Monday, December 24, 2012

dispatch from spain

[Last autumn, a new and awful form of protest came to Spain. A string of homeowners on the verge of eviction by court orders and the riot police (antidisturbios) committed suicide by leaping from the windows of their mortgaged houses. The growing anti-eviction movement has altered the dynamic of social protest in Spain, broadening and deepening the opposition to austerity already manifested in the 15M and 25S movements. In the general strike of 14 November, called for by the largest unions, ‘everyone except the Partido Popular and Basque nationalist unions’ poured into the streets. Darío Corbeira, editor of Brumaria, sends the following reflection on the context of the unfolding social struggle. Many thanks to him for taking the time, and to Maria Adelaida Samper for the fine translation. –GR]

Hermeneutic Antidisturbios: 25S, the Anti-Eviction Movement and the 14 November General Strike in Context

By Darío Corbeira

On 25 September, several thousand citizens responded to an anonymous call to surround Madrid’s Congress of Deputies: ‘Surround the Congress, remain there indefinitely. Desert and break with the current regime, demand the dissolution of the entire government, courts and heads of state, and abolition of the existing Constitution. Begin constituting a new system of political, economic and social organization.’ The gathering citizens aimed to convey to the parliamentarians their deep opposition to the austerity program of Mariano Rajoy Brey’s governing Partido Popular (PP) and to the interventions of the European Central Bank, International Monetary Fund and European Union. Framing it was a radical critique of the parliamentarism that came out of the so so-called Transition to democracy. As made clear in their manifestos, proclamations and chants, the protesters saw that form of democracy as utterly bankrupt. What began that day has become known as the 25S movement, distinct from but clearly related to its predecessor 15M and the other movements that have emerged from the neighbourhoods, universities, hospitals, cultural centers, and manufacturing areas. All were questioning the perverse effects of neoliberal policies designed by financial capitalism and applied to the letter by the governing authorities. Those effects have shaken the fragile ‘welfare state’ slowly built up since Franco’s death and have undermined all it has achieved by way of diminishing the gaping social and economic disparities that persist in Spain despite the governments of the Partido Socialista Obrero Español (Spanish Socialist Worker’s Party/PSOE).

Thursday, December 13, 2012

re third text

There is no more point in mincing words: the journal Third Text has been hijacked by its own Board of Trustees. The fiats of this administrative regime have, over the last two years, shut out founder Rasheed Araeen and turned over editorial control to a usurper whose abilities inspire little confidence and whose politics are dubious. This, in the name of bureaucratic values: "professionalization" and neo-liberal "governance." In the background, publisher Taylor & Francis and funding agency Arts Council England may have welcomed such changes, but for all those who know the history of this journal and value its committed critical vision, this takeover is unacceptable. 

Rasheed Araeen at Asia Art Archive, 2009

In the 1970s, artist Rasheed Araeen emerged as a leader in the struggle against institutionalized racism in the London art world. Positions first expressed in his 1975/6 "Preliminary Notes for a BLACK MANIFESTO," were developed in the late 1970s into the anti-imperialist Black Phoenix, and eventually, in 1987, into Third Text. Through the 1990s and into the new century, this journal nurtured many new voices, including my own, and was truly a forum for global critical perspectives on contemporary art and culture. Its feisty spirit was fed by its origins in struggle, and practical amnesia from above will not make this history disappear.