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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Les Indignés : un mouvement né sur le Web

by Pierric Marissal

The Indignants: A Movement Born on the Web

Translated Friday 27 May 2011, by Kristina Wischenkamper and reviewed by Derek Hanson

Started in Spain, the movement has reached Europe and for the moment nudges at France. From the Internet direct to the street; there is no middleman. Here’s how this movement was born and how it uses its tool: the Internet.

No trade union, let alone a political party. The workings of traditional dispute are outmoded, and even deliberately excluded. Internet, through the exchange in real time via social networks and chats, has allowed the emergence of a spontaneous free and radical protest movement by a generation that’s had enough.

Born on the Internet, for the Internet

To find the beginnings of this movement, its spark, we should look towards the Ley Sinde law, the Spanish equivalent of Hadopi [1] (an Internet piracy law). The major parties voted together to pass the text, without listening to the voice of the people who were largely against it. Hence the feelings of denial of democracy, and the first organization around the slogan "No Les Votes" (do not vote for them, as local elections approached). A slogan that would give its name to a keyword on Twitter [2] and then a website. This spark, the defence of absolute freedom on the Internet, explains the Anonymous masks – the hacktivist group – that can be seen in the crowd.

Internet and "Real Democracy Now"

This first wave breaks and is then drowned by the burst of anger from a generation of youth crushed by 45% unemployment, increasingly precarious living conditions and a feeling of not being heard. Despite an ever growing presence on the streets (in Madrid, Barcelona, Zaragoza, Valencia, Cordoba, Bilbao ...) the Internet remains at the heart of this movement. It is a tool that allows you to completely forego normal structures: meetings, leaflets, delegates, spokespeople ... Battle cries are traded on Twitter ( #SpanishRevolution, # NoNosVamos, #AcampadaSol, # YesWeCamp) and on the Facebook page Spanish Revolution. Followed by over 132,000 people. All communication is done online, the protesters have even installed a webcam to monitor live the Puerta del Sol protest camp. The site Democracia Real Ya (Real Democracy Now), created by a federation of associations, has since 15 May become the reference for following the movement. Its Facebook page has 330,000 people signed up.

The Internet has become a structural element of the movement. What is expressed is anger, a desire for radical change and a rejection of all traditional forms of politics. Which explains the refusal to be co-opted by any political party or trade union and calls to spoil ballot cards or vote blank. Confidence in the Spanish democratic system is broken; the indignants have the impression that their voices are never heard. The descent into the street came naturally, as an extension. The street is also where they want to be heard. Hence the main slogans: "We will not be silent" or "Democracy now!"

Is there risk of contagion in France?

After a first demonstration last week outside the Spanish Embassy, the French Indignés found themselves on the Place de la Bastille and intend to make this symbolic place a daily rendez-vous. The movement has its keywords on Twitter #frenchrevolution , #démocratieréelle or #indignezvous. Invitations from associations such as Black Thursday and Precarious Generation to join the mobilization may help it to take off but may also blur the message. Will the political parties (the two associations mentioned above are headed by Europe Ecology/the Greens councillors) and the trade unions allow the movement to grow on its own? Links with the pamphlet Get Indignant by Stéphane Hessel are in any case often cited.

Twitter seems the best place to monitor a possible take-off of this movement in France. Follow it also on the Real Democracy Now site, based on the Spanish model, with the slogans of the movement, and a calendar of rallies planned in France.

[1Haute Autorité pour la diffusion des œuvres et la protection des droits sur Internet, (Authority for the publication of works and the protection of rights on the internet).

[2Twitter is a tool well suited to this movement. Communication takes place in real time, in short messages of 140 characters maximum, around keywords (hashtags in the jargon), preceded by #.

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