Spontaneous demonstration called on Facebook attracts half a million in Lisbon

Spontaneous demonstration called on Facebook attracts half a million in Lisbon

Following the events of Tunisia, Egypt and other Southern Med States where a popular people’s movement was started over the Facebook and Social networks, a small group of Portuguese youth started up a Facebook page-calling for a million people march on the main street in Lisbon, Avenida da Liberdade, for March 12th 2011, to fill up the entire street. They called themselves the “Geracao A Rasca” or the “Angry Generation”.

Most people thought it was a joke but the emails, Twitters and SMSs went on and on and went around until lots of people began to take it seriously. Political Parties, unions and most of the press ignored it but it just gathered force. Other emails were circulating at the same time about a possible popular demo in Zimbabwe and also in Angola (both quickly repressed), with very little mention in the press.

Portugal is going through an economic crisis like Greece and Ireland and the IMF are at the door, although like what happened in Ireland very recently, the ruling Socialist Party is in denial (In the Nile as us Irish would say). Merkal denies it and says that Germany/France are not forcing Portugal into any agreement but just like in Ireland it is only a question of what percentage the country will have to pay, open markets have now risen to a 7.3% bet on Portugal and the EU can offer 6%, the same figure as in Ireland –which after the recent elections is now trying to renegotiate this figure. Portugal’s economic madness was not based on the foolhardy bank loans to property builders and speculators like in Ireland but on crazy infrastructural investments like the proposed third bridge across the Lisbon Tagus River, a third unneeded airport for Lisbon and the TVG fast train service linking France and Portugal across Spain. Portugal now has more motorways per population than England and huge vanity construction projects like the ugly Aquarium Project which cost billions near Lisbon and which turned out to be just huge white elephants.

Though Portugal may have changed into ‘a modern consumer society’, people are shit poor, there are huge pockets of poverty hidden behind the glitzy veneer of modern hotels and golf courses, there are no jobs, no cheap labour. Immigration has always, like in Ireland, been a major problem but unlike the Irish they don’t have the skills or the language to go to such places as Australia or Canada. And of course who would want to go to the US anymore, what with their paranoia about terrorism and Mad Hatter Tea Parties, this despite the illusory hopes inspired by Obama.

So in Portugal there is no choice (well, where is there?) The left parties, the Communist Party (PCP) which has had a long struggle against Fascism and has just celebrated its 90th birthday, operate within narrow boundaries. It works through the traditional trade union methods but is always very cautious to not to lose political credibility and so turns to a conservative methodology (although the unions, especially the teachers’s unions have been particularly radical). The far left which have now aligned into a Left Alliance (Bloco do Esquerda, BE) play the parliamentary game while pretending to be revolutionary, but have really nothing to say.

So those young people whose parents were revolutionary in 74-75 during the “Carnation Revolution” have nowhere to turn to. They are a lost generation, the “geracao a rasca” and have no choice but to go out on the streets and shout out loud “Enough is Enough”. So while in Greece there are still political parties/trade unions that can at least call the attention of young people and while Ireland has a language and educational card to play for its migrants, the youth of Portugal have nothing, nothing at all.

This is why some 300,000 according to the police, actually more like half a million people, turned out to a demonstration called on Facebook and which no-one believed would happen. A daughter of a friend called me earlier in the day asking me if I was going, I messaged back to say I was but she said she had no credit on her phone. I did meet up with her and she had a load of Post-Its, those little yellow stickers to hand out to people. Another good friend I met had made up her own little poster saying “Uma Avo a Rasca” (An angry Granny). The demo started on the Avenida at 3 o clock. It started slowly but soon grew huge. Everywhere there were home-produced posters and slogans as well as the slogans which had been suggested on Facebook, Against instability, Music and drums and slowly the whole avenue just filled with half a million people. Pure Magic.

Probably nothing will come of it. Like the huge marches against Blair’s war in Afghanistan. It seems we have to burn down a few buildings before the political class take notice of us. And tomorrow’s news, a Tsunami in Japan or some massacre in Libya or somewhere else (all of which are dreadfully serious) will grab the headlines and make it all seem like nothing. But it wasn’t nothing.

A half a million people marching angrily in a demonstration organised through Facebook is a new phenomenon. The growth of decentralised self-organisation leaves the political parties, the unions and the left with something to think about –their possible eventual obsolescence.

See http://static.publico.pt/docs/sociedade/geracaoarasca/

Comments

Samotnaf
Mar 16 2011 06:59

Interesting post.

Some questions:

What does the quote in the photo mean (and why are they quoting Agostinho da Silva?).

Why do you think nothing will come of this demonstration? This year feels like it could be as, if not more, significant in its own, very different, way as 1968, and the fact that little has happened in Portugal since 1975 doesn't mean nothing will (after all, Millbank happened after a virtual 20 year "gap" in the UK class struggle). And in Greece, the movement has been essentially outside, and often against, the political parties/trade unions. There, too, the Leftist parties mostly "operate within narrow boundaries.... work through the traditional trade union methods but ...always very cautious to not to lose political credibility and so turn... to a conservative methodology"

Quote:
she had a load of Post-Its, those little yellow stickers to hand out to people

She printed slogans on them? Any idea of content? Or were they blank, so people could write their own? Or what...?

Quote:
the ruling Socialist Party is in denial (In the Nile as us Irish would say)

The ruling society is insane (or "in Seine" as Brits trying to speak French might say).

Mark.
Mar 16 2011 09:57
Samotnaf wrote:
What does the quote in the photo mean?

'The obedience of the people feeds the hunger of the tyrants'

Samotnaf
Mar 16 2011 10:04

12th April? Nostradamus making youtube videos now.

Amongst those banners, what are the more interesting ones?

Mark.
Mar 16 2011 10:24

A few slogans from the video and from the photos linked to in the OP

Eu conto com nenhum deles

'I'm not counting on any of them'

Sou o Zé Socrates o mágico… Voces pagam impostos e eu faço o dinheiro desaparecer!

'I'm Zé Socrates the magician... You pay taxes and I make the money disappear!

Eu que votei neles agora até me apetece matá-los

'I voted for them. Now I feel like killing them'

Sorria está a ser roubado

'Smile, you're being robbed'

klas batalo
Mar 17 2011 06:35

this article seems interesting. it seems these calls could work if they are tied down to a place/time. less so the general calls for national ones that are random.

just saying, giving some defining characteristics to the event/demonstration could get some people out? even better if committed orgs call for it probably.

klas batalo
Mar 17 2011 06:48
machine_translation wrote:
Protest Generation At Rasca

NEW PAGE FOR THOSE WHO WANT TO GIVE CONTINUITY TO DEBATE - FORUM OF GENERATIONS - 12 / 3 and the Future - http://www.facebook.com/forum.das.geracoes

SEND U.S. YOUR PICTURES AND VIDEOS OF THE DAY FOR 12 EMAIL: geracaoarasca@gmail.com
geracaoarasca.porto @ gmail.com
FOR THOSE WHO COULD NOT DELIVER THE SHEETS A4: SEND TO geracaoarasca@gmail.com
geracaoarasca.porto @ gmail.com

THANK YOU ALL! smile

http://geracaoenrascada.wordpress.com/

PROTEST nonpartisan, secular and PACIFIC.
We, the unemployed, "quinhentoseuristas" and other poorly paid slaves disguised, subcontractors, short-term contract, false self-employed workers intermittent, interns, fellows, students, workers, students, mothers, fathers and children of Portugal. Protest:
- At the right job! The right to education!
- For the improvement of working conditions and an end to insecurity!
- In recognition of qualifications, competence and experience, reflected in salaries and contracts worth!

Why do not we all be forced to emigrate, dragging the country towards greater economic and social crisis!

Manifest

We, the unemployed, "quinhentoseuristas" and other poorly paid slaves disguised, subcontractors, short-term contract, false self-employed workers intermittent, interns, fellows, students, workers, students, mothers, fathers and children of Portugal.

We, so far stand for this condition, we are here today to make our contribution in order to trigger a qualitative change in the country. We are here today because we can no longer accept the precarious situation for which we were dragged. We are here today because we strive daily to earn a decent future with stability and security in all areas of our lives.

We protest that all responsible for our current state of uncertainty - politicians, employers and ourselves - to act together for a quick change this reality, which has become unsustainable.

Otherwise:

a) defraud if present, for not having the opportunity to realize our potential, blocking the improvement of economic and social conditions of the country. Waste to the aspirations of a generation that can not thrive.

b) insult to the past, because previous generations have worked at our access to education for our safety, our rights and work for our freedom. Waste by decades of effort, investment and dedication.

c) Mortgage is the future that can be seen without a quality education for everyone and not just reforms for those working life. To squander the resources and skills that could lead the country to economic success.

We are the generation with the highest level of training the country's history. So do not let to fall from fatigue, or frustration, or lack of prospects. We believe we have the resources and tools for a better future for ourselves and Portugal.

No protest against the other generations. We're just not, nor do we want to be waiting for problems to be solved. We protested for a solution and want to be part of it.

-------------------------------------------------- --------------------------------------

geracaoarasca@gmail.com
geracaoarasca.porto @ gmail.com

ASKED TO BRING AN A4 SHEET WITH YOUR REASON FOR BEING PRESENT AND A PROPOSED SOLUTION.
LEAVES WILL BE COLLECTED AND DELIVERED IN THE ASSEMBLY OF THE REPUBLIC.

This protest aims to promote civic debate on the problem of insecurity in Portugal. To be open to all regardless of personal convictions of each, the movement disassociates itself from any claims other than those present in the Manifesto, the only document associated with our protest. We call on all citizens who can identify the spirit of the manifesto to join us.

Malaquias
Mar 17 2011 10:31
Quote:
Political Parties, unions and most of the press ignored it but it just gathered force.

It was precisely the opposite. This call got great media attention and generated a public debate which lead to several calls for participation from many sectors, including political parties (even right wing).

Quote:
Portugal’s economic madness was not based on the foolhardy bank loans to property builders and speculators like in Ireland but on crazy infrastructural investments like the proposed third bridge across the Lisbon Tagus River, a third unneeded airport for Lisbon and the TVG fast train service linking France and Portugal across Spain.

This infrastructural investments are in the paper yet, so they are not the cause for the budget deficit.
I'm not an expert but I can point that there are some structural problems with the Portuguese economy which come from the "lack of competitiveness". Depending on low wages and not doing much for workers' qualification and innovation, Portuguese industry is in agony since the EU was extended to the east European countries and opened to Chinese textile imports. Portuguese exportations were also affected by the introduction of the Euro strong currency in 2002.
Indeed, the budget deficit has been a problem since 2003, generating a political crisis then.
The financial crisis in 2008 lead to the nationalization of a bank (BPN) which has come to represent a huge blow in the state budget.
At first, the government tried to sustain the effects of the financial crisis with public investment (renovation of schools, for instance), but about a year ago the rating agencies started downgrading the Portuguese sovereign debt and the European Union and the IMF began demanding cuts. This cuts soon lead to recession, and were not able to solve the situation. More austerity measures are being prepared.

Quote:
Probably nothing will come of it.

It's soon to say, but something has surely come out of it. For decades, visible conflict has been almost completely absent from Portuguese society. With no effective protest outside the usual CGTP marches the governments felt free to maintain and extend low wages and to put almost half the workers in precariousness.

Although the political parties participated in the protest, from the extreme-right to the extreme-left, they had to do so in disguise. Political parties are not popular, and many people are articulating the need to express themselves outside institutions.
This was the first time that many came to the street to participate in a demonstration, and they brought their own signs and slogans, many demonstrating an explicit class spirit. If people will be able to organize autonomously and get out on the streets even when protests don't get media attention is something that we don't know yet.

slothjabber
Mar 17 2011 11:26

My figures suggest that if this was 500,000 people, that means 1 out every 20 Portuguese was on the demo. That's pretty impressive.

In UK terms that would be 3 million. The 2003 Stop the War march got 1.5 million more or less.I know Portugal is physically smaller than the UK (about 40% of the size) so maybe Lisbon is easier to reach for a bigger proportion of the population, but even so. It's still a pretty staggering statistic.

Malaquias
Mar 17 2011 14:57
Quote:
some 300,000 according to the police, actually more like half a million people
Quote:
if this was 500,000 people, that means 1 out every 20 Portuguese was on the demo

Actually, the figures were a bit lower: 200,000 in Lisbon (100,000 according to the police); 80,000 in Porto; 6,000 in Faro; 2,000 in Braga; 500 in Leiria; and less in other cities (http://www.publico.pt/Sociedade/o-protesto-cidade-a-cidade_1484526)

Irish Rambler
Mar 17 2011 16:05

It seems that PS and PSD are inflitrating the new Facbook page and as usual politics and political parties take the veracity out of things. That is why I thought "probably little will come of it". It was a great idea which worked once but now must take other forms and the new facebook page (see Sabotage above) is looking for ideas and has had some 17,000 already.

As regards the media, only O Publico wrote about the Facebook phenomonon and the SIc TV on the day before did have an article about it. My point was that it was not through the public commercial media that the demo was broadcast. It was people to people, over SMS etc. Numbers are always a game between the police and organisers. Even if it was only (only!) 300,000 this is something new given the fact that it was organised outside the traditional political methods of parties and unions.

Finally, to answer the question of Malaquias I’m not an expert on economics by any means but Portugal's budget deficit stands at 9.4 percent of gross domestic product which is 247 billion euro (roughly, its spending 20 billion euro per year more than it makes.) Not a big deal, I think the US does this as well. But Portugal’s overall public debt will be 86 percent of GDP (200 billion) this year, so my question is where did this money go? Who got it? An interesting report published on January 7th 2011 by the Diário de Notícias newspaper, says that in the period between 1976 and 2010, the various Governments have encouraged over expenditure and investment bubbles through unclear public-private partnerships, (i.e. privatization of national assets!) funding numerous ineffective and unnecessary external consultancy and advising committees and firms, (i.e. jobs for the boys!) cutting back on state-managed public works (i.e. robbing the poor!), and inflating top management and head officers's bonuses and wages (i.e. corruption). The article points to risky credit, public debt creation, and mismanaged European structural and cohesion funds with examples ranging across almost four decades. It claims that the Socialist Party Prime Minister, Sócrates, was unable to forecast this in 2005, and later was incapable of doing anything to remediate the situation when the country was on the verge of bankruptcy by 2011. (i.e. Socialism a la Socialist Party).
It now looks like the right wing PSD, supported by the far right CDS-PP, will form the next government though probably without an overall majority.

Irish Rambler
Mar 17 2011 16:27

Mark/
You translated those slogans so well. What is a better translation for "Geracao a rasca" ?

Mark.
Mar 18 2011 00:19

IR - I hadn't seen the phrase 'a rasca' before. I think I get the general sense of what it means (struggling generation? the generation that's up against it?) but probably not all the connotations. Best to ask a native speaker really.

slothjabber
Mar 18 2011 00:48

I keep getting 'junk' as a translation, when it doesn't think I mean 'rascal'.

I like 'junk generation'.

Malaquias
Mar 18 2011 01:40

"geração rasca" means something like "junk generation", a generation with no quality. This term was used by some politicians to vituperate the student’s movement in the 1990ies against the payment of university fees.

People then changed it to "geração à rasca" to give it the opposite meaning. This means something like "generation struggling to survive" or "under great difficulties" although I think there is no good translation.
This term “geração à rasca” was recovered to describe the generation with university degrees but working under precarious conditions and low wages or unemployed

Malaquias
Mar 18 2011 03:25
Quote:
As regards the media, only O Publico wrote about the Facebook phenomonon and the SIc TV on the day before did have an article about it. My point was that it was not through the public commercial media that the demo was broadcast. It was people to people, over SMS etc.

Sorry, but this is not true. I've seen great media coverage of the phenomenon since the beginning.

The phenomenon started after a show of the popular band Deolinda in January where they played a new song called “Parva que sou” (“How stupid I am”), where the singer talks about a “generation without wage” that “needs to study in order to be slave”. People recorded it and put it in Youtube, where it became a great success. Lots of discussion started on the internet, with many people identifying with the song. Since the beginning the media talked about it calling it the “hymn of a generation” (Diário de Notícias; SIC)

Then, a group of friends called for a demonstration for the 12 March using Facebook. Again the media covered the phenomenon since the beginning (SIC; Público )

Two weeks before the demonstration, there was even a special edition of the TV show “Prós e Contras” with commentators debating the issues behind the demonstration.

On the week before the protest a group of comedians who use the image of the aesthetics of the Left militants from the period of 1974-75, surprisingly won the Portuguese eurovision song contest, with a song called "The struggle is joy", due to the votes from the public by SMS and made a call on live television for participation on the demonstration.

And during the week before the demonstration there were news and interviews about the protest on all the newspapers and TV channels every day!

My point is that the huge media coverage of the call for the demonstration was a reality, and more, it was essential for its success.

Mark.
Mar 18 2011 11:34
Malaquias wrote:
The phenomenon started after a show of the popular band Deolinda in January where they played a new song called “Parva que sou” (“How stupid I am”), where the singer talks about a “generation without wage” that “needs to study in order to be slave”. People recorded it and put it in Youtube, where it became a great success. Lots of discussion started on the internet, with many people identifying with the song. Since the beginning the media talked about it calling it the “hymn of a generation” (Diário de Notícias;

I like the idea of all this starting with a Deolinda song.

"Parva que sou" - Deolinda

Música e letra: Pedro da Silva Martins



Sou da geração sem-remuneração

e nem me incomoda esta condição...

Que parva que eu sou...



Porque isto está mau e vai continuar

já é uma sorte eu poder estagiar

Que parva que eu sou....



e fico a pensar

que mundo tão parvo

onde para ser escravo

é preciso estudar...



Sou da geração casinha-dos-pais

Se já tenho tudo, pra quê querer mais?

Que parva que eu sou...



Filhos, marido, estou sempre a adiar

e ainda me falta o carro pagar

Que parva que eu sou...



e fico a pensar

que mundo tão parvo

onde para ser escravo

é preciso estudar...



Sou da geração vou-queixar-me-pra-quê?

Há alguém bem pior do que eu na TV

Que parva que eu sou...



Sou da geração eu-já-não-posso-mais-Que-esta-situação-dura-há-tempo-de-mais!

e parva eu não sou!!!



e fico a pensar

que mundo tão parvo

onde para ser escravo

é preciso estudar...


----

'and I get to thinking
what a stupid world
where to be a slave
you have to study...'

----

Here's a version with better sound quality

From the youtube comments:

Quote:
As revoluções começam com pequenos nadas....
Talvez seja esta a musica da próxima revolução...

Homens da Luta and Deolinda

kroton
Mar 23 2011 03:56

I would also like to clarify some things, even though some of the things I’ll say have already been said. I’m from Portugal and I was in the middle of the Lisbon crowd so I think I can comment on this as well. wink

A Facebook page was created by four young students, but it was not asking for a million-person march. However, a page asking for a million people did appear, but it was afterwards, in no way being the “original” /“official” (although there’s no official anything in any of this), to the point of the four original founders of the other page saying in multiple interviews that they had not created that page. It spread through some emails anyway, leading many to believe otherwise, that it was to get a million people on the streets. Of course the more the merrier but they had no expectation of numbers. The Facebook page, on the day before the demonstration was in the high 60.000’s. One would have expected at least that.
This million-man march was different from the “official protest page” in another way. It went further in its requests. It actually asked for the government to resign.
Even so, everyone is free to start a march like the four young students did and this “1 million” march was no different. It didn’t gather as many as the march on the 12th. The one on the 12th had a special build up.

“Geração à Rasca” I think could be translated more accurately to “The Struggling Generation”. “à rasca” is a more informal way of saying you’re struggling, that you’re lost, that you’re on the brink, “not-doing-well-at-all”.
“Rasca”, alone, means: “crappy”, “low”, “something that is poor in terms of accomplishment”. “à rasca” is different, it’s “doing very poorly” in a “sweaty forehead” sort of way.

“huge vanity projects”
You hit the nail on the head there. It’s what people feel here too. We’re also buying submarines seemingly out of nowhere. As a tv commentator said here, not long ago, “We’re living in a hut by the sea, with a submarine at our doorstep. What a shameful thing.”
It’s superficial work. It’s for show. It’s this kind of short-sighted planning. It’s like painting an egg shell, and the interior of the egg being rotten and breaking apart. People here keep thinking “How incompetent can these people be?”, at least the people near me do, and they’re very common citizens.

I, of course, speak for myself, but I am not alone in this sentiment. There’s something about the current political parties (yes, every single one of them) that just bores and annoys people. It’s like their inertia has completely eroded, since the 70’s. If they’re active, everyone feels like they’re active because they’re hitting each other with witty and run-o’-the-mill remarks. They all sound the same because they always say the same things; the sentiments in the speeches are always the same. I can’t think of any other country where its population is so worn out from its own government and condition as a country. It’s very much apathy embodied. And if, let’s imagine, some new party were to arrive on the scene, I still think a ton of people would continue to look at it as it looks at the others. The response is a shrug, because “it’s a party no different from the others, still responsive to the same forces the others were” It’s unconvincing and not to be trusted, even if it’s allowed to come through.
The protest on the 12th made it extremely clear that no parties should use that protest as a way to promote their ideologies. And indeed I didn’t see parties, which is surprising. This protest was made by people, period. (Of course, you see a banner here and there, like the Communist Party, probably put up hours earlier. Those things are uncontrollable. And obviously, people everywhere identify with parties, and ideologies, as individuals but might not have mentioned it on this day, which was exactly what we wanted. You’re certainly free to see yourself under this or that party’s umbrella, but do not open it on the 12th).
The younger the people the more alienated they are from the political process. If you’re young and say you’re from this or that political party, it’s like you’re saying you’re a daily practicing catholic in the middle of a group of atheists. Among the common young people it really is like that.
There’s also a huge, huge lack of participation in voting. Our most recent presidential elections broke the national record: slightly more than 53% of the voting population didn’t vote. A ton of people vote blank too during elections. (The parliament is not the brink of being dissolved. Let’s see how the population reacts)
And this indifference happens because…..what difference does it make? We jump from party to party, always the same parties….and we’ve been stuck in this for almost 37 years.
Interestingly, it shares a certain similarity with the conditions in Egypt and Tunisia. We obviously don’t have dictators here, but it’s been the same faces and the same parties in the newspapers and rallies and TV interviews, for almost 40 years.
And I feel like, if we try to throw out the current faces, and insert new ones….for some reason I can’t explain, it’ll feel like it’s not enough. I think people will go home after that and think “We haven’t changed a thing.” While in Tunisia people were annoyed at Ben Ali and that one man-rule, people here are annoyed and feel uncomfortable with the political process, period. There’s something about it that doesn’t make it credible or trustworthy. And to try and revamp it in some way, I think it’d be viewed as like putting lipstick on a pig.
Even though this protest wasn’t about that (the one on the 19th was closer to that sentiment), this looms in the depths of lot of people.
Do not doubt that if given alternatives, these people would go for it.
“But what are they?” they might ask. “We’ve tried everything. The only choice is to go back to something we’ve done before, and try harder.”
There’s a difficulty here to think beyond the usual and given.

You know, I look at the history of this country and we seem to have tried everything. We’ve had monarchy, we’ve had kings from Spain rule us, we’ve had a republic, we’ve even had a dictatorship, then a successful revolution against it, then we had democratic this and social that. And communism has been hovering around like a vulture around a carcase.
A person here, contemplating almost any proposal for governance will say “Oh, but we’ve had that before, didn’t work.” Or “You’re changing it a little bit, but we’ve tried that before.” People don’t say this outloud but it’s in their subconscious.
And here we are in this paralysis, almost waiting for alternatives to show up.
I really don’t know of any other country where this is so blatant.
It’s like we’ve reached a certain threshold where we’ve encountered almost all forms of experiences as a country, and have stagnated there, in uncreative, thoughtless routine.

The only thing that I can think of, that could take people out of this apathy and galvanize them is to involve them in politics (in the true, classical sense of the word) in a way that’s never been done before. To really put history in their hands once and for all, to put the powers of institutions in their own hands, to make them be involved in their own lives. And I’m not saying this because I come from this or that political party, or read this or that “radical book”. I’m a complete outsider who’s thinking about this purely out of the state of things as they are now.
And the only way I can think of, that would enable one to galvanize people, is using the Web, involving the Web and its characteristics. Not to generate parties but to create very dynamic, very new infrastructures, that yes, kind of make a lot of institutions flounder at the brink of obsolescence. I think many people still don’t realize the impact the Internet can have, beyond calling for demonstrations out of nowhere. It literally makes people rethink the order of things, and these contemplations are here to stay.
But thinking of alternatives is not something we do effectively. Maybe these demonstrations will jolt that process into motion. It remains to be seen. At the end of the day I see slightly radical contemplations on the part of the population as inevitable. But that’s me. Things seem to have calmed down, but because parliament could be dissolved in a matter of days, it could make people spring up again. I don’t know.

As for signs, I remember seeing anti-capitalist signs. Anarchist signs. I also remember one saying “I didn’t get into this ship to jump overboard” (meaning I don’t want to emigrate to get a job. That’s my interpretation, anyway). A lot of things about jobs. A lot of play with the concept of “à rasca”, like, instead of saying “Generation struggling”, it said “Government Struggling”.
I saw another one that got applauded by those near it that said “The people united don’t need a party” In Portuguese it rhymes (O Povo, unido, não precisa de Partido).

As for the numbers. I remember hearing 200.000/300.000 in Lisbon, 80.000 in Porto, 6.000 in Faro, and then sprinklings of hundreds here and there throughout the country and the islands.
Half a million… I’ve only heard that here. More than 500.000 did get a notice on Facebook but… we’ll never know.

Just to finish this.
The sentiment here is that this isn’t over. We’ve started something here, and we have no idea where we’re heading. One way I could see this being perpetuated would be to coordinate with other countries, and have each one reinforce the others at different times, in a game of very dynamic reinforcements and inspirations. There were people from France in the demonstration, to see if some sort of coordination could be achieved in protesting against these austerity measures and precariousness, which France and a ton of other countries are going through.

I hope this helps give you an image of this country in one way or another. It is, though, very heavily, my own view of it.

Samotnaf
Mar 23 2011 05:09

Good post, kroton.

A friend, who lived and still sometimes lives in Portugal, complained about how submissive the Portuguese were (this in the late 80s), and reflected on how unviolent the revolution and counter-revolution were in 74-75 (he'd participated in it), somehow connecting it to the "Portuguese character" (I think nobody was killed - at least for any reasons connected to the social movement - in that turbulent period in Portuguese history). But character is historical and this atmosphere of apathy and exhaustion can change very quickly. I'd guess this is the year to do try to do that, to get angry and be strategic with that anger, arm it with subversive ideas (not that I'm suggesting some martyrish need to get killed of course, but given the suicide-inducing future this society holds out to us, risking death at the hands of the State seems preferable).

As for your comment towards the end

Quote:
to see if some sort of coordination could be achieved in protesting against these austerity measures and precariousness

Does it really need formal co-ordination? An uprising in Tunisia inspires one in Egypt which then spreads ripples to Syria, Wisconsin and who knows where else? Sure, if a revolution in a part of the world is being crushed by the counter-revolution's supply of arms, a certain element of organised co-ordination to subvert the supply of weapons and divert them to the revolutionary movements is needed, and I suppose there must be other situations which require co-ordination this side of a global revolution (though information is already there on the internet, so until the rulers get cleverer in suppressing internet communication - which they're clearly working on - co-ordinating information is spontaneously happening anyway).
So my question is: what kinds of aspects of social contestation need, at the moment, international formal co-ordination? A global demonstration against austerity? I'm sure that could happen through the internet, but really does it need to? People fight in their own localities and situations at the same time as through their global contacts, and if and when people understand the underlying connections for these different struggles and act so as to connect them, a global demonstration could be possibly useful if it inspired further daily life struggles, but also possibly an activist distraction from this (as the G8 etc. demos tended to become this century).

Less important:

Quote:
I also remember one saying “I didn’t get into this ship to jump overboard” (meaning I don’t want to emigrate to get a job. That’s my interpretation, anyway).

Another interpretation might be "I didn't strive to go forward in this life's journey just to throw my life away".

Quote:
While in Tunisia people were annoyed at Ben Ali and that one man-rule, people here are annoyed and feel uncomfortable with the political process, period.

From my attempts to understand what's happening in Tunisia, I'd say there's pretty much the same feeling, though the word "annoyed" seems like an ever so slight understatement.

kroton
Mar 23 2011 15:22

Thank you for commenting and I appreciated everything you said.

The reason I suggested "coordenation" was simply because the thought of having everyone banging the drum at the same time, so to speak, came across as a powerful tactic, both pragmatically and, for lack of a better word, emotionally. And symbolically as well.
Even though localized protesting is happening around the world, it doesn't seem to be networked. It's not a web. It's not a whole. Yes the same conditions exist here and there which then provoke protesting, but, they're like raindrops falling on a lake's surface. It's not a wave in the lake. Does it need to be a wave? No. But why not?

And I was thinking "coordination", not in the scenario of supplying arms and so forth. Not that far into a hypothetical future. I was envisioning it in a different level. That mere awareness and connection to others as humans, period.
I would say nationalism blocks people from doing bigger things.
Sure, we can all tend our gardens by ourselves, but there's something about seeing your neighbour tending his at the same time.
There's something about asking others to participate. If there's to be any formality in coordinations, let it be only that request.

And you mention "crush" at one point. Counter-movements being crushed. That obviously can happen.
I see movements dying out by themselves, out of their own natural tendency to erode with time if nothing happens. I see the movemenet that started with the protest on the 12th here in Portugal as dying out if nothing happens. And I don't think people will participate unless something a bit more extreme is asked for. Because people are worn out.
And without a doubt we wouldn't have stopped if England and Spain were doing it on the 12th as well. God knows what kinds of coordinations could have happened through the net in the following days.

I would see coordination as a way to keep yourself running. You don't really need any "formality" in it. Just a recognition that others are doing it next to you, and a sort of unspoken agreement that you'll try to support others in their struggles.

In my own opinion it's a matter of time until something like that happens. And I'd see the younger generations being more prone to doing it, because they're more internationalized. And I would even say the Internet would be absolutely essential. The Internet has never been a player until very, very recently. One really cannot look at history for guidance. This is very new and fresh ground and I think this hasn't hit people yet.
We've seen it being used effectively to coordinate people inside their own countries. The next step is obvious.

Samotnaf
Mar 23 2011 20:34
Quote:
I see movements dying out by themselves, out of their own natural tendency to erode with time if nothing happens.

But there's nothing "natural" about it - it's obviously people that make things happen, it's us who have to determine things, make our own initiatives.

For example, you, me and everyone you know and I know and all the people they know could call on the internet for a global demonstration, mass occupations, general assembly discussions, riots, etc. against austerity and on the false alternatives to it on, say, May 1st.
The problem would be to not only continue beyond this day, to turn it into strikes and subversive actions against the economy developing over a period of time and space, but to also attempt to understand and communicate the differences and similarities in the contradictions both in different countries and areas and within those areas, to analyse the illusions, the things that make us resigned, the identities, roles and hierarchies of survival possiblities that keep us separate and maintain false ideas we have of each other, at the same time as clearly examining the mad sad future we face if there isn't a global uprising.

Is it feasible? Six months ago, before Millbank, Tunisia, Egypt, Wisconsin etc, it would have seemed ridiculously voluntaristic - but, given serious attempts to analyse and think of ways of confronting the totality of what we're up against, it could (bizarrely) begin to happen. Optimism and pessimism, and the swing from one to the other, stop us seeing and testing and experimenting with what is possible in the current epoch. But testing the current situation is the only thing that can help us make progress and gauge how far each of us and others are prepared to go. Audacity and courage are not the only qualities we need, but they're certainly essential.

Does this make sense, or am I just rambling abstractly and slightly drunkenly and over-tired?

kroton
Mar 24 2011 02:14

Oh yes. To me at least. wink I understand what you're saying. smile