Describing the city means starting from the articulations of its territory, recognizing the different active and contradictory forces within the city and how they interconnect and create struggles (flows of capital and power structures versus autonomous, self-organized neighborhood initiatives; gentrified sections of the city versus alive migrant barrios; or streets that at nighttime turn into prostitute alleys). How the heterogeneity of a territory can produce struggles and movements (of bodies, of ideas, of knowledge) that shift the existing power relations. Or at least make a rupture in the everyday reality. Some movements have described this as the concept of city as a battleground (metropolis).

Sitting at Sol[1] on a Wednesday night I can't help but notice how the articulations of the territory enable the visibility of ongoing struggles. Passing me by on each side are rivers of tourist bodies, a living flow of capital in motion, bringing and creating capital for the city, stopping at street corners to watch performances of magicians, illusionists and entertainers and to bargain with migrants for the prices of the handbags and shoes. Migrant struggles, however, intersect with that cliché imagery of tourist-migrant relationships of exploitation, when suddenly a large group (there must have been two hundred of them) of migrants comes running on to the square, shouting slogans like “No somos delito!” (“We are not a crime!”), holding banners and advancing upwards to Lavapies, a strongly migrant barrio. A self-organized migrant intervention, accompanied by heavy police surveillance, is a response and a strong objections to the reform of the punitive legislation (kazenski zakonik?), which pushes legislative racism even further. The legislation that is yet to be enforced (put into use) reinforces repression on social movements[2], but also and mostly on migrants. The law prevents most forms of solidarity with the migrants (meaning any kind of help other than saving someone's life is now a crime), makes absurd restrictions on “street vending” (which can now be punished with up to two years of jail sentence) – with the argument that it is a case of copyright infringement (even if the person is selling Kleenex for 0,50€); the deportations are made far easier and when in front of a judge, they now have the discretion to take into consideration the person's “character” when deciding their sentence. Even though the law is yet to be enforced, I have already seen police beating migrants or seizing their merchandise in the middle of the street. There is, however an objection to it: small forms of solidarity among the migrants are seen daily – warning each other about police interventions and helping each other get out of arrests (an almost comical event happened in front of a social center La Quimera in Lavapies: two police motorcycles were chasing a young man and there was a large group of migrants cheering for him and yelling out police location to him “Go left, go left!!!”). Not only is there solidarity among migrants, but there is a notion of commonality within the communities seen in the pickets against racist arrests and police impunity (I have been on one of those, which was called after two activists of a social center were arrested after intervening a racist attack of the police on a migrant) and “neighborhood watch” established in some of the neighborhoods. Some people have decided to vigil the streets at night (where there are known concentrations of migrants) and document racist police violence. They have managed to take some cases to court and win, but mostly, they show a different form of self-organized protection and safety (from the real danger) on the streets.

Another form of intersection can be seen between the city's policies of gentrification[3], whose intentions are to create a clean, friendly place which would increase the flow of tourist bodies-capital. It is precisely why it is so important that in the beginning of November, the workers of limpieza y jardineria (a mixture of street cleaners and the people that manage the parks and other green areas) decided to go on strike. The reason for the strike is the government's decision to, due to austerity measures, lay off half of the workers (more than 1100 people would lose their jobs) and reduce the other half's salary by 50%, expanding the numbers of the “working poor”. The strike of the workers is an indefinite one, meaning it won't end until the government cancels its decision. Their FB page is even warning “If we lose our jobs, Madrid will burn!” It started with a strong manifestation (without big unions!, as here, there is an obvious distrust towards the unions and in some cases boycott of them joining the manifestations) in which the workers were burning trash cans, piles of trash and their uniforms, sabotaging the driving trucks of the company they work for and making a call for other citizens to help them make the city even dirtier by dumping their trash at the entrance of the nearest bank. Five days later Sol is full of trash, cascading from the bins and filling the streets (my contribution was a cardboard coaster from my slice of pizza, a candy-bar wrapping and some old leaflets :)), disrupting the gentrified image of the city and (symbolically) disrupting the flow of capital. The government is already threatening (monetary) sanctions if the worker's don't fulfill their tasks, but it is day 5 of the huelga indefinida and the streets remain (courageously and ragingly) dirty. 

Writing this, again at Sol (accompanied by countless re-repeats of Michael Jackson's Thriller while a group of young dancers is having a public practice, collecting some change – fifteen minutes in, they are shoe-d away by the police), I can't forget to mention the initiative #motivosdetodxs. Almost a month ago Jorge decided to go on a hunger strike against the existing system, with the shout “I can't stand it anymore!”. Not long after, Alex, Juanma, Alex, Gisela and Frank joined him, reasons to strike piling and piling up (they articulated it in a communique, stating evictions, corruption, unemployment, cuts, privatization, sexism, criminalization of protest, pensions as their reasons. At the numerous leaflets and banners glued to the floor around them, we can read that the height of unemployment in Spain, has, for example, reached 27% in general and 58% among young people. The numbers are almost as high as in Greece and reading them makes you actually feel capital affecting your body: clenching teeth and fist, racing heart and an uneasy stomach). The location of the hunger strike is at Sol, but it is also in front of the majestic building of the ayuntamiento (magistrat?), a power structure, a source of repression and submission to capital. I don't mention this because their strike would be addressing the mayor (it is not), but because I think the hungry, expressive and powerful bodies show how the forces of established power structures make imprints on the body and how a decision to start from your body, to use it as a tool, means a symbolic re-appropriation of one's body, of tearing it from the forces of capital and making it a force of its own. I am not romanticizing, the action #motivosdetodxs has not made any real impact (right at this moment some workers are building an enormous adorned construction that surely in a few days will light up in all the colors of Christmas. The construction is so huge that it pushed the bodies of Alex and compxs almost out of sight), but it seems important to talk about this tearing from capital, when thinking of constructing new forms of struggle against capital. There is however a feeling, that if one of the compxs will die, that Madrid will burn.

Thinking of the city as a battleground should serve as an analytical tool but also a tool to imagine new forms of organizing, finding moments of commonality and striking against capital. It should be an imperative of all future organizing to make Troika pay for its victims and stop it in its tracks![4]

[1]Plaza del (puerta del) Sol, which happened to be the heart of acampadas of 15M indignados, the movement that occupied the square against financial capitalism and demanded “Democracia real YA!” and that later transformed its strategy to neighborhood organizing. There are currently more than 80 neighborhood assemblies meeting regularly over the course of two years, producing their own newspapers, liberating social spaces and being a strong source of support in organizing against evictions. Sol remains to beun punto de encuentro for all the current manifestations and interventions against austerity and the government.

[2]The legislation gives more power to private security, getting its authority even closer to the police's. Also it equates active resistance and passive resistance (passive resistance includes occupations of banks and social centers and disobeying the orders from the police), which are now both a crime for which a jail sentence is to be applied. The attempts of even stronger criminalization of resistance are absurd.

[3]The most visible and obvious form of gentrification, to me, is a massive building in the museum area, called Centro centro. It is a building that is supposed to function as a space that would bring together all the ideas and initiatives (from below!) that the citizens create daily with the objective to turn Madrid into a “smart city”, composed of “smart citizens”. In fact, it is five stories of capital's and politics' cooptation of grass roots activities emerging from the city (it takes over the language, ideas, knowledge, concepts (open source, bottom-up, social centers, occupation)), making the city look like a “partner in crime”, when in reality it's just an attempt of normalization and turning “alternatives” into the advantage of producing more capital and maintaining hierarchies. It's sickening, really and Zoki-J would love it.

[4]A final note: the question of deaths associated with Troika should be addressed in more detail, since here the number of suicides related to evictions is enraging and growing too fast.

Z uporabo strani soglašate z uporabo piškotkov. - Podrobnosti.