Monday, July 16, 2012

What is to be done?

As protests deservedly rage in Madrid, Barcelona and elsewhere in this blighted land, it’s worth remembering that here in the 21st century there are other equally legitimate ways to get a point across.

While I completely support the right to go out into the streets (I have done it a few times myself) I have also seen the effectiveness of on-line activism.

I have signed up to several organisations who will email you a letter to simply be read and signed, if you agree with the contents, and one click on a “Send” button electronically sends it to a government head, a minister, a company head or whoever has the greatest responsibility for the issue at hand.

One of the best reasons for this type of activism is that it works. It is not time-consuming, it costs nothing, but most importantly, if enough protesters send enough letters then decisions are often completely reversed.

When this kind of success does happen the organisations let you know by email and the internal celebrations begin.

Two recent cases I can think of are that of two poor Mexican women who were raped by soldiers but the corrupt government was paid off and refused to investigate her violation. Eventually, after thousands of protest emails from people both in and outside Mexico they decided to bring the accused to trial and damages were finally paid to them both.

Another example is that of the Ukranian government introducing laws to make homosexuality a criminal act. Again, after thousands of people across the world signing on-line petitions against this absurdity, they dropped the law.

Having worked for a politician in Australia, and knowing a thing or two about how governments and corporations are concerned about public perceptions of them, now more than ever before there is a climate where faceless power-mongers are increasingly called to answer for their actions.

It is quite simple to start your own on-line petition as well.

This kind of participatory politics is becoming more influential and serves as an excellent complementary activity to physically protesting in public places.

Here are a few current ones to consider:


Friday, July 6, 2012

Letter from a young Spaniard

An articulate and thoughtful piece about the past, present and future in this country:

"Spaniards in their thirties have grown up in enviable circumstances: democracy, a generous state, material wellbeing. Now the crisis has returned them to a cruel reality: that they may have to live with less than their parents did. Whether they alter their expectations or try to stop the clock will be decisive, writes Ramón González Férriz."

Read more here.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The 15M effect

An inspiring and comprehensive article [in English] on what Spain’s 15M and ingidnados movement(s) have done for participation in democratic politics and activism.

From Bernardo Gutiérrez a Spanish journalist and author at