If you are not familiar with the story behind Los Indignados, these three sites will give you the background to the situation:-
Spain’s Indignados protest here to stay
In Spain they are all Indignados nowadays
The legacy of the Indignados
What started out as demonstrations by thousands of students over austerity measures imposed by the Spanish government has gradually changed into a system of self-help organisations.
“From the Mortgage Victims’ Platform (Plataforma de Afectados por la Hipoteca), (PAH), to the Citizens’ Tide – (Marea Ciudadana) a coalition of 350 organisations, from health workers to trade unions and youth groups, have mobilised hundreds of thousands against privatisation and austerity.”
“The PAH trudged pavements for more than a year to gather 1.4m signatures, forcing the government to debate its proposal to change the draconian mortgage law where you can lose your house and still carry mortgage debt with you for life.”
“Meanwhile Madrilonia, an Indignado blog, declares the entire economic model broken; the authors are not waiting around for someone to fix it but building their own alternatives, from the Catalan network of co-operatives to the Casa Precaria in Madrid that advises people on how to go about creating their own jobs through worker co-operatives.”
Does the following sound familiar?
“Shifting focus to politics, the protesters rejected politics as usual and the representational system as bankrupt. The political representatives do not reflect the voice and will of the people. They have become a distant elite, cut off from the rest of the population, and parties, unions and other organisations are no longer able to channel the will of the people into political decision making. The protesters therefore rejected the traditional form of doing politics where citizens make demands to representatives, and where citizens are supposed to be passive except for voting every four years.”
“Not only that, but they identified the problem as the very form of the political system itself: the root of the problem lies in political representation which is bound to lead to a hierarchy between representatives and represented, those in power and those without a voice. That is, they criticised representation not only for being unrepresentative, but for being the problem in the first place.”
And borrowing an idea from Argentina (the escrache):- “At some point protesters started turning up outside the homes of politicians who did not want to change the current law and judges who did not side with those threatened by eviction.”
Although we haven’t heard much about Los Indignados recently, or 15-M, as it is now known, the principles behind it are now embedded in Spanish society, and have been instrumental in a brand new development. “Barely 100 days old, party born from indignados movement now has five MEPs and determination to change political landscape”
You can find more detail about this exciting development here:-
“Podemos hopes to cement rise of citizen politics in Spain after election success”
And note the following:-
“The idea behind the party is simple, Iglesias told the Guardian on Tuesday. “It’s citizens doing politics. If the citizens don’t get involved in politics, others will. And that opens the door to them robbing you of democracy, your rights and your wallet.” (My emphasis).
It is clearly not just the UK that has the problem, its much more widespread than that. In fact, any country using the Democratic system will probably be the same, with the possible exception of Switzerland.
But don’t despair. There are ways to break the stranglehold. My preferred method in the UK is the People’s Manifesto, (see previous post), but in other countries a different approach might be more suitable.
And remember the old maxim –