As the people of Spain question the role of the government and the global financial oligarchy in their country’s economic collapse, attempts at reclaiming public space are inevitably being met with increased levels of state violence. The irony of the neoliberal political ideology, which has spread throughout Europe from the US-UK heartland to varying degress over the past three decades is its attempt to defend the gutting of public goods, utlities and social spending as a means of defeding ‘indivdual freedom’, while concurently beefing up the state’s security, military and police apparatus. This with the aim of containing public disorder almost inevitable as a result of social breakdown caused by increased inequality and reductions in said public spending. Key to this strategy are twin defence mechanisms protecting political and financial elites; first, the construction of an ideological hegemony aiming to universalise the interests of finance and its political allies. In the event of this hegemony coming under increased pressure from dissident social forces, outright violence against an increasingly desperate citizenry (or ‘consumers’, ‘stakeholders’) is deployed.
We’ve seen this play out in a number of advanced liberal democracies since the 2008 crash, notably, Ireland, Spain, Greece, Britain, Portugal and Italy.
The young, unarmed and non-agreesive Spaniards in the video below attempt to reason with the police officers attacking them armed with truncheons. This is of course understandable, most of us cannot understand the mindset which would drive someone to hurt another individual, let alone an individual who poses no immediate threat. Sadly, at this time, rather than realising their shared position with those people facing increased harship in Spain, the police officers act out the violent nature of the institution they collectively constitute. The police are therefore beyond reasoning and protesters must bear this in mind at all times.
With political arrests taking place all over Europe, it is increasingly clear to activists and non-activists alike that the police are not an even handed protector of law and order, but a increasingly powerful political institutioon with deep connections to our political elites and their increasingly desperate attempt to subdue mass disconent with the finance sectors’ attacks on the wider society. If the protesters across Europe become more vocal and make strategic gains, greater desperation will translate into ever greater levels of violence.