Jaime Rosdolsky

Real Democracy, Yes!

A Democracy Movement is forming in Spain
 


Debating people in the Puerta del Sol Square, Madrid, May 2011     Photo by  Kadellar*
                                                                                

In Spain today,  thousands, tens of thousands, IN MANY CITIES, have taken to the streets. Since May 15th, they are coming every day to the central squares. Others, and there are thousands of them, are remaining there day and night. They have pitched their tents on the Puerta del Sol Square in Madrid, on the Catalonia Square in Barcelona. They are cooking their meals in the morning, at lunch time and in the evening.  And, more importantly, they are talking to each other. They are speaking their mind, talking about what is wrong in society. 

It is good to exchange thoughts about things that concern us. And they are thinking, thinking hard,  about the problems we all should be reflecting.(1)

Or shouldn’t we? – BEING HUMAN BEINGS, being able to think and feel, endowed with a sense of justice, able to be kind, able to offer help to others, to care…,   we all know, deep inside, that we should.

Yes, they do what we should be doing: they think and discuss public matters: the ‘res publica,’  that is. The common good and the problems we, all of us, face today. Which is, after all, that which is at the heart of every republic. 

They, these young, middle aged and old citizens – girls and boys, women and men, do this – rather than hoping for answers from so-called experts and politicians who have only made matters worse, as everybody had so many chances to see.

Often they form many small discussion groups, debating issues. Then again they form assemblies (assembleas) that incorporate all those who are present in the square. They take votes. And they have an important democratic ethics at heart: They don’t seek to marginalize and outvote others. They seek to achieve a consensus. If nothing better can be attained, a minimal consensus.(2) They are not sectarian, not bent to split. They don’t want to exclude people. They invite you and me to join in. In fact, after occupaying the Puerta del Sol Square and debating issues for ten days in a row, some of the people there declared that they feel tired and would be glad if more people joined them, offering their input in the form  of  “ideas, strength, enthusiasm and creativity.”(3)  Their website also said, “[W]e need people with fresh ideas like you.”(4) 

They have so much trust in the fairness and in the good will of you and me, of ordinary people. In the capacity of all of us to think, to be fair, to overcome bias. To get to the core of the problems that confront you and me, society, the planet.
 

Distrust of parties and politicians

But they distrust politicians and parties. Apparently, in many if not most of them, skepticism abounds. Regarding all parties: left, right, and center.

Probably few of them participated in the local elections that took place in Spain, on May 22, 2011. They are, above all, disillusioned with the two big “popular” parties of Spain, two parties that can best be likened to the Republicans and Democrats in the U.S., to the Conservatives and the Labor Party in Britain, to the Christian Democrats and the Social Democrats in Germany. These self-proclaimed “popular” parties are known in Spain as the PP and the PSOE.  The PP or Partido Popular is a neo-liberal “Conservative” party, and the PSOE is a “Social-Democratic” party that has succumbed to the “necessities of globalization” and the forces of the financial market, and that in effect is just as neo-liberal. In many ways, people can’t see what difference it makes if they vote for the one or the other, so similar are their political recipes in the face of the present crisis.

And so, it is a fair bet that many of those who today are are out in the street, actively debating the public issues that matter, have preferred to either abstain or to actually vote but cast empty ballots in protest, in the recent nationwide elections of mayors and city councils that took place on May 22.(5)

And yet the fact that most may have abstained does not mean that they turn their back on democracy or elections. On the contrary, they take it seriously. They are far from being apathetic. They are committed to the goal of a democratic society that empowers all of us.  Yes, these people form a real  DEMOCRACY MOVEMENT. They are demanding “real democracy, yes”. These words, in Spanish, Democracia real, ya!, have become something like a name and watchword of the M-15 or May 15th movement that has emerged and that continues to grow. emerging as a challenging, thought-provoking, refreshing force in Spanish society.
 

Abstentionism 

We all know that abstentionism during elections is a trend in North America and Europe. As a result of prolonged disechantment with the political process, abstention is significant in most if not all Western societies. During the regional elections in Bremen, Germany, for instance, that also took place quite recently, only 54 per cent of the electorate cast a ballot. 

In Spain, on May 22,  2011, thirty three  per cent of the electorate abstained.

Two per cent cast empty ballots and one per cent cast voided ballots. (A ballot is voided if you scrawl anything, say, an invective, all across it.)

The two “major” parties, the PP and the PSOE, received very little support.  The opposition PP was preferred this time but attracted a mere 24 per cent of the electorate and the governing PSOE attained a result that, due to its austerity measures, was even worse: just 18 per cent. Which shows how unrepresentative they are today.(6)

                 
After all, the bloc of non-voters is not staying home without a cause. They are disillusioned, tired of it all, fed up, and many of them may be longing for an alternative that they think does not exist. At least, they seem to think, it doesn’t exist on that little piece of paper, the ballot paper that lists the parties and their candidates.

The democratic process in many countries is also negatively affected by the electoral system. In Spain, just as in the U.S., in Britain or France, the small parties are not exactly favored by the election law (forgive this ironic remark). At the recent elections in Spain, all the small parties taken together OBTAINED 22 per cent. In other words, their total is better than that of the PSOE. But while the PSOE and the PP get the bulk of the seats in parliament, the total number of delegates of the small parties does not reflect the 22 per cent attained; it is insignificant. Would they have gained more votes if sympathizers had thought that voting for them would have made a difference? Hard to tell. 

At any rate, quite a few voters (and especially young and politically aware voters) who opted for small parties rightly feel that they are not represented in parliament in a manner that they think is fair. In fact, they and the non-voters plus casters of empty or void ballots form a bloc that comprises 58 per cent of the electorate (22  plus 36 per cent). 58 per cent of Spain’s adult citizens, that’s a lot. 58 per cent of the adult population, if we may for a moment disregard  the disempowered immigrants that are not allowed to vote! More than 58 per cent, if we focus on the entire population – including immigrants without citizen status! And they are all factually disempowered by the electoral law. They are condemned to be mere onlookers, prey, without a noticable influence on the political game to the extent that this game is played in parliament. And this because, due to the electoral system, they are represented by very few or no delegates. 

But what about the rest, and especially  those who voted for the governing party? What does the fact that they are represented by a party that has won a considerable number of seats in parliament mean to them? 

In fact, many find out that party leaders and elected candidates of a party are not bound to loyally fulfill election promises. Once they are voted into office, candidates often are more loyal to the party leadership than they are to their constituents, especially if the latter are “small people,” ordinary folks rather than “important” bankers, industrialists, and so on.

So irritation about the undemocratic effects of the institutional, parlamentary political process is very understandable. But because the power and influence of the leadership of the PP and PSOE are at stake, very little change can be expected without massive pressure from the woman and man in the street. And that is to say, without mass protests by ordinary citizens.
 

Committed to Democracy

The movement that took off in May 2011 is very much concerned with all this. Yes, most of those involved express indignation when they talk about politicians and parties and their political games.

BUT ONE THING WE CAN SAY FOR SURE: DISILLUSIONMENT WITH PARTIES AND  ELECTIONS AS SUCH IS NOT TOTAL AMONG THOSE WHO TAKE TO THE STREETS TODAY.

In fact, all those involved in the movement that took to the streets express a strong commitment to democracy. They take it seriously. And for that very reason, they hope to start a debate that will help to make present democracies more democratic.

Yes, most of them may have abstained in May. They may not have cared anymore, today, whether the PP or the PSOE wins. We also have no indications that they are enthusiastic supporters of regional, autonomist parties. Or the Greens. Or the IU, the left party. They don’t seem to believe  in the trustworthiness of most of those professionally involved in these parties. They seem to fear their supposed pragmatism, which they take as a cover for a very real willingness to sacrifice goals, ideals, principles and one’s integrity to the exigencies of a political game which revolves around questions like, “How do I attain power?” “What is necessary to avoid loss of power?”  If any loyalties, to any of these parties, whether big or small, still exist in some of them, they have been pushed into the background. 

What they have at heart is not parties, not politicians, but citizens. Themselves and you and me. 

Yes, that’s so remarkable about this movement. They have us at heart, all those who are factually, to a greater or lesser extent, disempowered. Not listened to, truthfully. Used, as voters, and forgotten about once we have voted. Shoved aside, because leading politicians seem to think that we will have forgotten about it when the next election campaign is under way. And that we will choose them, will choose the one major ticket or the other, thus again and again opting for the ‘lesser evil.’ –  Yes, apparently a lot of politicians can live with that. And the political leadership of the two ‘major’ parties  doesn’t really care terribly much about the fact that 30 or 40 per cent of the voting age, enfranchised population abstain. They just care for a majority of valid votes, a majority of seats, and the influence it gives them. – Something like this must be the analysis of those who ask for “real democracy,” for a better, fairer democratic process today.

AFTER ALL, THEY ARE DEMANING

Reform of the election law: Elections that would be more representative of the public will, and that would not leave the majority of the people factually unrepresented.

This is the first of four main points (cuatro lineas)  that have been laid down in the plenary sessions all over the country in this regard, describing the main goals of the Real Democracy Yes Movement.

But, clearly connected with their quest for a less fictious, no longer disempowering democracy, this first demand which takes the form of an  election law reform proposal is intimately linked with another demand, that “effective mechanisms of citizen participation are developed”.(7) 

The 2nd point concerns the necessary fight against corruption and the quest for “total political transparency”.(8) 

As for transparency, this, interestingly,  is a very old democratic demand. In the democratic revolution of 1848, many revolutionaries sharply denounced secret diplomacy (as advocated by Metternich), which is also a practice that Kissinger came to admire. Today, almost everything is kept secret in Western democracies.(9)
The 3rd point concerns a more effective separation of “public powers”.(10)
And the 4th point aims at the realization of “mechanisms of citizens control” which would reflect the effective necessity of political responsibility. 

Doesn’t that mean that the elected representatives have to face our questions? When we ask for evidence, they would have to point out in detail  how they have fulfilled their election promises. And being “responsible,” they would have to face sanctions, including immediate recall, if they fail to do so.(11)

These four points are described by those involved in the public deliberation  process as the expression of  a “minimal consensus” reached in the assemblies. Being convinced that the concerns thus expressed are “representative” of the grievances frequently felt and uttered by Spain’s citizens, they have made them heard. And they hope that the debate will be continued, on an even wider scale.(12)

Of course there are also more specific demands, and they concern many questions: 

- high unemployment; 

- even higher unemployment among younger people (in the age bracket between 16 [?] and 26 the rate is 45 per cent); 

- the PSOE government’s attack on the level of pensions in the context of “austerity measures”; and 

- the determiniation of the PSOE government (which is under pressure from the IMF and the European Commission) to raise the retirement age.(13)

- Finally, above all, ecological concerns that lead to a plea for a sustainable way of producing and consuming.(14)

In fact, many of these concerns are shared by people of the traditional left, especially in the CCOO.(15) But the leaders of the CCOO and the IU, sensing their relatively weak position, have again and again hesitated to criticize  Zapatero too harshly, which most young people in the streets don’t understand and which they see as a form of betrayal.
 

Was it sensible to abstain?

A desire to change the present democratic system is obvious in the movement that formed. A good aim. How can it be attained? Will the street protests grow in number, and will that in the end suffice?

There are many open questions. There is another question, more immediate and perhaps not unrelated to the others, that should perhaps be reflected:

Was it sensible to abstain?

When you consider how party politics can be divisive, it is clear that to push loyalties to parties – whether the Greens, Autonomists, the IU, the PSOE or the PP – into the foreground could only have damaged the quest to find common ground, as to how the democratic process can be turned into something that is more democratic than it is at present.

Also, we should remember that the governing PSOE, under pressure from the European Commission, from the IMF, from last not least the Conservative German government, reneged on its election promises to defend the socio-economic rights of the working people and the small self-employed folks, the less well-off professionals, the young, the aged, and so on.

The leaders of the PSOE were recognized for what they are:  Political representatives who have what they call “the economy” in mind. In this they are very much like their “competitors”, the leaders of the PP. And the “economy,” mind you, requires – in the eyes of those who are at the levers – that wage levels are pushed down, that the labor market becomes what they call “flexible”, a lot more “flexible”, in fact. Which implies a dismantling of rights that were once defined in order to protect working people. The “economy” (therefore, those who run it, who own it, who derive direct profit from it) also demands that pensions are curtailed, that the age of retirement is lifted to 67, perhaps 70. This is what they tell us.

Antagonizing the people, seeing that a democracy movement is forming, that they lose percentage points in the election, the PSOE leadership naturally is nervous.  Are you really surprised that they sent in the “Mossas” and the “Guardia” to beat up peaceful people who had taken to the streets? Any group in power, aware deep down in their hearts and minds that their legitimacy is dwindling, would have reacted like that. The PP leadership perhaps without the qualms that people like Zapatero may have felt.

When you see today the videos showing the violent attacks of special riot police and Guardia Civil units on peaceful people demanding REAL DEMOCRACY that occurred in Barcelona on May 27, 2011, you can not blame the folks in the streets  that they did not vote, 5 days earlier, for the supposedly “progressive” politicians who ordered such an unprovoked attack. Nor for the “Conservatives” who decry them…

And yet… Is an emotional judgement such as indignation felt vis-à-vis the political ‘caste’ sufficient to justify abstentionism? What does reason tell us?

Noam Chomsky said something interesting in a recent talk on “Democracy Now”. He basically argued against abstention during elections, at least in the present U.S. context. 

He seemed to say that given the choice of voting for Obama or Palin, he would think that to help obtain an election victory of Obama, rather than contributing to his defeat by abstaining, would matter. 

Because with Palin, things would be still worse. 
Yes, he might be right. Who knows. 

Chomsky added something important, however. He said that by voting for Obama you may take a rational and pragmatic step – “but don’t expect anything.” He repeated these last words; they were they key point of his message. 

Perhaps we have a better chance to defend our rights under Obama, to work for a better world under his administration, perhaps they don’t place quite as many obstacles in our way – “but don’t expect anything” POSITIVE from them. To achieve something POSITIVE is our task. Don’t look to the politicians. Don’t look to the Democratic Party or the Republican Party.

To some extent, the people in the STREETS AND PLAZAS of Alicante, Barcelona,  Córdoba,  La Coruña,  Las Palmas, Lleida, Madrid, Murcia, Oviedo,  Sevilla,  Valencia, Valladolid, Vigo, Zaragoza  etc. – most of whom may never have heard of Chomsky – seem to view things in a similar way.

Is it not apparent that we can say about most of them that they don’t expect much anymore?

But it seems that they draw a different conclusion.

They don’t vote.

Whether that conclusion is rational should be reflected, again and again. And perhaps, there exists no answer that is permanently valid. Perhaps much depends on the concrete political situation.

At any rate, no matter who we might vote for, Chomsky is probably right when he’s warning us: Don’t expect too much. Not even from politicians who seem closer to our ideals, our hopes, our endeavours.

It’s up to US to say YES, WE CAN BRING CHANGE. And it is left to us to fill these words with real content, rather than be content to broadcast an empty phrase, as Obama and his crew of advisers did.
 

The Spreading Wave of Hope, and the Perils Involved in ‘Mediation’ 

We have for long ducked or shrugged our shoulders. Most of us, that is. FEELING AND KNOWING RATIONALLY THAT THINGS WERE NOT THE WAY THEY SHOULD BE: but except for a small number of political thinkers and youthful activists at the margins of society, we all thought: “What can we do? NOTHING.” 

O yes, injustice thrived on this humus of despair, disillusionment and apathy. It seems that the political sphere has its ‘conjunctures’, its cycles, its ups and downs, very much like the economy.

At the end of the 1960s, around the world almost, their was a tide, a crest, a wave of protest and commitment. 
It had one significant shortcoming. In many countries, to a large extent, it was a youth movement, a youth revolt. In the U.S., all through the 1960s, THE AWAKENING OF A CERTAIN PERCENTAGE OF YOUNG PEOPLE WENT HAND IN HAND WITH THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT, the movement of Americans of African descent. There was hope and strength in that link. And it is a pity that somehow it did not develop further. But the greatest hindrance to democratic change at the time was the failure to form a link with labor, and that means to a large extent with unionized labor.

It was not primarily the fault of young people asking for change, or of Afro-Americans. The labor leadership was often conservative and perhaps in part corrupt. And in the 1960s, prior to the deepening symptoms of economic crisis that appeared since the mid 70s, a large part of the U.S. working class was not ready to apprehend the fact that it, too, was disempowered. They compared their situation with the Great Depression, the War Years and the immediate post-war years, and they saw themselves as “well taken care of”; they never had it that good, many thought. Well, that was a temporary situation and a bottom, an illusion. Today, with high unemployment, divisive competition for jobs, and the stress implied in difficulties to make ends meet, it is anxiety and loss of hope, rather than unwarranted over-confidence, that disarms them and lets them succumb to what is not unavoidable. The majority of them still don’t fight for their rights, even though there are more and more examples of resistance and growing courage.

What is the situation like, in Spain? It is obvious that here, too, courage has returned.

When you listed to the PEOPLE out in the street, all those who are debating in the big central squares of so many towns in SPAIN, it becomes apparent that they were (and still are) obviously inspired by THE MILLIONS that took to the streets in ALEXANDRIA, in CAIRO, in PORT SUEZ and in other places in Egypt. They were inspired by several hundred thousand people crowding the TAHIR SQUARE every Friday night for weeks. They were inspired by a real DEMOCRACY MOVEMENT in Egypt and in Tunisia that erupted in the beginning of this year.

Incidentally, a similar DEMOCRACY MOVEMENT evolved in 2010, on a smaller scale, in the German South West, centered in STUTTGART – a city of modest size. There, people, protesting against an arrogant state government (headed by Mr. Mappus, then the prime minister of the state of Baden-Wurttemberg), took to the street every Friday evening, and often also on Monday night.  First a few thousand, then about 65,000. Finally one hundred and fifty thousand – which is a lot in a town that size.

It is interesting that certain forms developed by the protesters in STUTTGART in 2010 were inspired by protests in BAGHDAD. 

Obviously, protest forms watched on  television have an effect. IN STUTTGART, LARGE CROWDS WENT TO THE STUTTGART STATE CAPITOL (THE BUILDING THAT HOUSES THE STATE PARLIAMENT), THROWING SHOES AGAINST ITS WALLS IN  CONTEMPT WHILE SHOUTING, “LIARS, LIARS.”

This was after a sit-in of ten- to thirteen-year-old school kids blocking a street to protect trees in the central public park, was brutally attacked by riot police. An elderly engineer, in his 60s (a bystander, not a demonstrator) who was aghast and stepped in front of the kids, gesturing to the police to turn off their water canons, lost both of his eyes, probably for good, when the police, obviously on purpose, directed the water canon at him with full force.

The next day, in indignation, the number of protesters that turned out, more than doubled, from 65,000 to 150,000, you see. And that matters. Not to be intimidated. But to stand up to the powers that seek to intimidate and that continue to disempower us. The people who wield power and  lie and cheat; people in top political positions  who all too often are so eager to enrich themselves and their cronies. We can ANSWER their every deed, and this in a good way.

In Stuttgart, concrete local issues merged with a general sense that citizens were effectively disempowered by the politicians, and so pressure for participative democracy increased. What started out as a protest against the destruction of 500 big and beautiful trees in a public downtown park, against an undesired speculative project of  “urban renewal” and against a very  expensive, multi-billion dollar infrastructure project that would benefit the few (long distance travellers taking a fast train that would have their travelling time cut by a few minutes) and hurt the many (commuters in the Stuttgart region), became a lesson in political arrogance, unprovoked police violence, and contempt for ordinary citizens. It was, to a large extent, that lesson which alerted many people hitherto naïve in this respect, to the deficits of the democratic process.

The government of Mr. Mappus has been defeated in the recent state election as a consequence. THE DEMOCRACY MOVEMENT, however, has been split by a clever mediation process. And the number of those actively supporting the movement in the streets has also shrunk again because quite a few of those who have regained a belief in the traditional political process have slipped back into passivity, into the false security of those who think they voted for the ‘right’ party and it brought about a change in government. But, you see,  it is not clear at all whether the GREEN PARTY that gained decisive votes in the election will live up to expectations. Yes, that PARTY got its first prime minister elected as a result of public indignation over the so-called S-21 project of Mr. Mappus and German Rail Inc. and over all the brutality and disdain which was showered on the women and men in the street. BUT WITH POLITICIANS, you never know. Power is sweet, incomes of top politicians are elevated. The influence they wield guarantees further elevated incomes after they leave office. And so the temptation to be “pragmatic” – AND AGAIN BETRAY THE PEOPLE – is enormous. The fact that the Greens were forced to form a coalition government with the Social Democrats as their junior partner certainly implies added difficulties when it comes to keeping their election promises.
 

Is the old maxime that we need to build alliances still valid?

As for Spain, it is obvious from the videos we can see that the democracy movement witnessed at the moment is mainly formed  by young people. Which is not surprising.  Some 45 per cent of those under twenty-six  are jobless today. The situation is about as bad in this regard as in Tunisia where the self-immolation of a young academic who tried to survive as an unlicensed hawker triggered the revolutionary explosion.

Yes, I see also middle aged and older people among the people assembled on the Puerta del Sol Square or the Catalonia Square. (Assemblies in other towns are not as obviously featured on the internet, by way of videos.) But the young form the overwhelming majority. This is not in itself bad. The young are the future. They have that élan; and the jobless as well as college kids have more time and energy reserves than most working people. 

But in Cairo, the ‘Egyptian revolution’ that was made by people on the Tahir Square – and they were hundreds of thousands, in the critical days millions – was presaged by a series of illegal strikes and the formation of an officially unrecognized union, in the years before the social eruption in early 2011. That was perhaps decisive in some respects. The link between the workers’ movement and the youth movement existed in February. The democracy movement incorporates both. 

When I see those thousands of  young people with their posters and their slogans that attest to their courage and their beautiful, spontaneous imagination and, above all, their intelligence, pass in front of the C.G.T. building, shouting “traidores, traidores!” (traitors, traitors!) I cannot help feeling sadness.(16) Sadness because, in all likelihood, the union leadership values their close links to the governing  PSOE leaders more highly than the possibility to link with the Democracy real, ya! movement. For the good of Spain, of its disempowered citizens, and for the good of all workers and of course, all organized workers, regardless of whether they are U.G.T. or C.G.T. members, or affiliated to the Comisiones obreras (CCOO). Sadness also because young people often tend to be so uncompromising and so idealistic that they don’t see they also have to make a step in the direction of the Others, in order to show and produce good will. This does not mean that they have to compromise themselves, that they have to betray their insights and goals. It merely means that one cannot expect too much, at once, from the other side. That one tries to understand their point of view. Speaking of traitors is perhaps understandable but not helpful. It would be better to gauge which of the demands and goals that surface in the democracy movement, the C.G.T. activists and their leaders would be prepared to support. IN THE ASSEMBLIES, AMONG THEMSELVES, THESE YOUNG PEOPLE SEEK TO PRACTICE TOLERANCE, PATIENCE, CAREFUL LISTENING TO OTHERS: THEY ARE ACCEPTING THE COEXISTENCE OF DIFFERENT POINTS OF VIEW. AND CONSENSUS MATTERS. Why can we not attempt to find common ground with as many committed activists and middle or higher level delegates in the unions, as possible? And even in certain parties? A pluralism within the ecological and progressive spectrum (reaching from the Greens and the CCOO, the IU, immigrant organizations, rebellious tendencies in the PSOE to Catholic progressives, attached for instance to Justicia y Paz) and effective cooperation of progressive forces would not be a bad thing for the democracy movement, would it? Being inclusive, include them too, without expecting too much. Without expecting, above all, a complete identity of their and our analysis of the situation, and a complete identity of  goals and hopes.(17)

But perhaps the young people are wiser than I am, in not aiming at a “progressive” coalition but a movement of all the disempowered. After all, many voters who prefer the PP are disempowered, too. And no one should proclaim that, intrinsically, they can never feel the urge to join a campaign that will, sooner or later,  achieve a much more democratic, that is to say, truly participative, real democracy.
 
 

NOTES

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(1) Apparently this matters very much to those who are assembled on the many central squares of Spain’s cities. It is not enough to reflect about the problems of our society in your study. It is not enough to debate them when sitting with friends and family members at the kitchen table. We should meet and exchange ideas, we should debate and come to erstwhile, provisional, tentative conclusions while meeting in the streets, thousands of us, concerned about an inadequate democracy, an unjust society, an endangered planet. We should fill Times Square, like those who assembled  on Tahir Square or at the Plaza del Puerta del Sol. Only by encountering each other, as strangers who are friends and fellow beings, searching for answers, only by bringing about a great, shared process of reflection, of brainstorming, patiently listening, calmly thinking, thoughtfully responding, will it be possible for the people to fill the gap that so many politicians and experts have been unable or unwilling to fill. We can tackle the essential questions they have skirted. We can correct their judgement where it has been wrong, short-sighted, driven by their need or desire to give in to special interest groups, to lobbyists working for those who care more about dividends and tax cuts for the few than about the “family of man” (as Steichen once called it).  “Animamos a todo el mundo a que venga a Sol a reflexionar de forma colectiva”, the people on the Puerta del Sol Square tell us. (“«Toma la Plaza» define las cuatro líneas principales del movimiento de Sol”, in: La Razon, May 26, 2011, http://www.larazon.es/noticia/10073-los-acampados-de-sol-reducen-sus-
reivindicaciones-a-cuatro) 
Yes, let’s reflect the public cause, the res publica together, let’s begin, let’s make it a common and shared endeavour.

(2) Consenso de mínimos:  Cf. “«Toma la Plaza» define las cuatro líneas principales del movimiento de Sol”, in: La Razon, May 26, 2011, http://www.larazon.es/noticia/10073-los-
acampados-de-sol-reducen-sus-
reivindicaciones-a-cuatro) 

(3) “[M]uchos de los acampados de la Puerta del Sol han reconocido que están "cansados" y que necesitan "ideas, fuerza, entusiasmo y creatividad" para no dejar "que el Sol se apague".” (“La Acampada de Sol elabora una hoja de ruta para seguir adelante”, in: La Vangardia, May 26, 2011, http://www.lavanguardia.com/politica/elecciones-2011/20110526/54161641906/
la-acampada-de-sol-elabora-una-hoja-de-ruta-para-seguir-adelante.html ) 

(4) “[N]ecesitamos gente con ideas frescas como tú”(Ibidem.)

(5)“CCOO cree que la elevada abstención y del voto en blanco y nulo son consecuencia de las movilizaciones ciudadanas y pide un nuevo escenario económico, político y social. ” (Diario Informacion, el periódico de la provincia de Alicante,  May 26, 2011, http://www.diarioinformacion.com/ )

(6) “las elecciones del 22-M han penalizado al PSOE por renunciar a aplicar su programa social, "lo que ha beneficiado mayoritariamente a la derecha política".”(“CCOO pide tras el 22-M una nueva ofensiva contra la crisis”, in:  Diario Informacion, el periódico de la provincia de Alicante,  May 26, 2011, 
http://www.diarioinformacion.com/economia/2011/05/26/ccoo-
pide-22-m-nueva-ofensiva-crisis/1131592.html )

(7)  1st point: “Reformar la ley electoral encaminada a una democracia más representativa y de proporcionalidad real y con el objetivo adicional de desarrollar mecanismos efectivos de participación ciudadana.” ( “La Acampada de Sol elabora una hoja de ruta para seguir adelante”, in: La Vangardia, May 26, 2011, 
http://www.lavanguardia.com/politica/elecciones-2011/20110526/54161641906/
la-acampada-de-sol-elabora-una-hoja-de-ruta-para-seguir-adelante.html )

(8) “Luchar contra la corrupción mediante normas orientadas a una total transparencia política.” (Ibidem)

(9) Under Delors, a document of the European Commission was leaked to the press that laid down the Commissions view regarding transparency: “Too much information can sometimes amount to disinformation.” In Berlin, even the documents signed by Veolia and the Berlin Senate concerning the privatization of the Berlin water works were kept secret. The people pushed for a referendum in order to find out the details of the deal. Whenever big projects are under way, they are kept secret until the last minute, so that public resistance doesn’t have much time to form. When the plans are made public, so that those directly concerned can file objections, they cannot be inspected in the late afternoon when working people have left office or the factiory and would have time to inspect them. The same holds true for public sessions: who can attend them at 9 or 10 in the morning?

(10) “Plantear una separación efectiva de los poderes públicos.”  (Ibidem)

(11) “Crear mecanismos de control ciudadano para la exigencia efectiva de responsabilidad política.”  (Ibidem)

(12)  Noelia, a speaker of those assembled, was quoted in the daily La Razon as saying that there exists a  “consenso de mínimos para debatir sobre cuatro líneas que […] se consideran representativas de la indignación ciudadana”.  ( “«Toma la Plaza» define las cuatro líneas principales del movimiento de Sol”, in: La Razon, May 26, 2011, 
http://www.larazon.es/noticia/10073-los-acampados-de-sol-reducen-
sus-reivindicaciones-a-cuatro) The four points actually summarize the demands considered as central, with regard to the quest for a more ‘real’ democracy’.

(13) “"Animamos a todo el mundo a que venga a Sol a reflexionar de forma colectiva sobre recortes de las pensiones [the announced cut in retirement pensions], la reforma laboral [the so-called reform that curtails rights of workers that were already insufficiently protected by capitalist labor laws]  y el retraso a la jubilación" [ the legislation concerning the age of retirement, which foresees, in several countries of the European Union,  that workers will retire at 67, and soon perhaps at 69 or 70 – a consequence of a general and concerted attack of the European Commission and the TNCs on the ordinary woman and man in the street] ha explicado una de las portavoces del movimiento 'Toma la Plaza', Noelia, quien además ha manifestado que esperan que acuda "mucha gente".” 
(“«Toma la Plaza» define las cuatro líneas principales del movimiento de Sol”, in: La Razon, May 26, 2011, http://www.larazon.es/noticia/10073-los-acampados-de-sol-reducen-
sus-reivindicaciones-a-cuatro)

(14) Among the supporters of the Real Democracy, Yes! Movement, a spirit of distrust exists not only with regard to a partitocracia (“party-cracy”; rule of parties and their leaders over the people) that is deciphered as undemocratic because it disempowers ordinary citizens. Criticism is also targeted at big business and the dynamics of globalization it has unleashed in a way that threatens the planet.  On Youtube thelocalxxx writes for instance:
“Las multinacionales son las que gobiernan el mundo la globalización realmente consiste en eso en que cuatro ricos se repartan las riquezas sin que les importe destruir el planeta, matar de hambre al tercer mundo o esclavizar a las naciones ricas. La democracia [ as it exists today in most countries ] es una gran mafia.” 
(“JOSÉ LUIS SAMPEDRO SE SUMA AL #15M DE DEMOCRACIA REAL YA”,  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yyOp8IRxgoo&feature=related)

(15) En un comunicado, CCOO anuncia que el sindicato ha elaborado un manifiesto con cinco ejes de actuación ante la insostenible tasa de desempleo, la persistencia de la crisis y la aplicación de medidas centradas "sólo" en reducir el déficit público. (“CCOO pide tras el 22-M una nueva ofensiva contra la crisis”, in:  Diario Informacion, el periódico de la provincia de Alicante,  May 26, 2011, 
http://www.diarioinformacion.com/economia/2011/05/26/ccoo-pide-
22-m-nueva-ofensiva-crisis/1131592.html )

(16) In a video shown on Youtube we can see demonstrators passing in front of the trade union headquarter of the C.G.T. in Barcelona, shouting Traidores! Traidores! Suddenly a huge  white canvas is lowered from a rooftop, covering the front of an adjacent office building. In big letters, it says, CCOO and U.G.T. a la mierda! -  Referring to the CCOO and U.G.T., one reader comments in Diario Información “Fuera sindicalistas zapateristas!”  Another reader’s comment published by  the same online issue of Diario Información states his reason for rejecting these unions quite bluntly: “el 15-M también está contra ellos, contra la pseudo-defensa de los trabajadores.” (“CCOO pide tras el 22-M una nueva ofensiva contra la crisis”, in:  Diario Informacion, el periódico de la provincia de Alicante,  May 26, 2011, 
http://www.diarioinformacion.com/economia/2011/05/26/ccoo-
pide-22-m-nueva-ofensiva-crisis/1131592.html )

(17) In fact, the Comisiones obreras (CCOO) are among those who are supportive of all the young and old people who take to the street and who have formed the  new Democracia real ya! movement. They think that the new offensive for socio-economic right in Spain has got a large boost thanks to the movement: “la nueva ofensiva social también se debe al impacto de las movilizaciones de la plataforma de indignados del 15-M en la Puerta del Sol [en Madrid] y en muchas ciudades españolas, "que han expresado su rechazo a la ausencia de expectativas de futuro".” (“CCOO pide tras el 22-M una nueva ofensiva contra la crisis”, in:  Diario Informacion, el periódico de la provincia de Alicante,  May 26, 2011, 
http://www.diarioinformacion.com/economia/2011/05/26/ccoo-pide-
22-m-nueva-ofensiva-crisis/1131592.html )
 
 
 
 
 

Check...:http://www.democracynow.org/2011/2/17/democracy_uprising_in_the_usa_noam
 

Check: http://www.democracynow.org/2011/2/17/democracy_uprising_in_the_usa_noam
 

 
LINKS
 

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http://www.democraciarealya.es
 

Manifesto of Democracia real YA!

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DemocraciarealYa Sevilla (29-5-2011)

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Suite 101. net
http://www.suite101.net
 
 

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

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Lola Romero Gil, Movimientos ciudadanos, la red se mueve

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

backup copy
 
 
 
 
 
 

Al Ahram Weekly
http://weekly.ahram.org.eg

Galal Nassar, "The Arab Spring and the crisis of the elite" 

backup copy
 

Al MasryAlyoum.com
http://www.almasryalyoum.com

Mohamed Azouz, Egypt govt mulls 
raising workers' incentives in bid to thwart labor strikes 
 

Ahmad Fouad Najem, "Forbidden"

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
 
 

Matthew Cardinale, "New and 
Old US Groups Forge Broad Alliances"

backup copy
 
 

Local to global.org
www.localtoglobal.org
 
 

Left Forum
www.leftforum.org
 
 
 

Tom Hayden, "The Defunding 
of the Peace Movement" 

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Not in our name
www.notinourname.net

backup copy
 
 

DISARM NOW
disarm now
 
 

"Former US Attorney General Testifies for Plowshares Activists"

backup copy
 
 

Justice with Peace
(United for Justice with Peace Coalition)
www.justicewithpeace.org
 
 
 
 

Richard Luecke, "Saul Alinsky: Homo Ludens for Urban Democracy"

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John E. Jacobsen, "Wall Street Already Finding Loopholes in Financial Reform Legislation" 

backup copy
 
 

Louise Story, "A Secretive Banking Elite Rules Trading in Derivatives"

backup copy
 
 

Slate.com
Readers' comments on
Obama's tax cut for the rich

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Alternative web.es
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Esther Vivas
http://esthervivas.wordpress.com/

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www.anticapitalistas.org
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K21 (Stuttgart)

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

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documenta 11:
demokratie als permanenter,
unabgeschlossener  prozess
 

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

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Libcom.org, Theses on the global crisis 

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Local to global.org
www.localtoglobal.org
 
 

Support Julian Assange
www.support-julian-assange.com
 
 
 
 

Forum Social Mundial
www.forumsocialmundial.org
 

Z Communications  AND Z mag
http://www.zcommunications.org/
 
 

Z call for help
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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                                                                                                 go back to URBAN DEMOCRACY issue  # 6

 
 

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