Repression in Valencia: Solidarity with the outraged!

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A inoffensive protest was called against the new Valencian Regional Government. It asked the politicians not to be corrupt and to listen to the citizens: it was thus caught up in the folds of the illusion that the state “expresses the will of the people”.

The response of the state was very salutatory: demonstrators were beaten, dragged about, and subjected to arrogant and brutal treatment: 18 wounded and 5 arrested. They were not treated as “citizens” but as subjects.

News of this provoked strong indignation. A demonstration was called for 20.15 at the Colon metro (in the center of Valencia), in front of a regional government office. The demonstration grew little by little; a second march came from the Plaza de Virgen -where there had been a gathering held using the Valencian language – which joined up with the demonstration, to great applause. It was spontaneously decided to go the central police station where it was assumed the arrested were being held. The demonstration grow by the minute: people from the Ruzafa neighborhood joined the march or applauded from their balconies. “Free the arrested” “Don't look at us, they also rob you” were shouted. When they arrived at the centre of Zapadores the crowd came together in a large seated gathering, shouting “we are not leaving without them”; “if they are not sent out we will come in”... News of solidarity from the Barcelona assembly[1] arrived and also that the Madrid camp had held another solidarity demonstration in front of Parliament[2]. In Barcelona the shout went up “No more violence in Santiago and Valencia” (in Santiago there had been a police charge).

An hour later, after receiving news that the arrested -they had been transferred to the Central Courts- would be set free, the demonstration broke up, and several hundred went to the Central Courts to await their release, which happened after midnight.

We can draw some lessons from these events.

Firstly the strength of solidarity. The arrested were not abandoned. It was not left to the “good will of justice”: we took this in hand ourselves, because they were our own. Throughout history solidarity has been a vital strength of the exploited classes, and with the historic struggle of the proletariat it has become central to its struggle and a pillar of a future society, the world human community, communism[3]. Solidarity is destroyed by capitalist society which is based on its opposite: competition, each against all, every man for himself.

Along with solidarity there has been a growing indignation against the democratic state. Police charges in Madrid and Granada along with the inhuman treatment inflicted on the arrested in Madrid sparked off the 15th May movement. The cynical and brutal police attack in Barcelona showed the true face of the democratic state, which is usually hidden by the theatrical scenery of “free elections” and “citizen participation”. The repression in Valencia and Santiago on Friday, and today, Saturday, in Salamanca, shows this yet again.

It is necessary to reflect upon this and discuss it. Are the events in Madrid, Granada, Barcelona, Valencia, Salamanca and Santiago “exceptions” due to excesses or errors? Will the reform of electoral law, the LIP (Popular Legislature Initiatives) and other propositions for “democratic consensus” put an end to these outrages and place the state in the service of the people?

In order to answer these questions we have to understand what role the state carries out. In every country the state is the tool of the privileged and exploiting minority, the tool of capital. This applies as much to Spain, even though it uses democratic deodorant, as it does to the foulest smelling dictatorship.

The state is not held together by “citizen participation”, but by the army, the police, the courts, the prisons, political parties, unions and bosses etc; that is to say, an immense bureaucratic network in the service of capital which oppresses and feasts on the blood of the majority and is periodically legitimised by the electoral puppet show, popular consultation, referendums etc.

This “hidden face” of the state is covered over by the multicolored lights of democracy. This is clearly seen in the laws such as the pension reforms, labour reforms, and the new measures recently adopted by the government, the ERE (Expedient Regulation of Employment), which removes regulations around laid-off workers and also reduces redundancy payments to 20 days pay for each year worked, rather than the previous 45 days. Or as when the police share out their batons “in order to avoid problems” as Rubalcaba[4] euphemistically put it. Repression is not the heritage of this or that party or this or that ideology. It is the necessary and conscious response of the state each time the interests of the capitalist class are threatened, or whenever these interests need to be strengthened and propped up.

Immediatism, the pressure “to do something concrete”, led an important part of the assemblies -encouraged by groups such as Real Democracy Now! – to have confidence in the illusion of “democratic reform”: electoral laws, open lists, popular legislative initiatives... This looks like an easy, “concrete” road, but in reality it does nothing more than reinforce illusions about being able to improve the state and “put at the service of everyone”. This only results in bashing our heads against the armour-plated walls of the capitalist state.

In the assemblies there has been a lot of talk about “changing this society”, about putting an end to this social system and economic injustices. This has expressed the aspiration for a world where exploitation no longer exists, where “we are not commodities”, where production is in the service of life and not life in the service of production, where there is a world human society without frontiers.

But how do we achieve this? Is the Jesuit maxim “the end justifies the means” valid? Is it possible to change the system using the means of participation they deceive us with?

The means used have to be coherent with the desired end. Not every thing is valid! The atomisation and individualism of the ballot box isn't, nor is the delegation of these things into the hands of politicians, nor are the sordid machinations of daily politics – in short the usual methods of the democratic game. These “means” are radically different from the ends. The means for drawing us closer to our objective -although it is still far away – are the assemblies, direct collective action in the street, solidarity, the international struggle of the working class.

 

ICC 11.6.11

 

 


[1]    In Barcelona hundreds of demonstrators blocked the Diagonal and motorists sounded their horns in support.

[2]    On the Thursday there had been a demonstration against Labour Reform

[3]    See our Orientation text on solidarity and confidence: http://en.internationalism.org/ir/111_OT_ConfSol_pt1

[4]    Minister of the Interior and designated successor to Zapatero

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