The shur indians , the so called jíbaros, cut off the heads of the vanquished. They would cut them and shrink them until they could be held in a fist, so that the vanquished does not resuscitate. But the vanquished is not altogether defeated until his mouth is closed. For this, they sew its lips with a fiber that never rots.
Eduardo Galeano, Celebration of the human voice/1
Words of subjects without names, without identity, wash upon the faces of hundreds seated and standing in circles around those who speak. The circles hold, give warmth, embrace … gestures of care, of love, that caress those who would have the desire, the courage, to speak. And so they do. The first breaks the silent expectation with tales of resistance to evictions; another follows to speak of striking telephone company workers who can no longer feed their children; another of debt, yet another of unemployment, hunger … and then, under a black beret, white hair like silk gracing broad eyes and a full mouth, a Don Quixote tells us that freedom lies in being able to speak, that it must be rooted in the rejection of the “…cracy” of “democracy”, leaving but the “demos”.
The 15th of May movement of spain in Madrid, and elsewhere, celebrated its fourth anniversary where it began, in assembly. Having lived four years without any formal structure, without any fixed goals or demands, without a unifying ideology, it continues in a practice multiplied and repeated that refuses to separate means and aims: collective self-management and direct action.
15M is not an organisation with a centre or leadership. It is rather a network, or multiple networks, of affinity groups whose goals are often not understood as demands addressed to governments, but rather ideals made reality now, at least to the greatest degree possible according to the means available. 15M today, as in years previous, lives in the multitude of neighbourhood assemblies that continue to meet and organise throughout Madrid and beyond, to both respond to perceived needs, but also to create social realities of mutual aid and conviviality which previous to 15M were either non-existent or existed in more modest forms, as legacies of earlier movements of social contestation.
The extent to which neighbourhood assemblies can engage on these two levels is of course limited, but nonetheless real. And with this self-managed, assembly based autonomous politics, new subjectivities are imagined and formed, beyond resignation, acceptance, even seduction and fear; and ways of life beyond capital and the state emerge.
15M embraces people and groups of great diversity, even in their shared opposition to the country’s current politics of austerity. This has in some way contributed to the movement’s resistance, longevity, as it has been able to define and redefine itself in a plurality of ways, through division, multiplication, proliferation, mutation, and yet still all falling within the body of 15M.
There are those who would wish to see 15M domesticated. There are those who would reduce its life to the influence it has had on national politics. And there are those who would praise its reasonableness, its this-worldliness, in having found voice and form in new political parties. But 15M is none of these things; even less is it Podemos. It is rather the refusal of power, of politics as the exercise of power, of sovereignty, and instead the desire to live life as a constant free creation. And should reference to it cease in the future, the desire which it has sustained will not so quickly pass away.
Recordar: From the latin re-cordis, to return through the heart.
We share below, in translation, the manifesto of the 4th anniversary of 15M Madrid …
On the 15th of May of 2011, there was born a hope for a change and, for many, a collective awakening of social consciousness that transgressed borders: we became aware that we were not alone and we came together with other persons in public spaces, with the conviction that things had to be changed and we united to be able to do so.
We did it and we continue to do it inclusively with the diversity of people and horizontally because we believe in equality, equity and solidarity. Integrated a diversity of perspectives, we constructed together, by means of a collective intelligence expressed through assemblies and non-violence.
It has been four years of struggle, of direct action and of solidarity, in which we have created networks of mutual aid, socialised knowledges, developed a critical collective thought and constructed alternatives, receiving as the only response from established powers, repression and media manipulation.
With their ley mordaza and reform of the penal code, they violate our rights of public assembly and protest; they criminalise us because we protest and question the system.
We say that they do not represent us.
We continue in the streets, planting in all that happens and exists, in all of their flags and all that is old, in each one of us, the seeds of social transformation. And we want to continue, regardless of who governs, saying loud and clear where we wish to go.
WE oppose their wars and military occupations, their neoliberal treaties of “free” trade, like the TTIP, their debts, their politics of austerity, that translate into: privatisations of common goods and public services, evictions, reduction of salaries, violations of our rights, unemployment, precariousness, destruction of nature and the imposition of a patriarchal and male chauvinist system.
WE continue to struggle for dignified employment, for the right to a home, for public services of quality, for a control of banks, for progressive fiscal policies, for the reduction of military spending, for freedoms, for democracy, for the annulling of illegitimate debt, which is today an instrument of global domination, repression, and economic and financial asphyxiation of countries and their people, for climate justice and food sovereignty in defense of nature, for alternatives to the capitalist system of production, distribution and consumption, defending the absolute dignity of all people, which means the acceptance of sexual diversity and the right to gender self-determination.
The 15M movement will continue to represent a change in political and social consciousness at the individual as well as the collective level, which no law will be able to stop.
We call on all the social movements of of the world to continue to construct spaces of participation and collective creation.
Before a system that allows us only to be sheep and that only allows us to protest at the ballot box, we reaffirm assemblies, occupations, the liberation of social spaces, self-management, disobedience, a-partyism and collectivism to be fundamental political tools, which consciously used, are essential for our capacity to reflect, to act, to exercise our political freedoms.
Before the system’s monologue, all power to the assemblies.
2015: We continue in the streets!
In celebration of 15M, we share a few video histories of/reflections on the movement (with english subtitles) …