News from the debt crisis in Spain and the rise of a global response
Doing the paperwork
Por DIAGONAL English

By Belén Gopegui / translated by Christine Lewis

The expression “to do the paperwork” used to be common in government departments to describe the process by which an idea is put into practice. For example, if someone proposed opening lending libraries all night, the paperwork would explain how this would be done, the staff necessary and where they would come from, how expenses would be covered, etc. This comes to my mind because political party programmes are more like a list to Father Christmas: wishes, more wishes and debates about the wishes. But not much paperwork gets done any more. And I think what we need today are less debates about what we want and more about how to achieve what we want.

César Rendueles has written “today, the aspirations of ordinary people are profoundly subversive: set up a home, look after our family and friends, learn a trade, be respected by our peers, learn and grow as free (a word I need to see in print) citizens”. Whether we accept this or another programme, we should insist it be universal, at least (a serious “at least”) throughout the country governed. How can this be done? The last time the PSOE came to power, they did so promising the creation of 800,000 jobs, but they did not say how and they did not create them. And here are my specific hows: Is growing as free citizens compatible with having to pay for health (an essential battle has been won in Madrid but the health privatisation war is still being waged) and education which in some cases offer more opportunities? How can you be free if you cannot afford these opportunities? How will a truly public network of instruction and care (including the dentist) be established at all levels? Where does the capital come from? How is it accumulated?

I associate this with a recurring discussion regarding the limits of humour. Perhaps the discussion could be posed another way: What are the actual limits? What is never the object of a joke? We rarely laugh about the surplus value we obtain from others; occasionally we laugh about the surplus value obtained from us by others. What are the political parties going to do with surplus value? How?

[This article was originally published in Spanish on March 5th, 2014]




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