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Arabica Robusta

Harnessing Spain's "communist moment" | In English | EL PAÍS - 0 views

  • If one thing convinced the founders of Podemos of the need to enter politics, it was the mass protests on the streets of Madrid in 2011, when disparate civic associations and single-issue activist groups, along with huge numbers of people with no previous involvement in politics, identifying themselves simply as “indignant,” coalesced into what has become known as the 15-M movement.

    There were two important things about those protests. The first is that they weren’t led or coordinated by the organizations that should have been able to do so, which were labor unions such as the UGT and the CCOO, or the Communist Party-led United Left grouping.

  • Despite the domestic and international media’s portrayal of the 15-M movement as little more than a bunch of anarchists, the creators of Podemos were aware throughout the summer of 2011, and would point this out later, that 15-M, despite its success, provided two important lessons: “It wasn’t us who organized this,” and that not everybody in the movement was “left wing.”
  • Carolina Bescansa, who had been studying 15-M for the Center for Sociological Research, noticed during the street protests that the traditional right-left divide no longer made any sense when trying to understand people’s voting intentions.
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  • Aware that 15-M was not left wing, but made up of a cross-section of society that was sick and tired of the current political system, one dominated by two large parties that were increasingly seen as out of touch with the people, the founders of Podemos and the groups related to it joined in the protests enthusiastically, trying to lead them and to channel their energy, but at no time trying to appropriate them.
  • For Iglesias, there was little to celebrate in having almost doubled its vote from 969,000 in the 2008 elections to 1.7 million in 2011, and instead the party’s celebration of its achievement was further proof of just how out of touch it was with reality. Amid the worst economic crisis in more than four decades, what was so great about garnering seven percent of the vote, when the Socialists had seen their share fall from 43 to 28 percent?
  • But the leaders of the Communist Party, argued Iglesias, “have become a regime, people who are happy to be awarded a bronze medal, and never think in terms of actually winning elections because all they are interested in really is being seen to be on the left, to be authentic, and to not win.” In short, the communists had become conservative, argued Iglesias, because they had failed to see that the only way to win was by changing the rules.
Arabica Robusta

Where did the 15-M movement go? | In English | EL PAÍS - 0 views

  • The movement's strategy is based on assembling ad hoc citizen coalitions to help push back and challenge specific government actions; trying to figure out how to affect policy by exerting force on specific choke points in a system that badly needs reform. Politicians worried about inter-party politics, re-election or special interests can't see the importance of this. It's about using the power of the network to shake things up and find ways to make the political process more responsive to the needs of everyday citizens.
  • Typical of the all-encompassing approach of the 15-M movement are the myriad cooperatives set up around the country by a range of professionals looking to barter their services with other groups, as well as to sell them to the wider community.

    As the Spanish welfare state crumbles, 15-M offers practical solutions based on collaboration and cooperation

  • "I was brought up to be competitive; but what really matters is sharing.
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  • Reflecting a growing perception that the labor unions are standing by doing nothing while the government presses ahead with labor market reforms that make it easier for businesses to sack employees, on May 1, 15-M set up an initiative to protect the interests of people who are having to work on short-term contracts, grants, bogus training schemes or on a self-employed basis to save their employers from having to pay their social security. The idea is to encourage more people to work together through cooperatives, as well as to use social networks and other media to report companies that are taking advantage of high unemployment to impose abusive working conditions.
  • Last week it emerged that a police unit normally assigned to monitoring terrorist groups has been given instructions to put some of the higher-profile 15-M leaders under surveillance. "Putting these kinds of stories about is clearly an attempt to use the media to create a climate of fear," says Aitor, who belongs to the Real Democracy Now (DRY) organization, which spawned the 15-M movement. "They want to convert what we are doing into a public order issue." He blames the Popular Party administration at the central and regional level of trying to prevent people from using public spaces to protest.
Arabica Robusta

Police dislodge last of 15-M protestors | In English | EL PAÍS - 0 views

  • Since the main camp was disbanded on June 12, the government had held that the 15-M information booth that remained in Sol was a municipal concern, while local authorities argued that it was a matter of "public order" and thus of national interest.

    The eviction comes a week after a failed attempt that ended with police charging against the protestors. A few demonstrators told the SER radio station that this latest move is "more than strongly related" to the upcoming visit to Madrid by Pope Benedict between August 16 and 21, and that they were "expecting it."

  • Ignacio Laro, president of Apreca, the association of business owners in the area, said he was "very happy" because "the problem has been solved and the square can now resume its [commercial and tourist] activity."
Arabica Robusta

Interview: Zygmunt Bauman: "Social media are a trap" | In English | EL PAÍS - 0 views

  • He has outlined his pessimistic world view in books such as 2014’s Does the Richness of the Few Benefit Us All?, which argues that the world is paying a high price for the neoliberal revolution that began in the 1980s and that wealth has not trickled down to the rest of society. In Moral Blindness, published last year, he and co-author Leonidas Donskis warn about the loss of community in our increasingly individualistic world.
  • Power has been globalized, but politics is as local as before. Politics has had its hands cut off. People no longer believe in the democratic system because it doesn’t keep its promises.
  • Forty years ago we believed that freedom had triumphed and we began an orgy of consumerism. Everything seemed possible by borrowing money: cars, homes… and you just paid for it later. The wakeup call in 2008 was a bitter one, when the loans dried up.
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  • Conflict is no longer between classes, but between each person and society. It isn’t just a lack of security, but a lack of freedom.
  • Changing one party for another will not solve the problem. The problem is not that the parties are wrong, but that they don’t control things. Spain’s problems are part of a global problem. It’s a mistake to think you can solve things internally.
  • I think we’re still following the principles of Versailles, when the idea of each nation’s right to self rule was established. But that’s a fiction in today’s world, when there are no more homogeneous territories. Today, every society is just a collection of diasporas. People join the societies to which they are loyal and pay their taxes, but at the same time, they do not want to give up their identity. The connection between where you live and identity has been broken.
  • most people use social media not to unite, not to open their horizons wider, but on the contrary, to cut themselves a comfort zone where the only sounds they hear are the echoes of their own voice, where the only things they see are the reflections of their own face. Social media are very useful, they provide pleasure, but they are a trap.
Arabica Robusta

Being realist about social movements: ontological stratification and emergenc... - 0 views

  • The whole point of distinguishing between the transitive and intransitive dimensions of reality is to remind us that sense-experiences alone cannot be used to define what is real. In accepting that there is ontological depth to reality, realists reject any causal explanations that are based simply on patterns of events.
  • The purpose of such theorizing is to allow for an analytical toolset by which we understand the duality of agency and structure. As the argument goes, people interact to create social structures that are then irreducible to the individuals involved, that is, social structures are the emergent products of human interaction.
Arabica Robusta

Pambazuka - Bilderbergers beware - 0 views

  • Protesters hurled creative abuse at the black limousines rolling past towards the Chantilly Marriott Hotel entrance, and to protect them, police arrested a few activists who dared step onto the road. These particular masters of the universe first met at a hotel (The Bilderberg) in Holland in 1954, co-hosted by Dutch royalty, Uniliver and the US Central Intelligence Agency. The obscure brainstorming session would become an annual intellectual and ideological “testing grounds for new initiatives for Atlantic unity,” according to Sussex University scholar Kees van der Pijl, perhaps the world’s most rigorous scholar of transnational ruling classes.
  • On this year’s agenda were “Transatlantic Relations, Evolution of the Political Landscape in Europe and the US, Austerity and Growth in Developed Economies, Cyber Security, Energy Challenges, the Future of Democracy, Russia, China and the Middle East.”
  • This crew is bound to draw the ire of many victims, yet instead of the kind of Occupy protests I witnessed in London last month – a march through The City with socialists and anarchists furious about parasitical banking practices – or at Wall Street’s Zuccotti Park last year and in various subsequent anti-bank protests by US leftists, the weekend’s Bilderberg protest displayed paranoia about the conspiracies being hatched in the Virginia hotel.
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  • This is where I found myself differing most with Jones’ supporters: never before in history have world elites been so tempted to address global-scale crises, but – thanks to the adverse power balance represented by neoliberal ideology in the 1990s, neoconservatism in the early 2000s and some fusion of the two since Obama came to power – never before have they acted so incoherently.
  • Van der Pijl’s exceptionally rich study of Bilderberg and subsequent US-European geopolitical maneuvres, The Making of an Atlantic Ruling Class (which thankfully Verso Press is about to reissue), provides the theoretical underpinning that I feel Jones’ passionately conspiratorialist followers desperately need, if they ever aim to properly judge the world’s complex combinations of structure and agency.
  • ut religion, Freemasonry, Rotary, Jews, etc., can be subsumed into the social category of ‘intellectuals’, whose function, on an international scale, is that of mediating the extremes, of ‘socializing’ the technical discoveries which provide the impetus for all activities of leadership, of devising compromises between, and ways out of, extreme solutions.”
  • But they were nervous, too, of a coming political storm, remarked van der Pijl. Representing both BP and Goldman Sachs in 2007, Peter Sutherland (former WTO director) “was quoted as saying that it had been a mistake to have referenda on the EU constitution. ‘You knew there was a rise in nationalism; you should have let your parliaments ratify the treaty, and it should be done with.’ Kissinger said words to the same effect concerning unification of the Americas, stressing the need to mobilise the enlightened media behind its propagation.”
  • So there is no doubt that world banker domination – which should have been reduced by the 2008-09 financial melt – will continue. Only the occasional sovereign default – Argentina (2002), Ecuador (2008), Iceland (2008) and maybe Southern Europe this year – or imposition of exchange controls (as rediscovered by Malaysia in 1998 or Venezuela in 2003) reduces the banksters’ grip.
  • The strongest political effort by these libertarian anti-Bilderberg protesters is to attempt the election of Texan member of Congress, Ron Paul, as president, and with 20 percent popularity, he remains Mitt Romney’s only irritant within the Republican Party as the November showdown with Obama now looms.
Arabica Robusta

Pambazuka - Samir Amin: A titan of radical thought - 0 views

  • In the 1980s and 1990s African institutions of higher education came under Western influence to the extent that universities, like African economies, have had to prostitute themselves for research funding from foreign donors as kleptocratic African governments failed to fund universities whilst they prioritized military expenditure instead.
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