Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Castells stirring things up in Spain

I guess I better pull "Network Society" off my bookshelf this summer and finally read it!

This is a translation of the conclusions of the speech in Spanish of the sociologist Manuel Castells, professor at Berkeley University (California) and researcher at the Open University of Catalonia (UOC), on May 27 at the Plaza of Catalonia – to support the camps around the world and enumerate the conditions necessary to achieve real democratic change.

“Fearful around the world, but united in the Web”

We are in a society where everything needs to be fast, but when we arrive at home we colapse. Therefore we should do what we want to do, like for instances create a new democracy, but slowly. Nobody is in a hurry, we have to make history, there is not need to rush. Others can run, we don’t, because we are advancing systematically. If not we will become the rabbit from Alice in Wonderland, running always with the clock. My long experience in social movements, starting with the May of 68 in Paris, where I participated actively, tells me that what we are living here, and in 706 camps more around the world, has substance, has roots, and whatever forms it takes and whatever will happen, this movement will continue. It will attempt to bring profund changes. Precisly because it is a movement of people not of organisations. People are neither created nor destroyed, only transformed. But is not going to be easy. When the powers that be realise what is going on is serious (because for the moment they don’t believe this is serious), they will react. And they will react probably violently because there are too many interests at stake. That is why it is essential that this process be slow and profund to reconstruct democracy. It must also have non-violence as a fundamental principal, which is already expressed and put into practice.

Non-violence is fundamental. What camps are proving all over Spain, is that after 11 days there has been not a single violent incident. And until the police come, there is not going to be violence. To the likely violence from the system, we should propose people use non-violence. To do this, a lot of courage is needed, becauase to reply to violence with violence, is to respond from fear: you are attacked and you defend youself. We will need to help people who would be so scared that would became violent. We should help them to advance towards a superior level of courage, which requires one to overcome fear. Overcome fear from the acceptance of the funtamental fact that fear is a part of life. The only way to overcome fear is by leaving solitud. Fear is a disease caused by loneliness. The only cure is joining others. And without fear and without violence, all is possible. Some days ago, I asked a good friend, and a great neuroscientist, Antoni Damasio: “Do you think it is true that if we overcome fear things would change?” And he replied “Absolutly” because fear is human nature and have to recognize it.

Therefore if now I had to propose a slogan, I would say: Fearful around the world, but united in the Web. United, because together the only thing you can lose is your fear. And if we do it, this may be the start of a new participatory internet based democracy, yet to be invented, which will be born. Thanks for your antention, and we can continue discussing this after the talk.

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