On this page you can see the conclusions on the theme of citizenship that will be discussed in the debate. If you could not attend and wish to make a contribution, you can. We are working on a tool which will enable us to have a real debate on-line so that the discussions of recent days can continue. You’ll hear more about that soon.
Justa Montero: the need for feminist and ecological approaches
“We are witnessing the breakdown of the concept of active citizenship”
- The concept of citizenship that is used by those in power conceals, beneath an apparent neutrality and equality of rights, the social inequalities which are the result of, amongst other factors, class, gender or ethnic origin.
- Those in power arrogate to themselves the power to decide who is and is not a citizen. An example is the ‘ley de extranjería’, which establishes the limits of citizenship for the population. Conclusion: citizenship, as it is understood by those in power, is a concept that excludes rather than includes.
- The debate about citizenship is the debate about people’s needs, aspirations and interests, about how we want to organise our society, and exercise our right to participate and to define what is of general interest to everyone.
- We are witnessing the breakdown of the concept of active citizenship. This is the result of three processes: the identification of the citizen as a consumer, as a voter and the relationship beween citizens and individual rights. Though it may seem paradoxical, the first victim of the the competitive spirit and lack of solidarity which characterises neoliberalism is precisely the rights of individuals.
- Feminism affects the very heart of our lives as citizens; a citizenship which is inclusive cannot be based on the duality and hierarchy of the differences between men and women with the resultant inequalities and subordination etc; it cannot exclude any expresssion of identity as in the exclusion of the rights of transsexuals. A good life for all means that sexual violence and physical abuse are incompatible with true citizenship.
- For these reasons, in response to a concept of citizenship which excludes, implies servility, and is racist, patriarchal and class-based, we need to construct an inclusive notion of citizenship which is horizontal, caring, emancipating and socially engaged. We need to reconstruct an emancipating citizenship based on ideas of social justice which require the kinds of opportunities for participation that we are creating so that everyone enjoys an equality of conditions in which to act and achieve the world in which we would like to live.
- Pedro Casas (Neighbourhood Association: Carabanchel Alto). Local movements as arenas for struggle.
“Taking the 15M movement to neighbourhoods, towns and villages was the right thing to do”
- It was right to take assemblies to neighbourhoods, towns and villages in order to connect the mobilising force of the movement with the concrete reality, the problems and social make-up of these naturally occurring areas of coexistence, relationships and solidarity.
- Neighbourhoods, towns and villages are the places in which institutions develop and implement many of the policies imposed by those who hold political and economic power. They share the same problems, conflicts and aspirations; they create networks of solidarity; they generate close relationships which make it possible for people to organise themselves and they become arenas in which people learn to struggle and organise.
- Apart from dealing with local issues, neighbourhoods represent an arena for contact and collaboration with other movements which enrich our daily lives. They also are important for employment issues as they are the site of the workplaces (industrial estates, shops, private and household services) of many of their inhabitants. They provide the stability (for example in the workers’ assemblies which are organising the marches to Madrid) which the current fragmentation and job insecurity undermine .
- Moving from sporadic action to committed activism: we should be suspicious both of those who refuse to hand on the baton and of those who spontaneously look down on the kinds of activities (self-governing fiestas etc.) that are described above. Experience should be valued appropriately and people need to offer to provide continuity and coherence in the campaigns which emerge.
- We need to link concrete demands to a global liberating perspective (as in the case of a campaign for the building of a state school).
Neighbourhood brigades for the protection of human rights.
- For many years, the neighbourhood brigades for the protection of human rights (BVODH) have been making and promoting a collective response to the problem of the discrimination against, and the unjustified criminalisation of, a part of the population in the racist and illegal raids carried out by the police. The ideal response is a collective one, open to any individual, neighbourhood or neighbourhood association, and is built around a public presence and, more specifically, in observing, recording, denouncing and creating awareness of the violation of human rights which this institutional practice represents.
- The work of observing and recording in the area of immigration has been going on for some time. The term ‘racist raid’ has thus been clearly defined a an arbitrary police check carried out on people of a differenct racial origiin from that which is understood to be Spanish. This process of identification is based solely on appearance and thus is a violation of human rights and an illegal act on the part of the police since it constitutes discrimination and the requirment for a person to identify him/herself only is legal in the context of the investigation of a crime.
- The consequences of the racist raids are
- • the unjustified criminalisation of a part of the population
- • the explicit division of citizens into first and second categories based on appearance
- • the general public comes to see this practice as legal and justified and consequently to view racial discrimination as legitimate.
- Thus our streets become a place in which human rights are not defended. The neighbourhood brigades for the defence of human rights call for a collective response which consists principally of:
• Observing and recording the activities of the local police
• Raising consciousness amongst local inhabitants
• Public denunciation
• A presence on the streets
• The drawing up of reports which denounce unacceptable police raids
• Being present in the media
- Collective response is the only way to put a stop to this situation and raise consciousness in the rest of the population. For this reason the brigades regularly go onto the streets to respond to these racists controls. One of the objectives of bringing the public’s attention to, and denouncing, this situation is to encourage the inhabitants of different districts to denounce (by stopping to observe what is happening, by interrupting the police in their activities etc) the monitoring to which everyone is now becoming subject.
- The experience in the local assembly in Carabanchel confirms the fact that collective action is the key whereas a simple individual presence is not as effective. Those involved were able to share their appreciation of the fact that the involvement of local residents is the ideal way to deal with this problem since the Interior Ministry denies the existence of a clear lack of partiality in the illegitimate and illegal application of the law. Meanwhile, the police try to hinder these activities of observation and the gathering of evidence about their activities. The brigades share the view that public debate is a right which has to be reclaimed and encourages neighbourhoods, individuals and other groups to continue with the debate about this issue. We are happy to talk to anyone who would like to consult us on an issue or make a suggestion to us.
- SOS Racismo
“We demand the closure of the CIEs because they are holding people who have not committed any crimes.”
- Our view is that you cannot talk about full citizens rights while a section of the population is being persecuted and detained simply because they do not have the appropriate papers. We therefore demand the closure of the CIEs (Centres for the Internment of Foreigners) since they are holding people who have not committed any crimes.
- The CIEs are hidden from the public eye. Behind their doors, there is a manifest lack of basic rights such as health provision or basic hygiene. There have been a large number of cases of torture and physical abuse which have been described in numerous national and international reports.
- We are also concerned about the future regime in the CIEs. This is currently being designed by the Ministry of the Interior.
Youth with no future
“We have to put an end to the model of citizenship and life for young people which is being imposed from above.”
(This is just a summary. You can read the complete text here: aquí
- Those who hold power want us to see each other as enemies who have to do battle to obtain what they need. However, for us, citizenship does not imply emptiness and passivity but rather collective participation in decision-making by means of organisational structures in the areas in which we live. Over the last few months we have seen how these two concepts of citizenship are fundamentally opposed in that they represent two totally different ways of understanding politics and an obvious antagonism between what they want to impose on us and and what we create.
- Historically, young people have been major protagonists in processes of mobilisation; mobilisation whose goal is the defence and extension of social rights. In Juventud Sin Futuro we have tried to give shape to this force, to the young people who, on a daily basis, suffer the insecurity affecting all aspects of our lives since we cannot effectively make a reality of our constitutional rights to housing, a decent job and quality state education.
- We also do not identify with the institutional forms in which politics are currently conducted. For us, the young people that those who hold power refer to do not exist. Theirs is an image of young people which is a reflection of the interests of those who would prefer to have young people silent and obedient, of those who do not want us to protest when we see how our future is being denied to us with the imposition of measures that benefit the few and create insecurity for the great majority. Once again we see how there are two opposing concepts, in this case of young people, which conceal a reality: what they want us to be and what we are.
- The third concept which is presented to us pre-packaged is the crisis. The intention is that we should believe that the crisis has to be solved by the formula ‘tighten your belts’. We, however, realise that while profits remain privatised, losses are socialised. The crisis is the product of a concrete economic system and we think it is essential to idenfity those responsible. Unlike those who say that we can only solve the problem if we are all involved, we say that we can only solve the problem if those who caused it are not involved.
- We have to reappropriate basic concepts, not with new names but with different meanings. We need to remain critical so that their ‘common sense’ becomes our ‘good sense’.
- We say ‘No’ to the model of citizenship and youth which is imposed on us. We refuse to accept the idea of a citizenship based solely on the act of putting an ‘x’ on a ballot paper once every four years; we know that citizenship is much more than that.
Real Democracy Now
“Our democracy is not real because citizens are forgotten when decisions are taken”
- We need legal channels through which citizens can vote on proposals with which they disagree or make their own proposals.
- The Popular Legislative Initiatives (ILP) which we currently have at our disposal are ineffective because once signatures have been collected, ‘representative’ bodies can ignore them. It’s important to note that there is not one ILP which has the support of the majority of politicians since if this were the case, ILPs would not be necessary (the politicians would already have proposed the measures contained in the ILPs).
- The question to be debated is the nature of the channels to be used; we do not have a definitive proposal. One possibility would be to oblige politicians to hold a binding referendum once a certain number of signatures have been obtained.
- On the 15 October there will be an international demonstration because since citizens cannot become involved in the political process, politicians always end up taking decisions which favour those who hold economic power. Our democracy is not real because we are forgotten when decisions are taken.
- One of the most pressing problems we face is the legal system. There can only be justice if we are all equal.
- Citizens are called to participate in assemblies against the privatisation of the water service and to participate in meetings to coordinate the actitivities of the campaign.
- The role of women has to be recognised and that of those who provide care for others. The priority for men is to make a commitment to equality. We should not compete with each other.