Mayo Fuster Morell on Tue, 26 May 2015 03:48:33 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Commons conquer Barcelona! A victory for David over Goliath

   Commons conquer Barcelona! A victory for David over Goliath

   Yesterday (May 24th) the candidature "Barcelona in common" won the
   municipal elections (the option of 1 of each 4 people voting). "Now
   Madrid"- a candidature also connected to commons ethos - became a key
   force for the governance of Madrid city. Those are only two of the many
   surprises from yesterday municipal and regional elections in Spain.
   Cities might be the departing point of a larger political change.
   Electoral results opened up an optimist scenario for the attempt to win
   also the national elections at the end of this year, or even in a
   larger run, a South European coalition against austerity.

   Popular Party and Socialist Party remain the main parties, as since the
   country transition to democracy in late 70s, but usual politics power
   suffered an important blow. Bipartidism drooping from 65% at the last
   elections 4 years ago to 52% of the nationwide vote. The renewal of
   power forces, instead of its change, are also promoted by status quo
   interests as by the creation of new parties: the case of "Citizens",
   which also emerged with force as a new political protagonist. Still the
   irruption of citizens candidature is impressive for its dimension and
   its speed. It also favored the increase of at least 5 points electoral

   Only four years after Indignados / 15M rise up for "real democracy now"
   in opposition to politicians "who don't represent us" and the
   "dictatorship of the markets", its impact has become so evident that
   cannot be any more denied. The composition of the new candidatures are
   populated by the social movement fabric. To give a taste of it, Ada
   Colau direct action anti-eviction activist and squatter is going to be
   the next major of Barcelona. A joke from history: an activist against
   housing evictions "evicts" usual politicians from the city hall.
   Considering leaders trajectory, it could also be said that the cycle
   started with the anti-Globalization Movement (the background of Colau
   or Pablo Iglesias, leader of Podemos/Yes we can), but also succeeded to
   mobilized once again the generation that fought to bring back democracy
   in Spain against Franco regime (background of Manuela Carmena of "Now
   Madrid", a retired judge and the mos probable next major of Madrid).

   From the programs, the first thing to hightlight is the centrality of
   urgent plans to rescue citizens suffocating from the austerity
   policies, such as with the implementation of several modalities of
   basic income, and the revision of public services privatization. An
   ethical code to regulate politicians regarding transparency and the
   abolition of politician privileges (i.e. limits wages for politicians
   ($29,000 a year)) and the commitment to support citizens iniciatives.

   A part of its political importance, it is fascinating from an
   organizational perspective. In less than one year and without
   connections with political, economical, judicial and traditional media
   power, ordinary citizens coming together have been able to gain
   important positions in the political system.  A victory for David over
   Goliath. Combining among its means crowd funding, crowdsourced
   programs, neighbourhood assemblies, and networked online voting. But
   also, as in the case of Podemos leader, building on popularity gained
   by his own TV program.

   How was the song? First we take Barcelona, and then we take Manhattan?
   Indeed, some are working for it. There has been a delegation of
   activist from NYC visiting Spain during the campaign in order to
   learn from the experience and "export" such people raising in their own
   cities. There are many lessons and insights to extract. I try to
   suggest you just a few hoping inspirational to start similar process in
   other countries.

   The CC effect - One of the - mainly young - citizens struggle that
   immediately preceded and afterward fed the emergence of the 15M
   mobilization was provoked by a reaction to a law promoted by the
   Government, repressive of the online sharing and the free culture
   (Sinde Law in December 2010). To a large extent this movement of
   collaborative cultures on the web reacted like Lessig did in 2008,
   shifting from "Creative Commons" to "Change Congress". It moved from
   focusing on sectorial politics connected to intellectual property and
   Internet regulation to the understanding that to defend these freedoms
   it is necessary to change the political system as a whole. In this
   move, the free culture and peer production model became the
   inspirational organizational form to organize political protest. I
   explained in detail that move in my luncheon presentation at Berkman
   center and at this article. The Spanish translation of Yochai
   Benkler's "The Wealth of networks" in this 2015 is not a
   coincidence, as a resource to understand those organizational models.
   In sum, the sectors holding the expertises around methodologies of
   co-creation and to engage with new forms of collaboration supported by
   online means has great political potential.

   The Wikipedia "hidden innovation" model - Even if there are large
   organizational innovations, the discourse should be "plain", or
   "austere". Mako Hill studied why Wikipedia was able to success in
   2001, and other attemps to built an online encyclopedia did not. One of
   its conclusion is that Wikipedia was the case adopting a more easy to
   understand concept, even if being innovative in its method. It held
   firm on the traditional notion of an encyclopedia: an idea old few
   centuries is easy to understand. Similarly, it could be argue here. The
   discourse able to raise votes for a political deep change in Spain is
   not vanguardist or particularly innovative, but popular, accessible to
   everyone, connected to basic needs. Some point to radical populism
   reinterpreting Laclau and Mouffe. It is a "battle" around the common
   sense, around gaining the hegemony. While, more vanguardist models,
   such as new parties connected to "innovative" discourse and Internet
   identity, such as Pirate Party or X Party, have been relevant providing
   organizational ideas, but did not work out obtaining general population
   votes (X Party obtained 0.64 % at last year European elections). In
   sum, innovative methods, but popular discourse connected to an agenda
   of basic common needs.

   Top and Down - These organizational processes are neither Top down not
   Bottom up, but "Top and Down". Perhaps, more precisely: "A visually
   recognizable top working for a distributed down". These forces rely on
   strong leaders, but also on the raise of a collaborative and free to
   operate base. A key concept is "overflow". It refers to the capacity of
   losing control over the process, and to the freedom to operate in the
   engagement in the mobilization process. The raising of creativity of
   actions of support not under the control of the "parties" seems to be a
   relevant aspect for the success of these processes (this is the case of
   the movement of graphical liberation around the candidatures).
   Furthermore, there are not clear boundaries about who is part of the
   "parties" or who is not, there are not rituals that establish who is
   part or who is not, but self activation though participation is the way
   to become part of it. Still leaders have strong presence, their face
   became one of the key symbols of the process (i.e. the symbol at the
   voting ballots is not the candidature logo, but the leader face).
   Visual symbols in the visual Internet, where TV though Internet became
   again a key channel. Particularly, TV and leadership remains a key
   channel to engage with popular sectors of population, that early middle
   class social movements adopters of Internet were not able to connect
   with. Leaders credibility is built over communication capacity and long
   social commitment. Candidatures lead by women - not matter their age -
   (women leaders at main cities such as Barcelona, Madrid and Valencia)
   are better able to increase vote by transmitting change and having a
   more democratic leadership style. As Ada Colau Barcelona next major
   (and originally zapatist put it): "lead by obeying people's orders".
   Leaders positions are based on power "for" the base, not "over". In
   sum, a visually recognizable social leadership, but an uncontrolled
   distributed form of engagement.

   Again, these are just three "impressionist" insights from the current
   people raising process in Spain. More to come. 2015 is the year of
   change, so it will continue. Now, time to celebrate. I left you with
   the "rumba" music of the "run run" singed by our next Barcelona major:

   Mayo from Barcelona

  «·´`·.(*·.¸(`·.¸ ¸.·´)¸.·*).·´`·»
«·´¨*·¸¸« Mayo Fuster Morell ».¸.·*¨`·» @Lilaroja
  «·´`·.(¸.·´(¸.·* *·.¸)`·.¸).·´`·»

Faculty Associated. Berkman Center for Internet and Society. Harvard University.
Researcher. Institute of Government and Public Policies. Autonomous University o
f Barcelona.
Ph.D European University Institute

Phone: 0034-648877748

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