We are a diverse collective of organizers, community-builders, and agitators struggling for justice across a number of fronts. While we tackle different issues, come from different movements and progressive institutions, and have different lived experiences, there’s a shared political context that informs much of our work.
Over the last 40 years, many social justice fights within the U.S. have been on the defensive as the Right, corporate forces, and our two-party system have largely dominated politics. Like much of the rest of the world, we face rising income inequality, ecological disasters, and an unaccountable financial system.
There are some unique realities we face as activists in the U.S.–most of whom are based in NYC–that shape who we are, how we organize, and what we think is politically possible. Institutionalized racism and forms of social exclusion continue to shape our struggles and the fabric of our society. Despite living in dynamic cities that are mostly comprised of immigrants and people of color, it is often challenging to build trust and social solidarity across communities. With a declining union work-force and relatively weak social movements, much of our resistance has been channelled into “professionalized” non-profit organizations with paid staff and a reliance on private foundation support.
In recent years, we’ve witnessed and participated in powerful upsurges in popular protest, from Occupy Wall Street, Black Lives Matter, the Fight for $15, and the climate justice movement. Each of these examples have brought new constituencies into the streets and shifted the national debate on critical issues like police brutality, low-wage exploitation, and the failures of the capitalist system itself. And yet it’s been hard to sustain momentum and create a grounded, mass-based “movement of movements” able to impact broad systemic change, let alone reach for institutional political power.
There are many inspiring victories to celebrate in the U.S., but there’s also a shared understanding that governing elites are unable to deliver the changes we all seek without greater pressure from below. And beyond that, we seek to radically expand our notions of democracy while also building alternative people’s institutions that model the anti-racist, non-patriarchal, egalitarian, and sustainable world we are building together.
All of this brings us to Spain. While we do not aim to romanticize the political horizons across the Spanish state, we think there are important lessons to draw and relationships to strengthen within the group and with our counterparts in both Madrid and Barcelona. The municipal elections provide an ideal backdrop to explore the connections and conflicts between social movements and efforts to win and redistribute power via the ballot box. We are eager to build off our experiences with the delegation to inform our respective movement-building and political work back home. A better world is possible and another U.S. is necessary. ¡Si se puede!