Piraeus, Greece (August 15, 2011)

Greeks can learn much from Spanish grassroots activism

Yesterday I had a fascinating, inspiring chat with an activist friend from Spain on citizens’ initiatives there. Some thoughts on it, especially regarding Greece:

Map of Spain’s 15M citizens’ platform (source)

Spain is way ahead of Greece in terms of grassroots activism. Their anti-austerity “citizens’ platform” is an efficient, broad, self-organised network.

  • Spain’s citizens’ platform has origins in the 2011 ‘Indignants’ movement. Greece’s fell apart (or got crushed, depending on your view) quickly; Spain’s took off and never looked back.
  • Today, Spain’s citizens’ platform has had wins in 17 cities in municipal elections, including Madrid (!) and Barcelona. Also big anti-corruption wins: facilitating leaks and crowdfunding legal cases; reversing a planned anti-abortion law using hacktivism; and awareness-raising via creative protest. While internationally, these victories have often been attributed to Podemos, the citizens platform contests that view: it is not the same as Podemos.
  • Words Spanish activists use: ‘nodes’, ‘platforms’ (in Greece, we’re still talking about ‘groups’). ‘Post-party era’. ‘Collective intelligence’. ‘Hacker ethics’. ‘Technopolitics’.
  • Cynics will cry ‘apples/oranges’, but Spain’s grassroots activism has many lessons for Greece: tools and methodologies. Much can be adapted.
  • The basis for Greece’s civil society already exists. To date, grassroots Greece hasn’t had many ‘big wins’… but our mapping efforts suggest there has been a steady growth of activity in recent years.
  • Instead of watching Greek politics play out as bystanders, moaning about things we can’t influence, we should all be taking activism here to the next level.
  • A good place to start is gathering and showcasing how grassroots activists achieved what they have in Spain. If you want to help, send me a message on Twitter or email me.
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