In solidarity with Apoyo Mutuo, the Madrid based initiative to “organise” anarchist and libertarian actions across different collectives, groups and sensibilities (one of many that today mark the country’s political landscape – e.g. Procés Embat in catalonia, more recently, Aunar in aragon), we share below a translation of a recent text authored by the group that endeavours to read the present state of social movements in the wake of the events that have marked the county’s politics since the emergence of 15M. If the rise of political parties at the national level such as Podemos or at the regional and city level of “citizens” parties and the simultaneous decline of political mobilisation and protest serves in part as the justification for Apoyo Mutuo, questions remain about the need for and nature of such an organisation. Our solidarity is thus a critical one; but a solidarity nevertheless.
Towards popular power: Social movements and popular power (Apoyo Mutuo 22/06/2015)
We understand by “social movements” – a catchall term with little meaning – organisations that are relatively independent of capitalist structures like the State and its dependencies, as well as capitalist companies and which play the role of making demands and of mobilising from the position of the working class and the left. Since 2011, in the wake of the eruption of the 15M movement, these movements experienced an unprecedented expansion. On the one hand, quantitatively, through larger demonstrations and the recent neighbourhood assemblies. On the other hand, qualitatively, as the participatory, inclusive and horizontal methods applied by the different movements and organisations that emerged strongly put into question earlier forms of political participation.
Politics – with a capital letter – thus became an authentic experiment of assembly-ism, self-management and autonomy of a truly popular and massive dimension. Political parties and the media were obliged to reconsider their methods and discourses. For example, the greater part of the struggles initiated or recently initiated – such as the PAH – were reinforced at these same two levels, with greater or lesser internal resistance.
The very political-economic conglomerate of the State, with its media spokespersons at the head – newspapers, radio, television – set themselves out on a mad path to prop up the system born of the “Transition” of the 1970s. All of this in the midst of a systemic capitalist crisis – economic, political, institutional and with the monarchy at the forefront – which from its beginnings in 2008 was leaving without resources all of the middle and lower classes, sweeping away any trace of what they themselves call the “Welfare State”, in which corruption flourished like Autumn leaves.
By mid-2014, the struggle in the streets began to lose strength, leaving behind it three general strikes, various “Surround the Congress“, massive demonstrations in all cities (with the anniversaries of 15M), Mareas, health and education strikes, very noteworthy neighbourhood struggles like those of Gamonal and Can Vies or the stopping of the Abortion Law, culminating with the Marchas de la Dignidad of March 2014.
Accordingly, the struggle, having constantly expanded with a Partido Popular deaf to the citizenry except in the promotion of a progressive repression, gave way to fear, fatigue and the sensation of having reached an impassable “glass ceiling”, discouraging participation as much in demonstrations as in the constant work of the assemblies, collectives and networks or platforms. The social movements thus began to see themselves at a standstill and it seemed ever more that one continued more by inertia than by actual strength.
It is precisely at this moment that one began to hear speak of Podemos and of electoral projects everywhere, especially in the media. Finally the leaders appeared, integrated independently of their origin in the State caste system and sought after from the first moment by the media of the oligarchy. And so the disturbing inability to understand how hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets day after day without being called upon to do so by anyone famous or by any structured organisation with a first and last name came to an end. In large part, everything returned to its proper course.
We know however that things changed with 15M, that we are all more awake, more informed, less ignorant of the injustice of our situation. We know that people continue to work in the neighbourhoods and towns. That one falls only to rise again. That once the pleasure of being more responsible for one’s own life is tasted, that once we are more conscious of having to manage our life in common, it is understood that the institutions of the dictatorship, be they political or economic, have always been poisonous for the movement.
We believe that it is our task to continue to devote material, economic and above all personal resources to the social struggles in the streets. We should continue to create collectives, neighbourhood assemblies and networks at the local and global level, all necessary to continue to grow, working together for the world in which we wish to live, a world with an economy and a politics, accompanied always by an ethics, that render life worth living. And without dependencies to condition us. For this, we nourish ourselves from a constantly expanding theoretical and practical tool box, always confirmed in practice, open and disposed to reformulation with the only condition being the respect for autonomy, collective work and horizontalism.
We have to be together when someone goes to a bank to refuse to pay a mortgage, when a family seeks to liberate a house to be able to have a place to live, when a group of workers decide to go on strike; we should remain united when we choose to abandon our classes and struggle against tuition increases or the 3+2 Bologna Decree; we must be together to bring down the abortion law, to participate in neighbourhood brigades against racist and xenophobic police harassment. All of these small actions carry with them revolutionary acts, whose success requires that we continue to learn from each other and act together so that each is able to contribute their modest experience and political perspective.
We want to continue to support processes and projects of political participation that are generated in the neighbourhoods, whether it be social and cultural centres, collectives, cooperatives or assemblies, and to help maintain spirits high when the weight of the law falls upon someone or there is a risk of losing the perspective of radical change. We seek to support the diffusion of all of these initiatives and to strengthen communication with those who may potentially support us, also constructing and supporting alternative media to the mass media. And throughout all of this, it is fundamental to foster and celebrate the small and large victories that are possible in the streets. To continue struggling, we have to continue caring for ourselves.
The greater part of the social struggles today find themselves weakened. For ourselves, it is necessary to remain present, on the streets, to recuperate hope and between everyone, to understand that it is necessary to remain organised and not play with only one card … in a rigged game.
Accordingly, we believe that we need to equip ourselves with tools and concrete practices from the different struggles. We have to know how to actualise formulas and methods, how to self-manage a place of work, a housing cooperative based on the right of use, a health centre, And it is indispensable to prepare a legible, understandable, realisable, but above all applicable program of action, so that tomorrow, for example, in the Marea Blanca, with the collaboration of neighbours, initiating a health centre that was closed by budget cuts becomes viable. We have to continue to move forward, to create counter power. Furthermore, for us to set out an offensive strategy, we should create nexuses of union and coordination between the different actors in struggle to construct broader popular movements.
The path is traced and in some social struggles it has been possible to begin walking, also participating together with other political actors, such as in the Obras Sociales of the PAH. Participation in this struggle of the okupation movement has generated a convergence and a transmission of knowledge that has allowed hundreds of people to opt for direct action.
We want to continue constructing and consolidating these networks, these bases, which for years have strengthened society through autonomy, making strong this people that we hope one day, in a generalised way, will begin to demand, to construct, to take, instead of wait.
It is to this that Apoyo Mutuo wants to contribute, to the organisation of a critical, purposeful popular power that can serve as a reference, that can put on the table proposals for radical change and that constructs examples that contribute to strengthening bases of solidarity which continue to build another world here and now.