I wish I could be more on the ball these days, but with all that I’m doing, I don’t even get a chance to see what’s going on, let alone watch TV, let alone alone catch a few minutes of the news. Finally I picked up on the hot item of the week, which is the big protests going on around Spain and, in particular, Madrid. Angry young men and women have set up camp in the Puerta del Sol, the very heart of the heart of Madrid, and are taking issue with just about everything imaginable. No party, no institution, no mainstream concept has gone unscathed. In short: it’s a textbook impromptu antiestablishment sit-in right smack in the middle of the capital’s most important thoroughfare. And as the days go by, it gathers greater attention from the nation and abroad.
The revolt already has a name, in fact it has more than one, like the May 15th Movement or the Spanish Revolution. The latter has an account on Facebook with 54, 467 people who susbcribe to it, as of this morning. So support is out there, no doubt.
Over around where I work and live, it’s all what people are talking about. Everyone has an opinion, and a fairly strong one too. So, I said to myself, let’s go down there and find out first hand what’s going on. After all, the best way t forge a true opinion is to witness something for yourself. It had been a while since I had jumped on an uprising of that caliber.
I really wasn’t sure what to expect but one thing I knew was that I in no mood for getting caught up in a stampede. Once there, I found the general mood to be pretty peaceful, all things considered. There was some chanting here and there, and an occasional round of applause for some reason I never picked up on, but other than than, people, mostly kids, but even some old folks like me just wandered around in a mellow fashion taking in the atmosphere.
I liked the fact lots of small groups of gatherers where actually talking about issues, which told me that many of the people there were there for a good reason. It wasn’t just a core handful of protesters and tons of onlookers seeking a place to party on Thursday night with the lame excuse of pseudoradicalism. All around as I passed I could real conversations about real issues. So, I was encouraged. There was a plenty of beer and hash circulating around. The biggest economical winners in this anti-capitalistic movement, were the enterprizing immigrants shuffling around the square with plastic bags filled with cool, not cold, cans of beer.
The place could do with a little organization, though not too much, since it’s the very spontaneous nature of the protest that makes it especially attractive. Still they would do right by having a kind of stage to orchestrate the activities and have the visitors and co-protesters have a place to focus their attention from time to time.
The last few minutes the place rocked with this terrific drum and percussion band which did a fantastic improvised performance, pounding away on one of the street right up until midnight, when their curfew came, or so it seemed. Then everything kind of wrapped up, as if to say “We’re done protesting for the day.” Some stayed on to sleep there while others headed home like me, taking a break from the revolution for the night. A block or two later, the city was frighteningly back to normal, with nary a sign of what was going on within.
This makes me wonder just where this will all go in the next couple of days. Thanks to Internet, many young people have given their support. But as far as huge protests go, these days at least, 3,000 is still a modest number and I did wonder just how many people are willing to actively back this up. I mean, after all, there are 4.5 million unemployed people in this country. That’s a pretty large base to work from. Once again, internet has been largely responsible. I ask myself, would this be getting this sort of attention without the aid of social networks? There is already a sizable article about it in Wikipedia, too, giving it a larger than life appearance around the world. But they form our world now, and will continue to be a mode of shaping current events.
As we head into the weekend, we should find the answer: it could explode into something massive or collapse upon itself like a failed attempt to create a new universe. A demonstration has been called for Saturday, but that is a touchy isssue, because Saturday is the non-campaign day, a day of reflection, right before Sunday’s elections, and no one is allowed to hold a rally of any kind. Not even the political parties. In other words, their protest would be illegal. However, to people who have already made it clear that they do not believe in the system and that they are against what they feel is a system that does not obey its own rules, they ask: why should they? I cannot entirely disagree with them and I certainly adhere to the need for people to manifest their feelings in this way. It defends freedom of thought and expression, and allows us to step outside of the norms from time to time. It defends our rights as individuals, as critical thinkers and as human beings.