The camps have extended like a trail of gunpowder all over the country since Sunday 15 May. They have provided the spark that has ignited an atmosphere charged with frustration, indignation and anger after three and a half years of crisis and a growing spiral of cuts, the worsening of working conditions and unemployment.
The passivity of the main trade unions—which goes as far as to make a pact with the government on the raising of the retirement age to 67—together with the moderation and betrayals of the institutional left have led to a growth of indignation during recent months leading to the current outburst.
The camps have come out of the of successful demonstrations of Sunday 15 May for “Real democracy now!” and the enormous demonstration in Barcelona on Saturday 14 May against cuts by the Catalan government.
This explosion, however, has not appeared from nowhere. It is part of the examples of struggle throughout Europe in recent months, especially those in Greece. Even more so, from further afield it has a clear connection with the revolutions in the Arab world, also headed by youth without work and without a future.
However we are not faced with just a social revolt provoked by the effects of the crisis and the attacks of the PSOE government. We are faced as well with a political revolt that justifiably opposes official and institutional politics and the restricted nature of present-day democracy.
The camps that are underway all over the country constitute an authentic challenge to the institutional framework, in that they have confronted the express prohibition by the Electoral Commission. The fact that the camps continued on the day of the local elections (22 May) is a very uncomfortable act of civil disobedience for the national and regional governments because it undermines the “day of refection” (and obligatory absence of political activity) on the day before the vote. Most camps organised their own “day of reflection” for the 21st.
This revolt is of great importance. Firstly, it has broken the generalised pessimism; it has created, through its example, a new atmosphere that shows us that people can and have the desire to struggle.
Secondly, it shows us the capacity of collective involvement, creativity and organisation by those of us who are affected most by the crisis.
At the same time the camps, with their mass assemblies, are showing what real democracy looks like—organised from below—they show there is an alternative to parliamentarianism and to just voting every four years.
Finally they have a clearly anticapitalist content: demanding concrete and global alternatives to the present system.
It is important that the revolt continues and that it broadens its reach, reproducing the assemblies in the workplaces, universities and schools.
The enormous energy, courage and creativity shown in the camps needs to be channelled into the great material strength of the working class—something we saw, albeit in passing, during the general strike of 29 September.
As En Lucha we call on everyone to participate actively in the camps, to get organised and mobilise at every level. Now’s the time to step forward and build the revolt.