The Metropolitan Strike

5 posts / 0 new
Last post
epaulo13 epaulo13's picture
The Metropolitan Strike important developement

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

General strike marks another step forward for indignados

The major success of Thursday’s general strike in Spain hails the maturation of the movement and the emergence of a new type of networked labor action.

Predictably, most of the neoliberal media’s coverage of the general strikes in Spain focuses on the targeted property damage that took place during the protests in Barcelona, where hundreds of masked citizens seriously damaged several major banks, a Starbucks and the Opus Dei-related, upper-class hypermarket El Corte Inglés. It is no mistake that conservative representatives of that country’s eroding institutions are resorting to desperate terms like “criminal instinct” in order to paint the protests as some form of violence....


Yet, when we say “strikes” and not the singular “strike” it is because, in reality, this general strike contained two different types of strikes. On the one hand, it was a traditional general strike called for by the often timid mainstream labour unions, which are generally prudent to a fault when it comes to mobilizations and have, over the course of the last three decades, allowed successive governments and parties to take the lead in the bargaining process over labour rights. On the other hand, it also contained an emerging form in the repertoire of collective action which has only recently begun to take its first steps, but which, if we look back to the previous general strike of 29 September 2010, appears to be maturing remarkably fast. What we see is that the general union strike is giving birth to another kind of strike: the metropolitan strike, protagonised by the precariat and animated by networks of activists who are constantly learning, aggregating and experimenting with a variety of tactics.

The metropolitan strike goes beyond the old repertoire of transport paralysis, factory paralysis and the collapse of production from inside the workplace to reveal another innovative and dynamic repertoire that is capable of synergistically projecting movement-based politics beyond their traditional forms and achievements: strategically located universities had been occupied since Monday to strengthen transport blockades, a consumption strike which gave people who couldn’t strike a chance to participate, metropolitan picket lines made up of women, youth, immigrants or senior citizens, and black bloc-style anonymity facilitating targeted property destruction (including the a small-scale casino heist) all contributed to the success of 29M. Once again, the tactical richness of a multitude that ignores the institutional limitations of the concerted social action favoured by mainstream unions proved surprisingly effective (surprising, at least, to the ruling elite).

The evolution of this new repertoire is no easy task. It has yet to be institutionalized or clearly define a common strategy. And the traditional left, after years of focusing on resistance and defensive positions, has on many occasions viscerally and ideologically attacked these types of actions without offering any alternatives beyond those traditional forms of action and representation over which they maintain a certain hegemony. But this matters less and less, and the wave of mobilizations continues to leave a trail of successes in its wake: the 29F and 17N educational mobilizations, the 15O global day of action, the birth of the indignados movement on 15M and the general strike and Bank of Spain occupation of 29S are just some of these landmark moments of its still recent history....


In effect, the only form of mass opposition available to people in Spain is in the streets. Through mobilization, dissociation and the emergence of new types of actors, distances are opening up between the formal constitution of the government and the material constitution of society to reveal new possibilities for the future. As each day passes, breaking with the current regime and establishing an alternative are less the ideological desires of revolutionaries and more an issue of necessity for the average person in light of the dire circumstances they face daily. Those who wish to work will have to do it through cooperatives. Those who wish to learn will have to organize their own alternative universities. Those who wish to inform themselves will have to look to the alternative media. And those who wish to have cultural goods will have to share them. This is the politics of the common that we saw in action in our streets today, and which we will see in the alternative institutions of tomorrow.

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

Spain's general strike is also a day of action for the 99%


Polls suggest 30% of employed adults say they will participate, but this figure hides the true size of what the indignados movement is calling the "invisible" strike. With the highest unemployment rate in the developed world – 23% are out of work and 49.9% of those under 30 – there is a vast, invisible precariat of students, temp workers, the unpaid, immigrants and older people, looking for ways to meaningfully participate in and expand the political possibilities of the general strike.

This is the natural constituency of the indignados, who launched the global Occupy movement last summer with their city encampments and an emphasis on openness and direct democracy.

Many have been instrumental in continuing struggles around the Spanish state against what have already been drastic cuts. For instance, the "iaiaflautas" are retirees and grandparents who occupy bank lobbies against bailouts, buses against price hikes, and health departments against cutbacks. Their name is a play on the "perroflautas", Spanish slang for crusty, to show how impossible it is to stereotype those taking part in protests as typical activists.

Meanwhile in Valencia, one of the worst-hit regions, students and schoolchildren took part in recent protests against government cuts that had left their schools without adequate heating, many sitting in blankets in classrooms during the cold. The protests were brutally repressed. The sight of schoolkids being arrested by police galvanised a whole wave of solidarity protests around the country from outraged citizens.

These are only the most visible actions. All over the country small groups of determined everyday acts of resistance are taking place, like the villages where people blockade the highway weekly because their emergency clinic is closing down....


Spaniards, police clash amid strike over labour reforms (

It's one of those news stories that cbc doesn't allow comment on, on their corporate site.

Violence erupts in Spanish strikes (

I find that some of the comments are often more interesting than the news story.

thecynicalmonk wrote:

This article (like many others) is giving the impression that Spain was rife with violence in yesterday's protests. I myself live in Barcelona, I attended yesterday's protest march and I can assure you that this is NOT true. While there were a few activists who set fire to rubbish bins, everybody else was simply marching through the city to voice their opinions. The overall scene was of a dignified democratic protest - parents, children, even babies were there and nothing happened. Some of the videos depict hooligans setting fire to things and breaking shop windows - this tiny minority always use any kind of protest as an opportunity to cause trouble and have nothing whatsoever to do with the march itself. And some videos I have seen feature sirens in the background - if you'd been there you'd have seen that these sirens were largely the protesting firemen - marching with the crowd in uniform with a siren on a pole to remind people the importance of their work. 
If you're a US citizen reading this, please, DON'T BE FOOLED by the hype the media is giving the protests in Spain. They were pretty much peaceful, despite the way the way the whole thing is being twisted. It is perfectly safe to come on holiday here, this is not a war-torn anarchic country, and bears no resemblance to the instability of Syria or Libya. 
Above all, we all need to remember one very important thing here, whether it's in the US or in Europe. This economic recession has been caused by incompetent politicians and bankers who have spent non-existent money for many years. And in Spain, President Rajoy has responded by cutting public services to the bone, saying that this and the labour reforms (which penalise workers) will help pay off the deficit and stimulate the economy. 
Let me point out one simple fact of economics: You CANNOT stimulate an economy by cutting public services. All that does is put more people out of work, plus it has repercussions throughout society (if the librarian is fired, he has no money to spend in the shops, so the shopkeeper goes bust, who in turn would have spent money in the gym...). There is a very worrying trend right now of blaming public workers who have guaranteed salaries (I'm not one of them, in case you were wondering) when the blame lies with greedy bankers. As for the deficit, this has not happened overnight, nor can it be solved in a couple of years with massive cuts. Paying off any country's deficit has to be done gradually and with extreme caution, not via the extreme hatchet-measures carried out by Rajoy, or Merkel at a European level. But of course, the real culprits pulling the strings are financial entities (I daren't even name them but just take a stroll down Wall Street and you'll see who I mean) who put us in this position in the first place. 
Basically, DON'T believe everything you read about Spain. It is not a country falling to pieces or ravaged with civil unrest. I should know - I've been living here for 17 years.


Spain Fights Austerity - by Peter Gelderloos

"The unmaking and making of a General Strike..."