Spontaneous protests and police brutality against demonstrators in Linares, including point-blank rubber bullet shots and use of live fire. The spark, a brutal assault by two off-duty police officers on a father and his underage daughter in a bar. Two officers apparently identified by dozens of young people as harassers of minors and promoters of drug use, activities that they carried out with no qualms as a result of what the investigating judge describes as a feeling of impunity harbored by those under investigation as a result of their status as police officers.
The judge’s comment would already indicate a serious problem in the position and activities of the police force as a whole in the city. But the media and political message is the usual nothing happened here, please visit our mall. We could ask ourselves for instance, where are the people who called for demonstrations in support of Black Lives Matter in Spain. They are nowhere to be found. Police brutality and racism in the USA, whose criticism does not expose any existing power in Spain, is not the same thing as police brutality and racism in a working class Andalusian city. Let no one expect the Spanish left to come out with a workers’ lives matter slogan when 500 dead a day seems perfectly acceptable to them in order to make sure no more bars die. They are now busy defending Pablo Hasél for some tweets which do not seem reprehensible in and on their own but which cost him a conviction for having previously propagandized for one of the most sinister armed gangs in Spanish history. They are too busy to worry about the social decay of a city that went from seeing its mines shut down to seeing the automotive industry close down and that is now seeing even department stores being closed down.
Because underneath the violent atmosphere, police brutality and discontent, what ultimately lies underneath is the atomization and loss of meaning of a city with a 30.9% unemployment, the highest for a city in Spain, but not by any means a unique case.
The French suburbs and the state
The decay of working-class neighborhoods is general and practically universal. And within its murky waters are the hunting ground of all kinds of monsters: from religions and cults to imperialist rivals. In some cases, as in France, both go hand in hand. What is interesting is the way the the state answers back, as it makes it clear to us that the remedy can worsen the disease.
The legal package against separatism in neighborhoods colonized by the Muslim Brotherhood includes measures such as state tutelage of any sports association or the possibility of indicting an association for crimes committed by one of its members. Thus, totalitarianism and a regime of exceptionality for entire neighborhoods and villages. The Republic confronts Islamist separatism, which grows by presenting itself as an alternative to decay, with hammer blows of control and repression. That is to say, atomizing even more its inhabitants… and making things worse there.
Cults and the neighborhoods
But the Muslim Brotherhood is not the only vulture. Within France itself different Christian cults fight with Salafism for their slice of decay in the suburbs. In Spain the evangelical churches are colonizing the areas most affected by the crisis and preying on those who are the loneliest and most isolated: migrants and retirees; in Argentina, they already encompass over 15% of the population, feeding on the wounds left in its wake by the great meat grinder and reinforcing the totalitarian control of Peronism or even gaining a base for the bolsonarista far-right.
The working class and the neighborhoods
From Linares (Spain) to Rosario (Argentina), passing through Mulhouse (France), capital, the state and cults are destroying the neighborhoods and their living conditions together. We workers can neither be satisfied with outbursts of struggle without any continuity, nor let capital, state and cults destroy our collective capacity to organize ourselves and defend basic conditions of life and freedom. Denouncing is not enough. We have to start building.