Category: 15M moviment


Yesterday was the 20th of November, the day of Franco’s death 38 years ago. But his spirit seems to be more alive than ever.

Wanna know why?

– The so-called llei de mordassa (a law that is intended to silence or to gag people by impairing their civil rights) is implemented right now and will be valid from Jan 1st, 2014. It includes all sorts of prohibitions and incredible restrictions, overriding, ignoring and silencing people and mainly taking away good parts of their basic human and civil rights (right to assembly, freedom of speech etc). Of course, aimed at those who are not comfortable with the government or the PP party. Tough luck for those who don’t think that PP is currently handling this whole power business too well.

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Speaking of physics, this is a straight ride into an escalation circle. Government took notice that the people are tired of them, and (il )logically they are maxing it up to the hilt.

I’m basically totally amazed, astounded, dumbfounded that this is possible. It feels weird. It does not feel as if I’m living in a country where the democratic tradition has really got a strong hold, where the hell are suddenly all my civil rights? If I am not allowed to (for example) go peacefully to a demonstration where I’d express my wish for change. Only those demonstrations are permitted that previously have been authorised by the government. Hmmmm… Well, makes you think somehow.

Another point is the unrestricted power of policemen. Why can’t I even video an event that may be precisely vital because maybe a policeman might use innecessarily violence or even abuse his power? If I as a civil person am thus not allowed to film such an event without committing a severe infringement of this law, well, how free am I then???

– When I look at what the government is playing at, I get goose pimples, simple as that.

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Will I seriously question myself and others, will I continue being “brave” and still be taking chances with Spanish law enforcement??? Honestly, as much as I am free and autonomous in thinking, but I am not crazy. I am sure that this pushing back the limits needs to stop immediately and for good. Right now, there is such an incredible and eery atmosphere. The air is thick with fear. People shut up, no, wait, let me rephrase that, they clam up, like oysters do. In the event of danger, they do this click and they’re gone. This is somehow really frightening. I cannot make head or tails of this. It’s like the rabbit and the snake.

– WERT is trying to go allrounds with his LOMCE law which again reminds of the good old Franco times when the only language was Spanish, and thus it was assured that the guardia civil could listen to each and every conversation and make sure that the dictatorship was in no way harmed. This is so insane. Why cannot anybody stop this man who is intending to bring back religion into classrooms and kicking Catalan in terms of a school subject ‘out of the classroom.

– Ok, that Bauza was not the first to promote civil rights was clear from what I observed the past few months, but isn’t it weird that now, 38 years after Franco’s death, a law is being introduced that actually reminds you so much of a dictatorship that Spiegel Online, the German political magazine just found it necessary to issue an article about the new impending law that the PP pushes forward and how it will affect people.

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– You need to be deaf and blind not to read the signs, there is a remarkable shift to the far right in Spain, and don’t fool yourself into thinking that Spain was still as free as it might have seemed to be about say, ten years ago. It is sad but when you think about the connection of PP, the Catholic Church and (not so secret) funding of the OPUS DEI project, then it isn’t too far-fetched to say that Franco’s spirit is still very much around and his die-hard fan-club is very active to make sure they will keep the upper hand, or at least, can carry out his testament, so to say. His heirs and his heiresses are on stand-by, trying to settle the accounts.

Up until now, the whole joke about Franco being back was kind of funny, as long as it wasn’t so eerily true. Now, things are getting somewhat out of tune. The joke, however, will be on us. On us, the people who live in Spain, who did not vote PP, who don’t like the LOMCE, who would like education to be imparted in Catalan, and so on and so forth. The joke will be on those and who basically do not agree with what the government is doing. Why is everybody watching??? I don’t really get this. Seriously. This is no chapter of history that ought to be repeated.

I’ve been living in Spain for the past 5 years and a couple of months. It is strange how your perspective changes during a period of time, especially when you compare the before and after.

I remember back when I arrived here, Spain seemed to epitomize everything I was looking for: freedom, a friendly, lively and open society interspersed with strong family values. I won’t say that this was all gone now. I won’t say that. That would be as untrue as some pre-election preachings by some dopey politicians. But truth is the time here has made me re-evaluate what I was looking for and also if these values are actually here, to be found in this country.

With today’s approval of the new educational law (by Wert) for the upcoming school year 2013/2014, things again have gone step further. A bit further in a direction I personally do not approve of. Spain and its current educational system changes have become my personal nightmare.

Wert and his wish to "españolizar a los niños catalanes"

Wert and his wish to “españolizar a los niños catalanes”

Spain seems to have changed a lot on the whole. Apart from having undergone two (!) upgrades of the VAT: one from 16% to 18 % in 2008 (or 2009), and one in 2012 from 18% to 21%! The mínimum wage still is at 650€ while France and the Netherlands have mínimum wages of around 1300-1400€. Any questions??? In other terms, it’s ridiculous.

 

Spain changed a lot. Politically, but also when it comes to forming a society.

On the other hand, I doubt that there is something like a country that does not change. It is pretty much normal that changes occur. The point is always your point of view. To make it clear: it largely depends if you LIKE or DISLIKE the changes your country is experiencing and actively forging. For me, this kind of evaluation, always has proven difficult back when I was in the old country, Germany. Since I am half Greek, half German, I’ve always felt kind of torn in terms of chosing one philosophy, one way of life and one type of political or society system. I never felt at ease living in Germany. I felt like I was betraying the Greek side in me. Here in Spain, I’m just another foreigner which somehow is liberating. 😉 One who, if I criticize too loudly, will be told to “go home where you belong…” Whatever. I know this could very easily be the case. So I try things on a different level.

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Returning to my situation here in Spain. Of course, the first years in a new country are always the hardest. You fight for survival. You learn the language, try to get a job. You help your kids integrate. You try to integrate yourself as much as you can. You try to basically keep your head above the water. If you still have time to share a joke with friends, maybe have a beer, every once in a blue moon, then you’re good. Actually, holding my head above the water is what I still do now. Economy’s pretty much weakened in the past five years, the job prospects have never been as scarce and as insecure as they are now. To be honest, a whole month sometimes can be pretty long, but your money needs to go that long way and you especially as a family need to make ends meet, somehow. Sometimes, you buy the dirt cheap crap that you know is unhealthy as your kids need new shoes, or you need the money to buy books or you have to repair the car or whatever. Poverty is not a nice friend to have. If always sticks it ugly head in when you least expect it. But that’s what happens. But somehow, we always manage. Somehow, we really do. I cannot complain. But that’s a joint force. Because we are a family and we are tight knit and we kind of don’t want to surrender. Up until now, we have done well I would say. But I’ve seen people come and go. And I know what I see. I know that the coming years will be harder, and more of a financial tightrope. We need to be stricter about the things we never used to think about. The only luxury we ever indulged in every now and then was a journey once per year. And I am pretty happy we did that journey, because that is something no-one can take away from us now. But if truth be told, after what happened in the past couple of months, I very much doubt that next year we will be going on any holiday at all. Plus the income possibilities are getting weaker and weaker. Everyone is trying to get by. Somehow. Every tries to cut corners. And sometimes your job is their corner they need to cut. Understand? Things are gonna be tough. And this is not a fairy tale. This is true shit. It is happening. It is already here. And it is here to stay.

Actually, when I look around me I truly find that there more and more people like me, meaning: educated, well motivated and somehow empoverished. They put everything on one card, moved away from their home town, from their home country, in search of a better country. Often like myself, 2nd generation immigrants, who themselves decided to move away cos they were not happy in the country they were living in. Sometimes, university graduates, like me, going abroad as their homecountry does not really care about them, and their abilities.

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But when we get down to brass tacks: A true exodus of brains already happened ten or even twenty years ago, the retrograde development of educational systematics in terms of the double language system in Catalonia, the continuous cutbacks in important government subventions especially in the region of culture, education and infrastructure – this is all so wrong. It can only be called wrong, sinister and I do say it, it is criminal. It is a crime against the next generation.

When I think back on my days at school, I do need to say one thing. School was basically fun. We had books, we had teachers who worked on a nice payroll, they were happy, we had facilities, we had rooms, we had tables, benches and chairs, books, films, educational material, money for excursions, and there were always things to do and the equipmment was pretty new. I was lucky that my formative years fell into the Eighties when Europe was in an alltime high in terms of economy and also financial possibilities. I feel truly blessed. But that is not the point. I was basically just lucky.

I know that the reality today looks pretty much different. It looks much more like a country in Eastern Europe. Could be Bulgaria, could be Romania, but stop, hang on, it’s Spain.

What happened? There are still enough millionaires around. The money of millionaires is actually in this country. Trouble is they don’t need to pay taxes. We – the stupid ones, the workers – we do. We are the slaves of the 21st century. A lot of money is to be spent. They do it. Politicians do it. Millionaires do it. Black money. I would very much say so. Anyone who disagrees is entitled on a free course of how the Spanish state financially works. Anyone who disagrees lives in denial.

If someone dares me, I will start to burn a Spanish flag any day. Any day. And I would go to prison for it because I think there is seriously something really wrong going on here.

Especially on a cult and supposedly rich (hahaha) island like Ibiza you get to see crass discrepancies of the extremely rich and the extremely poor. Here you have the big spender in his Hummer sipping champagne on the beach, snorting cocaine and bribing pólice officers. On the other side of the road you will have some nearly hungry and practically homeless kids, living in some sheds, working for next to nothing, only to get some shelter and put some food on the table. Those kids get picked up by the pólice for doing a joint and they wander into prison for having a gram on them while others walk free. That’s Spain today. The social disparities are getting crasser each and every day.

From a personal standpoint, I think I have found my home. I do feel so much at home here in Spain, and more so in Ibiza, but the thing is the political and social decisions here are getting more and more on my nerves. I feel almost violated through the insanity of the decisions that we are served each and every day. I detest reading or listening to the news. It makes me manic. Each day there is something that really hits my nerve. The worst is I cannot do anything against it except for let others know what I hear, what I see and make them think for themselves. My hands are tied so I am damned to see and do nothing more which in itself is torture. But I have to inform myself. I cannot pretend I would not know anything or I would not care about what is happening around me.

The current happenings here in terms of school and language options, the so-called Balearic decisions, and the Wert law that passed government approval today, make me think that the decisions by the minister Jose Ignacio Wert are truly a joke. No, serious, they are a threat to a well founded education of my children. Thus, the only thing I can do now is hope that we and others too will take the Wert law and throw it back in his stupid idiot face. I cannot believe this is happening. How can someone be that blind and that ignorant? How much must he hate the catalán language and culture he really wants to eradicate it from the educational sector and from the minds and hearts of people. 30 years. All for nothing? I don’t think so.

Trouble is though I cannot vote against him since I don’t even have a right to vote in Spain.

Another thing that is worrying me is that there is no real figurehead, no personality in Spain who is counteracting what is happening here, and who has the power to change things. The Royal family are themselves a desaster and a laughing stock, Rajoy, well, I won’t start on him now, and Wert, well, I’ve covered that area with today’s post. Are there no people around who are activist enough to do something? I wish there were. If I would see a cause I would deem worthy enough, I would surely try to be part of it.

The times to be non-political are definitely over. Even if you think you are non-political, you are indeed political. Wanna know how? If you say you are non-political or unpolitical, you let everything pass by, not assuming responsibility, and thereby cementing the current players who are in control. By you being passive, they actually gain power and you are thus inadvertently helping the current government. Like it  or not. That’s the way the cookie crumbles.

There-are-no-dangerous-thoughts, Thinking itself is dangerous.

Wanna think this over?

PS: Actually, the more I think about it, the more I come to think that the whole language discussion is a red herring maneouvre to distract from current inner politics that went wrong as well… By the whole language debate, the catalonians will get worked up, and thus their power will be diminished… Therefore, it is so important to keep an eye on moving forward in terms of Independence.

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There is a distance that seems endless, limitless and somehow almost unfathomable when we think back to our predecessors. And yet, we still have so much within us that goes back right to the times when we were barely clad with some animal skins and went out collecting berries, herbs and fruit while the strongest and most valiant of our tribe would go out hunting to put meat on the table. When I think about what is going on in our society I come to the conclusion that we are not that far away at all. Not only are our clothing customs somewhat strange when one thinks about it long enough, not only are the women still suffering from hitting the socalled glass ceiling that keeps them from rising fast enough and high enough according to their mental and social qualities. Not only are the most valiant ones in our tribes somewhat degenerated. They no longer go out hunting. They no longer come back with something which is good for everyone in the tribe. And what’s more: They no longer are the most valiant ones, the most clever ones we have.

To be honest with you… In one weird fleeting moment I really thought about what would happen if Rajoy, Sarkozy and Merkel and all the other statesmen were subjected to the piercing eyes of a neanderthal tribe… What would happen then? We can only guess. Sounds like the beginning of another far-out science fiction story? Maybe. But… Come to think of it. The Neanderthals were not foolish. They did not have the intellectual capacities. But they had another thing instead, and that was the will and the power to survive. They knew if they would stick together they would be able to feed each and everyone who was strong enough to make it. There was a selection, maybe a cruel one. But at the end of the day they would make sure that only the ones that understood better, worked harder, and fought better, hit harder and had stronger teeth or wider shoulders would make it. Don’t get me wrong I am not an advocate for a social Darwinism here, not at all.

All I am saying is that back in those days, they still had the right perspective. And that was a straight and narrow path they had. Make or break. Do or die. They knew it. If they made one fatal decision, well, it might cost them or the whole tribe their lives.

So, back to our situation in 2012, here we are. Mankind, highly eveloped species. Or at least that’s what we think we are. I think we are not that far away from Mr and Mrs Caveman around a few thousands years ago. Only, Mr and Mrs Caveman died probably at the age of 34 or 39 if they were lucky enough to see their grandchildren. Life was accelerated back then. Accelerated to survive.

Today we have a different kind of acceleration. An acceleration to consume, to use, to abuse and to throw away. We have children at the age that some of our predecessors had when they died after a long and fulfilled life. We, in turn, don’t know what to do with ourselves. We want to remain children all our adult lives, in an endless quest to pamper ourselves, we lose ourselves in the endless sea of open doors, of unfulfilled possibilities. And still, we are not one inch better than the caveman. Cos we also like to make a killing, we would like to see defeat, we would like to burn down the house of someone who did us wrong. So, any kind of upbeat message here?

To be honest, I guess there is none.

Mankind in itself is cruel, set out to kill, destroy and dominate their peers as much as their enemies. We live in a not so fairytale world. How did I come up with this topic? Well, that is a very good question indeed. I am not so philosophical myself but I do consider myself a good observer of people and also of situations. I can see a picture or a scene, and I can tell you straight up what is wrong here.

The problem however being that seeing the problem … well let’s be honest … it does not get us anywhere. In my book, we as a species, can only survive if we stop being so downright debased, mean, selfish, and depraved. That is what is killing us? It is our own innermost character. Nothing more, nothing less.

We all shout it from the rooftops, we all want to be the good ones in the script, but when someone knocks at our door, the scenery changes very fast and we become someone we would not like to be at all. We become the judge, we judge anyone else but ourselves. We are quite a selfish lot. A lot that really does not understand the truth that is staring us in the face.

Europe is a blatant failure when you take away the pink glasses that every Eurovision Song Contest still wants to convey – alas, in vain. Maastricht seems to have been nothing but a fairytale. And that was just a historic breath away, twenty years, no more.

The currency Euro has failed as well.

The commonground idea of the European union has been given up by some politicians who have their say. It is a sad circus of overpaid government officials.

The majority of people is not really interested in reading the sign of the times. The writing is on the wall.

The coming years, we are going to experience life not as fun, not as easygoing as it once was.That of course only goes if you belong to the 80% of the people who are not blessed with a big acquisitive power. Let’s put things even more plainly. We may have no hope to reach financial freedom in our lives. But let’s be clear. The stakes are high. The crisis has sharpened the gaping jaws of poverty that are opened wide and we can maybe just about make it. That is: if we are intelligent enough and if we are lucky.

The most essential items are back: We are lucky if we have a roof above our heads, if we are allowed to work, and if we can set food on the table each and every day. If we can afford medical attention. The crisis is the new plague. The incubation time is over. The illness is spreading, and the patient is frail, but it has not reached its peak yet, even though some of us might believe it is already full on there, but no… Lucky us, no?

But inspite of the turmoil, the confusion and the spreading loss of values in society, in society’s nuclei (the family) and in companies, people try out things. New things. Exciting things. They start to remember their creative power. They organise themselves. They form new entities. New stateforms. New political parties. Alternative paths are often chosen.

 

 

Like in Catalunya, as much as in Scotland. People are remembering that they might actually be able to move a thing or two if they start fighting. To be honest, living in Spain and in a region were Catalan is spoken, at this very moment, proves to be the most exciting experience I could wish for. Don’t get me wrong. I live here because I chose to be here. It was not a random decision. It was well anticipated.

For me, as a philologist and historian, this whole Independence issue in Catalunya and the fight for Catalan remaining a second language is a very exciting, thrilling, and intriguing thing to witness. Everything seems possible at the moment. If people are strong enough to fight.

But there are other things, that go right beyond Spain and the Catalan Independence Fighters. Europe itself is reshaping. I have the feeling that the next five years and our economic wells and woes are going to shape Europe, the old world and also shape us in many ways.

It is time to pass on to a new chapter. This is history that invites you not just to sit there and stare at your computer on end. Think of all the bad things going on in your own country. Think about what you as an individual could do to make a change. Think about where you seem to be the prisoner of old habits, of jaded traditions, a victim of politicians’ greed for more, just spending the money of others while doing nothing for the public benefit. Where are you in this picture? Who or what is holding you back? Or if you are free – Where could you help others or yourself to free yourself of the shackles of modern day life?

Sometimes, many isolated baby steps may lead to a giant leap. Even though, I must admit, I am not really a deeply political person, I am fed up with the situation in so many ways and for me it is true. The time has come. No-one with a decent enough brain and heart should be non-political. I would wish for many changes. As much for the system itself, as well as in terms of political transparence, in terms of penalization of defrauding of boni grabbing, greedy and simply lying politicians as well as bankers, in terms of a solidarity between the rich and the poor, in terms of respecting language, identity, education and culture.

Culture is not a luxury. It is a must.

You too can make a change!

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