In one of the most important debates in the Thematic Social Forum of Sao Paulo, Brazil, where I had the opportunity to participate, I was able listen to the living testimonies of los Indigndos from Spain, London, Egypt and the United States. What impressed me deeply was the seriousness of the speeches, far from the anarchic tone of the 1960s, and very down to earth. The central theme was «democracy now». A different democracy was re-vindicated, very different than the one we are used to, that is more farce than reality. They want a democracy built from the streets, from the squares, from the place where real power originates. A democracy from below, organically created by the peoples, transparent in their procedures and never again corroded by corruption. To begin with, this democracy is characterized by linking social justice with ecologic justice.
Curiously, Los Indignados, the Occupiers and those of the Arab Spring do not identify themselves with the classic speeches of the left, or even the dreams of the several editions of the World Social Forum. We find ourselves in a different era, and a new sensibility has arisen. Another way of being a citizen is postulated, powerfully including women, who were previously made invisible, citizens with rights, with participation, with horizontal and transversal relationships facilitated by the social networks, by the mobile media, twitter and facebooks. We find ourselves facing a true revolution. Relationships were previously organized in a vertical form, from top to bottom. They are now created horizontally, towards the edges, in the immediacy of communication at the speed of light. This form represents the new times we are living: of information, of the discovery of the value of subjectivity; instead of modernity, encapsulated in itself, one of relational subjectivity, of the emergence of a consciousness of the kind found within the selfsame and unique Common House, that is threatened with collapse, as a result of the excessive thievery practiced by our system of production and consumerism.
This sensibility no longer tolerates the system’s methods for overcoming the economic crisis and its derivatives, salvaging the banks with the money of the citizens, imposing a severe fiscal austerity, dismantling social security, cheapening employment, cutting investments, illusorily supposing that this way the confidence of the markets will be regained and the economy will be revived. The belief has become dogma, and in many places the stupid catch phrase is heard: "TINA: there is no alternative”. The sacrilegious high priests of the not so holy trinity made up of the International Monetary Fund, (IMF), the European Union and by the European Central Bank, have dealt a financial blow to Greece and Italy, and have imposed their acolytes there with responsibility for the crisis, without going through the democratic rites. Everything is viewed and decided from an exclusively economic perspective, devaluing the social, and increasing unnecessary collective suffering, the desperation of families, and youth indignation because they cannot find jobs. All this can result in a crisis with dramatic consequences.
Paul Krugmann, Nobel Prize Laureate for Economics, spent some time in Iceland, studying the way this small Arctic country solved its devastating crisis. They followed the correct path that other countries should have also followed: they let the banks collapse, jailed the bankers and speculators who engaged in embezzlement, rewrote their Constitution, guaranteed social security to avoid a generalized collapse, and managed to create jobs. Consequently, the country emerged from the mess and is one of the Nordic countries with the greatest growth. News of the Icelandic path has been suppressed by the world means of mass communications, out of fear that it might serve as an example for other countries. And thus the carriage, with incorrect but coherent measures, rushes rapidly towards the precipice.
Against this foreseeable course stand Los Indignados. They want a different world, friendlier to life and respectful of nature. Perhaps Iceland will serve as inspiration for them. Wither will they go? Who knows. Certainly not in the direction of the worn-out models of the past. They will head in the direction of what Paulo Freire spoke about, the «unedited viable» that will be born from the new creativity, one that expresses itself, without violence, with a democratic-participatory spirit. In any event, the world will never be as it was before, and much less as the capitalists would like it to be.
Leonardo Boff, Theologian / Earthcharter Commission
Free translation from the Spanish by Servicios Koinonia, Done at REFUGIO DEL RIO GRANDE, Texas, EE.UU.