New blog contribution by Pablo Ouziel, Centre for Global Studies at the University of Victoria

Reflections on the talk and presentations given at the Political Theory Research Group seminar, Pompeu Fabra University, Barcelona on June 20th 2019

On June 20th 2019, I had the pleasure of initiating a multilogue on Spain’s 15M democratization practices, with the Political Theory Research Group (GRPT) at the Pompeu Fabra University (UPF) in Barcelona.

In 2011, Spanish public squares were occupied by a ‘collective presence’ constituted by a ‘strange multiplicity of culturally diverse voices’ shouting “Basta Ya!”(Enough!). These voices were challenging the political system of representation with the phrase “No nos representan!” (They do not represent us!). They demanded “democracia real ya!” (real democracy now!) and shouted “no somos mercancia en manos de politicos y banqueros” (we are not merchandise in the hands of politicians and bankers).

At this UPF event in 2019, everyone in the room had a certain lived experience within 15M. From 2011 until 2013 Spain was immersed in a 15M climate which altered the way in which many Spanish citizens thought about what it means to be political. Everyone who attended this GRPT seminar was in Spain during the occupations of 2011. For this reason, I thought it best, being faithful to the mode of being I have learnt-with while studying 15M, to begin my talk by asking the GRPT members present, to describe what they thought 15M was or still is. This was my way of situating my descriptions of 15M within a multilogue of reciprocal elucidation in which we all co-learnt about what 15M represents in/for Spanish politics.

Marc Sanjaume, researcher and adviser at the Institut d'Estudis de l'Autogovern (Self-government Studies Institute, Catalan Government) was the first to describe what 15M was for him. From a personal perspective, he described 15M as an expressive movement, with a high dosage of expression and a multigenerational component, which was unwilling/unable to articulate or organize a political project. He understood 15M as vaporous, and thought that in the end, every day in the square people repeated debates on the same issues because every day new people were joining the square.

Ultimately, Sanjaume thought that the absolute and radical commitment to assembly based decision making was unable to make proposals, and argued that its voluntarist nature created a blind spot in its understanding of the political.

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