"la libertad nos une, la unión nos libera" Ibn Arabi, Murcia S XII

"la libertad nos une, la unión nos libera" Ibn Arabi, Murcia S XII _"Freedom unites us, unity frees us"


#spanishrevolution. The Return of the Force with No Name.

Leónidas Martín

In order to avoid the victory of those who scare me, I’ve spent my whole life voting for parties that make me sick. This time I’m not going to do it”. These aren’t my words, they were posted on Twitter by somebody the other day. Some guy that I’ll never meet. A person possessed by “The Force with No Name”.
Seven years ago, on March 13, 2004, I turned up at the headquarters of Spanish conservative party Partido Popular to demonstrate against the Iraq war and its consequences – the Madrid bombings among others. Nobody had organised that demonstration, I received the summons through sms and e-mail and I’ll never meet the people who sent these either.
That was the first time I felt the power of The Force with No Name. I had never been summoned by anything like it. Before then, whenever I attended some event – a demonstration, a concert, a party – it was because somebody had bothered to prepare it first, and then offered it to me. Nothing at all like 13-M. On that day, nobody prepared anything. The thousands of us who took to the streets did so without knowing where we were going. We responded to a summons that came out of nowhere. Or to be more precise, a summons that came out of a general dissatisfaction, which is a bit like coming out of nowhere but not quite the same. 13-M was born with no first name and no family name; with no brand or distinguishing features; without organisation. To me, everything related to that event was totally unfamiliar, it was like trying out a new drug. Sure I’d thought about it now and then, about the fact that new technologies were bringing about a new kind of communication and that unexpected forms of social behaviour were bound to emerge soon. But I hadn’t experienced it before then.
Nobody knew what name to give it: smart mob? connected anonymity? All we knew is that we had been witnesses to an unknown force; a force that appeared without warning, turned everything upside down, and then disappeared as quickly as it had arrived. A nameless force that I call “The Force with No Name”.
Nobody was expecting anything like it. Particularly not during the period of “election silence”, barely a few hours before Spain’s general elections began. If anybody had tried to convince me that something like this was going to happen, I wouldn’t have believed them: thousands of people are going to disobey the law and demonstrate against the government on the day of election silence? No way, impossible. But as it turned out, that’s just what happened.
My first experience with the Force with No Name radically changed the way I understand politics.
Some time went by before I felt the force again; this time it was during the period when VdeVivienda were active (an activist group against real estate violence). Once again, a stranger’s e-mail bouncing from inbox to inbox through the Internet. This time, it was a call to end real estate speculation and defend the right to decent housing. Once again, an anonymous voice expressing malaise. Once again, the Force with No Name – no longer a complete stranger – ready to shake up our day-to-day lives. The difference between this e-mail and the one on 13-M was that the Force with No Name didn’t disappear so quickly this time, it settled in our lives for a while. Apart from that, it was the same: nobody and nothing could represent it – nothing but the phrase that quickly became its war cry: “You’ll never have a house in your fucking lifetime”. Like everything that emanates from the Force with No Name, this slogan broke away from the accepted common sense of what had been considered to be politics up until then: it did not offer hope (“yes, we can”) or a future (“for a tomorrow without poverty”) but it nonetheless caught fire in the collective imaginary with the virulence of petrol placed near an open flame.
This second experience with the Force with No Name convinced me that there is no going back. That politics, such as we had understood it up until then, had become obsolete. That nothing from the past would be of use to us now; and that, from that moment on, all social protests would be like this: anonymous and without representation.
And sure enough, that’s how it has been.
Over the last few years we have seen the Force with No Name rear its head on many occasions and in many different places: Egypt, Tunisia, Libya.... The last time it turned up, it was here again, in Spain. It was barely a few hours ago. We call it #spanishrevolution and a whole lot of other names too. Because the Force with No Name actually has no name, nor does it need one. This time, the call came through our social networks, the same networks that we use each day to chat to our friends or to work. As usual, the Force with No Name did whatever it pleased: it occupied squares and streets, it bypassed the law. Once again, it has avoided the pitfalls of political representation and it has again proven that nothing and nobody represents it. In fact, this time its war cry was: “They don’t represent us”.
It is now seven years since its emergence, and the Force with No Name keeps growing and growing. It is still very young, it’s still learning to walk and hasn’t quite found its feet. We still don’t know were it’s heading, or what will become of it as it grows up. It was born into a world that doesn’t understand it, and it knows it. Some say that it looks like democracy, because sometimes it votes and demonstrates. As for me, to be honest, I don’t really see much family resemblance to its mother (democracy) or its father (politics). In fact, the other day at the camp I told a friend that politics is to The Force with No Name what the Ring is to the characters in The Lord of the Rings: an irresistible attraction that gets weaker and weaker as you succumb to it.
- Do you think that the Force with No Name will ever succeed in burning politics in the living fire of the social, like what happened to the ring in the film? - my friend asked.
- How would I know, dude! That’s something only the Force with No Name knows.

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