- Since mid-May, Spain's M-15 movement began protesting
for "Real Democracy Now," drawing large numbers of students,
activists, unemployed workers, and other "los indignados" (the
outraged ones) on streets throughout the country, defying a ban ahead of
May 22 municipal and regional elections.
- Tens of thousands said "No nos moveran" (We
shall not be moved), opposing government imposed austerity to repay bankers
at their expense.
- Experiencing its worse economic crisis in decades, official
figures show around 45% of Spanish youths unemployed, a crisis affecting
all workers facing worsening, not improving conditions, some of the worst
- In response to growing needs, Jose Luis Zapartero's Socialist
Workers Party (PSOE) government proposed 5% or more public worker pay and
pension cuts, halting cost of living adjustments, raising the retirement
age from 65 to 67, ending payments for births or adopting children, and
more ahead, including reforming labor protections and pensions, not stimulus
when it's most needed.
- As a result, the populist "Real Democracy Now"
- "We are ordinary people. We are like you: people
who get up every morning to study, work or find a job, people who have
family and friends. People who work hard every day to provide a better
future for those around us," calling for "an ethical revolution"
- The same crisis affects other countries throughout Europe,
notably Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Italy, Latvia, Iceland, Hungary, Romania,
Ukraine, and elsewhere, what Michael Hudson calls a specter haunting Europe,
showing no signs of letup under crushing debt burdens counterproductively
dealt with by neoliberal austerity.
- On May 22, Paul Krugman's New York Times op-ed headlined,
"When Austerity Fails," saying:
- For over a year, the European "pain caucus"
insists "that sound money and balanced budgets" solve all problems
when, in fact, austerity destroys jobs and private-sector confidence, "threaten(ing)
to make Europe the flashpoint of a new financial crisis."
- As a result, "the confidence fairy hasn't shown
up." It's plunging, not rising. Greece, Ireland, Portugal and other
nations can't service their debts, and if one or more default, "financial
dominoes" across Europe may fall because insisting banker interests
come first is a diktat doomed to fail.
- In the meantime, working households continue bearing
the burden of bailing out banking giants responsible for the severest economic
crisis since the Great Depression.
- How? The usual IMF solution, involving preserving capital
at workers' expense - a package including wage and benefit cuts, less social
spending, privatizing state resources, mass layoffs, deregulation, lower
corporate taxes, maintaining debt service, and harsh crackdowns on resisters.
- In the 1980s, it was Reaganomics, trickle down, and Thatcherism.
Today it's "shock therapy," and forced austerity, the same scheme
pitting capital against people - disposable workers tossed out for big
money's gain, bankers most of all. Michael Hudson calls it a:
- "neoliberal experiment....to drastically change
the laws and structure of how European society will function for the next
generation. If (successful, they'll) break up Europe, destroy the internal
market, and render that continent a backwater."
- Calling it a "financial coup d'etat," he said
"bankers are demanding (and getting governments to) rebuild their
loan reserves at labor's expense," Washington using the same ugly
- Workers, of course, get hammered, spending cuts and high
unemployment taking their toll. More are coming, assuring greater deprivation
and anger on streets to protest and at polls, throwing out the bums for
new ones, choosing the lesser of bad choices, assuring everything changes
but stays the same.
- On May 22, Spain held regional and municipal elections,
New York Times writer Raphael Minder headlining, "Spain's Government
Party Suffers Heavy Losses," saying:
- Indignant voters said they'd "pursue their protests
to force an overhaul of their country's political system."
- Conceding defeat, Prime Minister Zapatero admitted hard
times caused Spaniards serious problems, exacerbated, he omitted, by imposed
- Protesters with no party affiliation handed his ruling
Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) a stunning defeat with less than
28% of the vote. Most benefitting was its main challenger, the right-wing
Popular Party (PP) with 38%. According to one protester:
- "The message has surely gone through to politicians
that they can't keep ignoring our frustrations and pretend that nothing
has changed," though it's hard imagining how any favoring business
will outperform others any more than Democrats do in America over Republicans,
or the reverse.
- To no surprise, Zapatero said earlier he won't seek reelection,
anticipating popular rejection, affecting most PSOE members, PP ones also
offering little social relief. As a result, "los indignados"
urged voters to boycott major parties, serving banks and other corporate
favorites at their expense.
- They also want permanent protests through nationwide
popular assemblies until key demands are met, including "Real Democracy
Now" and essential needs; namely: jobs, decent pay and benefits, healthcare,
education, housing, less military spending, privatized state enterprises
re-nationalized, and putting popular needs ahead of business.
- Achieving those goals requires uncompromising struggles
for change, a popular groundswell for what politicians reject. So far it's
absent everywhere, but can happen with enough commitment, an incentive
for workers to act.
- Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at
firstname.lastname@example.org. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com
and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the
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