As we sit here in Barcelona, a historic center of anarchism and left resistance, the questions debated in the most recent Focaal special section “Exploring the urban commons” confront us. As demonstrators take to the streets following the unauthorized referendum for Catalonian independence, many of the people involved are fighting for a new independent state, others are demanding a people’s right to choose, and still others are protesting police brutality and the legacy of Franco represented by the current ruling party. Is this an instance of commoning, or is it an instance of nationalist exclusivity? The dilemma of the relation of nationalism to progressive liberation is an old one, but always historically contingent, and appearing in a new form in this exploration of the commons.
Podemos is hailed by many as the only hope in a Spanish landscape devastated by austerity. In the elections to the European parliament (2014), Podemos received 7.97 percent of votes and 5 MPs. In the elections to the Autonomous Parliament of Andalucía, it gathered 14.84 percent of the vote and 15 regional MPs, becoming the third party after the Socialist Party (PSOE) and the Popular Party (PP). The fragmentation of political parties in the regional parliament forewarns of what will be the possible result of the next Spanish general elections at the end of 2015. It underscores the end of bipartisan politics and the need for different alliances and hopefully new priorities. Does Podemos signal a radical political change? A new way of doing politics? Here come the thoughts of an anthropologist who is not yet convinced by their rhetoric or their practice.