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Podemos: the political upstart taking Spain by force

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Stacco Troncoso
16th December 2014


Podemos-main
The following article, written by sociologist Carlos Declos, is the best overview I have read of Podemos’ current situation. It was originally published at Reflections on a Revolution.


Some frequent questions about the political singularity that now leads the polls in Spain. Just who are Podemos? And could they be a force for change?

In April of 2013, the far-right Spanish television channel Intereconomía invited an unlikely guest to their primetime debate show: a young, Jesus-haired college professor with an unequivocally leftist background named Pablo Iglesias, just like the founder of the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party. Their goal was to corner him and hold him up as an example of an antiquated and defeated leftist past. Yet Iglesias responded to their rhetoric in a simultaneously polite but firmly antagonistic tone that appealed to both the younger generations who became politicized through the indignados movement and the older generations who did so during Spain’s transition from dictatorship to constitutional monarchy.

Over the following months, Iglesias and the team of academics and activists behind him were able to use this window of opportunity to catapult the message of the social movements and, most importantly, the people left behind by years of austerity and neoliberalism, into the mainstream media. Shortly after gaining access to the media, they formed the political party Podemos (“We Can”), initiating what polls are showing to be an authentic dispute for control of the Spanish government. How they were able to accomplish this in such a short amount of time will be studied in the political and social sciences for years to come.

Because it is a process that I have followed very closely for a number of years, I have often been asked by independent media-makers, academics and activists about how all of this came to be and what the implications are for movement politics. In this piece, I try to address some of the main questions I get from people who are actively engaged in the struggle for a real democracy.

Who are Podemos? Who are its leaders? Is this just another typical leftist party?

Podemos is a new political party that emerged at the beginning of 2014, initially as an alliance between the trotskyist Izquierda Anticapitalista and a group of academic “outsiders” with an activist background who had built a vibrant community through a public access television debate show called La Tuerka (“The Screw”). When I refer to this second group as outsiders, it is not to suggest that their academic output is eccentric or of a low quality. Rather, they are the types of academics who do not fit the mold favored by the so-called Bologna reforms of higher education in Europe, with its emphasis on highly specialized technical “experts” and empirical research, and its hostility towards a broader, theoretical and more discursive approach. These academics are currently the party’s most recognizable faces due to their formidable skills as communicators and their access to the mainstream media.

Recently, Podemos held elections for their Citizens’ Council, which is effectively the party’s leadership. Over 100.000 people participated in those elections through online voting. The team selected by Pablo Iglesias won by an overwhelming majority. It includes an interesting mix of academics, activists and some former politicians. For instance, Juan Carlos Monedero worked as an adviser to Hugo Chávez between 2005 and 2010, and he also advised Gaspar Llamazares of the Spanish United Left party. Íñigo Errejón is a very young and highly promising political scientist who carried out research in Bolivia and Venezuela, though prior to that he was one of the founders of Juventud Sin Futuro (Youth Without a Future), who had a major role in spearheading theindignados movement. Other activists from Juventud Sin Futuro include Rita Maestre and Sarah Bienzobas. Rafa Mayoral and Jaume Asens worked as lawyers for the Plataforma de Afectados por la Hipoteca (PAH), the highly successful civil disobedience movement for decent housing. And Raimundo Viejo and Jorge Moruno are prominent intellectuals associated with the autonomist left.

Whether or not Podemos can be considered a typical leftist party will depend on its evolution. What is clear is that they do not adopt the rhetorical and aesthetic baggage of the marginal leftist and green parties that currently decorate European parliaments. Also, in contrast to SYRIZA, Podemos did not exist prior to the 2011 wave of protests; they emerged based on a diagnosis of the movements’ discourse and demands. Much of what has made Podemos so effective in the post-2011 political arena has been their ability to listen to the social movements, while the pre-existing Spanish political parties were busy lecturing them. Yet, as time progresses and support for the party grows, Podemos is finding itself increasingly tempted to assume the structures that are best adapted to Spain’s formal institutions. Unsurprisingly, these structures are those that currently exist. Whether or not this institutional inertia can be overcome depends on the degree to which the party’s constituents are capable of maintaining tension with its leadership structure and guaranteeing their accountability.

Why did Podemos explode onto the scene in the way they did?

Podemos burst onto the political scene because they understood the climate in the aftermath of the 2011 protests better than any other political actor. For example, the role of the social networks in connecting those movements was extremely important, but a lot of people and political organizations misinterpreted that fact as support for a techno-political, decentralized peer-to-peer ideology. In contrast, I think Podemos saw the social networks as a discursive laboratory through which to build and strengthen a common narrative that they would then take to the public arena in order to maximize its impact. To put it bluntly, they were not content with memes and likes and long comment threads. They wanted to take that discussion to the bars, the cafés and the unemployment lines.

In a sense, the key to Podemos’s emancipatory potential can be summed up in a phrase popularized by Raimundo Viejo and later put into a song by Los Chikos del Maiz, a Marxist rap group that has been very close to the party’s emergence: “El miedo va a cambiar de bando,” which translates to, “Fear is going to change sides.” Currently, they are accompanying that phrase with another, saying that the smiles are also starting to change sides. Using this approach, what they have managed to do is take the insecurity and fears produced by precariousness, unemployment or poverty and, in contrast to projecting it on immigrants (which is what Nigel Farage, Marine Le Pen and, to a lesser extent, Beppe Grillo have done), they project it onto what they call “la casta” (the caste), which is basically the ruling class. And they have done this while, at the same time, “occupying” feelings like hope and joy.

Who supports Podemos? What segment of the population would consider voting for them?

In most of the reports I have seen or read in English, Podemos is described as a sort of outgrowth of the indignados movement, in something of a linear progression. I think this is wrong. While their message resonated far beyond their class composition, the indignados movement was largely composed of a relatively young, college-educated precariat. Their emphasis on direct action and slow, horizontal deliberation introduced something of a selection mechanism into actual participation in the movement, whereby people who were less versed in the culture of radical politics, had less time to spend in general assemblies, were not entirely comfortable with public speaking, were not particularly interested in learning new internet tools and were not willing to take the risks associated with civil disobedience were filtered out over time.

In contrast, Podemos’s access to television guaranteed contact with an older audience, which is extremely important in a country such as Spain, with its older population structure and decades of low fertility. And the types of participation that Podemos enabled (namely, ballot boxes and smart phone apps) have a low learning curve, require less time and involve fewer risks than the more autonomous politics of the indignados. Because of this, Podemos attracts a crowd that includes a much larger component of underprivileged, working class and older people, in addition to a very strong, college-educated youth demographic.

The ideological composition of the people who support Podemos is also interesting. While the bulk of the support they draw comes from people who used to vote for the center-left “socialist” party, nearly a third of the people who currently support them had previously abstained from voting, turned in spoiled ballots or even voted for the right-wing Popular Party. Furthermore, while Podemos openly rejects the standard “left-right” division that has characterised Western politics for years, surveys are showing that their voters mostly view themselves as leftists, that is, neither center-left nor far left. Taken together, this might suggest that Podemos are drawing on something of an untapped leftist imaginary, or that they may very well be redefining what it means for people to consider themselves “leftists” in Spain.

What is Podemos’s relationship with the grassroots movements?

Podemos’s relationship with the grassroots movements is a tricky question to tackle. In addition to the establishment parties and the mainstream media, some people who are active in the grassroots and social movements have been quite critical of Podemos. There are a lot of reasons for this, and I think it is an issue that requires much more reflection than what I can offer here, which is entirely my opinion at the moment. But at its heart, Podemos is part of a growing exasperation with an institutional “glass ceiling” that the social movements keep bumping up against and have not been able to shatter. This exasperation is visible not only in the rise of Podemos but also in the emergence of municipal platforms intended to join outsider parties, community organizations and activists in radically democratic candidacies. In this context, people from the social movements are generally split between those who favor that type of participation and those who prefer a radicalization of non-institutional action.

The main criticism I see coming from the second group is that Podemos started “from the top and not from the bottom.” I think this is wrong. A comically low-budget local TV show and a Facebook page are not what I would consider “high” in a neoliberal chain of command. What Podemos have done is rise very quickly from there, and as they have done so, they have had to deal with questions related to institutional inertia and the autonomy of their own organization. And that is where I think critical voices coming from the social movements are right to be nervous.

While Podemos initially drew its legitimacy, structure (the Círculos they started in various cities were basically conceived as local, self-managed assemblies) and demands (a citizen-led restructuring of the debt, universal basic income, affordable public housing, an end to austerity policies, etc.) from the social movements, their intention was always to draw people from beyond the social movements. They have succeed wildly in doing so, and it turns out that the world outside of the social movements is huge. And despite the fact that they agree with the demands of the social movements, that world appears to be less interested in the social movements’ methodology than the social movements would like. This is enormously frustrating, because it confronts us with our own marginality. It is also unsurprising, because if people who are not activists loved our methodology as much as our message, there would probably be a lot more activists.

The main example of this tension is the internal elections. So far, Iglesias’s lists have consistently won with close to 90% support, and many people who have been influential in shaping the discourse of the social movements (and even that of Podemos itself) are increasingly being left out of decision-making because they are not on those lists. Once out, they discover how little influence the social networks and the Círculos actually have not only relative to that of the members who appear on TV, but also on the people who are not actively involved in theCírculos, yet still identify with Podemos enough to vote in their elections. So far, this has led to some internal accusations of authoritarianism, which I find misguided and think are kind of missing the point. I think the real problem is that we are finding that, in the present climate, people are generally happier to delegate responsibility than we suspected, at least until they can vote on specific issues that affect their daily lives.

At the same time, this propensity to delegate depends a lot on the legitimacy and trust people have in Podemos, which to a large extent was built through their relationship with the streets. So I think the influence the social movements have on Podemos is going to depend on their ability to engage in street politics in such a way that they are able to meet dispossessed people’s needs, on the one hand, and shape the public conversation in a way that forces Podemos to position itself. An example would be the PAH. Podemos cannot stray too much from their demands for decent housing because everybody knows and agrees with them. If Podemos were to stray too far from their demands, the PAH could mobilize against them or simply put out a harsh press statement, undermining their legitimacy considerably.

Where do you see this going? Could Podemos actually win the elections?

I think this is going to change Spain and Europe as we know them, no matter what. Polls are showing that Podemos have a real shot at being the most voted party in the country. Some show that they are already the most supported, and Pablo Iglesias is by far the most popular politician in Spain. If Podemos were to win, in all likelihood the Popular Party and the “socialists” would try to form a national government centered on guaranteeing order, making a few cosmetic changes to the constitution and sabotaging any chance for Podemos to ever beat them. They would also probably try to destroy any chance at something like Podemos rising again. As it stands, the establishment is doing everything in its power to discredit them: associating them with terrorist organizations, accusing their spokespeople of misconduct based on nothing, fabricating news stories. Fear really has changed sides, and it is clearly the establishment that is frightened.

In this sense, I think it’s very important for movements, and for Podemos themselves, to think of what is happening as a kind of political singularity. This is not Obama putting the Democrats in the White House. It is a group of people who have been actively engaged in the struggle against neoliberalism that have managed to turn a populist moment during a period of economic crisis into a hope for a better democracy and an end to neoliberal austerity. At least in Spain, to blow this chance could be a major step backwards for emancipatory politics, towards another long journey through the desert.

Carlos Delclos is a sociologist, researcher and editor for ROAR Magazine. Currently he collaborates with the Health Inequalities Research Group at Pompeu Fabra University and the Barcelona Institute of Metropolitan and Regional Studies at the Autonomous University of Barcelona.

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Posted in Activism, Collective Intelligence, Culture & Ideas, Networks, Politics | No Comments »

Book of the Day: DIY Citizenship

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hartsellml
14th December 2014


Book: DIY Citizenship: Critical Making and Social Media. by Matt Ratto

URL = http://mitpress.mit.edu/books/diy-citizenship

“Today, DIY—do-it-yourself—describes more than self-taught carpentry. Social media enables DIY citizens to organize and protest in new ways (as in Egypt’s “Twitter revolution” of 2011) and to repurpose corporate content (or create new user-generated content) in order to offer political counternarratives. This book examines the usefulness and limits of DIY citizenship, exploring the diverse forms of political participation and “critical making” that have emerged in recent years. The authors and artists in this collection describe DIY citizens whose activities range from activist fan blogging and video production to knitting and the creation of community gardens.

Contributors examine DIY activism, describing new modes of civic engagement that include Harry Potter fan activism and the activities of the Yes Men. They consider DIY making in learning, culture, hacking, and the arts, including do-it-yourself media production and collaborative documentary making. They discuss DIY and design and how citizens can unlock the black box of technological infrastructures to engage and innovate open and participatory critical making. And they explore DIY and media, describing activists’ efforts to remake and reimagine media and the public sphere. As these chapters make clear, DIY is characterized by its emphasis on “doing” and making rather than passive consumption. DIY citizens assume active roles as interventionists, makers, hackers, modders, and tinkerers, in pursuit of new forms of engaged and participatory democracy.”

 

Review

Thomas Swann:

“provides the results of the OccupyMedia! Survey carried out at the end of 2012 and beginning of 2013. Fuchs makes use of the results of the survey elsewhere (in Social Media: A Critical Introduction) but this is the first time they have been presented and analysed in full. Based on online questionnaires, the survey aims to answer research questions such as ‘What do activists perceive as the role of social media in Occupy?’ and ‘How often to activists use certain media and communications forms for trying to mobilize people for protests and occupations?’. (38-9) It deals directly, therefore, with the claims that have been made about movements like Occupy, but also the Arab Spring, the Indignados and others, that social media are central to how these uprisings and protests were organised.

Crucially, and this is one of the many strengths of OccupyMedia! and what makes it essential reading for those interested in contemporary social movements, Fuchs argues that social media were less key than authors like Manuel Castells and Paul Mason make out. While they do play a role, Fuchs’ research is able to show, importantly going beyond anecdotal evidence, that traditional, face-to-face contact and physical space played a more central role in Occupy than did online communications and virtual platforms (this is reflected in other recent studies of Occupy including Mark Bray’s Translating Anarchy (2013) which doesn’t mention social media at all in its account of Occupy Wall Street and my own research on more established activist groups which similarly highlights a reliance on face-to-face, offline communication (Swann 2014a)). OccupyMedia!, however, goes beyond this conclusion to highlight the ways in which social media were used and how activists relate to them as protest tools.

At the outset, Fuchs states the aims of the OccupyMedia! project as to analyse ‘how corporate and alternative, non-commercial digital media enable and or/limit the movement’s communication and protest capacities.’ (4) Rather than discussing how the study sheds light on the use of corporate platforms like Facebook and Twitter, I want to here focus on what it shows in relation to alternative media, social media in particular, and how these are defined by activists and can be defined in relation to the goals of contemporary social movements. ” (http://www.heathwoodpress.com/demanding-defining-alternative-media/)

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Homage to Liberation Psychologist Ignacio Martin-Baró

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Guy James
12th December 2014


Mural at the Cooperativa Martín-Baró featuring Padre Ignacio Martín-Baró.

Mural at the Cooperativa Martín-Baró featuring Padre Ignacio Martín-Baró. (Photo: Amber / https://www.flickr.com/photos/amccy/878267727 )

This excellent article opened my eyes to Liberation Psychology, a discipline which seeks to shine a light on the inherent bias towards the political status quo which is present and goes undetected in mainstream psychology, and one of its main adherents historically,  Ignacio Martin-Baró who was murdered in El Salvador by a “counter-insurgency unit” created at the US Army’s School of the Americas.

As a Jesuit priest, Martin-Baró embraced liberation theology in opposition to a theology that oppressed the poor, and as a social psychologist, he believed that imported North American psychology also oppressed the majority of people. Martin-Baró concluded that mainstream psychology either ignored or only paid lip service to social and economic conditions that shape people’s lives.

Ruling elites and power structures – from monarchies to military dictatorships to the US corporatocracy – have routinely used “professionals” to control the population from rebelling against injustices so as to maintain the status quo. While power structures routinely rely on police and armies to subdue populations, they have also used clergy – thus, the need for liberation theology. And today, the US corporatocracy uses mental health professionals to manipulate and medicate people to adjust and thereby maintain the status quo – thus, the need for liberation psychology.


Read more here…

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Book of the Day: Handbook for Active Democracy

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hartsellml
11th December 2014


Book: From Arrogance to Intimacy: A handbook for active democracies. By Andy Williamson and Martin Sande

URL: http://activedemocraci.es/

“This new and original book will show you how we can make our democracies ready for everyone by being open, sharing and collaborative. It’s about taking democracy on a journey from arrogant and controlling to intimate and co-creating.”

 

Description

The authors write:

“We have a problem. Our democracy is broken, we distrust politicians, despair at the rise of bureaucracy and we feel ignored. In ‘From arrogance to intimacy – a handbook for active democracies’ we want to challenge you to improve how our representatives aren chosen, policy is made, budgets allocated and services delivered. And to do this we need to rebuild democracy so it becomes inviting and inclusive or, as we call it, intimate.

Our governments often don’t reflect the communities that they are supposed to serve, they have become arrogant and controlling. Many of us are starting to question this misuse of power. We’re voting for ‘none of the above’ and turned off from traditional political parties. People are refusing to accept closed, opaque, slow and sly democracy. But there’s a risk that the more we turn away from democracy, the more unaccountable it becomes and the less it works for us.

If we become active citizens, things can change. We believe that it’s time to see society as a network and democratic actions happening right across it. Networked democracy means focussing on mutuality, trust and co-creation. When we do, we start to become intimate and co-creating. Where we do, we create an intention to shift power. No longer used ‘against’ us, power is used ‘with’ us; for the benefit of all not the privilege of the few.

Today, language is used to obscure facts, evidence is chosen to fit the policy and shadowy figures manage, manipulate and control our democracies. It’s not just politicians or civil servants but lobbyists, public affairs and corporate agendas getting in the way of the truth. Too often democracy seems to be working to the advantage of the few and that’s to the disadvantage of the rest of us. We feel that this is wrong and decided to draw on our experiences working in democratic settings in Sweden, the UK, New Zealand and around the world to help you understand why, what went wrong and how we can start to fix it together.

Our new book explores the historical problems, then provides a framework for change and the tools to start creating that change where we live, for ourselves. We’ve devoted a section of the book to digital tools but make it clear that digital is not a silver bullet when it’s the process that’s broken: what’s wrong with democracy can’t be fixed with a new app.

And we’re big fans of creative disruption, agile methods and learning to fail. We don’t have all the answers, so we can’t build better democracy unless we trust ourselves to fail occasionally! This book as a conversation, we invite you to share it, improve it and to help us co-create future versions of it with us!”

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Posted in Activism, Featured Book, P2P Governance | No Comments »

Silicon Valley Is Creating ‘The Camera Panopticon’

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Guy James
7th December 2014


Aral Balkan speaking at a conferenceIn this powerful and indignant article, Aral Balkan – verging on ‘mad as hell and I’m not going to take this any more‘ mode, exposes the nascent total surveillance state, what he calls ‘Spyware 2.0′ and their fraudulent ‘free’ services. He likens the exchange of convenient technology for personal data as tantamount to a theft of one’s soul, and the centralisation of all personal information into private hands as a classic enclosure of the Commons.

When you combine Google’s recent investments in quantum computing, artificial intelligence, and robotics with their existing monopoly in digital services, devices, and connectivity, you get a perfect storm for creating the ultimate surveillance machine; the Camera Panopticon.

The article is given even more weight by the fact that Balkan is ‘walking his talk’ by creating a new mobile phone which he promises will be entirely free of spyware of any variety and will make respect for individual privacy as important as convenience of use. The crowdfunding campaign finishes soon and just needs one final push to be 100% funded has now been successfully funded.


Read more here.

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Posted in Activism, Crowdfunding, Empire, Mobile Developments, P2P Technology | No Comments »

Janet Biehl on Libertarian Municipalism and the Kurdish Struggle

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Kevin Flanagan
5th December 2014


Everyday in the international news we hear of the ISIS assault on the Kurdish city of Kobane in northern Syria. Kurdish fighters are defending the city but we hear very little from the mainstream media of what it is the Kurds are fighting for. In this recording Janet Biehl biographer of American social scientist Murray Bookchin discusses the deep influence of his writings on Libertarian Municipalism, Communalism and Social Ecology on Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan.

“After his abduction in 1999, Abdullah Öcalan initiated a profound rethinking of the Kurdish struggle for self-determination. To what extent has Öcalan been influenced by Murray Bookchin? What are the similarities between these two thinkers, and how did their ideas mature?”

See Also

Adam Curtis – On the Kurdish Fighters of Kobane

Why is the world ignoring the revolutionary Kurds in Syria?

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Posted in Activism, Culture & Ideas, Featured Podcast, P2P Ecology, P2P Movements, P2P Warfare, Podcasts, Politics | No Comments »

Citizens Act Against Corruption

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Kevin Flanagan
3rd December 2014


Open access to information is the best strategy against corruption.

Corruption won’t be ended by those who are corrupt; only organised citizens can do it, and that is exactly what we are doing.

There is a lot of talk about corruption in Spain these days because of many cases that have come to light lately. Government and political parties try to take credit for it, so that all stays the same, but it is certainly not their merit.All cases that are being handled have emerged thanks to civil society. We uncovered the Bankia and the Black Cards cases and almost every other one accept maybe the (Noos case and a few others). The action of one or more citizens, tired of the abuse, has been fundamental. That is why, since we have been working to implement the pioneering structure we have now.

Citizens Act Against Corruption

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Xnet and the Anti-Corruption movement in Spain

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Kevin Flanagan
2nd December 2014


Dossier-Anticorrupcion v.int Eng

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What happens to Occupy Democracy in London shows Britons no longer have freedom of assembly

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Michel Bauwens
1st December 2014


We exceptionally republish the editorial of David Graeber on the repression of Occupy Democracy:

“From last Tuesday, Parliament Square was wrapped in wire mesh. In one of the more surreal scenes in recent British political history, officers with trained German shepherds stand sentinel each day, at calculated distances across the lawn, surrounded by a giant box of fences, three metres high – all to ensure that no citizen enters to illegally practice democracy. Yet few major news outlets feel this is much of a story.

Occupy Democracy, a new incarnation of Occupy London, has attempted to use the space for an experiment in democratic organising. The idea was to turn Parliament Square back to the purposes to which it was, by most accounts, originally created: a place for public meetings and discussions, with an eye to bringing all the issues ignored by politicians in Westminster back into public debate. Seminars and assemblies were planned, colourful bamboo towers and sound systems put in place, to be followed by a temporary library, kitchen and toilets.

There was no plan to turn this into a permanent tent city, which are now explicitly illegal. True, this law is very selectively enforced; Metropolitan police regularly react with a wink and a smile if citizens camp on the street while queuing overnight for the latest iPhone. But to do it in furtherance of democratic expression is absolutely forbidden. Try it, and you can expect to immediately see your tent torn down and if you try even the most passive resistance you’re likely to be arrested. So organisers settled on a symbolic 24-hour presence, even if it meant sleeping on the grass under cardboard boxes in the autumn rain.

The police response can only be described as hysterical. Tarpaulins used to sit on the grass were said to be illegal, and when activists tried to sit on them they were attacked by scores of officers. Activists say they had limbs twisted and officers stuck thumbs into nerve endings as “pain compliance”. Pizza boxes were declared illegal structures and confiscated and commanders even sent officers to stand over activists at night telling them it was illegal to close their eyes.

Finally, the fences went up, and the guard dogs appeared – ostensibly, for what officers insisted was scheduled cleaning that happened to continue each day of the occupation. Hundreds of participants were thus pushed into the tiny green strip to the north of the Churchill statue, and even then, it seemed like every time they sat down for a seminar on financial reform or planning a response to the housing crisis, they were interrupted by some new pretext for police intervention – someone had an “illegal” megaphone, there was what looked like camping equipment, some regulation might have been violated – and squads of police once again stormed in.

One could speak of many things here: the obvious embarrassment of the police, compared with the perseverance and cheerful good humour of the occupiers, who continually grew in numbers and spirit as the repression increased. But what I really want to talk about is the reaction of the media.

The reason that park occupations are so important is because everyone knows they are there. Activists constantly hear the same refrain from would-be allies: “I agree that there’s been an erosion of democracy in this country, that the money controls everything, what I don’t know is: what can I do?” Our usual reply is: meet with other like-minded people. When people get together, brilliant ideas invariably emerge. But it’s impossible to bring people together unless there is a location, a place where they can always go, 24/7, to meet people and begin to have conversations and make plans. This is precisely what our political authorities have decided that Londoners must never again be allowed to have.

To achieve this, the police and media must take what are ostensibly completely opposite reactions to any occupation. The police act as if the possibility of non-violent camping is an existential threat to the very idea of civil government; hundreds of police are mobilised in a near-panic reaction; hallowed public spaces are shut off.

Official media, on the other hand – and in this case the BBC and mainstream newspapers are acting as if they were an arm of government – take exactly the opposite approach, insisting that the events in question are so trivial and unimportant that there is no need to cover them at all. The very same press that provides wall-to-wall coverage of pro-democracy occupations and police repression halfway around the world, in Hong Kong, acts as if analogous events at home are of no interest. It’s hard to think of a more dramatic story than battles between police and non-violent protesters, or the erection of giant fences and mobilisation of attack dogs directly beneath the mother of all parliaments. Yet while I was in the square, the only TV cameras I saw were being carried by journalists from Iran, Russia and Qatar.

We need to ask ourselves what it means that police suppression of democratic assemblies is no longer considered news. Is the wall of silence, as most activists suspect, simply a continuation of the actual physical wall surrounding Parliament Square, another piece of the same strategy, or is it a token of ultimate cynicism? Britons no longer have the right to freedom of assembly. Sorry, that’s no longer news.”

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Dada Maheshvarananda on Cooperation the Commons and Life After Capitalism

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Kevin Flanagan
1st December 2014


Back in February of this year I had the pleasure of attending a presentation by Dada Maheshvarananda who was visiting Ireland to promote his new book After Capitalism Economic Democracy in Action I took the opportunity to interview Dada to learn more about his views on Cooperativism, the Commons and the place of spirituality in movements for social change. Dada is an advocate of PROUT the Progressive Utilisation Theory an economic alternative to both capitalism and state socialism based on the principles of cooperation.

Special Thanks to Dada and to AFRI who hosted the event.

For More Information visit http://proutaftercapitalism.blogspot.ie/

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Posted in Activism, Cooperatives, Featured Video, Original Content, Theory | No Comments »