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Global Protest October 15

These days indignation is a right and proper, indeed compelling, not to say compulsory, sentiment. It was forcefully advocated by Stéphane Hessel, the 93-year-old former French resistance fighter, in his influential though somewhat over-rated pamphlet Indignez-Vous (2010). “ In this world of ours – Hessel writes - 'there exist intolerable things… Indifference is the worst of all possible attitudes… One of [man’s] indispensable capacities is the capacity to feel outraged, and the commitment that derives from it”. Gramsci said it long before him.


In Spain at the beginning of March, a minor social network connected via e-mails, Facebook and Twitter, that called itself Democracia Real Ya, gathered mounting consensus and called on its adherents to take to the streets on 15 May. Which they did, punctually and massively, over 60,000 of them, in spite of the extant prohibitions due to the coming administrative elections of 22 May. They became El Movimiento 15M; they called themselves Los Indignados. In Madrid they occupied Plaza del Sol, in Barcelona Plaza de Catalunya, as well as the main squares in most of Spain’s provincial cities. They responded to provocations with peaceful and orderly meetings, discussions and free collective catering. They left on the last week-end, after cleaning up the square after themselves, but planning repeat action.


On 15 June they met again in front of the Catalan parliament in Barcelona. El Pais reported that “the protests were among the most violent since the restoration of democracy”, but a Youtube video provides incontrovertible evidence that the violent demonstrators were agents provocateurs. An identifiable small group of young people who turned nasty, in the end left 'under police escort' (sic); the peaceful demonstrators had chanted at them “Secreta, idiota, te crees que no se nota” [You are from the secret police, you are idiotic if you think we don’t know].


Who are Los Indignados? They are “the excluded” ( Los excluidos) – mostly educated, unemployed youth and those in precarious short-term employment – and their sympathizers. Los mileuristas (as christened by Espido Freires) and los zero-euristas, i.e. those earning 1,000 euro a month, or nothing at all. El Pais celebrated cartoonist El Roto – who is also a very good economist judging from his take on the global crisis - sums it up thus:


- The excluded are rebelling

- Sack them!

- No way, they don’t have jobs

- Cut their subsidies!

- We can’t, they don’t get any

- Demolish their homes!

- Impossible, they haven’t one

- Then, we are lost!



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Taken on October 14, 2011