Sunday 8 November 2015

After Occupy - A Charter for Democracy

First published at Commons Transition where you can read the full Charter.

Whatever happened to the 15-M Movement? Where did Occupy go? Four years after the groundbreaking revolutionary ruptures of 2011, violent repression and media invisibility have relegated these thriving movements to a grey area. The perception seems to shift between mainstream derision and niche-group interest. Occupy’s roots have spread out and sprouted a multitude of initiatives, though perhaps the source inspiration is not always publicly recognized. But in Spain, the popular experience of austerity – the murderous palliative prescribed as a cure for the crisis – and the resulting political movements in reaction have been giving the lie to the mainstream narrative that 15-M is a “has been”.

The movement undeniably lives. Its form has been mutated, re-imagined, distributed, and coalesced into a swarm of activity and hacks to the system. We live here, we see it every day. These initiatives are not as easily seen, defined – or, for that matter, targeted – as a physical occupation may be; yet they permeate the hegemony, creating new possibilities and spaces. You need only look at last year’s EU Parliamentary election results to see how Spanish voters have reacted to austerity and debt – and how that reaction contrasted strongly with that of some other European nations. One of the most important evolutions of 15-M is undoubtedly the “Movimiento por la Democracia” (Movement for Democracy).

Unsurprisingly, the Movement is hard to define. It clearly targets the political arena without desiring to become a political party itself. Their “Charter for Democracy” is an inspiring, thorough text on what politics should be. It proposes a politics for the people: squarely grounded in environmental realities and social justice, based on the Commons, defended from corporate interests and neo-liberal dictates. The Charter was written collectively through nearly 30 different workshops throughout Spain held over the span of a year, with the collaboration of some 200 individuals.

As Movimiento por la Democracia expresses, “It isn’t finished. We don’t want it to be finished; we want it to be a living document, in a constant state of discussion and production. We think it’s a good summary of the main demands the citizenry has put on the table over the last few years – our needs and desires. Now we need your help. The Charter can only make sense when shared widely, so it can stir extensive debate. If you find it interesting, we ask you to share it on Social Media, send it by email or get it into people’s hands in a thousand different ways. We ask you to comment on it, debate it, refute and if you like it, make it yours”.

Since its original publication in 2014, many of the individuals involved in the writing of the Charter went on to develop its premises within a municipal, commons-oriented context. The result? Newly formed democratic, bottom-up citizen coalitions were successfully elected in various cities, including Barcelona and Madrid.

The Charter for Democracy is not only an inspiring document, but an inspiring cross-sector strategy that works.  To that end, we’re proud to present Guerrilla Translation‘s English translation of the Charter, complete with its beautiful original illustrations by Clismón, as a Commons Transition Special Report. It’s serious reading, and essential reading for anyone passionate about true democracy and commons-based governance. As they say, please read it and, if you want to, make it yours.


For easy reference, we’ve indexed the report by sections. You can read it sequentially or jump to the any of the sections below. Alternatively, you may download the report in PDF here or consult and comment on it in our wiki.



◾Political Democracy 

•1. Democratization of public authorities
•2. Recognition and extension of the ways of participation and direct democracy
•3. Recognition of popular constituent power as the ultimate source of the constitution and the powers of the State

◾Economic Democracy 

•1. Financial democracy
•2. Tax reform
•3. Common and public goods
•4. Promotion of the Social Economy and Democracy in Economic Relations
•5. The expansion of social protection, the recognition of common resources, and the right to a dignified life

◾Territorial Democracy 

•1. Deepening of political democracy: self-government
•2. Acknowledgement of the different scales and territorial realities and solidarity among them
•3. The European scale of the process

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