EssaysLiberal Democracy in Question

In Support of PODEMOS

One of the most appalling and discouraging outcomes of the recent European elections has been the rise and affirmation of a number of far-right, xenophobic, and populist electoral parties in East and Northern Europe and in France. This has been largely the outcome of years of austerity policies and crisis, which have deteriorated the conditions of life for millions of people across the continent. In this discouraging scenario, the most promising novelty has been, in addition to the Syriza’s electoral victory in Greece, the birth and astonishing affirmation (7.9%) of a new organization: Podemos (Spain). Podemos was created only a few months ago, in March, by leftist activists associated with the 15-M movement, and inherited the spirit and organizational methods of the Indignados movement. It opposes austerity policies and defends the welfare state and social rights from the neo-liberal attack supported by both center-left and center-right coalitions across Europe. Moreover, it is an interesting and powerful experiment in radical democracy, one which might bear decisive consequences for the renewal of the European left and of its culture. For these reasons, I decided to join the signatories of this statement in support of Podemos. Defending social rights and reclaiming radical democracy is the only effective answer against the rise of a dangerous xenophobic, homophobic, and misogynist far-right.

In the coming weeks, PS will publish a more detailed, first-person account of the experience of Podemos. Cinzia Arruzza

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In the wake of the European elections, we want to celebrate the emergence of PODEMOS as a political alternative in Spain. With almost no resources, just four months after its foundation, PODEMOS has managed to garner impressive popular support, winning eight percent of the vote and becoming the third political force in 23 of the 40 main cities in the country. While the politics of austerity are turning Southern Europe into a desolate landscape, it is encouraging that more and more people are willing to rise up and fight for democracy, their social rights, and popular sovereignty. Even more so, it is deeply inspiring that they are willing to contest the mandates of the financial and political elites through new, radically democratic means.

PODEMOS has managed to build upon the cycle of popular uprisings that have spread worldwide since 2011, demanding a democracy that is worthy of its name. It has done so by empowering the people’s political participation, holding open primary elections, elaborating a participatory political program, and constituting more than 400 circles and popular assemblies worldwide in support of the initiative. PODEMOS relies exclusively on crowdfunding and popular donations, refusing to receive any funding from the financial institutions that are responsible for the crisis, and all its expenses can be viewed online. All its representatives will be revocable and subject to a strict limitation of their mandates, their privileges, and their salaries.

PODEMOS’s political program, elaborated with the contributions of thousands of citizens, makes manifest and expresses a hope shared by millions around the world: to break with the neoliberal logic of austerity and the dictatorship of debt; to establish a fair distribution of wealth and labor among all; the radical democratization of all instances of public life; the defense of public services and social rights; and the end of the impunity and corruption that have turned the European dream of liberty, equality, and fraternity into the nightmare of an unjust, cynical, and oligarchic society.

This election has shown that the disaffection and malaise created by the policies of the Troika are the breeding ground for fascism and xenophobic forces. It is urgent, therefore, that the message of hope expressed by PODEMOS spreads across all our countries — the message of the resistance of a people who will not succumb to passivity, who reclaims instead a power exclusively of its own: the democratic capacity for all to decide on what is common, on the matters that determine the lives of all.

This is why we express our support of this initiative, of its open and participatory method, hoping that its efforts will materialize and spread throughout many other countries in Europe and the world.

In solidarity,

Gilbert Achcar
Jorge Alemán
Cinzia Arruzza
Étienne Balibar
Brenna Bhandar
Bruno Bosteels
Wendy Brown
Hisham Bustani
Judith Butler
Fathi Chamkhi
Noam Chomsky
Mike Davis
Erri De Luca
Costas Douzinas
Eduardo Galeano
Michael Hardt
Srećko Horvat
Robert Hullot-Kentor
Sadri Khiari
Naomi Klein
Chantal Mouffe
Aristeidis Mpaltas
Yasser Munif
Antonio Negri
Jacques Rancière
Leticia Sabsay
Mixalis Spourdalakis
Nicos Theotocas
Alberto Toscano
Slavoj Žižek

This statement was originally published on the Apoyo Internacional a PODEMOS.

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