Disobedience, resistance, okupation: Anti-capitalist movements in Manresa, Catalonia

The revolution takes place in our everyday present …

Manresa, a small city of the region of Bages, in Catalonia, is an industrial centre in decline, with numerous industries closed or in a state of terminal crisis.  Like a sort of small Detroit, the city lives in permanent crisis.  In urbanistic terms, this translates into half-empty apartment buildings, new buildings left unused, and a historical centre that abounds with buildings in a state of ruin and closed commerce.

75,000 people live with a level of unemployment of 18%.  Empty houses make up 25% of the housing stock of the city, which amounts to some 9,000 houses, of which only 42 are public-state owned.

It is before this panorama that a series of relatively powerful social movements have arisen in the last years to develop activities and forms of struggle that have had a notable impact on the city.  Collectives have multiplied, along with initiatives, projects and alliances, such that step by step a parallel society has gained form rooted in assembly based self-management.  The groups involved include everything from left-wing Catalan separatists, anarchist and libertarian okupation movements, ecology movements, neighbourhood assemblies, the local PAH – Plataforma de Afetados por la Hipoteca (which in Manresa – Bages is known as the PAHC, with the “C” standing for Capitalismo), and so on.  All of this activity was furthered by the 2009 creation of the Ateneu Popular La Séquia, which, in the wake of 15M, became a point of passage of many of these groups, leading to the creation of the Coordinadora por la Transformación Social contra el Capitalismo y el Patriarcado, that brings together and coordinates different social movements and organisations.  The growing confluence of movements was noticeable in the streets with large participation in protests and strikes across the city´s population, defence of housing and okupied social centres, the occupation of apartment blocks and individual apartments for housing, the creation of cooperatives and other forms of alternative economic activity, cultural activities, and so much more …

 

The social movements of Manresa have been able, without any central authority or participation in representational/party politics, to create ever more diverse and interconnected anti-capitalist autonomous actors and spaces, generating the kinds of archipelagos of self-managed freedom and mutual aid that pre-figure a generalized self-managed society.

PAHC video …

Ateneu Popular la Séquia video …

 

(This post was inspired by two articles that appeared in the madrdi based newspaper Periódico Diagonal: 10/03/2015; 17/03/2015)

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