A non-state-centric conception of social transformation in Spain: 15M


We live in times during which members of constitutional democracies are constituted and constitute themselves as citizens in shifting ways that standard theories have failed to illuminate1. Nikolas Kompridis suggests that one begins to philosophize when things have become obscure. “Philosophy begins from the experience that we are lost2”, says Kompridis. He then adds: “philosophy must struggle against its knowingness3”.

When thinking with collective presences such as those that have been appearing in public squares since 2008, we can attempt to learn from the experience of being lost. We can attempt to discover what individuals ‘being’ in these collectivepresences feel and how it is relevant knowledge that needs to be known and found out.

By approaching collective presences through dialogues of reciprocal elucidation4Caminamos preguntando (we walk asking questions) as the Zapatista saying goes, their way of being is revealed. If we approach them through participation and not abstraction “[a] different kind of consciousness is possible among us, a participatory consciousness”5. As Hannah Arendt suggests, “only in the freedom of our speaking with one another does the world, as that about which we speak, emerge in its objectivity and visibility from all sides”6.

It is in light of this that I suggest in this essay that dialoguing-with those ‘being’ in public squares is indispensable if we are to understand the phenomenon of collective presences so many of us are attempting to elucidate on7. Using dialogue as a “collective way of opening up judgments and assumptions,”8through reciprocal elucidation we can “attend to the strange multiplicity of political voices and activities [‘beingness’ of collective presences] without distorting or disqualifying them in the very way we approach them”9.

Following from this, for the purpose of this paper and in order to bring into our dialogues of reciprocal elucidation how I see the relation between the collective presences we have all seen flourishing in public squares across the globe and current forms of representative government, I want to do the following. First, I want to present how I understand the context in which these collective presences are materializing. Second, I want to give a sense of what I think these collective presences might be. Third, I want to reveal the self-descriptions and counter-conducts of agents in these collective presences by presenting the views and actions of those working from within the collective presence of 15M in Spain10Fourth, I want to describe how I am seeing our collective imaginary transmuting as we move from the position of the civic power-with horizontality of the collective presences in public squares, into civil power-over verticality of representative governance11Fifth, I want to consider again the descriptions of those being a part of the collective presence of 15M in Spain, in order to show how they describe the transmutation of 15M into party-movement Podemos. And Sixth, I want to briefly discuss ‘ever-so-slowly’ time versus ‘crisis-time’, and end the essay with some remarks on why I think moving forward in our academic discussions is important to study this transmutation from civic power-with horizontality into civil power-over verticality12.

Collective presences and ‘being’ within them

In so-called ‘modern’ and ‘developed’ societies, discussions on governancetend to centre around the fact that the formal representative democracy available, although not a perfect form of government, is the least bad option. Basically, the idea behind this suggestion is that if we reject this form of democracy we will end up turning into totalitarian or anarchic and violent societies. In essence, from this position democracy is read in a static power-over manner with little room for transformation. This is why at the end of even the most, so-called, ‘advanced’democratic processes, we end up hearing the famous phrase: we have to choose between the ‘lesser of two evils’. 

In the recent United States presidential election, the choice representative government offered was between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Most of us I am sure would agree on which of the two candidates was the lesser evil13. However, there seems to be a much broader question being asked by a multiplicity of collective presences we generally associate with occupations of public squares. What seems to be asked by these collective presences enacting civic horizontality, is whether the option of the lesser of two evils is a satisfactory one. People within these presences seem to suggest that as peoples we can instead construct modes of governance for our societies that draw from the exemplary horizontality enacted in public squares.

Groups of people in all parts of the world seem to be calling for, and enacting, power-with modes of shared governance. These people no longer feel represented nor want to be represented; and instead have chosen to participate collectively. These collective presences are expressing that as human beings we can be agents of change in a power-with manner. They are telling us that we do not need a Leviathan to keep us alive and in harmony via power-over vertical means (Hobbes). Rather than competing with each other in the struggle of the survival of the fittest (Darwin), they suggest that we collaborate with each other via mutual aid; to help each other survive in a power-with and horizontal manner (Kropotkin).

These collective presences are working towards reconstructing our social relations in a spirit of cooperation and love between peoples, and in a manner that, they suggest, might advance the possibilities for humanity, fellow living creatures, and our planet. They are telling us via their modes of being in the world together, that maybe the planet will find harmony, that our societies might have a more even distribution of wealth, and that our societal organization as we know it might be redefined into something completely different.

With solidarity, and in the true spirit of advancing the intellectual, spiritual and physical possibilities of humanity, these presences suggest that we might be able to expand our imagined possibilities and transcend this current power-over domination which we live under and is masquerading under representation. Yet, as these collective presences enact this mode of being with each other, they face a challenge from defenders of the vertical power-over status quo of civil institutional representation. Studying this challenge might offer worthwhile clues into how, and for what reasons, the power-with civic horizontality of the collective presences is rejected.

What might these collective presences be?

These collective presences are plurigenerational, plurinational, pluricultural, and pluritraditional. I think we find within them a complex and rich web of beings that act and react collectively and individually from the perspective of multiple identifications. We can think of groups or individuals that understand themselves as agents in the process of growth, development and care of their communities and the planet as a whole, who following from this, informally come together and become transformative in their collective ‘beingness’.

Within these collective presences power relations attempt to be much more horizontal that those presented by elites, more distributed amongst and between different people. From these spaces anyone in the world, with any of his or her actions, formal or informal, can become a powerful agent of transformation. These presences reveal a form of power that borrowing from James Tully I refer to as power-with. This is a horizontal form of power that is not above or below any organisational machinery, or above or below any other citizen. It is a shared power, which does not have to be constituted in the form of an army, a police force, a government, a party or a union. It can be informal and distributed, it can operate both within the machinery of formal organisations and outside of them. It exists much like the web that makes the Internet function, via a multiplicity of ever-changing nodes (individuals and groups) communicating and coordinating with each other in a networked manner.

These presences are not officially recognised entities with an organisation and headquarters of any kind. They are not constituted by a group of political activists that are planning events and campaigns to challenge people in power. They do constitute themselves when necessary as specific entities to serve particular needs both at the local and global level. But agents within these collective presences do not believe in hierarchy or leaders and organise horizontally, together co-constructing what I think is best described as an imagination. They enact a set of practices and a discourse, that together help construct a social imaginary that aids in the transformation of society in a collaborative manner. A plurigenerational, plurinational, pluricultural, and pluritraditional imaginary that is spreading and being constantly rearticulated to create a sense of shared wisdoms; which everyone can share and nurture from, contribute to, and construct from within.

In many ways, it would seem that these kinds of presences are prefiguring how a society can be transformed via mutual aid. They are co-constructing a world in which people are no longer being governed, but instead are empowering themselves to govern together with their fellow human beings. Agents in these collective presences are not in need of a Condottiere (Gramsci)14. Instead, they enact the fact that with trust, with dialogue, with kindness, and with understanding we might be able to envision other ways of co-inhabiting earth in a more peaceful, loving, compassionate and power-with (horizontal) manner. Different to the power-over (vertical) model of order proposed by nation states, representative governments, and the so called international community with its multiple formal and informal organisations and federations.

The collective presence of 15M in Spain

As the economic crisis began in Spain, representatives of the Spanish state didnot hesitate to set aside democratic and legal institutions in order to exercise authoritarian power. This power-over state repression was aimed at protecting the status quo and the programs of austerity being imposed on the population15. Nevertheless, in 2011, a collective presence that quickly self-defined as being 15M came together in public squares across the country and staged a marked opposition to such hollowing-out16.

Across the country, these networked forces organised and made decisions collectively, through popular assemblies organised in city, town and village squares. People stopped families from being evicted from repossessed homes. Abandoned public or repossessed buildings were occupied to host homeless families. Police was stopped from arresting ‘illegal’ immigrants in poor neighbourhoods. People attempted to stop the closing of public hospitals following drastic public spending cuts. Neighbourhood committees were organised aimed at rebuilding the social fabric destroyed by the last two decades of neoliberal economics. Boycotts mushroomed. Fiscal disobedience intensified17. Legal persecution of those deemed responsible for the crisis was initiated; financed through popular initiatives such as ‘crowd funding’. And all this was taking place, while communal libraries; websites; TV channels; radios; magazines; newspapers; vegetable gardens; schools; hospitals; villages; alternative currencies; and assembly based political parties, were created as cooperative examples of nonviolent and horizontal mutual aid.

In essence, what flourished in Spain stemming from these collective presences was that many people began to call into question, subject to public discussion, negotiation, and modification, the current social, political and economic system. A manifestation of people themselves taking the initiative to exercise power together and act in concert, to bring about change through a series of complementary methods: self-organisation; civil disobedience; protesting; and acting in a wide variety ofloosely coordinated ways. Discussing; cooperating; negotiating among diverse members and subgroups; negotiating with the government and the different police forces and media; negotiating with different trade unions, political parties, and social organisations of numerous types; setting up committees; pushing for legal andconstitutional reforms; seeking changes to democratic accountability; and building a truly social and economic democracy from the ground up in a nonviolent and horizontal manner. A clear example of what James Tully presents as the activities of “self-governing people changing the way they are governed18.

Self-descriptions regarding horizontality within 15M

Two years after the uprisings that began in 2011, I set out on a research trip across Spain in which I interviewed 213 individuals being 15M in twenty-five different cities and in numerous smaller towns and villages19What I discovered was how together those being 15M had co-created a complex; mutating and dialogic; collective and cooperative; agonistic and transformative 'climate' that many referred to as el clima 15M (15M climate)20.

By that time of my research trip, the encampments were remembered as a moment of transformation. A moment in which self-governing people organising together and taking their lives into their own hands had enacted a new world and presented alternatives. Form the encampments people had learnt the importance of generating dialogical power-with relations between those striving for change. The encampments had made visible and accessible to a large proportion of the Spanish population, both inside and outside of the encampments, a powerful way of being together in Spain as citizens. Namely, one based on a constitutive or pre-figurative relationship of ‘being the change’. 

In the beginning of the encampments in 2011, there were no assembly structures; these developed overtime in the different squares. In the city of Jerez de la Frontera there were some instinctive agreements upon “fundamental principles of democratic participation and horizontality”21. Those being 15M in Jerez understood that 15M did not reflect centrality in its DNA, “its power was clearly distributed in a networked manner”22.

In the city of Cadiz at the beginning of the encampment “[p]eople were in the street, sitting, talking, and organising. At first there was no organisation”23People realised “that all previous and existing structures of organisation and of doing politics had become obsolete”24The demonstrations in Cadiz belonged to everyone: “they had a lot of power-with force. Not so much because of the demonstrations, but because when people construct demonstrations they can easily construct other things… There is no longer a need to delegate to a saviour with good intentions”25.

In the city of Sevilla people felt that what was being enacted in the square was “a methodology that included civic nonviolence, democracy and assemblies”26. In the city of Cordoba 15M was understood as a new commons in which “nobody managed and everybody knew what to do”27In the city of Granada those being 15M were learning toestar y ser al mismo tiempo28At the square they learnt to “co-create with others without the need for leadership; simply by consensus and rotation”29.

In the Plaza de la Constitución occupation in the city of Malaga “nobody gave orders and everyone knew what to do”30. The collective presence appeared in the square as “a cooperative and collaborative network without a clear centre and with numerous aggregation nodes that did the work and coordinated with each other”31.

When the occupation of Puerta del Sol took place in Madrid, a code of ethics was agreed upon. This code said that people “spoke as individuals and not as representatives of organisations. We did not know what we were co-creating, but we all seemed to feel that it was worthwhile attempting it without representation”32. The general idea at the time “was to take those in power out of power so that we could ‘all’ be in power together”33.

What made 15M magical in the city of Santiago de Compostela was that “transformation was no longer initiated through vanguards, tutelages or monologues”34. What made it inviting in the city of A Coruña was that “in this collective explosion we were all ‘everyday’ people, the no names of our society”35. In the city of Oviedo people in the square “were enacting direct democracy with its beautiful traits and with the problems that it raised”36. Those being 15M in the city were constructing “from the local and from the collective. Not from big ideas and meta-thought coming from above”37.

The collective presence being enacted in the square occupation at the city of Gijón presented a new form of development “through which we relate to each other as equals”38In the square individuals “became citizens for the first time”39. Those being 15M were converging whilst “trying to break the culture of delegation inherited from the country’s transition to democracy”40.

In the city of Barcelona “there were three ethical norms that constituted the DNA of 15M: ‘Nonpartisan, nonviolent, and horizontal’”41. Right from the beginning “platforms were being constantly created. Yet, the creators would quickly disappear into anonymous non-leadership roles”42.

These are just a few of the numerous voices I heard during my research trip in 2013. However, they reveal to us the horizontal way of being and doing of those being 15M, and show us how they are thinking things differently to ways which had been hegemonic both within activist circles and in society at large prior to the start of the encampments. 

15M Construction of ad-hoc horizontal institutionality

Two years after 15M encampments, 15M practices were widespread across Spain. 15M had metamorphosed from being a very powerful and large gathering of collective presences in public squares, to thousands of different initiatives dealing with all aspects of social, economic and political life. In some instances, the label 15M had remained as the identifier of groups, in others, individuals who identified as 15M were contributing (in many instances spearheading) groups working under different labels. 

What was left of 15M was its climate, which revealed a collective empowerment stemming from a multiplicity of factors. New technologies; historical and current exemplars of struggle and alternative modes of being; solidarity; a sediment of existing practices whose network was able to empower voices not heard; a deep and collective understanding of the power of a dialogical and horizontal multiplicity; an ethical commitment to the ideal of democracy; and an acknowledgment of nonviolence as the only way of being 15M.

During the time I was travelling across Spain in 2013, the collective presence had mutated out of the squares and by then it presented a whole infrastructure of mutual aid organisations that had spread into and evolved out of neighbourhoods in the different cities where occupations had taken place. This infrastructure was broad, connected, historical and inter-generational.

In the city of Jerez de la Frontera in its shift from the square to the neighbourhoods 15Mhad become a catalyst of large mobilisations. It had reinforced pre-15M assemblies of the anti-globalisation movement that remained active from the beginning of the century, and had become a pillar of the struggle against the privatisation of water.

In the city of Cadiz, following their collective presence in the square those being 15M had decided to occupy Valcárcel, an abandoned building, which was subsequently used to build a cultural centre43

At the same time, in the city a collective of unemployed people was working on creating an unemployed people’s cooperative. This cooperative was occupying abandoned land, and turning it into parking by-donation.

In the city of Sevilla the Corralas coming out of 15M were still active. “Originally the project came out of the inter-commission on housing of 15M. From the Corralas project, 400 individual occupations had developed”44. Regarding the payment of debt, debt auditing, which had been gaining traction during 2012-2013 was being worked on. This work was being done transversally between 15M assemblies and other neighbourhood groups45.

In the city of Granada inthe neighbourhood of the Realejo, the 15M assembly had marked abandoned buildings in preparation for future occupations46In the neighbourhood of El Zaidín, the 15M assembly had joined other neighbourhood assemblies and occupied the neighbourhood’s library, Las Palomas (The Pigeons). Hortigas  (Nettles) an agro-organic cooperative, which existed prior to 15M, had gained a lot of strength since May of 2011. In Hortigas, 130 members were sharing food, which was grown collectively47.

Following the end of the encampment in the city of Malaga the Banco Bueno (Good Bank) had occupied the branch of an old savings bank, and had created a self-managed canteen offering food to poor families48.

In the city of Valencia at around the same time there had been an upsurge in ‘okupa’ (squatter) activity. L’Horta (The Vegetable Garden), an occupied social space that was lost in 2007, was recuperated as a space of confluence. There was also a group called Coordinación Constituyentes de Valencia (Valencia’s Constituents Coordination). This coordinating committee was working towards promoting a new constituent process49.

In the city of Madrid, on June 12th 2011, the decision was made to dismantle the encampment. The message at the time coming from Puerta del Solwas clear: “No nos vamos nos expandimos” (We do not disappear, we expand)50. On that day, popular assemblies were created which together would constitute Asamblea Popular de Madrid (Madrid Popular Assembly)51. At that time the cityfound itself with the highest number of occupied social spaces in its history52.

Following the encampment, in the city of Santiago de Compostelathe 15M Alternatives Commission had merged with some trade unions and had created Asamblea Abierta (Open Assembly). Asamblea Abierta had occupied some land and had turned the space into a self-managed social centre53In addition a few food cooperatives and a couple of eco-villages had also been created54.

In the city of A Coruña two and a half years after the encampment, social movements immersedin the spirit of 15M were “committed to constructing communities; social centres; consumer cooperatives; and alternative universities.”There were also some individuals and groups articulating strategies to obtain an unconditional basic income for Spanish citizens55.

By the time of my visit to the autonomous community of Asturias a web had begun to form between a set of interesting self-managed projects spread across different localities in the autonomous community. In the city of Oviedo, there was the occupied social centre of La Madreña, there was also Local Cambalache (Exchange Space). In the city of Gijón, they had La Manzorga. In the city of Áviles, they had l’Ensameand La Caracola (The Snail). In the town of Navia, they had La Casa Azul (The Blue House). And in the town of Villanueva de Santo Adriano, they had La Ponte.All self-organised, self-managed spaces from which the questions raised by the collective presence of 15M could continue to be thought and re-thought56.

In the city of Barcelona by 2013 support groups for immigrants had mushroomed57. There were numerous projects aiming towards constituent processes58. The Front Civic (Civic Front) was trying to bring people towards converging59, and there was a very active Espai de Coordinació (Liaison Space)60. Along similar lines, Juntas Podem (Together we can) was an initiative in which many different assemblies met to discuss collective issues61.

Together all these initiatives reveal a network of horizontal ad-hoc institutionality. Seen operating in their networked manner those being 15M help us recovertheir infrastructure of power-with organisations, which through civil-vertical state-centric analysis seems to drop out of the picture. This infrastructure when thought about from a state-centric approach is seen, at best, as ‘discussion groups’ – a sort of proto-civil citizenry. Yet, the infrastructure is broad, connected, historical and inter-generational. When thought about in a civic power-with manner it reveals how people participating in collective presences are participating in self-sustaining and self-governing forms of association. Through this mode of horizontal and nonviolent organising these citizens are presenting opposition to the power-over infrastructure of the Spanish state and they are revealing a form of institutionality that is different in kind to the organisation presented by the state.

Transmutation from horizontality to verticality

Although in the previous section I have been discussing the collective presence of 15M, the fact is that across the globe from 2008 onwards we have had numerous examples of how these groups of people have prefigured a world without the kind of vertical leadership we are accustomed to. Their presence has been challenging governments and formal vertical representative orders via their mode of being in the world together, and via discussions over various overarching themes. The mode of being enacted by citizens from within these collective presences has revealed a certain ethical ‘non-attachment’ to ends since for these citizens the way (means) is the end. Here are just five ways of being collective presences that I think have transmigrated from square to square, and have been enacted, rethought and dialogued from within and by collective presences around the globe: 

1) Being self-governing 

2) Being non-patriarchal

3) Being nonviolent

4) Being self-sustaining 

5) Being together in a power-with manner

As is the case with 15M, the challenge posed to established norms by collective presences across the globe has come in the form of exemplary nonviolent and democratic horizontality. The problem is that at the same time, when these collective presences have revealed their power-with force and their imagining of possibilities, the force of the state and formal vertical institutions has challenged them vehemently. This is why at times one can clearly see revolutionary expressions of these collective presences, and then after a period of repression, and of reactionary propaganda, we experience times of silence in which it would seem these radical ideas of social transformation have vanished.

These seemingly silent times are due to the fact that once these presences disperse, the collective power has migrated into the everyday lives and actions of those who have co-constructed them. Via this process these citizens of the worldcontinue to challenge the social hegemony (dominant discourse) of the leading organisations and groups in particular societies from within existing structures and channels.

Ultimately, they are helping to reshape through a slow but forward momentum the very ideas upon which power in societies has been constructed. Nevertheless, they face a daunting task surfacing and becoming visible to the broader public once the hegemonic mind-set sets in motion all its weapons for discrediting and trivialising the collective presence. This is the process via which the possibilities opened up to society by the collectivity are limited.

As this unfolds in front of our eyes, we are told by established elites and representatives that the order of our world is in the hands of diplomats, ministers, presidents, generals and kings, and that we must have faith in them to get us out of the mess that as societies we find ourselves in. In fact, they tell us that if it were not because of them our societies would be in a far worse state. Parallel and in a complementary manner, we now also have a new set of elites both on the left and the right, telling us that the problem is not the system of government but the people who have been occupying spaces of power. These voices tell us that once they are elected, all this will be cleaned up and our societies will once again prosper.

Ultimately what seems to be happening, is that reactionary forces on both the right and the left seem bent on stopping the spread of the ideas and modes of being enacted by the collective presences in public squares. At the very least they seem bent on rechanneling the collective presences towards something much more ‘acceptable’ that can be represented. Something which, when finally subsumed to representation, seems to have lost all its transformative power-with force, becoming instead one more pawn, or horse, or king, in the realpolitik theatre of institutional representation. As the status quo shakes, those who had been isolated to the far-left or far-right of the space of institutional political representation, and who ultimately defend power-over modes of organising, have now contributed to saving the status quo of representative power-over verticality. We have now entered the time of populisms of both the right and the left (Laclau, Mouffe, Podemos)62.

During this process, whilst the establishment reaches for air, much of the discourse elaborated during the fervent expressions of collectivity in public squares, is appropriated by a set of actors who, despite being different in kind, maintain much of the language of agents speaking from within the collective presence. This takes place on both the right and left of the political spectrum within our current representative governments. There remains a talk of multiplicity, of horizontality, of participation, in their discourse. In fact, in many areas we see diluted versions of what has been dreamt about and collectively authored in public squares. But ultimately there has been a tremendous and dramatic shift. The power-with each other of the square has been dislocated allowing for a reconstitution of power in its power-over form to flourish and reclaim public practice and debate. As the space of debate moves back from the public square to the television plateau and parliament, the collective shout of the square fades amidst the buzz of mainstream society. The imaginary of possibilities of the squares and the mode of being enacted in the squares also fade in the collective imaginary of society. Institutional representative government seems to have survived its crisis.

Via this transmutation the debate now continues in its personalised form, amongsta set of elites struggling for a bigger piece of the representation pie and claiming to represent the interests of the ‘people’. What we are witnessing now is a struggle between old and new elites, in front of which we reposition ourselves from our position as agents into a position of spectators cheering for a particular leader or particular political formation. If we observe the process, we see how these new voices that have appropriated the shout of the square, quickly adopt most of the behaviours of those who, the collective presences clearly stated, did not represent them. In fact, one even begins to see how those who, during the time of the encampments, were seen as the politicians that needed to go, have regenerated their discourse and presented themselves as being the alternative. It is a tragicomic process that many post-square societies have to grapple with today. 

Perhaps the most important way in which elites facilitate and steer this process of transmutation is by reducing the mode of being of the collective presence into a set of demands to be negotiated within the space of vertical, power-over, representation. From this moment onwards, horizontality is relegated from the position of alternative to a position of facilitator (means to vertical ends). From this position, it can aspire, at most, to support certain leaders to gain power in a power-over manner through the normal institutional channels.

Throughout the process the mode of being of the collective presences is superficially acknowledged, and yet quickly discarded and labelled as a non-viable alternative. It is then quickly converted into a contingency of the recent past, to be analysed as a historical peculiarity. From this moment onwards our understanding of such collective presences is narrated in a power-over manner and from a civil-vertical lens. Now experts have appropriated the discourse relating to the collective presence. A struggle to own the process of the squares has begun, in which different parties aim for association, identification and relation with the moment of the squares, yet always leaving aside the mode of being of nonviolent and democratic civic-horizontality lived in the squares. This defining characteristic of the collective presence is treated as trivial and secondary to the political contingency, and considered at most as a tool to be utilized in order to make the representative process a little more participatory. 

Transmutation of 15M to Podemos in Spain

In order to shed light on the transmutation from collective presence in the square to political project in the arena of institutional representation, in this section I want to present how different commentators, who had been active within the collective presence of 15M in Spain, described its transmutation into party-movement Podemos63.

From the beginning of 15M encampments in 2011, millions of people across Spain defied electoral laws by congregating in public squares on the day of reflection prior to the municipal elections. At the time, they were unable to reach consensus on whether to recommend voting for alternative parties or abstaining from voting all together. From day one of 15M, the unresolved question of how to deal with institutions had been at the centre of the dialogue in public squares, virtual meeting spaces, and assemblies of differentcollectives, parties and movements. 

By 2013, within different demoi stemming out of the collective presence of the encampments, there was a struggle to determine if the time was for an anonymous decentralised horizontal and radically democratic confrontation, or for the convergence into a sole political party (in the Greek style) to capture political institutions and radically reform them from within64. Both strategies were being passionately debated in November of 2013, and my engagement within the 15M climate at that time helped to crystallise a dialogical space in which and through which civic and civil citizens were amongst many things collectively constructing new understandings on how to engage with official institutions.

How should these institutions be treated in order to have a ‘real democracy now’? How important should their role be? When should they be engaged and why? These were the kindsof questions being asked. The main difference between civic and civil citizens working from within the 15M climate was the importance of institutional political representation in relation to all other socio-political activities. The second major point that was being discussed was how representation needed to work. Espai en blanc (Blank space) the Catalan critical theory collective described this moment very clearly: 

We need one more effort to preserve the opening of a new world that is already in this world… ‘We go ever so slowly because we are going on forever’ means that we refuse to close the openings that people are presenting with their struggles… Something has begun and its political translation has come through the idea of a process; more specifically, constituent processes… We need a little more effort in order to avoid locking these processes in the one-dimensional political code of the electoral system and its electoral processes… Where we go from here will depend on the words we choose to draw the paths that we are going to follow and invent65.

By the end of 2013, there were clear indications that new political options were emerging; many of which were coming from within 15M collective spaces. 

Ahora Tù Decides (Now You Decide) had polled people to see if a candidature stemming from social movements should be presented to the European elections of May of 2014, and a decision had been made to present a ‘citizen candidature’66

Confluencia (Confluence), a group that was formed with the objective of bringing together collectives that had opted for engaging the institutional question, had its first meeting in September of 2013 addressing the issue. 

Alternativas desde abajo (Alternatives from below) in its conclusions document, following a set of June meetings, suggested that social movements should count with “loudspeakers” in official institutions. This, it suggested, could be attained through open electoral initiatives that are transparent and confluent in nature67

In addition the Partido X (X Party) had been born presenting itself as a group of “normal and anonymous citizens” with a program based on four pillars: transparency; binding referendums; executive and legislative citizen power; and a permanent right to a real vote68.

From within this turbulent space, following the 15M encampments and almost three years of mobilizations imbued by a 15M spirit, January of 2014 began with the appearance into the representative arena of a new political formation called Podemos (We can)69

Podemos presented a manifesto entitled: ‘Making a move: Transforming indignation into political change’70

This confluence of engaged-citizens irrupted just in time for the 2014 elections to the European Parliament. Yet, even as early as January of 2014, many were raising concerns regarding the new party. For example, Madrilonia, the highly respected critical reflection collective, followed the Podemos announcement with the following reflections: 

Political structuring and sedimentation take time. We can convene that when we speak of politics, this mode of proceeding, of amassing in slow tempos, in addition to generating strong bonds and structures also generates high doses of impatience… It seems that this impatience is present in the launch of Podemos. We say impatience and not urgency, because urgency – the necessity of confronting the political dilemma of our time – is in the mind of many. However, one thing is to organise within this urgency and another is to try and organise around impatience. Since many in diverse places and tempos are thinking about this jump, organising it, dedicating their soul to the process, many are also surprised at the apparition of Podemos. In some sense, the game we were all thinking together has begun with a horse jumping the line of pawns71.


Still in January of 2014, in the political magazine Rebelion.org, Miguel Álvarez described (speaking about the formation of Podemos) how for months everyone had been tirelessly working on a Trojan horse to enter institutions and one morning everyone woke up to an unexpected reality: those they had been working shoulder-to-shoulder with were announcing on television a different political project with the same aim. Álvarez closed the article with the following words: “With mistrust we board this train, but we remain close to the emergency exit because change is so urgent that wasted time generates incalculable damage”72.

ByFebruary of 2014, Antonio Aguiló contributed some caution in regards to the new party: “I see as convenient not falling into an electoral rush; deflating the media focus of the initiative and its leadership; amplifying the plurality of voices; and articulating a joint-strategy with similar initiatives and social movements”73.

In April of 2014, philosopher Amador Fernández-Savater offered his thoughts on the political move towards institutional representation: 

State-centric discourse speaks of the need to move ‘from the social to the political’. As if what happened in public squares was not political. However, this is not about moving from something (inferior) to something (superior). If anything, it is about opening yet another plane. “Multi-layered, multi-channel revolution” […]. […] there is no privileged space setting rhythms, positions, or the meaning of the action to the rest… What exist are a plurality of tempos, spaces and subjects, all precious and necessary […]. A new type of political party can be one more point in this constellation74.

In June of 2014 José Miguel Fernández-Layos explained how following the European elections he visited the square in front of the Reina Sofia (Queen Sofia) Museum in Madrid. Podemos was celebrating its victory. He offered the following reflection: 

15M has not only had unexpected mutations, but seems to have also mated with creatures of a different kind. In some cases, the ways of these creatures are very new, in others a little older. Whoever thinks this is the point of arrival should think again. It seems that mutations will continue, jumps forward or into the abyss, experiments, life carving its path75.

In September of 2014, Javier Gallego writing from the online newspaper ElDiario.es, pointed out thatPodemos was generating the same excitement as the PSOE did in 1982. According to Gallego, like the PSOE, Podemos was being forgiven for its mistakes: “its lack of definition; its contradictions; its slips and silences”. Gallego remembered how the outcome of 1982 was deep frustration, and for this reason he hoped that Podemos would navigate through the process without arrogance. If they could do that, Gallego thought that perhaps they could avoid a deep fall from which mobilized citizens might take thirty years to recover76.

At around the same time, University of Cordoba professor Ángel Calle Collado described the need for ‘citizenry-parties’ like Podemos to have a vision that integrates complexity, by being a Ágora for debate and at the same time for political and social action. According to Calle Collado, “without these traits it is difficult to think of Podemos as being an emerging and interdependent part of the cycle of protest anchored in the radicalisation of democracy”77.

By November of 2014, Víctor Alonso Rocafort, political theory professor at the University of Alicante, wrote the following in regards to Podemos: 

Podemos is now a vertical political party, with almost all its power concentrated in the figure of the General Secretary; whom without a doubt will be Pablo Iglesias… Being more comfortable in the terrain of adulation than in the terrain of critique is always dangerous… To any person choosing to be an adviser to princes – currently the only parrhesiapossible in Podemos – I would ask that they do not ask for a just monarch, and specially not for a politólogo rey (political scientist king)78.

This section has simply offered a minute recollection of critiques made of Podemos during its launch and rise as the party of ‘change’ in Spanish politics. Nevertheless, together these voices clearly reveal how, from its inception, the party has systematically violated the means-ends relationships essential to 15M ‘beingness’ in two very specific ways. First, it has mistakenly claimed it can bring about power-with organisations (or continue power-with organising) by means of power-over methods.

And second, it has acted in ‘crisis time’ rather than in the ‘ever-so-slow’ temporality of being the change in each step we take that has been a key feature of being 15M. In this sense, this section reveals the risk that perhaps Podemos, in dealing with 15M (and other networks of horizontal power-with mutual aid) in such a manner, “neither recognises nor understands [15M], but, rather, feeds on and destroys [15M], and, in so doing, defeats itself”79.

Closing remarks

Charles Taylor suggests that regimes claiming to be democratic are being vigorously criticised due to the fact that through a hollowing-out process, democracy is “becoming unbelievable, breeding a sense of cynicism, which leads people to opt out of citizenship”80. Wendy Brown on the other hand, claims that neoliberal governmentality is “undoing”democratic practices and even democratic imaginaries81. Brown suggests that resistances to neoliberalism are failing because they are manageable within it. I agree with Charles Taylor that this hollowing-out is leading more people to opt out of the aspect of citizenship that relates to representative institutions. Nevertheless, I think Wendy Brown’s perspective on the undoing of democratic practices and imaginaries is too pessimistic and does not reveal what is truly happening on the ground. It is because of my dialogues of reciprocal elucidation with those being in the kinds of collective presences being discussed in this essay that I reach such a conclusion.

Although neoliberalism poses a significant threat to the existence of the democracy being enacted within the collective presences of public squares, I find myself in alignment with Janine Brodie who suggests that neoliberalism is unleashing a “myriad of alternative prognoses and social imaginaries”82. In this sense I think that what we are seeing within the collective presences of public squares is what Karl Polanyi described as the “spontaneous eruption of all manner of counter-movements”83or what Foucault referred to as ‘counter-conducts’.

In Mutual Aid: A factor of evolution, Peter Kropotkin describes the kind of counter-conducts we are seeing today enacted by different collective presences. He refers to it as mutual aid. Kropotkin points out that despite the systematic destruction of mutual aid institutions over the centuries “the nucleus of mutual-support institutions, habits, and customs remains alive with the millions”84. These millions, Kropotkin argues, not only enact mutual aid institutions, but also “endeavour to reconstitute them where they have ceased to exist”85. In Blessed Unrest: How the largest movement in the world came into being and why no one saw it comingPaul Hawken seems to support Kropotkin’s claim. Hawken argues that today these mutual aid networks constitute the largest informal, symbiotic fellowship of engaged citizens in the world86.

Countering the crisis-time proposed by those seeking to take control of the institutions of representative government, collective presences appear not as instruments in the service of parties in the first instance, but rather, as confluences of power-with organisations that embody a completely different view of time and of relations between means and ends: namely, a constitutive or pre-figurative relationship of ‘being the change’. This is the point that the 15M slogan used often in the squaresin Spain, vamos lentos porque vamos lejos is trying to make.We go ever-so-slowly because we are going-on-forever, because means and ends need to align for us to be the change we want to see. 

It is true that the slowness of this ‘means and ends in alignment’ approach to social transformation discourages many political actors. Nevertheless, as Richard Gregg reminds us “[t]he lack of immediate victory does not prove the inefficiency of the method. The discouragement proves only a failure to understand the process”87

In this sense, whilst commentators debate the inefficiency of these collective presences, those ‘being the change’ are building “relationships of ‘mutual aid’ or mutual enlightenment”88. From within their deeply diverse collective presences, they are negotiating over complex norms of recognition and interaction relevant to their everyday activities. In this sense, they are enacting a powerful kind of ‘conviviality’89.

In addition, through their way of being and the numerous outcomes of their efforts, they reveal to us twovery important features of this ever-so-slow, means in alignment with ends way of being. First, it brings about real effects in each step, and second, it sets in motion cumulative effects that may bring about tipping points90.

Ultimately what these collective presences are asking themselves is: how do we govern ourselves? They understand that verticality is obstructing the plethora of alternative ways in which one can answer that question. Verticality is understood and presented as the only way of governing, and in that sense, it is referred to as self-government. Via this move, the possibility and actuality of another way of governing ourselves that actually exists and in fact supports such verticality is concealed. In effect not only does the verticality feed on the horizontality it negates as an option of self-government, but it also exploits it; this is what those being in the collective presence of 15M in Spain revealed to us in their descriptions of the transmutation of 15M into Podemos.

Trying to answer whether the transmutation of such collective presences to representative political parties can happen in a constructive manner is not within the scope of this essay. However, what is clear is that collective presences across the globe have interrupted the status quo of representative democracy. Yet, as elites are attempting to steer these ‘societies in movement’ towards institutional politics of the kind instituted by those defending the status quo, power-over methods seem to be leaving leaders who employ them without reliable bases of accountability. Spiralling negative implications flow out of this reality91. In fact, the type of power over politics that political parties like Podemos in Spain are enacting, in other contexts and with other actors, have been known to destroy bonds of sociality altogether. When this has happened, the society has become atomised and dysfunctional.

It is in light of this risk that I want to finish this essay by suggesting that it is important to focus attention and research on how this discarding and appropriating transformation takes place. We can explore how the construction of civic-horizontality, as the ‘other’ that is rejected within civil-democratic imaginaries, happens. We can analyse different discourses critical of the exemplary power-with modes of being practiced in these collective presences. And finally, we can try to excavate the historical construction of these narratives in order to better understand how and why the civic-horizontality of these collective presences is rejected. Doing this can reveal and raise interesting questions. 

Looking at this process through a civic-horizontal lens, we can perhaps better understand the real threat that these collective presences pose to the established order. We might even be in a position to better understand how these presences might better defend themselves from such antagonism92. And most importantly, we might be in a better place to reason ‘perspectivally’ and thus view existing alternatives to our current and limited forms of representative self-government93.

Déplier la liste des notes et références
Retour vers la note de texte 5058


James Tully, Public philosophy in a New Key, Volume one Democracy and Civic Freedom, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2008, p. 151.

Retour vers la note de texte 5059


Nikolas Kompridis, “Philosophy, Crisis and Democracy: What Do They Have to Do with Each Other?”, in Philosophy and Crisis:Responding to Challenges to Ways of Life in the Contemporary World., Ioannina, Greece, July 28-30, 2013.

Retour vers la note de texte 5060


Nikolas Kompridis, “Philosophy, Crisis and Democracy: What Do They Have to Do with Each Other?”, in Philosophy and Crisis:Responding to Challenges to Ways of Life in the Contemporary World., Ioannina, Greece, July 28-30, 2013.

Retour vers la note de texte 5061


Dialogues of reciprocal elucidation refer to dialogues via which we co-construct new meanings together. I borrow this terminology from James Tully.

Retour vers la note de texte 5062


David Bohm, On Dialogue, New York, Routledge, 2004, p. xiii.

Retour vers la note de texte 5063


Hannah Arendt, The Promise of Politics, edited and with an Introduction by Jerome Kohn, New York, Schocken Books, 2005, p. 165.

Retour vers la note de texte 5064


The dialogical process allows insurgent knowledges that seek to change the terms and values under which we all live to surface and be heard. This serves to unsettle dominant accounts; and at the same time, as Oscar Guardiola-Rivera points out, acts as an experimental exercise producing other accounts, Accounts “that would go beyond the criticism of the status quo, seeking to inspire action to change it.” See Oscar Guardiola-Rivera, “A Jurisprudence of Indignation”, in Law Critique, Number 23, 2012, p. 253–270.

Retour vers la note de texte 5065


David Bohm, On Dialogue, New York, Routledge, 2004, p. 53.

Retour vers la note de texte 5066


David Bohm, On Dialogue, New York, Routledge, 2004, p. 5.

Retour vers la note de texte 5067


Michel Foucault, “What is Critique”, in M. Foucault, The Politics of Truth, ed. S. Lontringer, Los Angeles, Semiotext(e), 2007, p. 75.

Retour vers la note de texte 5068


Through the essay I will be making a distinction between ‘power-with’ and ‘power-over’ which will become clearer as the essay progresses. The distinction derives from my engagement with James Tully’s work, although it is important to mention that Hannah Arendt also tried hard to get theorists to see outside the ruler-ruled assumption or worldview in On Violence. Arendt makes the distinction most fundamentally in ‘Socrates’, in Hannah Arendt, The Promise of Politics, Edited and with an Introduction by Jerome Kohn, New York, Schocken Books, 2005. For further analysis on these two concepts and their connection with Hannah Arendt’s thought, see: James Tully, “On Global Citizenship: Reply to Interlocutors”in On Global Citizenship: James Tully in Dialogue, London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2014, p. 269-328. Tully has also traced this distinction between ‘power-with’ and ‘power-over’ to Follet, M.P. (1932) Creative Experience.

Retour vers la note de texte 5069


In a recent book on Cesar Chavez, Antonio Orosco criticises this ‘crisis-time’, and sees it even in the workings of Martin Luther King Jr. According to Orosco, this ‘crisis-time’ blocks the ‘long-time’ that is necessary to make a real transformation. See Joseph Orosco, Cesar Chavez and the Common Sense of Nonviolence, Albuquerque, University of New Mexico Press, 2008.

Retour vers la note de texte 5070


I see the readers of this essay being mainly liberals and theorists in the vertical left who usually disclose the field of collective presences in terms of ‘civil society’. On one hand liberals tend to see civil society as a volunteer sector that is full of unfiltered opinions and ideas that need to be ‘transmuted’ into public opinions through being discussed in the official public sphere. On the other hand, theorists on the vertical left see civil society as a sphere of activity that should be ‘transmuted’ into the ‘public sphere’ and converted into state-centered democratic socialism under the auspices of a socialist government.

Retour vers la note de texte 5071


Drawing from Niccolò Machiavelli, Gramsci describes the condottiere as the person “who represents plastically and ‘anthropomorphically’ the symbol of the ‘collective will.’” See Antonio Gramsci, Selections from the prison notebooks of Antonio Gramsci,edited by Quintin Hoare and Geoffrey Nowell Smith, New York, International Publishers, 2005, p. 125.

Retour vers la note de texte 5072


This behaviour is in alignment with the general thesis suggesting that European and Western representative governments tied to unregulated capitalist development and the war machine necessary to protect them will ‘hollow-out’ democratic institutions whenever they feel the need to do so. There is nothing exceptional about the Spanish state in this regard. Of course, there is uniqueness in the Spanish scenario given its recent Civil War; its forty years of dictatorship; and its relative short span of democracy. The separation between dictatorship and democracy in Spain has never really been fully attained; the line has always been blurry. In this sense, in the case of Spain what is being hollowed-out is an already extremely hollow democracy.

Retour vers la note de texte 5073


15M was chosen in reference to the date May 15th of 2011 which is when the encampments began.

Retour vers la note de texte 5074


Fiscal disobedience has been carried out in many different ways within the 15M climate. A useful document explaining different alternatives for fiscal disobedience is the Manual De Desobediència Econòmica (Economic Disobedience Manual).

Retour vers la note de texte 5075


James Tully, “Middle Eastern Legal and Governmental Pluralism: A view of the field from the demos”in Middle East Law and Governance, Volume 4, p. 2-3, 2012, p. 2.

Retour vers la note de texte 5076


See Pablo Ouziel, Vamos Lentos Porque Vamos Lejos: Towards a dialogical understanding of Spain’s 15M, PhD Dissertation, University of Victoria, 2015.

Retour vers la note de texte 5077


Term coined by Spanish philosopher Amador Fernández-Savater. 

Retour vers la note de texte 5078


Interview with anonymous 9. I cite the interviewees as anonymous and with numbers, as this was their wish. 

Retour vers la note de texte 5079


Interview with anonymous 5.

Retour vers la note de texte 5080


Interview with anonymous 14.

Retour vers la note de texte 5081


Interview with anonymous 16.

Retour vers la note de texte 5082


Interview with anonymous 22.

Retour vers la note de texte 5083


Interview with anonymous 25.

Retour vers la note de texte 5084


Interview with anonymous 47.

Retour vers la note de texte 5085


The literal translation would be ‘being and being at the same time’, referring to being present and also being as a living creature. Interview with anonymous 67.

Retour vers la note de texte 5086


Interview with anonymous 69.

Retour vers la note de texte 5087


Interview with anonymous 79.

Retour vers la note de texte 5088


Interview with anonymous 82.

Retour vers la note de texte 5089


Interview with Anonymous 102.

Retour vers la note de texte 5090


Interview with Anonymous 113.

Retour vers la note de texte 5091


Interview with Anonymous 124.

Retour vers la note de texte 5092


Interview with Anonymous 134.

Retour vers la note de texte 5093


Interview with Anonymous 166.

Retour vers la note de texte 5094


Interview with Anonymous 161.

Retour vers la note de texte 5095


Interview with Anonymous 178.

Retour vers la note de texte 5096


Interview with Anonymous 175.

Retour vers la note de texte 5097


Interview with Anonymous 179.

Retour vers la note de texte 5098


Interview with Anonymous 183.

Retour vers la note de texte 5099


Interview with Anonymous 198.

Retour vers la note de texte 5100


Interview with anonymous 12.

Retour vers la note de texte 5101


“The Corrala Utopía was occupied on the first anniversary of the 15M. Twelve families coming from 15M information points on housing occupied the building.” Interview with anonymous 36.

Retour vers la note de texte 5102


Interview with anonymous 39.

Retour vers la note de texte 5103


Interview with anonymous 65.

Retour vers la note de texte 5104


Interview with anonymous 72.

Retour vers la note de texte 5105


Interview with anonymous 79.

Retour vers la note de texte 5106


Interview with anonymous 84.

Retour vers la note de texte 5107


Interview with Anonymous 94.

Retour vers la note de texte 5108


One interviewee describes it in the following manner: “When we left Puerta del Sol, there were around 150 assemblies with around 60,000 people, meeting in different neighbourhoods and localities in Madrid; in an interlinked manner.” Interview with Anonymous 66.

Retour vers la note de texte 5109


Interview with Anonymous 120.

Retour vers la note de texte 5110


Interview with Anonymous 128.

Retour vers la note de texte 5111


Interview with Anonymous 127.

Retour vers la note de texte 5112


Interview with Anonymous 149.

Retour vers la note de texte 5113


“We have alternatives for energy; for work; for management. The alternatives are here. The problem is that a large proportion of the population does not know they exist.” Interview with Anonymous 165.

Retour vers la note de texte 5114


Interview with Anonymous 207.

Retour vers la note de texte 5115


Interview with Anonymous 187.

Retour vers la note de texte 5116


Interview with Anonymous 190.

Retour vers la note de texte 5117


Interview with Anonymous 209.

Retour vers la note de texte 5118


Interview with Anonymous 191.

Retour vers la note de texte 5119


Chantal Mouffe in her latest book, For a Left Populism, London, Verso, 2018, speaks of a ‘populist moment’. According to Mouffe, following the economic crisis of 2008, the neoliberal hegemonic formation is being challenged both from the right and from the left. This she argues is a new conjuncture which she calls the ‘populist moment’; in which the type of politics required to recover, deepen and extend democracy is left populism. Only such an option, Mouffe suggests, can stop the expansion of right-wing parties. This captures well the political imaginary of many of the new left political parties in Europe (Podemos in Spain exemplifies this). I would argue that much of the intellectual left in Europe has a similar reading to Mouffe’s and that 15M presents an alternative for confronting right populism. What 15M suggests is a joining of hands between civic and civil citizens.

Retour vers la note de texte 5120


Although in the general elections of December 20th, 2015, and the repeat elections of June 26th, 2016, Podemos did not do as well as expected, the party had already made a profound impact on Spain’s institutional-political system. Because of its achievements Podemos had gained prominenceand been hailed by numerous public intellectuals as Europe’s hope against neo-liberal hegemony. The problem has been that as Podemos supporters using a Gramscian imaginary – drawing on Antonio Gramsci as well as Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe – have continued to construct their understandings of 15M and the subsequent rise in Spain of the party-movement, they have been consolidating the subordination of alternative infrastructures developed by 15M.

Retour vers la note de texte 5121


In Greece a coalition of the radical left, known colloquially by its acronym SYRIZA, in 2012 became the second largest party in the Greek parliament and the main opposition party. In the recent 2014 European Parliament election it came first. In 2015 SYRIZA won its first legislative elections securing 149 out of the 300 seats, 2 seats short of an absolute majority. See Theguardian.com, Greece elections: anti-austerity Syriza party sweeps to stunning victory, 26/01/2015.

Retour vers la note de texte 5126


Political science professor, Pablo Iglesias, led Podemos. In one day, aided by his popularity as a talk show guest in mainstream television stations and as a host of his own political show, Iglesias was able to collect 50,000 signatures in order to lead a “popular and open candidature” that would run in the European elections.

Retour vers la note de texte 5127


Jairo Vargas, “Pablo Iglesias consigue en un día los 50.000 apoyos que pedía para seguir adelante con Podemos”, Publico.es, 18/01/2014.

Retour vers la note de texte 5129


Miguel Álvarez, “Mover ficha desde abajo. Apoyos críticos al Podemos de Pablo Iglesias”Rebelion.org, 25/01/2014. In this quote we already see people involved talking about mistrust.

Retour vers la note de texte 5132


José María Fernández-Layos, “Los 15M que sus ojos no ven”Diagonalperiodico.net, 03/06/2014.

Retour vers la note de texte 5135


Victor Alonso Rocafort, “La Carta VII y la fundación de Podemos”, Eldiario.es, 8/11/2014.

Retour vers la note de texte 5136


James Tully discussing Hannah Arendt’s On Violence. See James Tully, “On Global Citizenship: Reply to Interlocutors”in On Global Citizenship: James Tully in Dialogue, London, Bloomsbury Academic, 2014, p. 269-328.

Retour vers la note de texte 5137


Charles Taylor, Some Crises of Democracy, Victoria Colloquium, University of Victoria, November 28th 2014. Here Taylor is referring to citizens leaving institutional forms of citizenship enactment. Of course, many people leave those institutional forms and enact citizenship through other spaces.

Retour vers la note de texte 5138


Wendy Brown, The Demos Undone: Neoliberalism, democracy, citizenship, Lansdowne Lecture, University of Victoria, 2014.

Retour vers la note de texte 5139


Janine Brodie, Neoliberalism: The anatomy of a crisis, Victoria Colloquium on Political, Social and Legal Theory, University of Victoria, January 24, 2014.

Retour vers la note de texte 5140


Karl Polanyi, The Great Transformation: The political and economic origins of our time, Boston, Beacon Press, 1944.

Retour vers la note de texte 5141


Peter Kropotkin, Mutual Aid: A factor of evolution, New York, Dover Publications, 2006, p. 215.

Retour vers la note de texte 5142


Peter Kropotkin, Mutual Aid: A factor of evolution, New York, Dover Publications, 2006, p. 189.

Retour vers la note de texte 5143


As Hawken puts it, it makes up a network of “ordinary and some-not so-ordinary individuals willing to confront despair, power, and incalculable odds in an attempt to restore some semblance of grace, justice, and beauty to this world.” See Paul Hawken, Blessed Unrest: How the largest movement in the world came into being and why no one saw it coming, New York, Viking Press, 2007, p. 4.

Retour vers la note de texte 5144


Richard B. Gregg, The Power of Nonviolence, Canton, Greenleaf Books, 1960, p. 118.

Retour vers la note de texte 5145


James Tully, Thinking Along With Feminism and the Abyss of Freedom(Unpublished paper), p. 11.

Retour vers la note de texte 5146


James Tully, Public philosophy in a New Key. Volume one: Democracy and Civic Freedom, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2008, p. 313.

Retour vers la note de texte 5147


Richard Gregg suggests that “[s]ociety is a system of many complex forces in mobile equilibrium, and at various times the balance is delicate.” Because of this delicate balance, Gregg argues that minute forces have the ability to alter this (by comparison) very large system. In fact, Gregg points out that at times “tiny forces affect the great mass by an accumulation.” What Gregg means by this, is that at times “[s]timuli far below what is called ‘the threshold of response,’ when sufficiently repeated may cause an accumulative ‘stair-case effect.’” See Richard B. Gregg, The Power of Nonviolence, Canton, Greenleaf Books, 1960, p. 114. Gregg references the work of Max Verworn. See Max Verworn, Irritability, New Haven, Yale University Press, 1913, p. 209-234.

Retour vers la note de texte 5148


When thinking of accountability, I am thinking of a kind of dialogical and horizontal accountability that is beyond legal or social accountability. Following my dialogues of reciprocal elucidation within 15M, it became clear to me that individuals being 15M when thinking of accountability are thinking of an ability to revoke collectively granted powers at any time, and to be able to discuss issues deemed important at any given moment with those having been granted temporary representative powers. This kind of accountability gets lost when a power-with relationship becomes a power-over arrangement. 

Retour vers la note de texte 12936


Ce travail a été réalisé dans le cadre du laboratoire d’excellence Tepsis, portant la référence ANR-11-LABX-0067 et a bénéficié d’une aide au titre du Programme Investissements d’Avenir.

Retour vers la note de texte 5149


The term ‘perspectivally’ I am borrowing from James Tully who is borrowing it from Nietzsche to describe the ability to think from different perspectives by entering into dialogues of reciprocal elucidation.

Antonio Gramsci, Selections from the prison notebooks of Antonio Gramsci, edited by Quintin Hoare and Geoffrey Nowell Smith, New York, International Publishers, 2005.

Boaventura de Sousa Santos, The rise of the global left: The World Social Forum and beyond, London, Zed Books, 2006.

Chantal Mouffe, For a Left Populism, London, Verso, 2018.

David Bohm, On Dialogue, New York, Routledge, 2004.

Hannah Arendt, The Promise of Politics, edited and with an Introduction by Jerome Kohn, New York, Schocken Books, 2005.

James Tully, Public philosophy in a New Key, Volume one Democracy and Civic Freedom, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2008.

James Tully, “Middle Eastern Legal and Governmental Pluralism: A view of the field from the demos”in Middle East Law and Governance, vol. 4, 2012, p. 2-3.

James Tully, On Global Citizenship:James Tully in Dialogue, London, Bloomsbury, 2014.

Joseph Orosco, Cesar Chavez and the Common Sense of Nonviolence, Albuquerque, University of New Mexico Press, 2008.

Karl Polanyi, The Great Transformation: the political and economic origins of our time, Boston, Beacon Press, 1944.

Max Verworn, Irritability, New Haven, Yale University Press, 1913.

Michel Foucault, “What is Critique”, in M. Foucault, The Politics of Truth, ed. S. Lontringer, Los Angeles, Semiotext(e), 2007, p. 41-81.

Oscar Guardiola-Rivera, “A Jurisprudence of Indignation”, in Law Critique, Number 23, 2012, p. 253–270.

Pablo Ouziel, Vamos Lentos Porque Vamos Lejos: Towards a dialogical understanding of Spain’s 15M, PhD Dissertation, University of Victoria, 2015.

Paul Hawken, Blessed Unrest: How the Largest Movement in the World Came into Being and Why No One Saw It Coming, New York, Viking Press, 2007.

Peter Kropotkin, Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution, New York, Dover Publications, 2006.

Richard B. Gregg, The Power of Nonviolence, Canton, Greenleaf Books, 1960.