There’s nothing good about parents struggling to feed their children, thousands of families becoming homeless, about competent teachers loosing their jobs and teaching without books.
There’s nothing good about rising xenophobia (i. e. Golden Dawn in Greece) and public health care being suddenly only for some of the citizens. The crisis has many ugly faces. But the crisis is also a chance, an awakening to the true nature of the capitalist neoliberal system. A look at some of the emerging alternatives in Spain:
Alternatives to the system
Although cooperatives had always existed in Spain, especially in the agricultural sector, they are now being rediscovered. Mondragon, the Basque Town-Cooperative who is believed to be the world’s biggest aggregate of work-cooperatives shows a real alternative to the crisis. The Director-General of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Juan Somavia recently stated: “Guided by the compass of social justice, cooperatives are vehicles for promoting decent work and decent lives for all. As democratic, value-driven and locally-controlled organizations, they foster social inclusion”.
Even before Occupy started in the US, people in Spain were on the streets. The movement took the name of M15 due to the first day of mass-demonstration May 15th 2011. The youth-led movement also referred to as “indignados” (the indignant) questioned everything long-established with its calls repeated over and over again in demonstrations “You do not represent us” – referred at the political system, “No hay pan para tanto chorizo.” (“There’s not enough bread for so much sausage” – chorizo being also a word for thiefs) – referring to the corruption, “to those who are watching, this also affects you” – leaving no doubt that things will get worse and no one is safe. The movement definitely played its role in showing how this crisis is different- it is systemic.
Other movements like PAH (Platform for Mortgage Victims) are slowly changing realities. Their fight for a more humane treatment of banks towards the people in debt is eventually changing public perception. That is in dire need, 350,000 evictions in the past four years, have brought many families to the street and into misery. PAH is currently collecting signatures for a reform of the housing-politics.
Alternatives to the financial economy
The role banks play in the down spiral of the capitalist economy only really unraveled over the last years. Recapitalizing the banks (through the European Stability Mechanism etc.) really only postpones the structural problem this institution holds. It remains a mystery to the people how banks can get money again and again while for everything else there is no money left. Nowhere else in Europe social banks grow as fast as in Spain. Time banks are also pop up all over the country.
On October 26 and 27 the region of Catalonia inaugurated its first region social currency “ECOSOL” (standing for social /solidarity economy). During the first weekend, the Catalonian Solidarity Economy Fare, 17’000 Ecosols were issued and used.
“The old is dying and yet the new cannot be born”, Gramsci’s words describe well how the world latches onto the obsolete neoliberal system. Here in Spain, however, the new is already here.
Picture Courtesy by Ramon Fornell, grácies!