John Martinez

Yes, we can!

We, the people – the North American revolutionaries  of 1776 said when they referred to themselves and all the colonists who joined the uprising against the king in London. Against the ruler.

On the one hand, the people – on the other hand those who rule the people. Who cheat it, exploit it, carry out measures the populace rejects, level unjust taxes. 

Or collect taxes in an unjust way, taxing the poor overly and almost exempting corporations. For instance.

Today, in Spain, where thousands, no tens of thousands take to the streets in Madrid, where similar numbers fill the Catalonia Square in Barcelona, where people join the movement for more democracy (for real democracy, yes!) in many cities, we hear the assembled pronounce that they want to express the indignation and the grievances of “the people.” They – these large numbers of young and old citizens who fill the central squares of the cities so that  no inch of the pavement seems to remains empty – are party of the citizenry, part of the people. And they invite all the people to join the debate about the problems of the countries. The cause du peuple, die sache des volkes, the true cause of the people is what they have at heart.  They are awake, committed, indignant, but at the same time constructive – hoping to bring about positive change, No, not they alone, all by themselves, but together with you and me. With all the people – you, too, whether you agree with them or not. They don’t pretend to have all the answers, the recipes. They are just ready to reflect problems, to identify the tasks ahead of us. And AMONG THEIR PRIMARY CONCERNS ARE THE DEFICIENCIES OF HE PRESENT DEMOCRATIC SYSTEM. A system of representation by a caste or “ class” of  professional politicians who give us the tacit impression that they don’t want to be disturbed and molested and plagued and nauseated by the ordinary citizens and their desire to be  heard, their quest to have a real say in public affairs. In matters, after all, that concern every one of us directly.

There are those among the “orthodox left” who resent that the “indignant” protesters in the street express their suspicions with regard to all politicians and all political parties.

There are the supporters of the two big political parties, the Conservatives and the Social Democrats who feel they are the main targets of criticism.

There are the old, fascist believers in General Franco’s dictatorship who only see “chaos and anarchy “ threatening the country. Anarchism, to them, is everything that doesn’t identify with their militarist conception of “law and order.”

The orthodox left even resents the use of the word “people:” Those who desire emancipation, should speak of “class”, they think. These critics may well assume that all these people in the street lack “class consciousness.” And indeed, the protesters try to be inclusive: they don’t want to exclude anyone. They don’t want to speak for every one: THEY WANT EVERY ONE TO SPEAK. 

And they know that today, the majority of the people has not learned to speak in public. That the powers that be don’t want the ordinary people to be awake and committed and  really concerned citizens, speaking in public and demanding to be heard in public. For instance, on television. 

But shouldn’t we make it clear that public debates should be broadcast on television? And if  they let you, the shop steward, the salesman, the typist, the girl working in a supermarket, speak on television, it should not just be for 20 televised seconds, in a statement selected and edited by a journalist who knows how to suppress what the “rulers” don’t like to hear in the “mass” media. The media that speak to the “masses” – and almost never let us, the “masses,” be heard…

Yes, it matters to be inclusive. Some of those in the movement, and outside the movement – “orthodox” Leftists very often – never learned that in practice. The squabble about programs. About “a correct undertanding” of “theory”: they know how to split. Even among themselves. And still we need their knowledge, their input, their contribution. Perhaps they can learn from some of us how to listen to others. How to be more inclusive. 

As for the dedicated conservative Christians among the ordinary citizens who support the Conservatives (the Partido Popular; a self-proclaimed people’s party), the people in the street will perhaps like to point out to them that many dedicated Christians, among them members of Justitia y Paz, have joined them and indeed are very active and committed participants in the Democracy Movement.

Perhaps ordinary Christians active in the PP should also be inspired by the movement and put pressure on the PP leadership to make their party more faithful to the example of Jesus, rather than faithful followers of neo-liberal dogma? 

And quite generally, do not ordinary members of the two big parties (but also of other parties) have every reason to push for internal democracy in their parties – which is conspicuously lacking?

In other words, in many ways, all of us should share a concern about a conspicious lack of democracy.

In other words, there is no need to antagonize each other.
Of course, all the critics of the Democracy real, ya! movement are part of the people, too.  If they are not part of the rulers, the self-proclaimed “elite” that appropriates everything: the decisive control over the productive wealth of the country and the decisive political influence (or power). It is these people who do not want to share power. To release their hold on it. To see you and me empowered.

We can learn from each other. We, the people. We can listen to each other. No one possesses the “absolute truth.” No human soul is above criticism.

The critics of the democracy movement share perhaps one basic conviction: THAT THE PEOPLE IS IMMATURE. That it needs a guardian or guardians. That without guardianship or tutelage, it will only cause mischief.

Well, at the core  of it is the skeptical assumption that man is fundamentally evil. No, evil or stupid. Or both. And this permanently, in a fairly static and unchangable way. It is an anthropological assumptions that in the West is rooted in the old Christian myth or dogma of “original sin,”  the first sin of Adam and Eve that is passed on from generation to generation.

If that were so, if we, the people are permanently and intrinsically incapable of governing ourselves, of participating truly and fully in the decision-making processes that affect our very existence, our daily lives, to which strange race do our masters, today’s governing politicians (and their ‘experts’) belong if they – as an “elite”, as masters – may consider themselves fit to rule? Isn’t this poor arrogance? And to what strange race do the decision-makers in the executive offices of Lehman Bros., of J.P. Morgan, of the Santander Bank, of UBS and Deutsche Bank belong, if they don’t want us to meddle in their affairs, if they are infallible and we are “stupid,” if they just want us to pay for the cost of the financial crisis they have caused but don’t want democratic transparency and democratic control of what they are doing?

This does not mean that “the masses can’t err.” But perhaps, to some extent, as long as they don’t opt for fascism and genocide, they have the “right to err” when they engage in democratic debate and democratic decision-making.

We should trust ourselves and our neighbors. We should never lose that amount of skepticism which is instilled in us by a knowledge of the crimes humans have committed, as rulers and ruled, throughout history.

Man, indeed, is capable of being stupid, selfish, cruel.

And he is capable of being friendly, of being altruistic, of even sacrificing his life trying to save lives.

We see it every day. It is not a myth.

We should have trust in the democratic desire of more and more people to actively participate in the democratic process, and to help solve the problems humanity and the planet faces today.

And yet, monarchs, an entire aristocracy, the ecclesiastical hierarchy of the Catholic Church, all have considered themselves able rulers, guardians and shepherds of the stupid sheep, the people.


If we have flaws, if man is all but perfect, we all share that weakness.


Let’s change it!

Yes, we can. 



Go back to URBAN DEMOCRACY issue  # 6


Democracy real YA!

Manifesto of Democracia real YA!

backup  copy

DemocraciarealYa Sevilla (29-5-2011)

backup copy

Suite 101. net

Carolina Castañeda López, La "Spanish Revolution" y los movimientos sociales en la red

backup copy

Lola Romero Gil, Movimientos ciudadanos, la red se mueve

backup copy

Lola Romero Gil, "Una semana 
de España acampada, por la democracia real"

backup copy

Heinz Dieterich, "Transición 
al Socialismo del Siglo XXI: avances en Europa y Asia"

backup copy 

Greg Sargent,"Wisconsin Dems 6. Wisconsin Republicans 0"
(On upcoming recall-elections)

backup copy

BBC on Wisconsin (Feb. 18, 2011)
Democrats flee Wisconsin Senate to slow anti-union bill 

backup copy


Esther Vivas

backup copy

backup copy (doc.file)
Retos anticapitalistas

backup copy

K21 (Stuttgart)

backup copy

Demokratie ohne Parteien?
Eine ganz reale Utopie
Ein Gespräch mit der Schriftstellerin Juli Zeh 

backup copy

documenta 11:
demokratie als permanenter,
unabgeschlossener  prozess

Beharrlich unbequem
Hans Herbert von Arnim, kritischer Verfassungsrechtler,der die Entmachtung des angeblichen  Souveräns - der Bevölkerung - beklagt

backup copy, Theses on the global crisis 

backup copy

Local to

Support Julian Assange

Forum Social Mundial

Z Communications  AND Z mag

Z call for help



                                                                                                 go back to URBAN DEMOCRACY issue  # 6