Autonomies are woven in different ways, at different levels. The self-understanding of those who participate, the goals and means employed, may vary enormously. It is far too easy then to criticise such initiatives from a puritanical and ultimately impotent ideological stance, when it is precisely in and through such efforts that ways of living emerge in opposition to State-Capital.
In early October of 2013, a group of individuals/collectives (Acampada Dignidad de Córdoba) in Cordoba, spain, okupied an abandoned public school, the Colegio Rey Heredia, for the purposes of created an autonomous, self-managed social centre for the local neighbourhood and the city. In the short time of the centre’s existence, and against efforts by local authorities to evict the centre, numerous have been the activities/services organised: legal information and support, a community radio, an urban garden, educational support classes for children, a library, workshops, a popular kitchen … .
A translation of the Manifesto of the centre follows …
Manifiesto Acampada Dignidad Córdoba
WHO WE ARE.
We are a group of persons and collectives from Córdoba who decided not to resign ourselves to the agressions that the great economic powers are unleashing against the people. We are certain that the situation can only be changed in favour of citizens if we gain awareness and act collectively. We believe that it is necessary to take the streets and stay in the streets to struggle against the politics of austerity of the different governments without distinction, to defend the right to work, a dignified home and the social rights of persons. The governments have acted to save the banks; citizens must mobilise to save persons.
WE WANT TO CHANGE THINGS
Because we know that it is possible. Reality is not immutable. History shows us that political, social and economic systems can be changed if there is a will and if the necessary force is exercised to change direction. Our strength resides in the fact that we make up the greater part of society, as workers, consumers and active citizens. For this, we have united our strength and capacity to:
Make aware and mobilise the citizens of Córdoba that they fight for the defense of rights that are being taken away by different governments with policies of austerity in the economic and working conditions of the majority, in public services and civil liberties.
Demonstrate that it is possible to change circumstances and to take the initiative in how we want our society to function, mobilising neighbourhood collectives (of the unemployed, of precarious workers, students, pensioners …) and to enforce in the minds of all the capacity of collective action.
Show public institutions and the powerful that we will not resign ourselves to policies imposed upon us, and that either they give priority to people or they will have to face us telling them that we are here and that we will not conform.
ACAMPADA POR LA DIGNIDAD
Following on these beliefs, we have created the Acampada por la Dignidad with the idea of creating in the neighbourhood a place where all who live here and who want to be part of this struggle to defend our rights and our dignity may meet, communicate and organise; a self-managed public space for the whole neighbourhood, where those who live here can be the protagonists, without any dependence on an organisation, a political party or public instutition; without the victories won promoting any particular idea, organisation or electoral initiative.
We demand our civic, labour and social rights in the face of the politics of austerity, starting from our local concrete reality and intervening in specific circumstances. The Acampada por la Dignidad functions on the basis of an assembly, where those who participate can put forward their ideas and opinions focused on creating a movement of solidarity that can serve to defend ourselves against austerity and demand other ways of sharing labour and wealth. In this way, we facilitate the involvement of the people of the neighbourhood in this struggle and in the participation in the assembly, in the actions and mobilisations that it promotes. At the same time, we promote critical education and information that renders us more capable to exercise our citizenship more consciously and actively.
Our activities will always be through the means of :
Non-violent, direct action and civil disobedience as the weapons to fight against unjust circumstances and norms.
The creation of open and participative spaces of cooperation, solidarity and plurality, without any exclusion whatsoever, nor control by political, ideological or social groups.
The promotion of responsible, critical and active civic attitudes through debates, information, education, both ludic and creative.
Neighbourhood based actions grounded in justice, solidarity, mutual aid between persons, and not charity.
In a globalised world, our initiative is framed by a global struggle against non-democratic financial leaders and institutions which, with the servility of political powers, have decided to pillage for their own benefit what belongs to everyone. In this way, as in many other parts of Spain, as well as in countries such as Greece, Turkey or Brazil, we want to play an active and decisive role as political actors, embracing in practice the slogan "sovereignty resides in the people" through direct and participatory democracy. We can no longer remain in silence and with arms crossed as the wealthy make themselves even wealthier and the poor are deprived of roof and food.
They send us into the streets? Then to the streets!
Video of the original okupation of the Colegio Rey Heredia and of the community kitchen (in spanish) …