The State is a condition, a certain relationship between human beings, a mode of behaviour; we destroy it by contracting other relationships, by behaving differently toward one another… We are the State and we shall continue to be the State until we have created the institutions that form a real community.
As a general strike began in the Basque region and Navarra, called by spain's minority unions (news: Kaos en la red, tercera informacion, rebelion), thousands of people yesterday in Madrid "surrounded" the country's national assembly, el congresso, for some four hours. Similar actions took place in various capital cities of spain's regions. In Madrid, the police were out en masse (well over a thousand, in full riot gear), themselves surrounding the congress building and controlling various streets and assembly points of the demonstraters. And they did not restrain themselves in what they do best on such occasions, which is to beat and shoot at people (rubber bullets only, for the moment). Over thirty arrests were made (those arrested risk being prosecuted under sedition laws) and numerous people were injured. The police actions (let it be said, behaved normally, and in some instances dressed in civilian clothes and initiated the violence) come on weeks of intimidation of the organisers of the demonstration.
The passion and courage of the protesters is undeniable (Carlos Taibo) and there is an abundance of motives to protest for rarely has the violence of the State been so evident, in spain or elsewhere, in its appropriation of public wealth, and for the benefit of so few.
The protest may also be defended, as all may be, on the grounds of shattering the illusions of consensus, breaking fear and demonstrating to all that it is possible to contest government.
But we have criticised the protest (click here), for its perception of power as centred in the State, for its belief in an insurrection that could bring down the government and initiate a new consitutional order, for its delusional nostalgia for national revolutions (all exemplified in the original manifesto of the group first responsable for the call to occupy the congress, Plataforma ¡En Pie!; a translated version of the text is available through Roarmag). And though the original group was obliged to reach out to other organisations and movements after its initial proposal was criticised and even rejected, it is not at all clear where this particular movement will go (for a very detailed overview and discussion of the evolution of the call to occupy the congress, see Análisis Madrid 15M). To simply state that "What we have experienced today in the streets of Madrid has been a first proof of the power of collective organization. We are at the beginning of a likely new cycle of demonstrations …", as the Madrilonia article on 25S does, is at this time little more than the expression of a desire. Nothing on the ground suggests this at the moment. And what is missing in the celebration of the event is the loss of the potential of all that has been gained in over one year of 15M. We are, all of us, the State, as Gustav Landauer wrote and therefore the revolution against it cannot be won by taking a congress or re-writing a constitution. It calls rather for a permanent and constant change in all of our relations, such that spaces of autonomous creativity open against the general reign of capitalism. This is not to condemn protest, but it is to see it as part of something much broader and much more profound than a fantasised reanactment of 1917.
15M is like an enormous, cumbersome and perhaps ultimately naive creature, being bitten by smaller, faster, more hardened animals (police, labour unions, dyed in the wool leftists), and that is pained by internal uncertainties and dissensions. Whether it survives in its present form is perhaps not important. The tragedy would be that if its' promise is altogether swept aside by a politics of revolution that will bring little more than a continuation of the same.
For another critical reflection on 25S and its relation to 15M, see the article El 25-S coacciona al 15-M, by Pedro Larré (rebelion)
A protest was called for today, similar effort of surrounding congress is to be repeated again on Saturday.
Photos: Periodico Diagonal