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Stalking the wait

Ignacio Castro Rey
Philosopher, lecturer, essayist and art critic. From the Círculo de Bellas Artes he organizes seminars focused on new movements of political and social thinking of an innovative and non-conformist nature
Ignacio Castro Rey

Ignacio Castro Rey

Marching towards the centre, shouting at the top of our voices that they don't represent us. Joining together and occupying a space, sharing face-to-face the boredom and possible solutions. Completely recovering that vibrant community and authentic presence, free from the connected dispersion of the information culture and its technical mythology. Crossing the complexity of urban technologies in order to land on the other side of a square and experience the bodily expressions.

For months now, the 15M movement appeared to be taking its leave of many things. It transformed the nomadic precariousness the ruling order has forced us into, transformed it into a habitable dwelling, acampada, the weariness of being ignored and deceived day after day. And also the anxiety of having no job, nor house, nor any means whatsoever of independence. It will take a long time before we can forget the emotion of feeling the birth of another city at our feet, at kilometre zero of the usual defeatism.

Last May also represented an unprecedented break from the "culture of Transition", from its unending administration and the prohibition of breaking with consensus, from the comfortable alternation between conservative and progressive excuses. Many of us then shared this enthusiasm. Afterwards, on the threshold of this turning point, we began to tire of so much activism, the meetings and commissions, which soon threatened to raise a caricature of power. Suddenly, we once again feel the need for discontinuity, and a return to the secret.

We should not forget that the current "crisis" has been made possible by the oversaturation of all that is social, an intrinsically predatory global mass, (remember the birds-eye view of the Big Apple in Inside job?), the technological complexity, and constant interaction. Part of the crisis consists in spending the entire day speaking about the crisis. Is the crisis not a ruse of historical reason to perpetuate this perpetual connection required by a capitalism that hates the outside, the earth and humanity and ignores the grandiose achievements of history?

In any event, is being tired of a movement political enough? To say it in other words, a key question today would be: Where does one eat in the 15M? More difficult still, where does one live, nothing more, without enemies? What type of real wealth, real independence, and fundamental difference has it generated?

Maybe the time has come, as the Arab precedents of our movement have done to a certain degree, to invest this amazing youthful and collective energy in generating new ways of real production, real survival and real coexistence, and individuality. Cooperatives, workshops, shops, food-halls, schools? Naturally, and of course, new companies. And new ways of living, of escaping… But when will these real initiatives arrive, without waiting for the powers to take the familiar late, superstructural measures? Will this not become the movement's next step, side by side with the political slogans it appropriates? Or even, leaving to one side our obsession with criticism and politics. New forms of love, violence, and relationship. Other types of music, new ways to liberate ourselves from the nightmare that is history. When will this happen?

Without a doubt, there are many things that can still be shared in the wake of the acampadas. Among others, that idea of changing the world is no longer something we are after, but rather to defend it, in all its immenseness, against those who would see it transformed into a transparent plot of land. If the wonderful conservatism of the system is perpetual rehabilitation, an ongoing change of scenery which prevents the experience of anguish and local life, today there is a need to provide some decisions with stability. It is urgent to conserve areas free from the storms of precariousness to which we are subjected by a "crisis" that liquidates work and affections, mental stability and the nature of food in equal proportion.

Therefore, the idea that only a single world should be defended, does not easily couple us with the "nostalgic" against the momentum of new times. No, because it is only about preserving the openness to the existing world, with the infinity of its life forms, under threat from the pruning which is articulated from the existing social order. The insistence that the world to be preserved is the only real and possible world, against whose heartbeat capitalism would represent a furious "anti-system" mechanism, still remains a significant achievement of the May 15 movement. Mainly thanks to its hybrid temperament, that initial non-partisan vocation of the movement is exactly what could make it lasting, beyond electoral vicissitudes.

The words of that activist are truly beautiful: they are the abstract ones. We are down to earth, fighting for our lives without a programme, and turning our fears into resolutions. Together and sharing the equality of anyone who approaches us with an almost infinite generosity. Off to a good start. In itself, did the 15M become a little abstract early on, too ideological? It was not like this in any of its declarations of outrage but later on when different spokespersons explained the outline of a programme…It sounded like the same old partisanship as ever!

Is it not sufficiently political to live one's own life, to be able to eat and have a home in which to receive your friends? It seems that we sometimes forget the daily importance of the unpolitical and to resist the inevitable infamy of any power. The unpolitical is understood here, neither as apolitical nor anti-political, but rather as a critical review of the ideas and assumptions which have accompanied political thinking, as a realistic way of observing politics from its limitations and on the basis of the diagnosis, according to which, political categories of modernism are exhausted. The importance of humour, the violence of dreams, the love and hate which are never made public. Now the question is: Does the 15M begin to die as soon as it attempts to establish itself as a political structure? Democracia real ya (Real Democracy Now) is a cry expressing a just feeling and acts as a catalytic slogan for new, bold strengths. Nevertheless, it has to be said that as a programme it is an impracticable concept. By definition, the real falls outside every political movement. The "natural liberty" (Thoreau) is beyond "civil liberty" -the pre-eminent condition of original human freedom against whatsoever political regime, although this had that an energetic purity that so many of us wished to see in the 15M. To believe the opposite is the west's metaphysical disease, which has replaced God with Society and History. And at the same time, the May movement chose this path too early on, forgetting the joy of its initial effrontery.

Consensual culture and the culture of mobilisation can be part of the same normative culture when both sides become "correct" and attempt to save us from the helplessness of living without historical coverage. It is the world itself that resists globalisation. We have absolutely no idea to what extent we, even with 15M and Occupy Wall Street, are a minute sect in the pandemonium of peoples on this earth.

Anonymous is a word almost always uttered by those bearing a name of their own, therein attempting to bestow universality on something quite localised. It sometimes appears that the zeal of 15M for visibility after the first months of charming ambiguity, turned out to be something quite akin to information efficiency. It should also be stressed here that "anonymity" is often defended by those with an assignment, who have developed their careers in close proximity to traditional critical thinking. Badiou, Rancière, Tiqqun? Some of us adore those names, but the fact is that the grass roots leaders of the movement, those charmingly unknown faces from the early months have disappeared and are now respectable intellectual spokespersons belonging to the critical traditions of previous years. This is another fact that renews the uncertainty of the future of May.

It is not good when the atmosphere of Sol can be caricatured in advertisements. If the PSOE and the unions, both of whom are so shady, use a nod and a wink and attempt to build bridges -even the PP took full account of some demands- it is because, despite everything, the 15M has undergone a gradual transformation into an easily recognizable movement. This however is not a bad thing, but it does strip it of the freshness we tried to bestow upon it. The day will come when that initial heroic uncertainty that so worried politicians and journalists alike, will come to a definitive end.

The movement in fact, was soon tempted by a possible political identity that could claim its part of the administrative pie. What is the solution to this dilemma? If the movement turns its back on politicisation, the protest will dissolve into something cheerfully provocative and alternative. If it accepts this fate, the movement will end up becoming predictable, another part in the consensual circle. When the time comes, is it not preferable to choose the first option? Moreover, insecurity was the main weapon of the 15M. So, why not therefore extend this to its current organisational structure, to the point of surprise at its disappearance? Others will follow to pick up the torch, to occupy the vacuum. Nature abhors a vacuum, that is true, but it is necessary to get close to it, brush up against it, and feel its vertigo. After the fire, the earth continues to burn below the surface. This mental climate change marked by the month of May seems irreversible. While we continue to exercise our intermittent activism in this daily tragicomedy, we lurk in waiting for the next collective outburst.

This kind of stance could be accused of being "individualistic", that is true. But, community itself is individual, necessarily contingent, and sporadic. Prior to the distinction between the private and the public, there is a life that is common and individual at the same time, which is much more political than the entire visible field of representation and mobilisation. The historical will never be capable of absorbing this first political instance of primitive, anonymous life. One of the ideas that the 15M have bequeathed to us is that peoples can only be accommodated within history for a brief moment, a flurry. Everyday life is much too bloody to be channelled. To a certain extent, there is a chance that the masses know more about this perpetual escape, beneath the patio of History, than the parties constantly submerged in their sectarian activism. The voters who cast their ballots every four years devote but a small portion of their energies and time to political activity and discussion. Before and after, they melt away into a pre or post ideological shared existence. Only active militancy in an emerging movement enables them to forget this. Herein lies their capital and also their mortgage.

As is the case with the economy, resistance can also be under the table, informal. It is precisely in the name of May, that it is necessary to remember that the "struggle" can come in a thousand forms, not all of which are openly collective and programmatic, not even in the form of this register of anonymity which we generously grant the new movement. People fight in a thousand ways, some inconceivable. Resistance can take the form of remaining silent, defending oneself with cynicism or with apparent indifference, disappearing or seeking out new forms for living. Sometimes it appears that some solitary activists of this period, whether they are called Moore or Guerín, are more aware of the limits to the political than the factional leaders, submerged in salvational activism.