Today is the 10th anniversary of the beginning of the popular rebellion in Argentina. An uprising that with popular power, with people by the hundreds of thousands taking to the streets cacerolando (banging pots and pans), singing and chanting ¡Que Se Vayan Todos! (They All Must Go!), forced out four governments in two weeks. But that was only the beginning. What occurred in the days, months, and now 10 years since, has been a transformation in the ways in which people organize in Argentina. This year, 2011, is coming to an end, and it is also a beginning. Not at all dissimilar from Argentina, this has been a year of popular uprisings, popular power, and new ways of organizing and doing politics.
I am inspired by the changes that have been taking place across the globe. And we have only begun.
Something has broken open. It is not just our frustration. We are shouting, “NO!” We will no longer tolerate the inequality, oppression, injustice, and crisis in the world—a crisis that was not created by us. We are refusing, and we refuse together. We will no longer remain passive before this untenable situation. We are shouting our own version of ¡Qué Se Vayan Todos! We are coming together to begin to create something new, and we are not even sure what exactly it is, and that is good. We know that we want to create open free spaces. We are discovering together what those look like in the process. And this is also how we are creating them—together, horizontally, and with affect.
There is so much we can learn from the experiences in Argentina, from the struggles with horizontalism to the problems of the state, cooptation, incorporation, and repression. There is also so much to learn from what is taking place right now in Egypt, Spain, and Greece, to name only a few other places.
But right now, what I want to do is take a breath. To stop for a moment and look at our movements in the world and say, “YES!” Of course will continue to say, “NO!” to the injustice and inequality. But we need to celebrate our successes more. And we have so many. We can look to 2011 as a year when we began.
Our movements today begin with the assumption of some form of horizontal organizing, attempting to create new, liberatory relationships with one another. Our movements today are not about homogenizing, but about being different and accepting difference as we break down hierarchy. Here we can borrow from the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo who say, “el otro soy yo” (I am the other). Our movements today are not about fixing the state or making a new and better political party. They are about finding a totally new way of doing things together. Do we know how to do this yet? Perhaps not, and that is OK. We are beginning.
In the latest issue of the NACLA Report, Marina Sitrin covered the relationship between the 2001 popular rebellion in Argentina and Occupy Wall Street in her article, “Horizontalism: From Argentina to Wall Street.” She is the author of Everyday Revolutions, Horizontalism and Autonomy in Argentina (Zed Books, 2012) and Horizontalism: Voices of Popular Power in Argentina (AK Press, 2006). She lived in Argentina following the country’s 2001 crisis and has been involved in Occupy Wall Street since the beginning. For more on the 2001-02 Argentine crisis and rebellion, see the July/August 2002 issue of the NACLA Report, "Crisis in the Americas."