Rest­less in Puerta del Sol

Kathimerini English - - Front Page - BY NIKOS XYDAKIS

“ If you don’t let us dream, we won’t let you dream.” This is the slo­gan chanted by the thou­sands of young pro­test­ers who ev­ery night over the past few days have been pack­ing Madrid’s Puerta del Sol and many other pub­lic squares and parks across Spain. It is cer­tainly a ro­man­tic slo­gan – and it has some­thing of the 1968 move­ments to it. How­ever, the ro­man­tic lan­guage is the only thing the two move­ments share. The his­tor­i­cal con­text is rad­i­cally dif­fer­ent. In 1968, the youth were de­mand­ing “all power to the imag­i­na­tion.” To­day, they are ask­ing for some­thing more fun­da­men­tal: the right to a dig­ni­fied life. The young peo­ple in Spain, who call them­selves Democ­ra­cia Real Ya (Real Democ­racy Now), are job­less and frus­trated. Count­ing some 4.9 mil­lion unem­ployed peo­ple – which trans­lates into ap­prox­i­mately 21.3 per­cent of the ac­tive pop­u­la­tion – this Mediter­ranean coun­try is also on the verge of bank­ruptcy. The fu­ture hardly looks promis­ing. Young Spa­niards are over­whelmed with de­spair – just like their coun­ter­parts in Greece, Por­tu­gal and Ire­land, eu­ro­zone coun­tries that have al­ready gone bank­rupt. The indig­na­dos (an­gry ones) that take pos­ses­sion of squares and parks in cities around Spain are in some ways rem­i­nis­cent of the Egyp­tian rev­o­lu­tion­ar­ies who oc­cu­pied Cairo’s Tahrir Square dur­ing the wave of protest ral­lies against the rule of for­mer Pres­i­dent Hosni Mubarak. The Span­ish move­ment is spon­ta­neous; it is not an­i­mated or guided by a par­tic­u­lar po­lit­i­cal party or or­ga­ni­za­tion; it is over­flow­ing with emo­tion; it has ral­lied peo­ple from the most ed­u­cated and rest­less strata of so­ci­ety. Sure, the move­ment is still frag­ile. But it could grad­u­ally grow into some­thing stronger, as it is head­ing for a clash af­ter the coun­try’s elec­toral authorities ef­fec­tively or­dered the gov­ern­ment to dis­solve the ral­lies, by in­tro­duc­ing a ban on protests ahead of elec­tions in the coun­try. The mes­sage, as laid out in their man­i­festo, is ex­tremely con­ta­gious and uni­ver­sal: “We are or­di­nary peo­ple... If as a so­ci­ety we learn to not trust our fu­ture to an ab­stract econ­omy, which never re­turns ben­e­fits for the ma­jor­ity, we can elim­i­nate the abuse that we are all suf­fer­ing. We need an eth­i­cal revo­lu­tion... This is an event. And as such, a mo­ment ca­pa­ble of giv­ing new mean­ings to our ac­tions and our speeches. This is born out of rage. But our rage is imag­i­na­tion, strength, cit­i­zen power.”

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