NEW SOCIAL MOVEMENTS:
Indignados 15M, Occupy Wall Street.
Are they going anywhere?
Are they really necessary?
By Rosana Cervera, november 2013
LOS INDIGNADOS (15 M)
«Lo llaman democracia y no lo es», «No nos representan»
«Democracia real ¡YA!»
• It is asindical and nonpartisan
movement, considered concerned and
outraged by the political, economic and
social gap in Spain, marked by the
corruption of politicians, bankers and
• It is away from bipartisanship PSOE-PP
(PPSOE) and the domain of banks and
• It is a social movement for the repoliticization of citizenship, to promote
a more participatory democracy.
• It states that involving civil society can
be built a better democratic system.
We want a change and a decent future.
We are fed up of antisocial reforms.
We acknowledge that the political and
economic powers are responsible for
our precarious situation and demand a
change of course.
• Since 2008 there was an economic crisis in Spain, which has just been extended
to other areas, leading to a political crisis, social, institutional and territorial.
• On October 2008, “citizen revolution” in Iceland.
• On October 2010 was published the pamphlet “Outrage!” (¡Indignaos!), by
Stéphane Hessel, writer and diplomat, one of the drafters of the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights of 1948. It poses for a peaceful uprising against
• On February 2011 was established a coordination platform pro-citizen action
groups, a Facebook group formed by representatives of groups in order to
convene a mass demonstration and the drafting of a Manifesto.
• On March 2011, this group became the Real Democracy Now Platform, which
activates a website with a Manifesto, with political proposals to Spain, and
summon a demonstration on May 15, 2011.
• After that demonstration, 40 people decided to camp in the Puerta del Sol that
night spontaneously. On May 16, 19 persons were arrested, and on 17 more
than 10,000 citizens gathered there. It was the same in more than 60 cities
throughout Spain, up to one millon estimated. Thousands of them remain in the
squares until May 22 Elections Day, 2011.
1. Changing the Electoral Act: open lists and single constituency Seats proportional to the nº of votes.
2. Attention to the basic and fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution: adequate housing,
articulating a reform of the Mortgage Act; public health, free and universal ; free movement of people;
and strengthening public and secular education.
3. Abolition discriminatory measures and unfair laws (Immigration Law, Sinde Law, etc.).
4. Tax reform favorable to lower incomes, a reform of estate and probate taxes. Implementation of the
Tobin Tax for international financial transfers, and elimination of Tax Havens.
5. Reform of the working conditions of the political class to the abolition of their salaries for life, and
for programs and policy proposals were binding.
6. Rejection and condemnation of corruption, and Electoral lists free of candidates convicted of it.
7. Measures in accordance with Article 128 of the Constitution regarding to banking and financial
markets ("all the wealth of the country in its different forms and whatever its ownership is
subordinated to the general interest”). Immediate nationalization of banks that have had to be
rescued by the State. Stronger controls on financial transactions for entities and to prevent abuses in
any form. Reducing the power of the IMF and the ECB.
8. Participatory and direct democracy. Popular access to the media, to be ethical and truthful.
9. True regularization of working conditions and monitoring of government.
10. Recovery of privatized public enterprises.
11. A "real division of powers“. Effective separation of executive, legislative and judicial.
12. Reduction in military spending, closure of the weapons factories and control of the security forces.
13. Recovery of Historical Memory.
14. Total transparency of accounts and financing of political parties to control political corruption.
• These camping become popular assemblies, settle down in open
squares or parks, and were structured in various committees (Legal,
Activities, Communication, Action, Neighborhoods, State &
International, Information, Infrastructure, Sign languages, etc.)
• They were structured in working groups (Culture, Education, Politics,
Economy, Environment, Social Work, Feminism, Science and
Technology, Interreligious Dialogue, Migration and Mobility, etc.)
• Activities were transferred to the people's congresses of
neighborhoods and towns (Asamblea Popular de …)
• Today, thousands of members of these assemblies have created
platforms, partnerships, cooperatives, and political projects among
other groups born in the wake of the demonstration.
• Peaceful demonstrations, which had proved to be successful.
Had extended the 15M movement.
Had spread in the local sphere direct participatory democracy (method assemblies).
Had recovered the public space, and the critical thinking.
Had fueled the creation of many groups, platforms and civic associations working for the
common interests (15M, Asamblea de Sol, ¡Democracia Real YA!, Asambleas Populares,
Marea Verde, Marea Blanca, Coordinadora anti-privatización de la Sanidad, PATUSALUD,
Marea Amarilla, Marea Violeta, Marea Azul, Red de agua pública, Toma la Tele, Agora Sol
Radio, Yo no pago, Plataforma Auditoria Ciudadana de la Deuda, Democracia 4.0, Toque
a Bankia, Activa Preferentes, Yayoflautas, STOP Desahucios, Juristas por la ILP, Fundación
Civio, Plataforma por un Nuevo Modelo Energético, Brigadas Vecinales de Observación
de Derechos Humanos, Red Europea de Lucha contra la Pobreza y la Exclusión Social,
Marea Roja, Tribunal Ciudadano de Justicia, etc.)
• Millions of people informed, awakened, socially aware, mobilized, organized and
participated in a collective and democratic common future.
• Political projects born from 15 M: Partido X, Partido del Futuro, Confluencia, EnRed,
Frente Cívico Somos Mayoría, Alternativas desde Abajo, Proces Constituyent,
Movimiento Ciudadano, Oigame, Somos el 99%, etc.
• According to a survey of Metroscopia for El País, May 2013, 78% of citizens outraged
ensures that they are right in what they say, 4% have doubts about motives of protest.
• The 15M is a turning point, an event of epoch.
• Since it emerged, the account of the Spanish Transition is over.
• Public mobilization and organization manage to change the status-quo, and
extend their influence changes over the decades, countries and generations
(french May 1968, latin american struggles against neoliberalism since ´80,
Island silenced revolution, Arabic spring of Tunisia and Egypt, general strikes
in Greece, etc.). Immediate results should not be expected.
• Public indignation calls for political regeneration and greater participation in
democracy. Politicians have had to listen.
• Social movements can putting on the agenda issues and objectives from
citizens: electoral reform for more representative, open lists for elections,
end of political privileges, punishment for corruption, Referendum on reform
of the State, social audit Debt, etc.
• Rethink ourselves as citizens, not as mere voters or consumers.
• IT are useful tools forward social organization and democratic participation.
• This citizens‘ movement is not left nor right. It is interclass and
intergenational. They are democratic citizens with common goals,
cooperating for the collective interest. It makes changes in institutions, laws.
OCCUPY WALL STREET (OWS)
«We are the 99%»
• September 17, 2011 New York City,
Zuccotti Park (Wall Street, financial
• The slogan was boosted by statistics
confirmed by a Congressional Budget
Office report released in October 2011.
• It refers to the best seller «Price of
inequality» by Nobel Prize Joseph Stiglitz.
• The «Charging Bull», Wall Street´s iconic.
• The average age of the protesters was 33.
• Diversity of age, gender, race and occupy
situation (students, retired, employees,
unemployed, housewives, professionals).
• Religious faiths: Muslims, Jews, Christians.
• Majority of them felt not to be
represented by political parties.
• Adbusters, a Canadian anti-consumerist publication, which conceived of a September
17, 2011 occupation in lower Manhattan (OccupyWallStreet.org web) to protest for
corporate influence on democracy, and the lack of legal consequences for those who
brought about the global crisis of monetary insolvency, and an increasing disparity in
wealth. Adbusters emailed its subscribers saying “America needs its own Tahir»
• A group called New Yorkers Against Budget Cuts (NYABC) was formed, which promoted a
"sleep in" in lower Manhattan called "Bloombergville," in July 2011.
• The Internet group Anonymous.
• The economic crisis of 2007 did not initially produce a left social movement. The OWS
movement emergered only when it was increasingly clear that the politicians were
unable to address neither the causes nor the consequences of the economic crisis.
• On October 1, 2011, a large group of protesters set out to walk across the Brooklyn
Bridge resulting in 700 arrests.
• On January 1, 2012 police closures of the Zuccotti Park encampment. The movement
has turned its focus on occupying banks, corporate headquarters, board meetings,
college and university campuses, and Wall Street itself.
• On September 17, 2012, protesters returned to Zuccotti Park to mark the one-year
anniversary of the beginning of the occupation.
• That case Occupy Wall Street vs City of New York was filed in the US District Court of
New York, and the court has ordered the City to pay $360.000 for their actions during
the Nov 15, 2011 raid.
• Redistribution: more balanced distribution of income. Income
inequality (risen to levels of the Great Depression) is the focal
point of OWS protests.
• Reduction in the influence of corporations on politics.
«Corporate influence, that corrupts our political parties, our
elections, and the institutions of government.»
• Control of corruption on Wall Street.
• Bank reform (especially to curtail speculative trading by
• More and better jobs
• Forgiveness of student loan debt.
• Alleviation of the foreclosure situation
Public meetings to discuss
• Meetings are open to the public for both
attendance and speaking.
• The meetings are without formal
leadership, using a queue of speakers.
• The Assembly is the main OWS decisionmaking body and uses a modified
consensus process: discussing until reach
consensus (common sentiment, not
• 70 Working groups.
• «Spokes councils», at which every working
group can participate.
• Direct democracy.
• OWS People's Library (5,554 books, Nov
• OWS had accumulated over $700,000 from
donors, and the median donation was $22.
• OWS has been central to driving media stories about income inequality
in US. The idea of a “99%” against a “1%” has seeped into everyday talks.
• In November 2011, Public Policy Poolling found in a national survey that
33% of voters supported OWS and 45% opposed it, with 22% not sure.
• In January 2012, another survey showed that 51% of voters found
protesters a public nuisance, while 39% considered it a valid protest
movement representing the people.
• OWS has already begun to influence the public policy making process.
During an 2012 news conference, President Obama said, «I think it
expresses the frustrations the American people feel, that we had the biggest
financial crisis since the Great Depression, huge collateral damage all
throughout the country ... and yet you're still seeing some of the same folks who
acted irresponsibly trying to fight efforts to crack down on the abusive practices
that got us into this in the first place».
• The Republican presidential candidate Romney expressed sympathy for
the movement, saying, «I look at what's happening on Wall Street and my
view is, boy, I understand how those people feel.»
WHATS ON THE FUTURE?
• In the present and in the future, the social
subject are citizens movements, peaceful,
transverse and democratic.
• Civic resistance, citizen self-organization and
hopefull instead of resignation, individualism,
• Evidence that citizens can change the policy in
• A better world, which is possible, necesary
and urgent. And it is coming!