He’s a Catalan Robin Hood, dude!

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{This is a short tongue-in-cheek summary of the feature article in Spanish about Catalan cooperatives}. So there’s this dude who’s, like, pretty smart and brave and who believes in a just world where people decide almost everything for themselves. He gets up one day – his name is Enric Duran, by the way – and puts on a brand new pair of socks (for the confidence!) and goes to different banks and asks for loans.

He tells all those different suits that he needs money for a nice car and a new business venture and they all go for it (suckers!). That was before the crisis hit. Obviously! So anyway, he gets, like, 500,000 euros together – that’s a shitload of money, right? – and you know what he does with it? He prints pamphlets about how stupid the system is and distributes them during that smelly hippie 15M thing. But there’s still loads of money left over after that and he gives almost all of it away (hey, Enric, I’m over here, dude!) so there’s nothing left in his account and the banks can’t get it back. By now they’ve blown a gasket and are, like, totally fuming and they scream “Fraud!!” and the government says,”Come here, Enric, you villain!” And Enric says, “Um…I think not. Peace out, douchebags!” and fucks off to some other place.

The awesome thing is that the money he took from the banks hasn’t even left the country. It’s right here under their noses in Catalunya! He like totally flipped tax fraud around – the money stays, he leaves. Not bad for a change, right?!

So, the money is “gone”, invested in different projects. We, the people, can’t know what the projects are because – duh – the banks would send their minions to snatch that shit back. But let’s assume this Catalan Robin Hood invested all that dough in what he believes is, basically, a better way of living. Yeah, it’s hard not to roll your eyes. But wait for it, homies. What comes next is not a self-help sob story or anything. It’s far worse: it’s a history lesson and a cerebral revamp!

So these Catalans have some serious tradition when it comes to anarquism and self-government and cooperatives and stuff like that. The idea of self-determination seriously floats their boat and has for, like, a really long time. This whole Spanish secession vibe is pretty much just the tip of the iceberg – or the icing on the cake – you get the gist.

But the point is that Enric’s money – that’s really not Enric’s money – probably went to local cooperatives. There are quite a few of them. There’s a big-mama-cooperative, the CIC, and auntie Aurea and there are tons of little guys, 2-man baby cooperatives, and they are all kind of connected but also not. It’s pretty complicated stuff. Let’s just say that they are a modern family that doesn’t give two shits about conventions.

The dude digresses. Back to the point! The point is that when you go and talk to people that are 100% involved, you realize they’re totally obsessed with DIY-ing everything: medicine, education, currency & loans, housing & food. You name it, they’re doing it. And they’re also totally into talking it out, listening and consensus and learning from each other and all that stuff your mom used to teach you. There’s a method to this madness. Madness? What kind of massive dick would want to call people who stand by sustainable growth, debate and consensus crazy?

It pretty much goes without saying that authorities are not their thing and that the idea of a patriarchal state doesn’t exactly tickle their pickle. But the cool thing is, they don’t throw bombs or hit people. They’re just there, doing their thing and taking their (sweet) time making those consensus decisions. If you want to know what it feels like to self-govern, they whisper, “come and join us”. And they actually do it, right below the state’s snout. They have this autónomo thing going that might bite some people in the ass further down the line, but at least it makes it possible to be your own (wo)man. Basically, as a freelancer you can bill through them. You don’t pay the horrendous monthly fee to papa Mariano but instead a significantly smaller cut to auntie Aurea. IRPF? Pension? That would be the ass bite.

So, basically, it’s awesome. But it’s slow. It’s cheaper, but there’s no safety net. You’re the man, you don’t fight the Man.

You know that whole “Yes, we can” shit that Obama rode to the whitehouse on a donkey called Hope? Yeah, this is basically the logical conclusion to that. You can. But you would have to get off your fat ass and actually try.

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