Tymoteusz Kochan

What Does Madrid Want – Conclusions on the Manifesto of the May 15th

/26.05.2011 /

Everyone looking for hard facts may find the Manifesto of the May 15 Movement a great mystery. It was drawn in the midst of the protests generated by student’s youth movement in Spain. I don’t intend to express my uncompromising support for the Manifesto that for the most part appears clumsy and unconvincing, however, the pretence of the movement does not make up for its ultimate message, thus I set out to carry out an analysis hoping to find the most accurate, although hidden demands of the movement.

We are ordinary people. We are like you: people, who get up every morning to study, work or find a job, people who have family and friends. People, who work hard every day to provide a better future for those around us."

The first paragraph, which is a peculiar statement of identity, tells us who the movement’s adherents are. They are workers, students and pupils, the description which points to a spontaneous middle class character of the protest.

"Some of us consider ourselves progressive, others conservative. Some of us are believers, some not. Some of us have clearly defined ideologies, others are apolitical, but we are all concerned and angry about the political, economic, and social outlook which we see around us: corruption among politicians, businessmen, bankers, leaving us helpless, without a voice"

The manifesto develops further down the paragraph,. In order to escape parliamentarism and politics, the authors avoid identification and try to remain safely unlocalized. "Concern" and "anger" are here naively insipid. The authors of the movement are not able to localize the adversary with the help of the enemy’s doctrine, although they are able to present us with the most obvious symptoms of their opponent’s actions, such as business activities, banking and "politics" to which they oppose the will of a "common citizen". Here we are faced with a social protest against the liberal form of capitalist economy, however, the language of the protesters has been shaped within a long time of that economy’s functioning, so it wants to avoid being ’named’, being ascribed to any ideology.

Then, we move to key notions of the analysis of the manifesto.

"1. The priorities of any advanced society must be equality, progress, solidarity, freedom of culture, sustainability and development, welfare and people’s happiness."

Liberty, equality, fraternity. This old French Revolution slogan fits like a glove to the first postulate. Balanced development, balanced wellbeing and balanced happiness appeal to a society more egalitarian in its character. It is an objection to the social stratification, an objection to the commodification of all aspects of human life.

"2. There are basic rights which must be ensured by the social system. They are the right to housing, employment, culture, health, education, political participation, free personal development, and consumer rights for a healthy and happy life."

Naming basic citizen’s rights such as housing, employment and access to culture, healthcare, education, participation in politics is a declaration of demand for social cohesion. The movement is divided and unspecified to such a degree that it cannot produce postulates other than those that are declarative and abstract in character. The authors seem not to be able to notice, that the current reality of crises economy guarantees certain very concrete people the postulated "healthy happy individual life". What we encounter here, is an indoctrinated bourgeois language of the revolution of slaves who until now have been patiently waiting and enduring the gradual fall of their standard of life.

"3. The current economic system does not guarantee these rights, and in many ways is an obstacle to human progress."

The third postulate further develops critique of capitalism and domination of interest of financial elites over social justice.

"Democracy belongs to the people (demos = people, krátos = govern) which means that government should represent every one of us. However, in this country most of the political class does not even listen to us. Politicians should be bringing our voice to the institutions, facilitating the political participation of citizens through direct channels that provide the greatest benefit to the wider society, not to get rich and prosper at our expense, attending only to the dictatorship of major economic powers and holding them in power through a bipartidism headed by the immovable acronym of the same parties [PPSOE = PP + PSOE].".

The fourth postulate I personally consider the key argument to the analysis of the full document. The protesters are fluent in the language of erstwhile indoctrination of the parliamentary parties, which in the name of the democratic choice of the people made liberal decisions in the best interest of capital. Therefore we are not faced with a democratic (even though it calls itself such) rebellion of people deprived of the right to vote. What we are witnessing is a popular revolutionary impulse of the opponents of the parliamentary democracy. Parties within the parliamentary system turned out unable to oppose the interest of capital. It is this false democracy fused into parliament against which the voice of the rebels, fighting democracy with democracy, is raised. In spite of the fact that the enemy has been identified, the postulate of social dictatorship over - pertinent to parliamentary democracy - aspirations of capital is not raised, which is due to the weakness of language used by the authors of the manifesto.

"5. Lust for power and its accumulation in the hands of minority create inequality, tension and injustice, which leads to violence, which we reject. The obsolete and unnatural economic model fuels the social machinery in a growing spiral that consumes itself by enriching the few and dooming the rest into poverty. Until its own collapse."

6. The main goal and the only purpose of the current system is the accumulation of capital, at the expense of the efficiency and the welfare of society – at the expense of natural resources, and the environment, creating unemployment and unhappy consumers.

"7. Most citizens are the gears of a machine designed to enrich a minority which does not even recognizes our needs. We are anonymous individuals, but this system could exist, because we are the ones who move the world."

The fifth, the sixth and the seventh postulates develop the previous ones. The anticapitalist and antiliberal manifesto additionally points out to the elites enriching themselves to the advantages they get from the suffering of the rest of society. The sixth postulate, which openly opposes actions of capital, could successfully be a part of a communist manifesto. The seventh is a declaration of increasing class consciousness, and a break with the capitalist alienation of labor.

"8. If as a society we learn not to trust our future to an abstract economy, which never brings benefits to the most of people, we will be able to eliminate the abuse that we all suffer every day.

The Manifesto ends with two most important postulates in accordance to the logic of the whole text, and that’s precisely where its biggest inconsistency starts. The eighths postulate seems to contradict an almost warlike road the authors have taken until now. It turns out that the best solution to the whole evil is education. Belief in salvation through spontaneous education inscribes itself in a way in the erstwhile discourse, however it points to the break in the consistency of the protest. Potentially revolutionary movement turns into one which is cautious and reformative.

"9. We need an ethical revolution. We considered capital as superior over human life. It’s time we shall make the capital to serve people. We are people, not commodities. Our lives are not what we buy, why we buy and who we buy from."

The ninth postulate is the final defeat of a disaster started already in the eighth. Its first sentence breaks with the class struggle, with the motive of fighting for their rights and blurs the entire call for the struggle to change the economic paradigm. "Ethical Revolution", which at the same time should be anticapitalist, because of "abstract economy, which never returns benefits for the most of people" intends to build new consciousness. And despite that the Manifesto’s conclusions point to the system build on the principle of serving very few, now not those few are the constitutive enemy, but instead it is ’we’ (the protesters) who are the obstacle.

The protesters have decided to declare war on the harmful system that persecutes them in every aspect of their lives, but instead calling to a fight against the capital they decide that the time has come the capital might take a look at people who have supported it all this time. "Capital serving people" – ethical capital. The entire protest transforms into appeal to capital, and a declaration of strength as well. "We know who you are, we know what all of it serves to, but it’s time you’ve come to your senses" – this is the voice of the authors of the manifesto. "We don’t want to fight; we want more for us – from the capital –that’s the actual threat formulated by the authors.

The tenth postulate which should bring to a close the entire manifesto giving it the character of a specific revolutionary Decalogue has been suspended in a void, it has not been formulated, nor written, and finally the threat has never been made. And if the protest were not chaotically and cowardly indoctrinated with capitalist rhetoric, then that nonexistent tenth postulate would transform the blame into protest and the protest into the prospective new society.

10. It is time to stop paying ransom and serve the richest. We call for the establishment of a new system in which common social control of state owned socialist people’s economy will prevent future generations from being lost in the game of capital and markets that feed on, laborers, students, common peoples and our blood. "[...] workers, clerks – the fate of the revolution and the fate of democratic peace are in your hands!" .

Translated by Andrzej Zuromski

Dodano dnia:26 maja 2011

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