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15-M (M15) One Year Later

OccupyWallSt May 15, 2012

Today is the one year anniversary of the 15-M movement in Spain, which continues to mobilize hundreds of thousands of people and inspire the world. The following text is an excerpt from 15-M: What Is The Plan? orginally published on in March. It is republished in part to give our readers a better understanding of the 15-M movement, who we are, what our goals and tactics are, and what we are fighting for.

Today is also a day of action against the banks that caused the global crisis and the culmination of the Another NYC Is Possible Week of Actions Against Budget Cuts And Austerity. Join us in solidarity with the indignad@s for a mass rally at Times Square at 6pm!

1.1: Arab Spring: One goal, One strategy

The Arab Spring was sparked by the first protests that occurred in Tunisia on 18 December 2010 following Mohamed Bouazizi‘s self-immolation in protest of police corruption and ill treatment. With the success of the protests in Tunisia, a wave of unrest sparked by the Tunisian “Burning Man” struck Algeria, Jordan, Egypt, Syria and Yemen, then spread to other Arab countries. Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali fled to Saudi Arabia on 14 January following the Tunisian revolution protests. In Egypt, President Hosni Mubarak resigned on 11 February 2011 after 18 days of massive protests, ending his 30-year presidency.

A major slogan of the demonstrators in the Arab world has been “ash-shab yurid isqat an-nizam” (“the people want to bring down the regime”) and they did it in Tunisia and Egypt with a sustained campaign of “non-stop protest” involving strikes, demonstrations, marches, occupations…

The Icelandic rejection of the debt and the Greek mobilizations against austerity plans, as well as the surge of new technologies with the uprising of movements such as Anonymous, Zeitgeist, Wikileaks, Democracy Now, Yes Men, amongst others, have also been of great influence to this (r)evolution.

1.2 Real Democracy Now, birth of a new movement

All through the winter of 2010 the collective “Democracia Real Ya!” (DRY), in association with approximately 200 smaller organizations, had been preparing a huge demonstration for real democracy in Spain. The protest movement gained momentum on May 15 with a camping occupation in Madrid’s main square, the Puerta del Sol, spreading to squares in 57 other major and smaller cities in Spain, and then to Spanish embassies all around the world.

Via its Spanish server tomalaplaza and its international version Takethesquare, the re-baptized 15M movement (also called “indignados” by the media) became a transnational movement. It exploded in Greece ten days later (on May 25) and while taking place, with lesser intensity, in France, Italy, Portugal and Ireland with a culmination point on June 19 when “the outraged” took the street in hundreds of cities around the world in support of this first global day (3.000.000 just in Spain).

In opposition to the Arab spring, 15M doesn’t fight towards ending a regime but has a holistic objective, it demands a Real Democracy, not just a revolution but an Evolution. The organization denounces the way big businesses and banks dominate the political and economical sphere and aims to propose a series of solutions to these problems through grassroots participatory democracy, which is based on people’s assemblies and consensus decision making. It maintains no affiliation with any political party or labor union and has not appointed any single leader and is unwilling to join any of the existing political bodies. It also promotes non-violent protesting.

1.3 15O Road to dignity, Occupy the world

On mid June 2011, Takethesquare network and the international DRY platform started to work together on a global day for October 15 with a first objective of exporting the movement (assemblies and possibly camps) to a maximum of cities around the world. The first international meeting took place in Lisbon on the 10 and 11 of July with participants from Iceland, Greece, Spain, Italy, etc. Israel social justice protest rose up on July 14 with hundreds of thousands of people mobilized in the different protest camps all around the country. Around this time 8 marches began walking, from different areas of Spain, towards Madrid, starting people’s assemblies in every village they crossed, while organizing the second international meeting (a week-long social forum) which would be held on July 23 in their destination.

After this, a new march left Madrid to walk to Brussels, and was quickly joined by six other European itinerant protests (coming from Barcelona, Saragossa, Toulouse, Sicily, Berlin and Amsterdam). They stopped in Paris on September 17 for the Global Anti-Bankster Day, (thought of as a means to test the international coordination before the 15O), when actions like the occupation of stock markets and central banks were taken against the financial dictatorship in a number of cities such as Barcelona, Athens, Tel Aviv, New York and Mexico; and the third international meeting (AgoraParis) was held. In September the first Hub meeting in Barcelona took place. Hubs meetings are working areas focused on a concrete project but open to a maximum of collectives, this one in particular being focused on the coordination of the 15O Global Day.

The fourth international meeting (AgoraBrussels) was held from the 8 of October until the 15O Global Day, when millions of people took to the streets in almost 1000 cities around the world, setting up General Assemblies and Occupations. Although incomparable in their intensity to Tunisia, Egypt, Spain, Greece and Israel, the actions of 15O still were present in all the continents and in 82 countries.

Under the strong cultural and mass-media influence of New York, movements in a lot of cities changed their name to “Occupy” and focused their action in denouncing the “1%” with anti-capitalist actions like the 5th. of November Bank Transfer Day, the RobinHood Tax March or the G20 counter summit and the occupation of other stock markets and banks in London, Zurich, Frankfurt…


2.1 Who are we at a local and global level?

Regarding our background we can conclude that we are:

a) Non-stop protests maintaining occupations, strikes, direct actions, information campaigns, day after day to apply real pressure on institutions (political, financial, military, environmental…) we want to reform or rebuild.

b) Communities including camps, squats, itinerant walkers, neighborhoods, eco-villages, co-operatives and alternative projects… self-managed by what we all recognize as the only real democratic process (horizontal, open to everybody, non-partisan, transparent, non-violent, inclusive…) through the General Assembly.

c) Working groups of people co-operating on specific projects (communication, direct action, outreach, international, economy…)

2.2 What do we want at a local and global level?

The first and maybe only thing we all want is for power to be given back to the people, by joint-decision making. Because since the beginning of this movement we have always practiced and improved on this process, we now know what real democracy looks like and will only recognize a way of organization through self-management.

As a movement, we want to expand this process to a maximum of places around the world (15O plan or geographic expansion), creating and connecting a maximum of communities that work with it. We all agree that our methodology of assembly/consensus is the way to organize our communities and all the institutions that rule our lives (political, economical, educational, environmental…). Although there is a group who want to reform these institutions and make them adopt our process and another group who wish to create their own institutions from scratch, all the members of our movement want and recognize the same process (15M plan or systematic expansion).

2.3 What are our next concrete objectives at a local and global level?

a) Generalization of the non-stop protests:

A first phase of local convergence of struggles or “outreach” missions, (will) give way to the coordination of fights towards a sustained and general action which can be global.

Therefore, our direct action groups must firstly generalize the actions and, in collaboration with outreach groups, give a maximum of different sectors of the population (farmers, students, immigrants, workers, retired…) the tools to coordinate direct actions.

b) Generalization of the communities:

A first phase of linking/supporting/creating local co-operatives (will) give way to the coordination of those alternative projects in holistic co-operatives which can, in turn, be global or regional.

Therefore, our different public services and alternative projects have to collaborate in holistic platforms to answer to the needs of our communities (education, health, food, transport, culture…)

This article was originally published by Occupy Wall St.

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