens, or that responds to peaceful protests with force, does not have any legitimacy. Especially if it is involved in a corruption scandal that permeates the entire governing party apparatus.
There is only one occupation of public space that needs to be evicted right now. The Moncloa.
“Corruption is linked to power. In a capitalist system, it’s the capital that detains this power. The quest for accumulation, profit and personal benefit forms an essential part of an ideology that worships individual enrichment, a false and criminal idea of ‘competitiveness’, ambition and greed over values aimed at cooperation, mutual support and the common good.”
– From a comuniqué against corruption, launched today by the Economy working group of Sol
Officials of the Popular Party governing the capital region of Madrid are convinced that a Las Vegas franchise can save Spain from the economic crisis. This is no joke. This is the same Popular Party which is involved in a corruption scandal that goes from top to bottom.
With these people in power, what do you think will happen when the third richest man of America – multi-billionaire Sheldon Adelson – knocks on the door with a project to build 750 hectares of hotels, restaurants, malls and theatres, a sports stadium, six casino’s and three golf courses?
Exactly. I thought the same.
Yesterday, after more than a year of negotiations and protests it was announced that Europa Vegas will be built (if at all) in Alcorcón near Madrid over the course of the next twelve years. During the evening, people demonstrated against the project in Sol.
In the meantime, another person who was about to be evicted from his home committed suicide in Córdoba, leaving wife and daughter behind.
In Paris, local indignados staged a demo at the Spanish embassy, demanding the resignation of the government.
Tonight, at Sol, it’s carnaval. Earlier, the occupants launched a call to action ‘For a European Spring’ on March 13.
“While (…) policies are designed to rescue big banks and big business, we, the vast majority, are made to pay for the excesses of the privileged.
All over Europe struggles and strikes are happening against these unjust policies. These struggles are our struggles, and we reject the violent attempts of European states to suppress them. Now is the time for solidarity across borders and sectors, to be the force to create real democracy and social justice. We are seeking to build a society where solutions, very different to those defended by the elites and imposed by the EU, can be proposed and discussed by everybody.
We call for actions, strikes and demonstrations on the 13th of March across Europe as part of a week of European resistance, with a mass mobilisation on the 14th in Brussels targeting the EU Spring Summit. We will show those in power that our growing movement will, sooner or later, be strong enough to change the course of Europe in the interest of us all.”
To the thoughtful words with which Ada Colau had presented the popular bill against foreclosures in the senate economic commission, the authorities have responded with a platoon of riot police.
At four o’ clock in the morning police evicted the protest camp in front of Bankia headquarters, where a few dozen people had spent the winter to demonstrate against a public bank that throws its own citizens out on the street.
Outrage exploded early in the morning. In Barcelona a BBVA bank franchise was occupied all day long. In Madrid, student protests continue as we speak. On the Puerta del Sol, the General Assembly of the ongoing occupation has just launched its manifesto… (Eng)
“On February 3 (…) we decided to stay in our Plaza del Sol [sic] (…)
We belong to the streets, the streets belong to us, we will not leave.
We are citizens fighting against corruption. We are people united by the same interests and we want to claim and stimulate civic struggle.
(…) we appeal to the people to mobilize and demand with us the effective investigation of illegitimate debt, the mass resignation of the government, the repeal of the current constitution and the formation of a constituent assembly to prepare a new constitution capable of returning citizens power over markets and economic corporations, which currently have kidnapped the rule of law.
We need your ideas, your actions and your media. We are young, elderly, students, the unemployed, workers, pensioners, evicted…
We are winters at Sol.”