Scenes from the class struggle in spain

The protagonists of class struggles are many, as are the stages upon which they are enacted and re-enacted.  What defines them is not historically pre-determined; revolutionaries and reactionaries playing out the assigned roles of objective social contradictions are all fictions of impoverished and fantastic sociological thinking.  Instead of subjects, let us imagine existing, fragmented, desiring subjectivities.  Instead of contradictions, let us speak of cracks that fissure along unpredictable lines.

The scenes of class struggle are thus plural, diverse, and heterogeneous, and they are so lived.  If capitalist social relations constitute a system, the system is not a given, but must be made and re-made into a composite of unlike and incongruous elements.  And the fragility of the mosaic resides in its cracks: cracks to be found and forced, thereby giving substance to anti-capitalist protest and rebellion.

The struggle under capitalsm has often been reduced falsely to the conflict between between capitalists, the owners of the means of production, and workers, forced for their very survival to sell their labour power as a commodity.  The limitation of such a view is that it ignores anything beyond direct commodity production, that is, everything having to do with the creation of the conditions of commodity production, the ongoing and permanent process that Marx mistakenly referred to as a past “primitive” accumulation, and the perpetuation of those conditions in processes of reproduction, the reproduction of the capitalist social relations that make commodity production possible, without falling under processes of commodity production itself.

In simpler terms, commodity production and the exploitation of labour is grounded in an eminently political process of appropriation and dispossession of commons, of given and shared goods, of shared activities and forms of life, either directly commodified or simultaneously mobilised and marginalised in processes of commodification (racism, sexism, sexual repression-enticement are violent examples of the latter).

Capitalism, thus conceived, is a total system whose contradictions are nowhere to be located in one relationship; indeed, there are no contradictions, if by the latter are meant fatal tensions within the system.  In the cataclysmic imaginary of capitalism, even an ecological holocaust will serve for final orgiastic profits.

Anti-capitalism is thus a struggle for what is common, its defence or creation, against its private seizure and exploitation.

What follows are scenes from the class struggle in spain …

On the 30th of June, a woman named Maxi and her five children were evicted from their house.  Thirty agents of the national police were called upon to intervene.  One person, during the evistion, was arrested for “resisting authority”.

Activsts from the Plataforma de Afectados por las Hipotecas (PAH) and neighbours in the city of Alcorcón, part of larger metropolitan Madrid, tried to mediate to prevent the eviction, especially since local authorities offered no housing alternative for the family.  The family was evicted for a debt of 2,000 Euros, while the company tht manages the apartment, the Empresa Municipal de Gestión Inmobiliaria de Alcorcón, owes 2,3 million in taxes. (Periódico Diagonal 30/06/2016)

Since the 2008 financial “crisis”, which in spain, led to the collapse of a real-estate driven economy, the Plataforma de Afectados por la Hipoteca has stopped more than 2,000 evictions through actions of solidarity in which politically disobedient bodies put themselves between the police and the target of the eviction order.  On the morning of July 1st, in Usera, Madrid, neighbourhood collectives and associations of Usera and Carabanchel were able to protect the occupied home of Fernando Mompredé.

At seven in the morning, some one hundred neighbours were waiting at the door of Mompradé’s house for the police, who arrived at 9:30.  Before such a popular opposition, judicial authorities that the eviction order was to be suspended until September. (Periódico Diagonal 01/07/2016)

On the night of July 1st, various collectives, formerly involved in the CSOA La Morada, liberated a space belonging to the publishing company Lumberg Editores S.A., part of a larger media group known as Grupo Planeta (which is presently under investigation for tax fraude), in the Madrid neighbourhood of Chamberí  The building, sitting empty, serves but the financial interests of the group.  The occupation sought to create an autonomous social centre based “on the principles of respect, horizontality, non-discrimination, anti-fascism, anti-capitalism, feminism and solidarity, where assemblies can continue to meet, where the neighbourhood food bank can continue to create networks of solidarity and mutual aid, where workshops can continue to offer free classes, and where a social fabric can continue to be woven at the margin of party and speculative interests.”

The occupation/liberation was short lived as riot police set about to evict the new social centre.  However, the political project remains: “Any space is made to be used, so while we continue to have collective needs and while there continue to be abandoned buildings, okupation will continue to be a legitimate and necessary political weapon for social organisation, critical thought, empowerment and the creation of social fabric.” (Kaosenlared 04/07/2016)

The new governor of the regional government of Madrid, Concepción Dancausa, has created the position of “antiokupa commissioner”, along with a free phone line to denounce all types of occupations (a measure already in existence to denounce terrorist activity).  The aim is to record occuped spaces, accelerate the legal procedures against, and thus evictions of, occupied houses and occupied social centres.  Already, between 2010 and 2014, the numbers of persons legally condemned for for this kind of “usurpation” of private property rose from 742 to 2,042.  The war is now openly declared.  (Periódico Diagonal 08/06/2016)

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On the June the 2nd, fourteen national police vehicles, with some 50 to 60 Guardia Civil, invaded the Somonte farm estate in Cordoba to bring to an end a four year old occupation.

Somonte is a public estate, property of the Junta de Andalucía (the regional government of the Autonomous Community of Andalusia), which lay unused when it was occupied in 2012 and which the Junta planned to sell off, as it had done with much of the region’s public agricultural patrimony, to alleviate its debts and to further promote an economy of land speculation and “alternative” agriculture (GMOs, biofuel, etc.).  With some 20,000 hectares of public land in 2012, today the Junta is in possession of some 5,000 hectares. (kaosenlared 05/06/2016; Periódico Diagonal 03/06/2016)

The original occupation on the 4th of March, 2012, was carried out by hundreds of unemployed workers under the call, “The Land to those who work it”.  With mass unemployment in the region, and most notably in agriculture, workers of the Sindicato Andaluz de Trabajadores/as and the Sindicato de Obreros del Campo, among others, appropriated the lands from the authorities for the purpose of working it collectively.  Expelled at one point by the police (26/04), the workers immediately retook the land the following day, and continue not only to provide for themselves, but set an example to all of how one can struggle against capitalism.  Somente es del pueblo we hear; but also, ¡Somente somos todos!

The original statement from the occupying workers reads as follows:

This action should be the beginning of the agrarian revolution which at this time of unemployment, poverty and neoliberal theft is so necessary.  Today, any alternative for survival with dignity includes the struggle for land, peasant agriculture, food sovereignty and the kind of development that can be seen each day in Marinaleda and other villages of Andalucía.

We call upon all of the workers and unemployed of Andalucía that they struggle for the peoples’ collectivization of public or private lands.

If the present is struggle, the future is ours.

Long Live Free Andalucía!

Somonte thus became an autonomously self-managed collective farm, with some 300 people over time contributing to its cultivation.  Somonte however was also a point of convergence for other political and cultural activities, while the collective also contributed to other struggles with whatever means at its disposal (e.g., food donations for housing occupations in Andalusia’s cities).

All of this was brought to end in early June.  But as the labour union would state in response, “Some believe that one can bring to an end the dreams of peoples,  They are mistaken.”  On the fifth of June, Somonte was retaken by SAT activists.  The police would intervene again on the 22nd of June, only for the SAT to re-occupy on the 28th.  Somonte again belongs to the people. (SAT 02/06/2016, 08/06/2016, 22/06/2016, 28/06/2016)

 

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