By Enzo Rossi (Political Science) & Dan Hassler-Forest (English)
In Friday’s issue of De Volkskrant, Arthur Schram argues that all is well with the managerial university. Colleagues and students in the Maagdenhuis should just abandon their left-wing romanticism and get down to churning out the next batch of degrees, papers, or whatever they are told to produce. So let’s take a closer look at his arguments, of which we can discern two: (i) rendementsdenken mandates whatever restructuring it requires, and (ii) professional managers are the best judges of that.
The first argument trades on the ambiguity of the term rendementsdenken. The term is stretched over a continuum that runs from “balancing your books” to “maximizing your profits”. Hardly anyone disagrees with the former, and hardly anyone who works or studies at a university thinks that it should be run like a corporation, to enrich shareholders or management. In fact, hardly anyone thinks that way about any other kind of public service—such as health care and judiciary workers, for instance.
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“We, representatives of Palestinian civil society, call upon international civil society organizations and people of conscience all over the world to impose broad boycotts and implement divestment initiatives against Israel.” This call for solidarity was issued in July 2005 by hundreds of Palestinian organizations, including all major trade unions. Systematic land confiscation, mass incarceration, house demolition, and routine attacks that leave hundreds of civilians dead have become part and parcel of daily life in Israel-occupied Palestine. The US-sponsored “peace talks” merely readjusted Israel’s occupation strategy: instead of deploying its army inside Palestinian cities and towns, Israel now surrounds them with checkpoints and walls; hinders Palestinians’ ability to work, study, and travel; and ensures that Palestine remains economically dependent on Israel. Recognizing that Israel has used negotiations to normalize and sustain the occupation, Palestinian civil society adopted the non-violent strategy of Boycott, Divest and Sanctions (BDS) against its oppressor.
Compared to its international counterparts, the U.S. labor movement has been slow to embrace BDS. Michael Letwin, co-founder of the solidarity group Labor for Palestine, suggests this is the product of the American labor movement’s historical and continuing institutional support for Israel. The major US trade unions, Letwin says, have hundreds of millions of dollars in pension funds that are invested in Israel. Senior union leaders, in fear of alienating the Democratic Party and other political allies, frequently denounce BDS and criticize their counterparts around the world who support it.
[scroll for english]
AVRUPA’DAN YOLDAŞLARI AĞIRLIYORUZ!
Son dönemde Avrupa’da gerçekleşen ayaklanmalar sonrası kurulan Agora99’u 24 ve 25 ekimde Mahalle Evi’nde ağarlıyoruz. İşgal fabrikalarından özyönetim kliniklerine, emek örgütlerinden mega-proje karşıtı hareketlere, mahalle evlerinden feminist örgütlere uzanan esinlendirici bir çeşitliliğe sahip Agora99’un tüm İstanbul forum ve örgütlerine yaptığı çağrıyı dikkatinize sunuyoruz.
24 ve 25 Ekim için Davet
24 Ekim Cuma, 19:00-23:00:
Müşterek Mücadeler için İstanbul’da Uluslar Aşırı Bir Toplantı.
Caferağa Mahalleevi, No 24 (Hacı Şükrü Sokak), 34710 Kadıköy
Image by Olmo Calvo
by Amador Fernández-Savater
Translated by Stacco Troncoso, edited by Jane Loes Lipton – Guerrilla Translation!
How is it possible that fifty people can stop a forced eviction? Not just once, but over and over again (as many as six hundred times). This question has been on my mind for a while. During the 25-S protests in Madrid 1, we saw for ourselves that the police can evict any number of protestors from anywhere. So, exactly what sort of strength allows those fifty people to stop a foreclosure eviction? What does it mean to have strength, if it’s not quite the same as having power (physical, quantitative, economic, institutional, etc.)? The following is my attempt at an answer that, by no means, fully exhausts the question. That is to say, there’s room for more answers and, above all, to keep asking the question – this, I believe, is the most important thing.
Over the past few years, European social movements have struggled to find new ways of cooperating and connecting in order to oppose the verticalization of European governance. Following the crash of 2008, in fact, a regime of austerity, that is severe cuts to public spending, has gone together with a remodulation of modes of welfare and work inspired by the German model. This model has seen the massive introduction of part-time, badly paid jobs (the so called mini-jobs ) which are part of a system of workfare where the state makes sure that everybody is forced to accept whatever job available through a new capillary control of recipients’ lives. While the European Central Bank like the Federal Reserve has deployed quantitative easing, and inundated the financial system with money, none of this has effectively gone into the creation of new jobs, into expanding credit to consumers and business or to essential public services. The process of complete precarization of labor and increasing accumulation of wealth is thus unfolding along the lines of a geographical and ethnic division of labor which sees the European Union divided between centre and periphery, North and South, East and West with war pressing in on its Eastern and Southern borders.
The verticalization of European governance has thus reinforced a whole series of trends: ‘the attack on waged labor, the compression of union rights, the dequalification and privatisation of learning and research, the enclosure of common goods, a new government of labor mobility and the exploitation of migrant labor’ (http://www.autistici.org/strikemeeting/). These considerations are central to the formation of a transnational space of action for social movements aiming to reverse the tide of complete neoliberalization of Europe and opening onto the global level as the only adequate dimension of struggle.
Mücadelelerden mücadelelere bir çağrı: barınma ve kent hakkı için müşterekler için; güvencesiz emeğe ve neoliberal kentleşmeye, savaş ve devlet militarizmine karşı ve yurttaşlık hakkı ve sığınmacılık özgürlüğü için yerel ve küresel mücadeleleri bağlayabilecek örgüt pratiklerini geliştirelim.
“Üçüncüsü yapılacak Agora99’u 2015’te İstanbul’da düzenleyelim!”
25 Ekim’de İstanbul’da düzenlenecek ön buluşma için forumlara ve ağlara çağrımızdır.
Dünya, 2011 yılından itibaren, gerçek anlamda ulusları aşan ve küresel ölçeğe erişen bir taban ayaklanmaları dalgasına tanıklık etmiştir. Tunus, Mısır, İzlanda, Yunanistan, İspanya, İsrail, Şili, İngiltere, ABD, Türkiye, Brezilya ve diğer birçok yerde insanlar adaletsizlik ve eşitsizliği protesto etmek ve demokrasi uğruna sokaklara dökülmüştür. Yıllardır süregelen mücadeleler yeni bir görünürlük kazanmış ve yeni hareketler ve mücadeleler vücut bulmuştur.
Yerel ölçekteki çeşitli meselelerin tetiklediği bu ayaklanmalar ilk bakışta birbirinden kopuk ve eşzamanlı olmayan bir niteliğe sahipmiş gibi görünebilir. Ancak, öz-örgütlenme, bağlantı ve yataylık bu ayaklanmaların ortak özelliği olmuştur: hepsi de demokratik karar almanın yeni biçimlerini uyguluyor ve lidersizlik niteliği taşıyor. Hepsi, meclisler, çalışma grupları ve yakınlaşma alanları aracılığıyla örgütleniyor ve sosyal medya zemininde ve çevrimiçi buluşmalarla kitlesel katılıma olanak sağlıyorlar.
Aynı zamanda, yerelliğin ve ulusların ötesine geçerek grupları, hareketleri ve bireyleri bölgesel, ulusal ve enternasyonal düzeyde birbirine yaklaştıran bağlar, ayaklanmaların yayılmasına ve devam etmesine ve dünyanın birçok yerinde, insanlık değerlerine dayalı ağların kurulmasına olanak sağlamıştır. Büyük meclisler öz-düşünme ve fikir teatisi imkânlarını ortaya çıkarmıştır.
Bunlardan biri de Agora99 olmuştur.
Gezi’yi Dünya Devrimsel sürecin Türkiye uğrağı olarak okumalı!
9/11’den beri giderek yükselen huzursuzluk ve öfke dalgası, işgaller ve yağmalar gözlemcilere hem büyük bir krizin hem de ona eşlik edecek devrimsel bir dalganın yaklaştığını haber veriyordu. Hatırlarsanız daha 2000’den önce Pentagon raporlarında ve daha sonra Bush’un meşhur Milli Güvenlik belgesinde de yer almıştı bu öngörüler. Wall Street’in zirvesi Lehman Brothers’ı uçurumun kenarından aşağıya elbirliğiyle iterken, işin renginin değiştiği belli olmuştu. Bu olayı izleyen küresel krizle birlikte Avrupa’da Fransa, Yunanistan, İzlanda, İngiltere ve diğer bir çok ülkede baş gösteren toplumsal patlamalar, daha sonrasında Burma ve Honduras’da yaşanan askeri darbeler, Haiti’deki gibi ABD’nin doğal afeti bile jeo(ekonomi)politik fırsata çevirme girişimleri ve bu arada Wisconsin gibi direnişler ve grevlerin ABD içinde şiddetlenmesi açık sinyalleri ile bir dünya devrimsel dalganın artık yükseldiğini işaret ediyordu.
Bu sinyalleri takip edenler Kuzey Afrika’da ilk önce Tunus hemen arkasından Mısır’da patlak veren olayları doğru algılayabildiler. Zaten bölgede uzun zamandır huzursuzluk, kriz ve açlık kol geziyordu. Tahrir Meydanı işgalini takip eden bir ay içinde neredeyse bütün Kuzey Afrika tutuştu. Bölgenin BOP uygulama alanı olması ve isyanların yayılış hızı herkeste bir şaşkınlık yarattı ve puslu bir ortam doğurdu. Fakat bir iki ay içerisinde kıvılcımların Avrupa’ya da sıçraması; İspanya’nın başkenti Madrid’in Taksimi olan Puerta Del Sol’un 15 Mayıs’da başlayarak 1.5 ay işgal altında tutulması, halk meclislerinin ve işgal çadırlarının yurt dışında okuyan İspanyol öğrenciler ve göçmenler aracılığı ile yayılması ve farklı ülkelerde kurulan yerel ağlar aracılığı ile bunların sürdürülmesi sis perdesini dağıttı. İspanya’da olaylar başladığında kurulan Take The Square ağı ve Democracia Real Ya (DRY – Gerçek Demokrasi Şimdi) ağına bağlı bazı küçük grupların Facebook, IRC (sohbet) ve Mumble üzerinde yürüttükleri örgütlenme, 15 Ekim 2011 için yapılan ve Paris ve Lizbon’da yapılan ulusötesi meclislerde onaylanan Küresel Devrim eylemi çağrısının yayılmasında önemli rol oynadılar. Aynı dönemde New York ve Washington’da da İspanyol öğrencilerin tetiklediği meclisler toplanıyor ve çadırlı işgal denemeleri yapılıyordu. Canada’da yayınlanan Adbuster dergisinin 17 Eylül’de Wall Street’i İşgal Ediyoruz (Occupy Wall Street) çağrısı geldi. New York’da toplanmaya başlayan meclisler ve eylemci ağları bu çağrıya karşılık verdiler. Nihayet uzun ve İsrail, Şili, Yunanistan, İtalya, Hİndistan gibi bir çok ülkede ayaklanmaların yaşandığı sıcak 2011 yazını takiben Eylül ayına kadar uzanan süreçte İspanya, New York ve diğer ülkelerden eylemciler arasında internet üzerinden yoğun ve ağ-örgütlü çalışmalar yürütüldü. Onlarca yaratıcı video ve poster ortaklaşa üretildi ve elden ele gelişerek son halini aldı. İspanyol DRY ağının girişimi ile 15-18 Eylül’de Barcelona’da aralarında Tunus, İtalya, Yunanistan ve diğer ülkelerden gelen eylemcilerin bulunduğu uluslararası bir ‘Hub Toplantısı’ yapıldı. 17 Eylül günü ise Wall Street’i işgal amacı ile başlayan protesto Zucotti Park’ın işgali ile sonuçlandı. Bir hafta içinde polisin aşırı şiddet uyguladığı saldırılar başlayana kadar sadece sosyal medyada infial yaratan bu işgal Eylül sonuna doğru ana akım medyaya da yansımaya başladı. Böylece daha önceden belirlenen tarihi eylem olan 15 Ekim yaklaştıkça halk ve halklar, her yerde işgal çadırları kurmaya, her yeri bir Tahrir, bir Sakarya Komünü’ne çevirmeye hazırlanmıştı bile. ABD içinde Eylül ayının 17’si ile 15 Ekim 2011 arasında çadırlı kent merkezi işgalleri bütün eyaletlere yayılmıştı ve Avrupanın bir çok şehirlerinde de denemeler yapılmaya başlanmıştı. Böylece 15 Ekim 2011, Küresel Devrim günü eylemi, çadırları ve büyük meydan işgallerini gezegen boyutuna taşıdı. Aynı günde 90’ı aşkın ülke ve 1000’i aşkın şehir merkezi benzer şekilde işgal edildi, çadırlar ve halk meclisleri kuruldu.
With left parties on the rise in Spain and Greece, John Holloway reflects on his influential 2002 thesis: can we change the world without taking power?
Interview by Amador Fernández-Savater. Translated by Richard Mac Duinnsleibhe and edited by Arianne Sved of Guerrilla Translation.
In 2002, John Holloway published a landmark book: Change the World without Taking Power. Inspired by the ‘¡Ya basta!’ of the Zapatistas, by the movement that emerged in Argentina in 2001/’02, and by the anti-globalization movement, Holloway sets out a hypothesis: it is not the idea of revolution or transformation of the world that has been refuted as a result of the disaster of authoritarian communism, but rather the idea of revolution as the taking of power, and of the party as the political tool par excellence.
Holloway discerns another concept of social change at work in these movements, and generally in every practice—however visible or invisible it may be—where a logic different from that of profit is followed: the logic of cracking capitalism. That is, to create, within the very society that is being rejected, spaces, moments, or areas of activity in which a different world is prefigured. Rebellions in motion. From this perspective, the idea of organization is no longer equivalent to that of the party, but rather entails the question of how the different cracks that unravel the fabric of capitalism can recognize each other and connect.
But after Argentina’s “que se vayan todos” came the Kirchner government, and after Spain’s “no nos representan” appeared Podemos. We met with John Holloway in the city of Puebla, Mexico, to ask him if, after everything that has happened in the past decade, from the progressive governments of Latin America to Podemos and Syriza in Europe, along with the problems for self-organized practices to exist and multiply, he still thinks that it is possible to “change the world without taking power.”
Algortihms of Capitalism is the new book curated by Matteo Pasquinelli. This link would direct the reader to the Italian version of this very exciting volume which brings together the Accelerationist Manifesto, some reactions to it, and some important reflections relevant to what Toni Negri calls ‘the #Accelerationist politics’ that can be drawn from the manifesto. Most of the articles have been already online in English as well. Here I collected some of those:
#Accelerate: Manifesto for an Accelerationist Politics by Alex Williams and Nick Srnicek
Matteo Pasquinelli: “To Anticipate and Accelerate: Italian Operaismo and Reading Marx’s Notion of Organic Composition of Capital”, Rethinking Marxism journal, vol. 26, n. 2, 2014.
another intriguining peiece from Pasquinelli: “The Power of Abstraction and Its Antagonism. On Some Problems Common to Contemporary Neuroscience and the Theory of Cognitive Capitalism”, Psychopathologies of Cognitive Capitalism, Part 2. Berlin: Archive Books, 2014.
Red stack attack! Algorithms, capital and the automation of the common by Tiziana Terranova:
On this blog [http://syntheticedifice.wordpress.com/] it also possible to follow other reactions and relevant discussion around the Accele-rationalism. Below is for instance a friendly but undermining critique by McKenzie Wark, taken from there:
To be honest #Accelerationist manifesto strongly attract my attention, excites me, but also frustrates me. It sounds, after several readings still, like an visionary but not a clear call for future. But it has sort of Kautskian and/or Plekhanovian politics 2.0 spirit, a dark and not clear prospect for politics. It suggests clearly that to be able to breakdown and break through the global networked cognitive savage capitalism we must lead it into a future trap, which we don’t know yet how, by Accelerating it until it is broken! There is a space opening to role of human (or transhuman) agency, as well as very strong social-deterministic view. That makes reader very neurotic.
Although the call sounds like a excitingly good-crazy idea, which I like, I still feel the need to step on the brake for a while and question the personal and collective awareness. First of all, it was always been hard for me to accept an idea that suggests that in order to, or if I want to, negate and transcend something very bad, first you need to let it be worsen, happen faster, conquer everything, and become more violent… then yes, we can! Even though the political imagery here says ‘push it harder towards the cliff’, sounds claver the most scary question remains untouched: ‘what if… what if it then still survives!’
It is great and energizing to hear about that such anger and hope being formulated from lest, in such intelligent way and modernist position; crying that the time is up and we need get away with this maniacal system as soon as possible. However, I find myself sympatyizing strongly with Wark’s friendly and smarter criticism, suggesting that ‘ok, lets get rid of it, but not accelerating it.. by hacking it, now!” I believe that Wark is right. There exist another ways to hack and crack capitalist modes of production, instead of accelerating these sociopathalogic structures. How?:
Agreeing with many others who think global working class is currently making it self through ongoing and intensifying struggles, I would formulate a good hack, as a bottom up class project, surely one part of wider free libre and open source code, of which algorithms are currently being written: “The seed form of the self-organisation of the global working classes needs to be simultaneously well grounded, transnational, and global. It needs also be open, free/gratis and accessible for all the working people; so that they can freely enter and leave it. As modularly integrated organized networks it should be aiming at and capable of linking industrial, digital and informational workers, like hackers, academics, artists, sex-, domoestic-, immigrant- workers so on, all fragments of the working classes, as well as social-, environmental-, cultural-, informational-, gender- justice activists. Adoptable principles and protocols, in form of the ‘code’, which can be pre-determined, as the coding process itself, has to be well documented, open and accessible to local, workplace, neighbourhood, issue based, activist or other forms of political collectives. It should be operating similar to Anonymous, 15M, Occupy, Gezi and other decentralized forms, yet based on more advanced and structured working protocols, closer to FLOSS projects, grassroots and worker’s owned cooperatives. It should not include membership, service, representation sort of logics that at the end leads to the reproduction of disempowerment for involving nodes, creating clientalism. Such form should not be organized by professional intellectuals and activists from outside in, and from top down towards the working people. With an opposite perspective, it should be an open design process led by volunteer participation, based on self-governing and representation principles.
It should be able to put forward creative, assertive and effective direct non-violent mass action, which makes fun of and ridicule the target by allowing the formation of collective intelligence. An active peer-to-peer self-learninig protocols and praxis should be at the core cultural production and re-creation beyond straitjacket put on the working ‘class’. Instead of having teachers who must show the right and enlightened road to the candidate working class members, who needs to get a self-consciousness, a global and networked labour union should be providing working people with the access to the tools, resources and key networks that would make self- empowerment easily possible. By linking spaces where continuous open exchanges take place and carry the energy from one space to other. Utilizing How to(s), Do it Yourself and Do it With Others guides, in online and real world context, by FLOSS communication tools as well as mass-action tactics it would replace top down (issue-anger-action) organizing model, which would allow self-articulation, respectful and collaborative working praxis by harmonized through peer-to-peer digital communication where possible and desirable, as well as face to face and secure meetings, cultural and recreational events. It should be collaborating with other organizations, creative and productive projects that undermines capitalist mode of production and develop the algorithms and codes of alternative modes, as operating systems that could replace capitalism. Such global network needs to grow by linking existing radical networks groups of activists, hackers, organizers, makers, DIY groups, squatters, eco-willages, diggers, immigrants, asylum seekers, solidarity networks, and so on. In a way all nodes could associate with the globally networked ties, while keeping their autonomy. Instead of #Accelerate, a better, a more zen and transcendent motto we need might be #KeepCalm and “All empower one, one empower all!”…
Below text is an excpert from unpublished and unedited 2012 article Another World, Now! Coming of the Transnational REvolutions and the P2P Prince.
The modern prince, the myth-prince, cannot be a real person, a concrete individual. It can only be an organism, a complex element of society in which a collective will, which has already been recognised and has to some extent asserted itself in action, begins to take concrete form. (A. Gramsci)
Italian political activist and theorist Antonio Gramsci’s core concepts like hegemony, organic crisis, historic bloc, war of position and war of manoeuvre are central to our understanding of today’s complex global capitalist system as well as the catastrophic changes that are currently taking place in it. Referring to the original concept developed by Gramsci, global political economy theorist Stephen Gill describes the 2008 global financial turmoil as the manifestation of an organic crisis at the global level.  We can also read the outcomes of the global organic crisis following another neo-Gramscian theorist Robert Cox as a mixture of three scenarios he describes. First one is a global (military) Keynesian recovery being pushed by the West. Regional wars moving from the periphery to the centre involving massive destruction of lives, cities and the nature, as we witness it happening since the 9/11. The second scenario is the rise of global fascism in tandem with the regional wars. This has also been happening, especially increasingly in the centre, since 2007; highlighting the race to the bottom caused by the strengthening of totalitarian forms of capitalism at the main contenders like China, Russia and India. Finally and the last scenario is accompanying transnational revolutions, like the uprisings in the northern Africa, Americas and Europe also happening.
What brought humanity to this point is not a secret and also made clear by many thinkers, intellectuals, and activists. The above mentioned article by Gill is only one of the public records. It is very clear however where we have to drive history as the humanity, the third option: Transnational revolutions. Again, following Gramsci and Gill, we can think of the realisation of the transnational revolutions in relation to the ‘Prince’. For his time Gramsci thought of it as the collective subjectivity which will give the moral leadership to a wider counter-hegemonic historic bloc, and shape the form and content of the communist revolution in a national context. And it was the communist part of the working class. Gill referred to the anti- and alter-globalisation movement. Continue reading
Calafou is dedicated to encourage productive projects related with our ideas about ecology (environmental care, waste management, etc.), social economy, assemblies and a list of other requirements specified in this document. All productive projects are presented and coordinated through the Projects workgroup, and are then proposed for approval at Calafou’s general assembly.
Collective projects (which profits go for the colony), autonomous projects (initiatives from a person or a specific collective), and collective spaces (which enable project development or are the framework for community life) all coexist in Calafou. Some current projects are: the social center; Circe, a chemistry lab for research and production of soaps, oleates and essences; the hacklab, a place for collective work and learning; the serigraphy workshop; the collective workshop. All of them have been developed by Calafou’s inhabitants.
Among the projects for self-provision or sale we have home-made preserves, marmalades, or bread. There are also autonomous projects such as the garage “El noi del sucre“ or the MutangerLab (electronics, welding, and more).
Central shed which harbors:
- dining room
- living room
- collective workshop
- social center
- silk screen printing workshop
- Lodging space (red House)
- Camping site
via Projects | Calafou.
We are living in an exceptional time that demands brave, creative initiatives. If we are able to imagine a different city, we will have the power to transform it.”
“There was a belief in the revolution and the future, a feeling of having suddenly emerged into an era of equality and freedom. Human beings were trying to behave as human beings and not as cogs in the capitalist machine.” This is how George Orwell described the city of Barcelona during the anarchist revolution of 1936 in his classic Homage to Catalonia. A short-lived dream that was soon to be crushed by Franco’s fascist regime.
Almost 80 years later, the City Hall of Barcelona sells a very different dream to the world. An over-developed,highly commercialized Barcelona that has become a theme park for tourists, who blissfully wander the streets of the charming metropolis, unaware of the harsh difficulties many of its citizens are actually going through. The clash between those two Barcelonas is becoming increasingly intolerable, as seen in the recent struggles over the eviction of self-organized community squat/centers such as Can Vies, among others.
However, that spirit Orwell once sensed in Barcelona never really died. The Spanish revolutionaries of today may not be fighting fascism with weapons, but they are fighting neoliberalism with real democracy. That’s what the 15-M movement is all about, a movement that is now evolving into various efforts to take people’s assemblies from the streets to the political institutions. At a national level, the most relevant are Movimiento por la Democracia, Partido X and Podemos, whose front man Pablo Iglesias was chosen by the Confederal Group of the United Left (GUE) as a candidate for the Presidency of the European Parliament, no less! Catalonia also has its own bottom-up political organizations, such as Procés Constituent (with its charismatic leader, Teresa Forcades) and CUP, which already has three representatives in the Catalan Parliament.
A CHARTER FOR DEMOCRACY
This Charter was born of a deep malaise: lack of prospects, mass unemployment, cuts in social rights and benefits, evictions, political and financial corruption, dismantling of public services. It was drafted in reaction to the social majority’s growing lack of confidence in the promises of a political system devoid of legitimacy and the ability to listen.
The two-party system, widespread corruption, the financial dictatorship imposed by austerity policies and the destruction of public goods have dealt the final blow to a democracy long suffering from its own limits. These limits were already present in the 1978 Constitution. They can be summarized as a political framework that neither protects society from the concentration of power in the hands of the financial groups, nor from the consolidation of a non-representative political class. This political framework has established a system which is hardly open to citizen participation, and unable to construct a new system of collective rights for our protection and common development. This is evident in the fact that, despite some very significant public demonstrations, the demands of the vast majority of the population have repeatedly been ignored.
Faced with this institutional stonewalling and the growing separation between the rulers and the ruled, it seems there’s only one way out: a deep expansion of democracy based on citizen control over political and economic power. Surely, since what’s left of democracy is constantly shrinking and attempts at internal reform would only mean repeating the same mistakes, we must take a chance on changing the rules of the game – a democratic change, geared toward returning to society the effective decision-making ability over all which concerns it.
Chaos and dictatorship are not the only alternatives to the current democracy. A democracy created among all people is possible – a democracy not reduced to merely voting, but founded on participation, citizen control and equal rights.
This Charter emerged from the desire to contribute to this process of democratization. In this sense, it contributes from a place of joy, from the energy of citizen mobilizations, from politics happening outside political parties, speaking in first person plural and trying to build a life worth living for everyone. No doubt the impetus is democracy itself. People have the ability to invent other forms of governing themselves and living together. This text was created with the assurance that today’s struggles are the basis of the coming democracy.
As this is a proposal of democratization, this Charter is presented as an unfinished, long-term construction project, openly inviting anyone to participate. This charter isn’t meant to be a political program or an exhaustive catalogue of rights, nor does it pretend to be a static State model. Given our investment in democratization, it simply points towards the basic, necessary elements needed to reconstruct a new institutional model that is open to the collective needs, proposals and capacity for self-governance that has recently found its voice throughout streets, squares and networks. Seen this way, the participative, deliberative process we yearn for matters as much as its content, which should always be a faithful reflection of the proposals and aspirations of the citizenry.
In essence, this Charter calls for opening a new process of debate, leading to a political and economic restructuring to guarantee life, dignity and democracy. It’s presented here as a contribution towards establishing a new social contract, a process of democratic reform in which the people — the “anyones”— are the true protagonists.
It’s time for the citizens to appropriate public institutions and resources, in order to ensure their defense, control and fair distribution. In the public squares and networks, we’ve learned something simple and conclusive which will forever change our way of being in the world. We’ve learned that yes, we can.
Rights and Guarantees
A democracy worthy of the name requires universal recognition of a wide constellation of rights related to all areas of public life and social reproduction. The decline in access to benefits and social services, the plundering by the financial dictatorship, and the dismantling of public welfare systems by austerity policies in recent decades have all significantly undermined the means of effectively exercising these rights. Similarly, access to many of these rights is conditional upon nationality and employment status, which has ended up producing major exclusion. Moreover, the subordinate nature of social rights in the current Constitution has not allowed sufficient development of certain fundamental issues such as housing, employment and income.
In short, both the inherent limits of the current system and the impotence of the Spanish political regime in protecting the most basic of rights are strong enough reasons for the creation of a new institutional system of rights and guarantees that enable caring, the development of our lives, and access to political life.
This Charter puts forward a common starting point for defining a new system of rights. Today, these rights have arisen from the demands and struggles of society itself, and expressed through its multiple forms of organization and participation; as such they are the highest expression of the act of democracy.
These rights redefine social relations, the production and distribution of wealth, and relations between nation-states according to a concept of the human being as a subject with the right to autonomy, but still in deep interdependence with the common space s/he inhabits. To this extent, these rights oppose being characterized as merely individual attributions. These rights must be recognized from both a universal as well as a singular dimension.
In order to guarantee these rights, we require an institutional framework that recognizes and promotes access to an active and democratic political life, and the recognition of the right to collective and direct participation as a real opportunity for the expression of the citizens’ desire to decide on everything which significantly affects the community. This framework should also be fully inclusive; one that accepts that we live in a global world, and acknowledges people’s right to migrate and/or settle where they see fit, in order to live life fully. A framework that could safeguard a life – our own – which, being interdependent, requires protection. This would comprise institutions specifically designed to ensure social reproduction, while neither delegating care labor to particular social groups nor permitting the privatization of that labor. A framework which also guarantees and extends all the rights already recognized in existing frameworks, constitutions and declarations of human rights, and which also recognizes the environment wherein life takes place as a rights-holder that should be carefully defended. This framework must, in the end, recognize society as a source of rights, therefore it must be considered open and under constant construction.
The basic principles which inspire a new, robust Bill of Rights with a guarantee of institutional means are:
- Universality. All residents will have the same consideration and access to resources that guarantee the effective exercise of their rights.
- Singularity: Recognizing that there are realities, forms of organization and a diversity of needs, different types of rights must be taken into account, including specific forms of recognition as well as human resources and economic requirements, to the extent that we must preserve such diversity.
- No regression. Public authorities are not entitled, once these rights are recognized, to interpret them restrictively or to reduce them.
- Equality. Given that all rights — civil, political and social — are fundamental to the development of people’s lives, the relationship among them must be protected and cared for with the same constitutional and legal guarantees.
- Multi-institutional and democratic guarantee. Rights should not only be guaranteed by jurisdictional means but also through citizen participation and extra‑institutional organisms created by the persons entitled to the rights themselves. The social participation in the recognition, extension and guarantee of rights through the institutions of direct election and citizen intervention procedures must be explicitly admitted.
- Financial sufficiency. The development of these rights must be ensured with the necessary economic means. These means will be provided by fiscal reform measures established in the following paragraphs of this Charter.
Finally, it is understood that a subject of rights is also a subject of responsibilities, insofar as she or he is part of a community built around a common project. These responsibilities extend to the environment we inhabit, and include accepting the responsibility to care for it, protect it and enable its reproduction, and in doing so, our own. Such responsibility involves all citizens, but is distributed according to the differences of wealth and ability.
The crisis has shown that the decisions of the political class are increasingly controlled by financial interests, and therefore, that democratic Government is conditioned by private enterprise. This situation has lasting repercussions, having provoked a major crisis of legitimacy and representation, aggravated by a state of continued corruption and underscoring the serious lack of existing democratic control.
In any case, the limits of the political system are not recent; rather, they’re structural. These problems can be summed up as: bipartisanship; one-party government in most autonomous communities; difficulty creating new political options; media monopolies; and, especially, the enormous legal difficulties in reforming a Constitution which, moreover, has never been approved by most of the current population.
This is compounded by the fact that political parties – the major players in political life – have turned into a self-serving class, primarily geared towards its own propagation. Without a doubt, institutional obstacles to direct participation hamper the imagination and formation of a political framework founded upon the direct involvement of ordinary people in public affairs..
The decline of the current democracy manifests itself in neglecting the demands of different sectors of society, thus magnifying the distance between legislated policies and what the people say they need. This growing gap between the rulers and the ruled results in the democratic deficit of a system that has prioritized governability over representation and respect for minorities.
The limits of the current democratic system cannot be resolved from the same position from which they arose. Therefore, in order to establish a true democracy, an overhaul is needed.
This Charter advocates a form of democracy capable of returning decision-making power concerning the fundamental aspects of life back to the population. A democracy based on participation in social and political life, one which enables joint decisions on how we want to live. It is, therefore, a wager on a new political agreement built in an open way and with the active participation of citizens. A new agreement based on the recognition of society’s capacity to organize, create institutions, and self-govern.
The construction of this democracy requires a series of agile, effective, and transparent mechanisms articulated on different levels and geared towards both deepening direct participation and the control of delegation, via representation, as deemed appropriate.
Some actions that could give shape to a new democratic political system are as follows:
1. Democratization of public authorities
- Control of representation. Revocable mandates by a social majority and absolute transparency both in public accounts and the actions of the various organs of Government. Tightening of controls and penalties related to corruption, and the development of independent supervisory authorities with competence over different public institutions. Economic and temporal limits on political appointments: salary caps; an incompatibility regime before, during and after the appointment; and effective limits on the duration of the mandate.
- Democratization of the internal functioning of the parties. Transparency in party financing, clearly democratic internal statutes, and autonomy of the vote of representatives to ensure the internal plurality of organizations.
- Reform of the electoral representation system. Removing privileges accorded to parties in the assignation of representatives; modification of lists system; eliminating minimum quota of proportionality; mechanisms of recognition and respect of minorities, as well as balance between the different territories.
- These mechanisms for democratization, openness and citizen control will be extended to other areas of collective representation, such as social and labor organizations, as well as the media, given their relevance in public life.
2. Recognition and extension of the ways of participation and direct democracy
- Recognition and expansion of direct democracy tools, such as popular legislative initiatives, referendums and virtual tools of participation.
- Recognition of citizen control instruments in all areas of the main branches of government, as well as on public accounts. The recognition of such instruments requires transparency laws and the development of flexible mechanisms for public hearing. Recognition of other social organizations acting as control mechanisms or political representatives.
- Developing mechanisms for collective deliberation: Favoring the development of methodologies for democratic deliberation, both virtual and analog, that promote shared decision making. These mechanisms will be essential in the development of new legislations and their budgets.
- Extension of the mechanisms enabling direct participation at all administrative levels, and management of public goods and common assets such as school boards, health councils, labor councils as well as local, regional and inter-regional councils.
3. Recognition of popular constituent power as the ultimate source of the constitution and the powers of the State
- Promotion of a model of open constitutionalism which allows reformation of constitutional standards from below, prevents foreseeable constitutional stonewalling, enables citizen reform initiatives and promotes permanent deliberation.
- The autonomous, independent forging of institutions for the self-regulation and development of rights generated by the social structure itself will be recognized and favored.
A mature political democracy will not only allow for the real and effective separation of the different powers of the state, but also for direct citizen control of the latter. According to this charter, the judiciary, state police, and security forces will also be subject to the same requisites of transparency, democratization and citizen control. Its ranking heads shall not be chosen by political representatives but directly by the citizenry itself.
A democratic society cannot be conceived without the guarantee of the necessary material support for the development of a dignified and politically active life. A democratic society without a fairer distribution of wealth cannot be conceived.
The high unemployment figures, the widespread insecurity, the spiral of evictions, the debt slavery condemning a large part of the population, the privatization of public services, the enormous concentration of wealth and the subordination of public economies to banking interests all point in the opposite direction: inequality and economic subordination of the many (99%) to a few (1%).
The current democracy as well as the constitutional guarantees on which it is based have been completely ineffective in avoiding this situation. None of the mechanisms set out in the Constitution of 1978 – social rights, labor rights, public initiatives in the economic sphere and the subordination of the wealth to the social interest, among others – have been able to protect society from economic and financial interests. Neo-liberal policies have prevailed above any other criteria, including the common good. This despoilment is most evident now, in the midst of the crisis.
This Charter intends to recover the social resources which have been privatized and concentrated into a few hands, in order to make them available for a real democratic process. Thus, the framework proposed by austerity politics will not be accepted. Never before has there been so much wealth, but rarely has this been distributed so poorly and under such undemocratic and unfair criteria. Therefore, a full review of the functions of economic policies is required, in order to prioritize of the welfare of the population over private, financial and corporate profit. A real, and not just formal, recognition that the laws of the market must always be subsumed to the social functions of the economy is essential.
With the aim of promoting economic democracy, this charter considers five basic pillars:
1. Financial democracy
Financial wealth will be considered as a common resource, upon which the citizenship must have the capacity and ability to influence. “Who regulates are the people, not the market” is the maxim that inspired this point. To do so, procedures will be established for democratic decision making on the debt contracted during recent years, as well as on financial and real estate assets in public hands derived from the restructuring of financial markets and the banking sector. To this end, the following measures are proposed:
- Citizen Debt Audit. This proposal allows distinction between those debts which are legitimate and those which are not. This audit will be articulated as a social process of democratic and financial education, whereby citizens may acquire greater capacity for decision making and control over the financial economy.
- Creation of public utility institutions, with financial and real estate assets resulting from successive restructuring. These institutions, under strict democratic control, will serve the promotion of economic equality and social development.
2. Tax reform
The object of the reform entails the promotion of a broad redistribution of expenditures and benefits, so that a formal equality is also a guaranteed real material equitability with access to common and public goods.
- Major proposals: the restoration of the principles of proportionality and escalation for both labor income and corporate profits; the implementation of new taxes on financial transactions and higher taxes on capital income; the decrease of indirect and consumption taxes, and prosecution of tax fraud. Tax reform will be based on a criteria of equality and equal tax treatment, as well as territorial solidarity.
3. Common and public goods
Privatization processes have shown that public administrations have not protected public resources against attempts at appropriation by private interests. The social recovery of these goods, as well as the democratization of their management, must guarantee their accessibility by the population as a whole.
- All goods and basic infrastructure needed for the reproduction of life, political participation and the normal function of the economy will have the status of public-common goods. These public-common goods shall include: education, health, housing, security, transportation, information, and justice; important natural resources including water, atmosphere, soil, oceans, coasts, rivers and riverbanks, forests and natural areas of ecological and aesthetic importance; and major roads, highways, interchanges, railway infrastructure, ports, and the like.
- Strategic resources and sectors of the economy, such as communications, energy, or mineral resources, will be reverted to a condition of public–common resources. The administration of those resources will be subject to a strict public and democratic control. This will effectively reverse the tendency towards privatization that has been promoted in the last decades.
- Public-common assets shall neither be alienated nor sold by public administrations. Being public-common property, they are considered the property of all persons residing in the Spanish State.
- Public-common assets shall be managed in a democratic way, regulated and governed both by mechanisms of citizen participation and expert communities required for each case.
4. Promotion of the Social Economy and Democracy in Economic Relations
This Charter promotes citizen participation in business-related decision-making processes, especially in matters which could be crucial to the common interest. In addition, economic activity will be subordinated to criteria of integral profitability, i.e. social, environmental and economic.
- It encourages the development of a new business model based on the principles of the social economy, cooperativism, and respect for the environment.
- All companies should progressively organize around the following principles: equity, respect for the environment, transparency, and sustainable development. Equally, controls over wage distribution in companies will be observed, forestalling the present model of speculative accumulation and extravagant salaries, while rigorously vetoing the increase of precarious labor.
- The fundamental principles of labor rights will be observed: the right to work freely or in exchange for just compensation; the protection of workers in situations of dependence; the right to rest and to retire; the right to autonomy and to dignified lives independent of wage labor, along with the right to strike, to form unions and to freely associate and assemble.
5. The expansion of social protection, the recognition of common resources, and the right to a dignified life
Our current system of Social Security is principally funded by income tax contributions and is only inclusive according to criteria of national legal identity. In a globalised context, where employment is scarce and non-remunerated work is seen as essential to the production of wealth, migration has become an elemental necessity for an impoverished population. As such, the prior bases of our system of social protection have proven to be increasingly inefficient and less inclusive.
An expansion of the pension system to comply with just and sufficient standards is required. Another requirement is an expansion of the support mechanisms and infrastructures for collective caretaking, which presently falls almost exclusively on families (particularly, women). Child-rearing duties are a collective responsibility with the following two requirements: the necessary budgetary development and allocation, and the creation of common infrastructures.
The production of non-GDP quantified wealth (in areas such as research, study, cultural, informational or communicative production) shall also be acknowledged through mechanisms for the recognition of all such non-remunerated wealth (such as a Basic Income), along with the creation of all the necessary infrastructures for the development of such mechanisms.
This new system of guarantees will be financed by the proposed measures for fiscal reform, especially through the taxation of financial profit and its circulation, while also reducing the proportion of income tax.
The current financial and economic crisis has shown the weakening of democracy at every level, as well as the fragility of territorial wealth-sharing mechanisms. The dictates of financial governance through austerity policies have established an extraordinary geography of inequality, plunging some countries and regions into the economic and social abyss.
The result is an important territorial split opening up both at the European level and in the Spanish state. In Europe, the absence of democratic intervention mechanisms and the crisis of sovereign debt have created a growing rift between a protected center and an increasingly impoverished periphery. In the Spanish state, the heavy indebtedness of municipalities and regions is leading to the dismantling of social protection systems and the sale of many public goods.
Both cases show a growing loss of territorial solidarity and the legitimacy of government institutions. This threatens a collapse that can only be addressed through a complete institutional reorganization based on democracy and territorial stewardship.
This charter invites discussion for a new territorial agreement at all levels, based on a radically democratic model. It is based on the assumption that decisions about the management of resources and services should be developed at the minimum level of the territorial unit, and forms of the distribution of wealth must be organized within the larger Commons to ensure equity between the territories.
In this way, it is intended to minimize the inequalities between them, compensating for the inequalities generated by models of territorial jurisdiction.
The new territorial agreement model shall be the result of democratic consultation and cooperation among the various territorial units. It should acknowledge the widest possible plurality, and build itself up from its residents’ right to democratically decide on their belonging or not to the different territorial units.
Territorial Democracy will be based on the following principles.
- Joint responsibility and equality. Membership in the political association involves the acceptance of certain rules and communal constitutions, as well as the acceptance of a taxation system and a communal budget sufficient to correct social and territorial inequality. The new tax system shall be based on progressiveness and fiscal equity.
- Subsidiarity. The management of resources and services as well as decisions on matters of public interest must be reduced to the minimum territorial unit in which it is most accessible to those residents responsible for such management or decisions. All services that can be better managed at smaller territorial scales will be managed at this level.
- Financial autonomy and sufficiency. Each territorial unit must have an appropriate budget for the provision of those services for which it is responsible. This budget will be autonomously administered by the democratically managed citizen organisms established for this purpose. Moreover, this budget will not only be guaranteed by its binding resources, but additionally by territorial compensation mechanisms established at different territorial scales. Autonomy in the management of said budget does not exempt those territorial units from the provision of certain services and fiscal obligations to the supra-territorial treasury.
The institutional development of the different territorial scales will be carried out starting from the following principles:
1. Deepening of political democracy: self-government
- To reclaim and develop all areas of participation and decision at every scale, building on the aforementioned formulas: the democratization of public powers and the extension of citizen participation and direct democracy mechanisms.
- In accordance with the subsidiarity principle there shall be an inclination, whenever the scale of the processes and resources involved allows, toward developing local and direct democracy at a scale closest to the people, i.e., local governments and towns.
- The democratic re-founding process is proposed not only at the Spanish State level, but also for the rest of the territorial scales.
2. Acknowledgement of the different scales and territorial realities and solidarity among them
- The forms of political union which may result from these democratization processes shall take as their aim the rejection of the current forms of territorial competition, as well as wealth redistribution at all levels; from the supra state levels, to those which are immediate to people, such as townships.
- European Union. The establishment of real fiscal, budgetary and banking cohesion directed at the practical elimination of the growing economic and social inequalities between countries, as well as of the controlling interests of the financial sector.
- The Spanish State, the current autonomous communities and whichever territorial entities that shall arise from the territorial constitution processes. The principle of fiscal equity shall be accepted, the existence of a joint budget, and the wealth redistribution according to the equitable methods of the territorial distribution.
- Municipalities. Financing and budgets, besides being subject to strict citizen control, will be guaranteed by distributive mechanisms accorded at the highest scales (regional, state-level and European Union) so as not to be dependent on property and land speculation.
3. The European scale of the process
- In the European sphere, a new constitution shall guarantee all the fundamental rights for every part of the Union, the political participation possibilities, the share-out conditions and the distribution of wealth, and a thoroughly democratic political structure.
- In the case that these minimums would not be guaranteed by the European Union, the various comprising territories could develop new territorial alliances from their own constituent political processes, in order to guarantee the previously mentioned principles and therefore their own collective survival.
- Translated by Jaron Rowan, Jaime Palomera, Lucía Lara, Lotta, Diego and Stacco Troncoso, edited by Jane Loes Lipton – Guerrilla Translation!
- Images by Clismón
- Original text, published at MovimientoDemocracia.net
On May 24, a coalition of neighborhood groups, students, labor unions, and other civil society organizations convened a popular assembly in Valparaíso, the major Chilean port city devastated by a raging fire last month. Announcing their aim to develop a grassroots plan for the recovery and reconstruction of Valparaíso, the Coordinadora for the Defense of Valparaíso also demanded a temporary freeze on construction permits and the resignation of right-wing mayor Jorge Castro.
“The destruction and abandonment of Valparaíso, of which this conflagration is an unfortunate result, has authors who must assume [responsibility for] the consequences of their reproachable acts and omissions,” the Coordinadora’sstatement reads in part. The Coordinadora blames powerful political and economic interests for the “twin tragedies” of abandonment and real estate speculation that are destroying Valparaíso, and wants them to be held accountable.
In an unprecedented and inspiring demonstration of workers’ solidarity, fast food workers around the world took coordinated global strike action today.
From New York to Mumbai, from Paris to Tokyo, fast food workers and their supporters picketed their workplaces. They are striking against a fast food industry – dominated by big names like McDonald’s, Burger King, Pizza Hut and KFC – that makes huge profits while keeping workers on low wages and in precarious jobs.
This may be the first time in history that workers have taken simultaneous strike action against the same multinational companies in so many different countries. It is a welcome dose of union internationalism, aided by social media. Fast food workers around the world have been spreading messages of their actions, and words of solidarity, using the #FastFoodGlobal hashtag. By late afternoon it was the number one trending topic on twitter – the most talked about thing on social media. This is the first time a trade union campaign has achieved this. It is a huge success for us to celebrate: poverty pay has been put firmly on the agenda.