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Spain: Millions protest economic and political crisis; Audio: Spain's crisis, the popular fightback and its impact on Europe

Huge protest in Barcelona against new austerity measures, July 19. About 3.5 million people took to the streets across Spain on the day. Photo by Tim Gooden.


July 28, 2012 -- Dick Nichols, GLW/Links correspondent in Europe, interviewed by Melbourne 3CR radio's Solidarity Breakfast program on the political and economic crisis in Europe, the mass protests and strikes taking place.

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By Dick Nichols, Barcelona

Radio report: This week in Europe with Dick Nichols -- Greek and French elections

May 12, 2012 -- 3CR Solidarity Breakfast program -- Dick Nichols, Green Left Weekly/Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal's European correspondent, discusses the week's (ending May 12, 2012) developments in Europe on Melbourne community radio 3CR. He discusses the election success of SYRIZA in Greece, the presidential election in France, developments in Spain, and what these mean for the rest of Europe.

Solidarity Breakfast

Spain: Huge general strike could mark turning of tide

By Dick Nichols, Barcelona

April 1, 2012 -- Green Left Weekly/Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Since the global economic crisis broke out in 2008, the many-sided protest movement against neoliberal austerity has yet to gain enough strength to force any real retreats from governments doing the bidding of capitalism’s ruling elites.

But the March 29 general strike against the new labour law in Spain — hugely supported and backed by often vast demonstrations in 111 cities and towns — could well point to a turning of the tide.

It lifted social resistance in Europe to a new height and gave millions of people a glimpse of how they might finally make the country’s corrupt and arrogant powers-that-be pay for their crisis.

The right-wing media screamed “flop”, but the behaviour of the finance markets told the real story: on strike day the Madrid stock exchange lost nearly 1% (its eighth straight day of losses) and the premium on Spanish public debt rose further over the Italian debt premium that only recently exceeded it.

Crisis, revolt and the left in Europe

Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The following presentation is a slightly edited and updated version of a talk given on January 20, 2012, to the eighth national conference of the Australian Socialist Alliance, held in Sydney. The slides mentioned refer to the PowerPoint presentation above, which accompanied the talk. Dick Nichols works in the European office of the Socialist Alliance and Green Left Weekly, based in Barcelona.

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By Dick Nichols

Slide 1

Thank you, comrades, for the invitation to speak—what a pleasure it is to see old faces, and new ones, too! The class struggle may be more advanced in Europe, but I sorely miss what we have created in the Socialist Alliance, as should become clear later in this talk.

My aim is to sketch the present phase of the class struggle in Europe, assess the gains of our side along with the challenges it faces, and hopefully help us all think about what this might mean for Socialist Alliance and the socialist movement in Australia. But the opinions expressed are my own, of course, not the Socialist Alliance’s: so feel free to disagree vigorously!

Spanish election: Right wins, but will face bolder resistance

The 1.68 million-strong vote for United Left was not just the result of the general disaffection with the major parties, but also of a decision to connect its campaign with the protest movement.

By Dick Nichols

November 29, 2011 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal/Green Left Weekly -- On election night, November 20, it all went as the polls had forecast: the Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) government was massacred, with its lowest vote in 34 years; the right-wing Popular Party got an absolute majority; and left and left-nationalist forces emerged stronger, led by the United Left (IU) and Amaiur, the Basque left-nationalist coalition (results here).

'A revival of collectivist solidarity' -- Hugo Blanco, veteran Indigenous revolutionary, on Occupy Wall Street

October 30, 2011 -- Ecosocialists Unite -- Hugo Blanco led a successful peasant revolution in Peru for land rights in 1961 when peasants were being killed by landowners. Praised by Che,  Blanco -- then a leader of the Fourth International -- was captured and placed on death row. He lived due to an international campaign of solidarity launched by figures like Jean-Paul Sartre.

Now in the his late 70s, he publishes Lucha Indigena ("Indigenous Struggle"). The uprising in Peru of the Awajan and Wampis and other Amazon people, of the Aymara and Quechua, have shown that Indigenous and workers can organise to challenge the destruction of the Earth and to build a democratic alternative to capitalism.

Hugo Blanco argues that the revolution must be global and that the Occupy movement shows that people in the global North are joining the revolt against the 1% and for a democratic, ecological society for the 99%.

This Lucha Indigena editorial on the occupy movement and the global fightback against neoliberalism has been roughly translated by Derek Wall and Martin O'Beirne.

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Basque Country: ETA declares permanent ceasefire, Basque left set for gains

By Andy Bowden

October 21, 2011 -- Scottish Socialist Youth -- Amid the worldwide media coverage of Gaddafi’s death, a historic development in another conflict went largely unnoticed -- after more than 40 years of a military campaign against the Spanish state, the Basque armed group ETA announced a permanent end to its use of violence in the struggle for an independent and socialist Basque state. This follows previous announcements from the group, declaring a desire to pursue Basque independence through peaceful measures.

(Updated Oct. 19) Occupy Wall Street inspires global protests against the '1%' (activist reports, videos, pics)


Occupy Sydney, October 15, 2011. Photos by Kate Ausburn.

October 16 , 2011 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- According to http://15october.net, protests and actions -- inspired by the Occupy Wall Street mass movement across the United States -- were to take place in more than 950 cities in more than 80 countries on October 15. Actions had already begun in some parts of the world before that.

Spain: 'Hot' autumn of protest brews

Protest in Madrid against austerity and constitutional changes, September 6.

By Dick Nichols, Barcelona

September 11, 2011 -- Green Left Weekly/Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- In Spain the signs are unmistakable: a “hot autumn” of political and social conflict is brewing in the run-up to the November 20, 2011, general election. Polling night will reveal how much the growing social resistance, brought onto the streets since May largely by the 15-M movement of “indignants”, has shaken up the political scene.

As things stand, the most likely result is a repeat of the wipe-out suffered by the governing social-democratic Spanish  Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) at the May elections for local council and regional governments (known as “autonomous communities”).\

A September 7 the Barometro Cope opinion poll has the right-wing opposition Popular Party (PP) winning  45.1% of the vote and 51.1% of seats.It would trounce the PSOE, which is widely blamed for Spain’s 5 million unemployed. The poll shows the PSOE would win only 31.1% of votes and 36.6% of seats.

Movie: Ken Loach's 'Land and Freedom' (104 minutes)


British director Ken Loach's drama about the Spanish Civil War of 1936-39.

Six days that shook Spain

June 19 brought out entire new sections of Spanish society in protest against a massive, cruel and destructive crisis from which those who were responsible are gaining, while ordinary people suffer -- in evictions, in cuts to child and aged care, in health and education.

By Dick Nichols, Barcelona

June 23, 2011 -- Green Left Weekly/Links International Journal of Socialist Renwal -- On June 19, huge demonstrations of the M-15 [May 15] movement in 97 Spanish cities and towns brought at least 250,000 people onto the streets. This vast and peaceful turnout marked a new phase in the rising struggle against the austerity policies of the country's "parties of government" -- the Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE), the People's Party (PP) and the Catalan nationalist Convergence and Union (CiU) -- as well as against the recently adopted Euro stability pact.

Spanish local elections: PSOE rout boosts right and left

Basques celebrate the 25.5% vote for the new Basque nationalist alliance, Bildu, on the evening of May 22, 2011. Photo by www.eitb.com.

By Dick Nichols

May 31, 2011 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal, an earlier version of this article appeared at Green Left Weekly -- On May 22, in Spain’s local elections, a tsunami of popular rage with the Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) government of José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero spead across this country of 5 million jobless. It swept away PSOE bastions held since the end of Francoism—scores of “faithfully left-wing” cities and regions surrendered to the right.

Spain: The 'indignant' beat back authorities; 'Nothing will be as it was before'

Demonstrators in Madrid's famous Puerta del Sol protest against politicians, bankers and authorities' handling of the economic crisis on May 19, 2011. Photo by Pedro Armestre/AFP/Getty Images, via The Atlantic, which has more graphic photos.

By Dick Nichols, Barcelona

May 29, 2011 -- Green Left Weekly -- The central plazas of dozens of cities and towns across Spain bear an uncanny resemblance to Tahrir Square in Cairo. They have been taken over by thousands of demonstrators demanding a "new system". As of May 29, dozens of other central plazas in Spanish cities and towns look the same — taken over by thousands of ordinary people demanding “a new system”.

Spain: The 'indignant’ and the Paris Commune

By Atilio A. Boron

May 24, 2011 – AtilioBoron.com, translated by the tlaxcala-int.org website, via the Bullet -- Perhaps it's one of history's surprises that the popular uprising surging through Spain (and which is beginning to reverberate throughout the rest of Europe) was sparked on the 140th anniversary of the Paris Commune, a heroic moment in which the fundamental demand was also that of democracy. But a democracy conceived as a government by, for, and of the people, and not as a regime serving the interests of patronage and in which the people's interests are inexorably subordinate to the imperative of business profits.

Behind the upsurge in Spain: ‘Revolutions arrive too late or too early, but always when they’re not expected’

“There are many Joses here, I’m not sure if its my turn or another Jose”, said Jose, a middle-aged man standing on the outer rim of a grupo de trabajo (work group) called at midnight on an adjacent street to Sol, the plaza known as point zero, in the heart of Madrid. The plaza has been occupied, as have dozens around Spain, since the huge protests on May 15 that brought hundreds of thousands of people onto the streets to demand “real democracy now!” and an end to austerity measures... That the protesters are mostly young is no surprise in a country where youth unemployment is about 40% and university graduates consider themselves lucky to secure a job at a fast food outlet. The overwhelming sentiment is that corrupt politicians must be banned from re-election and the electoral laws must be reformed so that they are more representative.

Western Sahara: `We want to go back to our country. Nothing will stop us wanting our rights'

Tagiyou Aslama. Photo by Alan Bain.

Tony Iltis interviews Tagiyou Aslama

March 20, 2011 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal/Green Left Weekly -- Western Sahara is the last country in Africa awaiting decolonisation. Invaded by Spain in the late 19th century, in the early 1970s mass mobilisations heralded the birth of the modern independence movement. In 1973, Popular Front for the Liberation of Saguia el-Hamra and Rio de Oro (Polisario Front) was established to wage an armed independence struggle.

By 1975, the dying days of the Franco dictatorship, the Spain had been fought to a standstill. However, rather than allow independence, Spain made an agreement with neighbouring countries, Morocco and Mauritania, whereby these countries would occupy Western Sahara while Madrid would retain access to its maritime resources.

Many Saharawi fled to refugee camps on the border with Algeria. However, most of the men returned to fight for independence. On February 27, 1976, the Polisario Front declared the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR).

The European workers' movement: dangers and challenges

In Portugal, November 2010 general strike called by the Communist Party-led CGTP and the Socialist Party-led UGT was massively supported, with 3 million strikers out of a workforce of 4.7 million.

By Murray Smith

March 6, 2011 -- New Socialist -- With the onset of the world economic crisis, the European workers' movement finds itself in a new phase, one that is replete with dangers and challenges. It is important to underline that we are in fact in a new situation and not just a continuation of the previous period.

Mondragon: A path to 21st century socialism?

By Louis Proyect

October 11, 2010 -- On day five of Carl Davidson's visit to Mondragon, he alludes to a transition to a "Third Wave" future by the Basque cooperative. The Fagor pressure cookers might be phased out in favour of "the high-design and high-touch products of a third wave future in a knowledge economy". In order to succeed in this new business, Mondragon would have to develop "new entrepreneurs", according to Isabel Uriberen Tesia, a Mexican on the Mondragon staff.

Davidson has been committed to the Third Wave since 1997 when he launched an online magazine (now defunct) called cy.Rev. Back then I took exception (http://www.columbia.edu/~lnp3/mydocs/computers/cyrev.htm) to some of its major themes, especially the idea of a "third wave" popularised by futurists Alvin and Heidi Toffler, as well as Republican Party leader Newt Gingrich. I summarised the Third Wave as follows:

The Mondragon diaries: `If labour has the power, then capital ... becomes our tool'

Carl Davidson, national co-chair of the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism, recently spent five days learning about the renowned Mondragon workers' cooperatives in the Basque Country. Here is his diary of the tour, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with his permission.

Day 1 -- Why humanity comes first at work: learning about bridges to 21st century socialism

“This is not paradise and we are not angels”. --  Mikel Lezamiz, director of cooperative dissemination, Mondragon Cooperative Corporation

After a short bus ride through the stone cobbled streets of Arrasate-Mondragon and up the winding roads of this humanly scaled industrial town in Spain's Basque Country on a sunny autumn morning, taking in the birch- and pine-covered mountains, and the higher ones with magnificent stony peaks, I raised an eyebrow at the first part of Mikel's statement.

The area was breathtakingly beautiful, and if it wasn't paradise, it came close enough.

Basque Country: Armed struggle ends, mass struggle continues

Basque trade unionists protest against the capitalist crisis.

By Jack Ferguson

September 8, 2010 -- Scottish Socialist Youth -- On September 5, 2010, the Basque armed group Euskadi Ta Azkatasuna (Basque Homeland and Freedom, ETA), which has fought an armed struggle for Basque freedom for decades, released a video declaring that several months ago it had decided to stop armed actions, and announced a ceasefire.

In its statement, ETA said:

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