From May 12-May 15th, protesters throughout Spain marked the first anniversary of the 15M movement by re-taking the streets and squares of over 80 cities. The 15M movement inspired people all over the world to occupy their local squares, to self-organize general assemblies and to build networks of solidarity in the face of severe economic policy. This short documentary documents the 15M anniversary protests in Barcelona.
On 29 March 2012, millions of people across Spain went on strike. The strike, which was the first general strike since September 2010, brought the country to a near halt. The situation in Spain has grown increasingly difficult with 1 in 4 people out of work and many struggling to make rent or mortgage payments.
The year 2011 has breathed new life into horizontal models of democratic decision-making. With the rise of the 15 May movement and the occupy movement horizontal decision-making became one of the key political structures for organising responses to the current global economic crisis. While this decision-making process has arguably never been as widely practiced as it is today, it has also never seemed as difficult and complicated as it does today. At its height there were 5,000 people at the general assemblies in Placa Catalunya in Barcelona and even more in Madrid. It is no longer just activists trying to use and teach each other these decision-making processes but it is hundreds or thousands of people who have a far greater disparity in terms of backgrounds, starting assumptions, aims and discursive styles. This is incredibly good news, but it is not easy.
Produced By Marianne Maeckelbergh and Brandon Jourdan
Although Hosni Mubarak was forced to step down in February 2011, the uprisings in Egypt show little sign of retreat. While the uniting rallying cry may have been against dictatorship, the struggle in Egypt that took headlines across the world in early 2011 reflected deeper social, political, and economic problems.
The key demands of the revolution have still not been met. The continuation of military rule and the promise of more neoliberal economic policies lead many to believe it will be a long battle. Protestors in Egypt are hopeful, however, as people all over the world revolt against an economic system that benefits the few at the expense of the many.
Cairo, Egypt, December, 2011-Cairo is a city engulfed in violent anticipation. Activists speak with pride about what they are accomplishing as they enter into their 11th month of struggle. And rightfully so. They “shed their fear” and came together to realise that despite continuous torture, repression, and military dictatorship, they are stronger than the authoritarian state. It’s a strangely powerful feeling that hangs in the air, that permeates conversations, that captures the imagination. The bravery, passion and camaraderie of the people I have met here in Cairo cannot be captured in words. It is a beauty that will inspire me for years to come. Nothing is certain, everything is frighteningly unpredictable, and yet, there is hope. Even those most critical of the current elections, those least satisfied with the authoritarian course the government is taking, have hope that things will get better. Why? Because they have seen, with their own eyes, the power of an enraged people fighting for dignity and a chance at social justice.
Barcelona, Spain, November 2011-The streets of Barcelona appear deceptively calm at first sight. Fashionable people stroll the streets, shopping bags in hand, while others stop to drink a glass of wine at a sidewalk cafe. These luxurious images project a sense of prosperity onto the streets of Barcelona, but underneath the surface, a struggle rages. The 15 May Movement that captured the global imaginary just six months ago and encouraged people all across the world to occupy public space and hold massive democratic assemblies is no longer limited to the central square. Now, they are everywhere.
Across the city less complacent images abound. Everywhere there are posters and banners that declare: “Democracy is a farce”; “Democracy is Hypocrisy”; “No One Represents Us”; “Active Abstention”; “All Power to the People: Don’t Vote!”; “Democracy is a Grand Circus”; and “Our Elections: Actions”. Two growing trends are visible here in Barcelona that certainly resonate elsewhere. First, people seem to take for granted the idea that voting and electoral politics actually bears little relationship to democracy. Second, there is an evolution in the tactic of occupation – expanding from public squares to buildings, hospitals and universities.