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Real democracy on the march

In a bold and inspired move, Spain’s Real Democracy Now! movement is taking the struggle to towns and villages throughout the country, so that the issues they have raised can be presented and developed by many more people.

democracy marches in SpainThe movement (DRY or M15) is organising marches from towns in the north, east, south and west of Spain: Valencia, Barcelona, La Rioja, Galicia and Andalucía. It is in line with the desire of the democracy campaigners to be inclusive, to break down barriers and to have the widest possible debates about the way forward.

Two legs are already underway, with over 100 marchers setting off from Barcelona earlier this week. Despite soaring temperatures, the protesters hope to walk 21 kilometres each day. The Valencia route is around 500 kilometres long. The plan is for all the marches to arrive in Madrid on July 23 for a rally and the presentation of demands to parliament.

Democracia Real Ya! (Real Democracy, Now!)

Last Friday, as the Spanish parliament passed new laws against the rights of unions, democracy collectives agreed to begin planning for a general strike on October 15 to coincide with other direct actions.

The M15 campaigners are not, however, asking the largest trade unions – the Unión General de Trabajadores (UGT) and Confederación Sindical de Comisiones Obreras (CCOO) to call strike action. They feel that these unions are too closely aligned with the Socialist Party (PSOE) government.

DRY has been holding rallies, assemblies and encampments in city centres since May. The occupation of Madrid’s Puerta Sol saw tens of thousands of demonstrators – young and old – gather to reject the country’s established political parties, the PSOE and the right-wing Popular Party (PP).

With slogans like “They don’t represent us”, and “Don’t Vote for Them”, the DRY movement denounced the privileges of the ruling elites, insisting that “the current status of our government and economic system does not take care of these rights and is in many ways an obstacle to human progress.”

Assemblies in Barcelona, Madrid and elsewhere have posted lists of demands ranging from greater democracy and political change to basic rights to jobs, quality of life, housing, public services, respect for the environment, reduced military spending and the abolition of the monarchy.

The call for a general strike poses the question of what such an action is for. Showing politicians and businesses that “if we stop, everything stops”, as a spokesperson from the M15 movement suggests, will not be sufficient to achieve the aims of the marchers. And, whilst rejecting their politically-compromised leadership, the members of the major unions cannot be ignored, if a general strike is to succeed.

A general strike as a protest – such as the two-day strike starting in Greece today – cannot by itself reverse the course of events, politically or economically. Both are inextricably linked and driven by a globalised crisis of the capitalist system of production as a whole.

Just as the unrepresentative political elites are inseparable from the system of private ownership of the means of production, so the financial system sits on top of the system of production for profit. Changing that means addressing the issue of ownership and power.

For true economic and political liberation, the issue of the state and power cannot be evaded. As A World to Win has noted:

The present state has to go and power has to change hands, from the minority to the majority, in revolutionary practice. Corporate and financial power could be co-owned and controlled and exercised through a network of people’s assemblies.

In our view, that is the precondition for establishing real democracy now in place of the capitalist version that is discredited in the eyes of large sections of ordinary people. This is an urgent question because undoubtedly the far right is waiting in the shadows with sinister plans of its own to “clean up democracy”.

Corinna Lotz
A World to Win secretary
28 June 2011

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