The Spanish 15M social movement started over three years ago, gathering in their “plazas”. And what is of it now?
Many things have changed and we need to know how to read reality and celebrate our triumphs. The emergence of the 15M movement did not result in an organisation which currently has a significant number of members. The 15M movement is a social movement. This means, it has served as a catalyst for “moving” social collectives, associations, non-mobilized people, initiatives… and in this sense it still exists today, as another step in the spiral of social reactivation. It radically changed the country’s political climate. The most visible consequences have been the success and victories of the PAH (Platform of those affected by mortgages – which already existed before), massive mobilizations against cuts – many organised in the so called “mareas” (social “waves” protecting healthcare, education, women’s rights, anti-repression, etc.), the strengthening of a thousand struggles, the creation of new initiatives building alternatives and solutions, organised legal actions against corruption and injustices and the building of self-support networks all around the state.
The political scenario is also changing. Old structures and institutions (political parties, trade unions, the monarchy, etc.) are collapsing while new proposals are rising. An assembly based party such as CUP, also pre-existent, has gained a seat in the Catalan Parliament. New parties have emerged in European elections, like Podemos or Red Ciudadana Partido X (the first gaining five seats in the European parliament), offering completely new and fresh discourses and ideas and with connections to social movements. New citizen political initiatives (Guanyem Barcelona and Minicipalia for Madrid) will be running for municipal elections next spring. The recent announcement of the abdication of the Spanish king and the coronation of his son, flared mobilizations throughout the country demanding a referendum and a new constituent process so today’s generations can decide on what model of state, democracy and political structures they want.
But this climate of change is also altering the intangible. Spain took shape during Franco’s time. A republic, even too politically shy, proved inadmissible to the economic power. The right wing staged a coup and the subsequent fascist dictatorship didn’t hesitate to commit one of history’s major genocides: about 150,000 summary executions. If we compare it to Pinochet’s dictatorship which murdered 3,500 people or to Argentina’s with 30,000 we’ll understand the magnitude of what happened in our country. The dictatorship, having won, continued to carry out murders in order to eradicate all traces of the left wing.
With this historical legacy, Spain became a country of zombies: completely dismantled on the social level, politically corrupt, and at the capital’s service. Spain’s so called “democratic transition” was only an attempt to hide the dead bodies in the closet and keep on living as if nothing had happened, without touching the old power structures.
35 years later the 15M movement emerged from the crisis, against the deceitfulness of a democracy sold out to the financial capital; it changed the political climate in a zombie country and since then, a lot of taboos have been broken and myths busted. The debates of the mobilized minorities have been extended to large parts of society, and have ended up questioning every institutional framework of the transition: democracy, the political class, the banks, the monarchy, the police, the bipartisanship, the de-politicization of society, the Spanish ultra-nationalism… and it has become a social tsunami.
The collapse of the transition is generating a deafening noise. This citizen movement represents the protest against this Spanish structure captured by an ultra-nationalist, old-fashioned and unabashedly capital-favoring view.
Spain is a country that will sure give big surprises in the coming years, submerged in a social revolution and a change process that has to take its time, but that has defined, well prepared and strong actors: the new generations.