The limits of Spanish protest

May 31, 2011 at 12:45 pm (capitalist crisis, democracy, Europe, James Bloodworth, socialism, spain, workers, youth)

By James Bloodworth (crossposted from Obliged to Offend)

The Genuine  Democracy Now movement began in Spain two weeks ago as a public outcry
against political corruption and unemployment that has soared to unprecedented
levels. Spain has a 21.3% unemployment rate – the highest in the EU – and many
of the unemployed are young people. Some Spaniards who do have jobs are going
months without pay due to their employees hanging the threat of unemployment
over their heads. Protesters have come together against what they see as an
outrageous carve-up between bankers and politicians, who are making ordinary
people pay for the financial crisis of the rich.
Ironically perhaps, on   the back of the protests it is the socialist party (PSOE), one of Europe’s more
economically progressive governments, that has suffered one of its worst results
in recent history. The PSOE lost around 2 million votes while the People’s
Party, an economically right-wing party, obtained unprecedented support from the
electorate in many key provinces of the state.While the protesters say
they wish to see radical changes to the Spanish political model, their lack of
concrete demands appear to be harming the movement as a whole. Ignacio Molina,
associate professor in the department of politics and international relations at
the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, believes that the movement is too limited
and narrow in focus.
“In other words, protesters are naive enough to think
that changing the political model on institutional issues such as the republican
form of government, participatory democracy or the proportional electoral system
can help resolve the crisis and improve the life prospects of young people or
the unemployed,” he said.

This highlights the harm be-all-and-end-all
adherence to “autonomy” and “spontaneity” is doing to mass-movements right
across Europe. Because there is no alternative program to be argued for,
movements are struggling to win the majority over to ideas different to that of
the status quo. The manifesto of the protesters fails for example to make any
concrete proposals regarding the Spanish economy – the root cause of much of the
disenfranchisement felt by ordinary people..

When the protesters do
return to their homes, whether in the next few days or several weeks from now,
there are no organisational structures in place nor transitional demands for
people to take home with them. As we saw with the British student movement, when
this happens a movement can quickly lose much of its momentum and force. As one
Spanish commentator remarked, “the saddest thing about the Spanish revolts is
that, in the end, most of these youngster’s parents and elders turned out to
vote for the People’s Party instead of joining the protesters.”

That  being said, with no end to the economic crisis in sight there is a chance this
protest will not simply fizzle out – there is the potential for this to be the
start of something much bigger. What is required, though, is a bridging of the
gap between undirected discontent and ideas about a different sort of society, a
society where people really would exercise democratic control over their
economic lives.

1 Comment

  1. Blerg Commenteryer said,

    This may or ma y Not be gud analysis. Dunnoo – can’t be bovvered to reedd it. BloodwErth tho – a fence rider. he is ridiing the fence in the middle of the roadd. Wonts to be a rev trot AND appease the hedge funderss and corporate lawye r sccuum of sauceshit. hee wil geet ruun over by the trafiiic flowwiig in both direcshuns. a wise man 1nce sed “twos eever thus”. IIMO. lol! These are the soort of peelple that readd bloodWERths blergg:

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