”15M – whether seen as a signal, a movement, a state of being or a set of human interactions – has built its prototypes, and they’re many: legal, urban, cultural, economical, technological, communicative, political, affective.”
In the second part of Spain’s Micro-Utopias, I presented five of 15M’s prototypes happening on the ground right now: the participatory micro-utopia, “fun-tivism” micro-utopia, resilience micro-utopia, networked post-syndicate micro-utopia, and collective intelligence micro-utopia, all born of the expansion of 15M’s initial surge. Now, I would like to present the remaining five prototypes, although I could describe many more.
PROTOTYPE 11: The Micro-Utopia of the Commons
“Out of chaos, we’ve seen actions, constructions and turnarounds arise with clear, integral, non-corporate intentions, all marked by a tendency to organize into community.” These words, recently expressed by hacker Marga Padilla, give credence to the theory that 15M has acted as a springboard for communities. A steady stream of communities where neighbors share their WiFi thanks to Wifis.org, use community currencies (like Seville’s PUMA, and many others), analogue/digital barter systems such as Nockin or cooperative practices like the No.Ma.Des Project (a wordplay on nomadism and and “No More Unemployment) which seeks to find meaningful, constructive activity for the hordes of Spanish unemployed.
References to “the Commons” were omnipresent in all the initial debates of the 15M movement. The construction of interrelated communities stems from a marked desire to improve on the wealth of the commons. The Carta de los Comunes (A Letter for the Commons), a text signed the Madrilonia.org collective and edited by copyleft publisher Traficantes de Sueños, is an excellent example of the concrete – if, at times, cleverly subtle - prototypes reflecting the commons via their intellectual content.
PROTOTYPE 12: The Legal Micro-Utopia
15M has shaken up one of the pillars of the Western State: the legal establishment. The existence of The Comisión Legal Sol, (Puerta del Sol Legal Commission), was an impromptu creation on the first night of encampment, when one camper offered legal advice to another. This marks a shift towards collective methods in what is traditionally perceived as a very individualistic profession. In Spain, certain groups of lawyers were already pooling their talents, sharing resources and incentivizing the use of free licenses in their documentation. The arrival of 15M has multiplied this free, open and collaborative legal micro-utopia. We can see a good example of this in the legal strategies collectively designed to benefit the Stop Foreclosures movement. Op-Euribor, a collective initiative organized and disseminated by online working groups, is another spectacular example of 15M’s burgeoning legal micro-utopia.
Toma Parte (Take Part) is another fascinating example. On the one hand, it’s a networked collective of lawyers functioning anonymously. On the other, it acts as a platform and tool for the activation of collective intelligence: “Toma Parte is a tool designed so we, as citizens, can pool our resources to find solutions. Our team of legal advisors will provide the necessary knowledge to determine the best legal course of action to implement these solutions. Anyone can make an online proposal, which will then be voted on by the community at large, completing it with evidence and testimony and funds generated through crowdfunding campaigns. All the documentation pertaining to the proposals – made available under Creative Commons Licenses – will be freely reusable.”
But the most spectacular and ambitious example of this legal micro-utopia is, undoubtedly, the 15Mparato campaign. Launched through crowdfunding platform Goteo.org, the campaign gathered more than the necessary 16.000€ in less than 24 hours, collapsing Goteo’s servers in the process. These funds are being used to finance a lawsuit against Rodrigo Rato, former IMF Managing Director, head of Bankia and nominated by Bloomberg as one of the worst CEOs in the world (2012), for his mismanagement and accounting irregularities at the time of Bankia’s merger.
We are talking about a mass lawsuit designed and funded online, that quickly gained the support of 50 shareholders who stepped forward as plaintiffs, as well as a host of internal witnesses. Spain’s networked citizenship shifted from defending itself to taking on the enemy. This, the first crowdfunded mass lawsuit, showed that the economic political elite isn’t as cozily secure as it thought. Or, as we can read in 15Mparato’s site: “Fear has switched sides in the struggle between those who are the bottom and those who are at the top.”
PROTOTYPE 13: The Free Knowledge Micro-Utopia
Free Knowledge, Free Licenses, Free Access. 15M squarely positioned itself against copyright from the very beginning. Many individuals and collectives within 15M have played an important role in lobbying for a more thorough transparency law. These groups have also been instrumental in the fight against restrictive proposals like the SOPA-like Lasalle Law. 15Mpedia reflects a healthy amount of free-culture and free-access related initiatives, like this list of online libraries which offer free downloads.
15M and the Marea Verde are defending universal access to public education by incorporating some important new details. The “Ciudad del Aprendizaje” (City of Learning) – education partaken on the streets, without walls and free from traditional hierarchy – is already up and running. On March 9, Spanish universities took to the streets as part of the #UniEnLaCalle (#CollegeInTheStreets) campaign, with 575 public squares and urban meeting points serving as the backdrop for innumerable master classes.
PROTOTYPE 14: The Senior Citizen's Revolution Micro-Utopia
“We may be old, but we have no fear.” This is the collective motto often used by the Iaoflautas / Yayoflautas collective, and it demolishes every stereotype about the 15M movement being made up of unemployed, lazy youth with nothing better to do than protest. The eruption of the Senior Citizen Iaoflauta collective in Barcelona dismantled the media’s repetitive, closed-minded mantra that 15M is a collection of crusties and and dirty hippies (“Perroflautas”). “Yayo” is an affectionate word for “Gramps” in Catalonia. It didn’t take long for theYayoflauta phenomenon to spread throughout the rest of Spain. It marked the arrival of a new revolutionary meme within an old, withering Europe.
Could it be that the meme that demolishes the Troika and takes over Brussels won´t come from a student, but from a grandma empowered with social media skills by her grandson? The #LaBolsaolavida (#TheStockExchangeOrYourLife) action that kicked off the Yayoflauta prototype had such symbolic impact that I don’t think we’re quite able to grasp its implications yet. The image of a group of pensioners invading a Stock Exchange is so unprecedentedly shocking, it sounds like something out of a cyberpunk novel. But no dystopian future vision could have imagined something like this, and #ItsHappeningRightNow.
PROTOTYPE 15: The Neo-Internationalist Micro-Utopia
15M has dissolved international borders. It has woven transnational communities together and eased the exaggerated nationalism that the system likes to promote during crisis. First, 15M expanded its network around the world, ignoring nation-states. The proclamation, “We aren’t commodities in the hands of politicians and bankers” was immediately understood across all nations and languages, enabling networks and breaking down borders. At the heart of this global network, the Spanish node that is 15M has always embraced diversity. It’s protected its immigrants from police abuse, it’s campaigned against Alien Detention Centers, it’s founded Neighbour Brigades for the Observation of Human Rights. There are even doctors who’ve declared themselves as conscientious objectors due to the recent cut in immigrant public health rights, and have vowed to treat illegal immigrants, in spite of new laws prohibiting this.
15M is forging a new Internationalist movement, as far-reaching as the workers movement of the late 19th century, but endowed with an historically unmatched set of tools and connectivity. This video showing German citizens in solidarity with Spain was filmed as a direct response to one of 15M’s videotaped assemblies, and is visible proof of the new international micro-utopia we are forging together.
I have presented 15 Prototypes, 15 for 15M. I could describe more, many more, but this text is not intended as a list, or 19th century inventory. This text is in construction. This text longs to be a candle, a lantern. A faint ray slipping through the cracks in the system to throw some clarity on the building blocks of the world that’s coming. There could be as many prototypes as there are individuals. It only takes a certain attitude to pick up the lantern, shine some light into a corner, and try to see the change.
Translated by Stacco Troncoso, edited by Jane Loes Lipton for Guerrilla Translation! Read the original article in Spanish at 20minutos.es.