15 October 2011: a great victory for the Outraged

16 October 2011 by Eric Toussaint

Since February 2003, this is the first time a call for an international action on a specific date has met with such an echo. In Spain, where the Indignados movement began, almost 500 000 demonstrators marched through the streets of around 80 different cities, including 200 000 or more in Madrid [1]. Actions have taken place on five continents. More than 80 countries and almost one thousand different towns have seen hundreds of thousands of youth and adults on the march, protesting against the management of the international economic crisis by governments rushing to bail out the private institutions responsible for the collapse and who are taking advantage of it to strengthen neoliberal policies: massive layoffs in public services, clear-cutting of social spending, massive privatizations, attacks on social solidarity measures (public pension systems, unemployment benefits, collective bargaining…). Everywhere, repayment of the public debt is the pretext used to strengthen austerity measures. Everywhere, demonstrators are accusing the banks.

In February 2003, we saw the broadest international mobilization to try to prevent a war: the invasion of Iraq. More than 10 million people gathered in countless demonstrations all over the planet. Since then, the dynamics of the global justice movement born in the 1990s has gradually faded but never entirely died out.

On 15 October 2011, slightly fewer than one million people took to the streets. Nevertheless, it was a huge victory, because it was the first large demonstration carried out in a 24-hour period around the planet against the people responsible for the capitalist crisis, which has created tens of millions of victims.

The financial and economic crisis, which started in the US in 2007, has spread, above all in Europe, from 2008. The debt crisis faced by developing countries has spread to the North. It is interconnected with the food crisis, which has hit many developing regions since 2007-2008.
Not to forget the climate crisis, above all affecting the peoples of the South of the planet.

This systemic crisis is also expressed at an institutional level: the leaders of the G8 G8 Group composed of the most powerful countries of the planet: Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and the USA, with Russia a full member since June 2002. Their heads of state meet annually, usually in June or July. member countries know they do not have the means to manage the international crisis. Thus, they have convened the G20 G20 The Group of Twenty (G20 or G-20) is a group made up of nineteen countries and the European Union whose ministers, central-bank directors and heads of state meet regularly. It was created in 1999 after the series of financial crises in the 1990s. Its aim is to encourage international consultation on the principle of broadening dialogue in keeping with the growing economic importance of a certain number of countries. Its members are Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy, India, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, USA, UK and the European Union (represented by the presidents of the Council and of the European Central Bank). . For three years now, the latter has proven incapable of coming up with valid solutions. This crisis also involves a crisis of civilization. There are challenges raised to consumerism, generalized commoditisation, the failure to take the environmental impacts of economic activities into account, productivism, the search to satisfy private interests at the expense of the public interest Interest An amount paid in remuneration of an investment or received by a lender. Interest is calculated on the amount of the capital invested or borrowed, the duration of the operation and the rate that has been set. , goods and services, major powers’ systematic recourse to violence, the denial of the basic human rights of peoples such as the Palestinians… Often capitalism is the heart of what is being challenged.

No centralized organization had called this mobilization. The Indignados (“Outraged”) movement was born in Spain in May 2011 in the wake of the Tunisian and Egyptian rebellions in the previous months. It spread to Greece in June 2011 and to other European countries. It has crossed the North Atlantic since September 2011 [2]. Of course, a series of radical political organizations and organized social movements support the movement but are not leading it. Their influence is limited. It is a broadly spontaneous movement, mostly made up of young people, with an enormous potential to develop that is very disturbing to political leaders, the heads of major firms and all police forces on the planet. It could die out like a flash in the pan or be the spark that sets off the fire. Nobody knows.

On 15 October 2011, the call to mobilize mostly rallied demonstrators in cities and towns in countries of the North including the planet’s financial centres, which is very promising. The outraged ’occupy’ movements have sparked very creative and emancipatory dynamics. If you are not yet a involved, try to join, or launch it if it does not yet exist where you live. Link up and take part in an authentic emancipation.

Translated by Marie Lagatta

Éric Toussaint, doctor in political sciences (University of Liège and University of Paris 8), president of CADTM Belgium, member of the president’s commission for auditing the debt in Ecuador (CAIC), member of the scientific council of ATTAC France, coauthor of “La Dette ou la Vie”, Aden-CADTM, 2011, contributor to ATTAC’s book “Le piège de la dette publique. Comment s’en sortir”, published by Les liens qui libèrent, Paris, 2011.


[1I’m writing these lines from Madrid, where I took part in an impressive demonstration of 200 000 people.

[2Translators note. in north America and elsewhere it has become the occupy movement after the ’occupy Wall street’ protests which were the first of their kind in this region.

Eric Toussaint

is a historian and political scientist who completed his Ph.D. at the universities of Paris VIII and Liège, is the spokesperson of the CADTM International, and sits on the Scientific Council of ATTAC France.
He is the author of Greece 2015: there was an alternative. London: Resistance Books / IIRE / CADTM, 2020 , Debt System (Haymarket books, Chicago, 2019), Bankocracy (2015); The Life and Crimes of an Exemplary Man (2014); Glance in the Rear View Mirror. Neoliberal Ideology From its Origins to the Present, Haymarket books, Chicago, 2012, etc.
See his bibliography: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C3%89ric_Toussaint
He co-authored World debt figures 2015 with Pierre Gottiniaux, Daniel Munevar and Antonio Sanabria (2015); and with Damien Millet Debt, the IMF, and the World Bank: Sixty Questions, Sixty Answers, Monthly Review Books, New York, 2010. He was the scientific coordinator of the Greek Truth Commission on Public Debt from April 2015 to November 2015.

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