I will be the first to admit that I haven’t been engaged with the protests/encampment/revolution in Spain the way that I should have been. This is partly because of events going on in my personal life, and partly in an attempt to keep me grounded in the here and now instead of wishing I had been somewhere else at just the right moment, which at least for me is the danger of watching such inspiring things happen from afar.
Happily, Counter Cartographies Collective has done some nice blogging about what’s going on so I don’t have to go too far out of my way to catch up. There are also some good materials at the Edu-factory site, and the website for the Acampada Sol itself is pretty amazing.
In her autobiography, Emma Goldman often labeled as anarchist folks who themselves thought they subscribed to other forms of political thought like liberalism or socialism. For her, anarchism was a way of approaching the world, the spirit of treating everyone with respect (ok, except for those who were part of the state’s apparatus of repression) and fighting for a world where everyone could be free in every sense of the word. More than any one specific political theory or Marxist strain, this has always seemed to me a pretty reasonable way to think about anarchism, not to mention an appropriately anarchic one.
From what I have read about the Acampada Sol, it resembles very closely my idea of an anarchist space. It has assembly-based decision-making, an egalitarian ethos that constitutes a constant struggle, and at least some effort to recognize and valorize the subaltern (and maybe more than that). Is it perfectly nonhierarchical? I’m sure it isn’t. But that isn’t the point of an anarchist space. The point is to create alternatives to capitalism and liberal democracy in such a way that the possibilities for radical freedom are expanded rather than foreclosed.
In other words, if you believe, as I do, that ideally all people should be able to determine the right course for themselves, then working to create or support a system of representative democracy, even on the small scale in an encampment, is to immediately give up the possibility of ever living in a free world. Experimenting with other forms of relating and governing spaces, on the other hand, even if they are difficult, faulty, or even unsustainable, leaves open other possibilities.