Arcadi Oliveres

In the early 1970s Miquel Porter, Lluís Serrahima and Jaume Armengol, part of the movement of Els Setze Jutges,1 published a litany that became famous and that we would often recite clandestinely. I’m sure some will still remember it. The first few verses were: “everything changes, nothing changes, look at the train, look at the tracks. If you think and observe, you’ll know philosophy.” It continues: “a thousand speeches, few resources, that’s our day-to-day. Only Spain, (who knew?) wants to sit alone, and never changes”. Then, “Monarchy, oligarchy, dictatorship, shamelessness. A Phrygian cap with no prestige; afterwards, the miracle will come.”

Now, more than fifty years later, much of that reality seems to remain immobile. The curtailing of liberties, repression as commonplace, systematic lies, demagoguery as an argument, the logic of force over the force of logic, partial media, an abused language, a school under attack, a scorned culture, a disregard for feelings and police occupation all remind us far too much of the old days.

It seems that for forty years, we’ve accepted without criticism the mistake of a false democracy, one that distracted us with occasional voting shaped by a perfectly debatable electoral law. We’ve accepted the wounds of inexcusable levels of unemployment, a growth in inequality, an increase in evictions, a European Union of states and capital, irresponsible behaviour by big corporations, austerity policies, the criminal closing of our borders to migrants, limitless speculation, inacceptable militarism, the elimination of public services, contempt for human safety, the abandoning of international cooperation and environmental carelessness.

Still, we’ve seen the birth of a new hope. We wanted a new, very human country; we believed in it and hundreds and thousands of us said so in the streets. However, we’re now seeing that we may have gotten ahead of ourselves: we’re faced with a constitution forced on us militarily from the very beginning, designed to prevent any nation from leaving the state. We’re faced with a dense network of interests intricately intertwined with the institutions of the state and (why not say so?) with a certain internal incompetence that has made our project unviable for the time being. But we need to be confident of the fact that our numbers are growing, and it won’t be long before we’ve won over the majority. We can do so by presenting a new political and economic life that could be waiting for us, and by doing so in the other autonomous regions of the state that are also tired of so much injustice. We can do so as long as the persistent will of the citizens remains strong, and as long as we make nonviolence our permanent and exclusive form of action.

Arcadi Oliveres
Economist and peace activist