“Disobedience is not the problem of our society, but civil obedience”



    With complete clarity Nuria Guell expressed herself during her speech at the Second borderless economic Disobedience Meeting held on 26 and 27 April at the EACC (Contemporary Art Space) and the Casal popular of Castellón, Spain.

    Nuria, catalan artist and activist, contextualized the meeting, setting it within this highly evocative reality saying: “the State rules for the benefit of financial markets and for de facto powers, while the people are obliged to be obeing and have their rights  privatized nevertheless only slaves obey”, and, as she reminded us, “the rest, consent”. “And because we are not submissive here, and are able to think and argue, we have been breaking down this State imposed social order together for some time now,in order to weave our related comunities”, added the activist.

    And it is precisely on this line that Güell is working.The Inverted Rescue Office applies the same strategies of social engineering that the State has used but in the opposite direction, trying to subvert the Rescue realized by the Government and its consequences. It is built as an information desk, a consultation office installed in the museum ( EACC). Its aim is to diffuse and promote different possibilities to revert this situation, offering advices for free to interested citizens. This office has been, in fact, actively collaborating in conducting this meeting, here is the relationship between an institutional framework such the EACC and the economic Disobedience Meeting. “7000000000” is the name given to the exhibition which has been framed draft Nuria Guell in Castellón.

    Lots of other interesting dissobedience related issues where in debate during the weekend. Enric Durán ‘s online intervention got straight to the point when he talked about the “Right to Rebelion” project iniciated in September 2011. “This iniciative is a contribution of a disobedient path”, said Durán, who also added, “it comes at the time when the Constitution is being amended to give priority to the foreign debt payment over and above any otherthing. ‘A new rebel dignity manifesto‘ clarifies the situation and calls for civil disobedience, Economic Desobedience and adhesion to the manifesto.

    Enric Durán, currently wanted for “disobeying” the judicial system and for questioning it, recalled that the most important thing in this type of action is to be very clear about the basis that supports the action itself. That is, any act of civil disobedience ought to be driven by the need of a person to question the legitimacy of who holds power. So if the system is repressive, can that repression can be deligitimized?, moreover, “must” be delegitimized by the people who are suffering?

    As Thoreau said, considered by many the father of modern “civil disobedience” in his work – Civil disobedience (1849):

    It costs me less in every sense to incur the penalty of disobedience to the State than it would to obey. I should feel as if I were worth less in that case.”

    And last but not least, looking at the Universal Declaration of Rights of Man and of the Citizen  of 1793 (French revolution) we find the following:

    “When the government violates the people’s rights, insurrection is, for the people and for each portion of the people, the most sacred of the rights and the most indispensible of duties”

    There is little doubt that stand idly by is not the right response from people who really want a paradigm shift.

    To build a lifestyle at the margins of the current system

    In addition to Enric and Nuria, the meeting was attended by people from different collectives who are currently working in the ambit of disobedience from different fields.

    “Som energía” (We are energy) cooperative was present and brought light, to issues pun intended, about the abuses of large energy multinationals and warned over recent laws for “Sun regulation”.

    Not forgetting two examples of the many integral cooperatives that are growing through the territory: the Catalan (CIC) and the Valencian (CIV-Atornallom) which provided valuable information on how to use the cooperative legal forms as tools for the fiscal disobedience leading towards a community economy, that is,  give to each according to their needs and receive from each according to their possibilities.

    The integral cooperatives give support for people who have had to declare insolvency, or wish to do so, by integrating ideological reasoning into the process.They also provide them with tools so they can coexist better with the system that has excluded and debilitated them. In its turn, the cooperative makes use the legal advantages of being insolvent because “when you have nothing, you cannot take anything awayin order to lead certain “legal” actions on behalf of these people. (See Economic Disobedience Manual – Insolvency as a tool for social transformation).

    Disobedience actions

    Within the framework of the meeting a high profile was given to actions underway in hot issue such as banks, those huge monsters that are profiteering from the nightmares of too many people.

    PAH were present (Platform of People Affected by Mortgages) who are conducting daily disobedience actions in various cities around the country. In Spain over five hundred evictions a day are currentlytaking place”, said Toni Valls of PAH, who specified that “this is the truth, all these people are evicted, sometimes by force, from where they lived and find themselves on the street overnight without a roof or resources to get one. The people involved in the platform are all volunteers who are taking responsibility for this situation; even putting their personal integrity at risk against the state authorities in order to support those affected.

    With regard to the subject of housing, the CIC housing office,  which was also present, proposed the implementation of social housing cooperatives to lease mortgaged homes and thus ensure affordable housing to borrowers who cannot carry on paying their mortgages. “Anticipating foreclosures and eviction attempts, we can be on the offensive, cooperatively generating social housing”, said Sisu from .CIC housing office

    Continuing with the “monsters” theme various alternatives were discussed to subvert this situation. “Non-cooperation with banks” would be one of them. As an alternative to traditional banking, the well known propositions of  Fiare and Coop57 were advocated. These rely on the transparent management of financial funds and the use of proper filters to decide the funding of projects.  Also CASX , that has gone beyond its initial proposal, offering 0 interest loans to projects considered relevant to its general principles, and also opting for decision making in meetings open to all partners.

    The CIC surprised the audience once more with a new proposal for a “bureau de change network”, an emerging idea, in which the members of the cooperative might operate with different currencies: euro, social currency and bitcoins. This project is a strategic plan by CIC that will bring about autonomy in the economic system and independence from the banking system.

    They also talked about the movement “restorative justice” working on a new line of inclusive justice, looking ahead to the new times.

    Sunday was dedicated to fiscal disobedience and the tasks performed by the different ODEs (Economic Disobedience Offices) distributed by the territory.

    Regarding fiscal disobedience, the antimilitarist group Tortuga  contributed its expertise on tax resistance, which they have been implementing for over 10 years. Here was their last campaign for this year 2014. Representatives from the project “right of rebellion” and the ODES from Legazpi-Madrid, Zaragoza, Castellon and Alcoy explained in great detail how to make fiscal disobedience really work and responded to the numerous doubts of those present.
    “Fiscal disobedience basically consists in ceasing to pay a portion of our taxes to the state, considering the poor management which is being done with them, and contribute them to a project which, in our view is, itself, working for the common good”. “It’s a matter of principle”, said Deme from Legazpi ODE. . “We must stop being afraid of retaliation because in most cases the state does not claim the money and if it does, it gets paid and that’s it”. Healso added: “There have never been any fines, or increase of the amount payable.
    Now that we are in the middle of the tax return campaign, if you are contemplating performing fiscal disobedience, follow these simple steps: 1° do not accept the income tax draft, 2° read THIS documentand if still in doubt, consult any office of disobedience and they will be happy to advise you.  (sorry, only for spanish state)

    Seen this way, the current landscape of disobedience is pretty full…

    If Thoreau raised his head today, he would be very proud of all these projects.He would urge us to go even further and turn any everyday act of blind obedience in a new act of rebellious dignity, with the absolute certainty that we are doing the right thing. Because we have learned that what is right is not always legal, and vice versa, and so… what would be the right thing?
    It is not for me to dare to define such a noble statement; better to hear it from the mouth of the great Mahatma Ghandi and allow his words resonate in our consciousness:


    Suggested links:

    Economic disobedience manual

    Economic disobedience meeting 2014

    Sofía Cardona


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