State of power 2016: democracy, sovereignty and resistance

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‘Real democracy now!’, the demand of the Spanish indignados as they occupied the squares of cities across Spain, is the slogan which can best guide us in challenging and escaping the prison of today’s power structures. It was not so much a demand, but a rallying cry to people to act now in creating exemplary democracies, and simultaneously a demonstrative exclamation pointing to what they were doing in occupying the square: experimenting with  what real democracy could be here and now.

‘Real democracy now!’ expresses the determined desire of a generation of young Europeans facing a world in which they were brought up to take for granted what they thought was democracy: a society in which dictatorships  were past history; in which Apartheid was unacceptable and formal political equality the norm; and in which multi-party democracy and the market had replaced the one-party command economy leading to what was assumed to  be democracy in in Central and Eastern Europe.

1 Political democracy, they had been led to expect, would mean universal human rights to full-time or at least secure employment, a home, and security in ill health and old age. Instead they faced and continue to face a future with only precarious employment and the certainty of debt, without hope of a secure home and a precarious, and sometimes scary, future when they or their loved ones became sick or ill. And they found themselves in a political   system in which they were in effect without a voice and in which only the rich have a say, and the interests of the banks and shareholders seeking quick returns predominate over the interests of the majority of people.
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