Madrid: Imagine not having social centers

Last week, in the midst of all the commotion caused by the current health crisis, we were stupefied by the publication in the BOE (Official State Bulletin) of the resumption of the administrative process to evict the new social centre at Calle Alberto Bosch, 4. Despite the fact that last 14 March, with the Royal Decree of Covid19 , all administrative procedures, including ours, were stopped, the Ministry of Justice has decided to resume it on the grounds of “public health reasons”. As we have made public, our activity in the building is on hold since the declaration of the state of emergency, following the recommendations and restrictions implemented to curb the epidemic. Obviously, we conclude from this that the rush to resume the eviction procedure is based on political will. Taking advantage of the state of exception that prevents us from defending ourselves, the intention is to carry out a new aggression against self-managed social centers and deprive the city of Madrid of an essential space for social movements.

This situation has made us ask ourselves some questions: what role will social centres play in the coming period? Is it really relevant, in the midst of this gigantic systemic crisis, that a space like the new headquarters of the Ungovernable should disappear? Can we imagine a Madrid without social centres?

It is increasingly clear that the social consequences of this crisis are going to be dramatic. The citizens are already asking for a Social Shock Plan, where the State will give a different response to that of the 2008 austerity measures, and assume its responsibility towards society as a whole, especially towards the most vulnerable groups. However, to face what is coming, we need above all to strengthen relations of solidarity and community collaboration. In this sense, the social centers are and will be playing a vital role.

Why? Because we are places of meeting, organization and struggle for Madrid’s neighbors. Places where social movements can work to better pursue their goals of social transformation. Places that consciously move away from commodified and alienating leisure, offering workshops, talks and other free activities to enjoy together, regardless of our economic condition. Places where we can feel that, faced with a city model based on wild and uncontrolled tourism, we can build horizontal alternatives, where the well-being of our neighbours is at the centre.

And the fact is that their model of city has not only proved unjust, but above all INVIABLE. In a world that is increasingly unstable, more exposed to market fluctuations, to neoliberal policies that privatise essential public services, and to the predatory strategies of vulture funds, social centres are an anchorage point for solidarity, a source of coexistence and a place of tolerance and freedom. It is not a question of preferences, but of necessity: capitalism is decomposing and it is up to us to ensure that a more humane, egalitarian and sustainable model emerges.

With this crisis, we have been able to feel in our own skin a first general rehearsal of what systemic collapse will mean. Ecology has been warning us for decades that environmental collapse is just around the corner. If the response to this climate emergency is not to be based on ecofascism and necropolitics, we must make initiatives flourish in which we learn to live better together, and to live better with less: eco-social projects, consumer groups, political debate collectives, critical thinking workshops… In short, all those projects needed to confront the coming systemic crisis, which so often arise in places that are not subject either to the law of the market and consumerist leisure, or to bureaucratic regimentation.

This period is proving, once again, that we are vulnerable and interdependent. That care is the only way to support each other and that there is nothing more indecent than taking it for granted. Feminism has been promoting this message for a long time, but it needs spaces from which to fight against the inertia of the patriarchal system. Inertia that lead us to a false individualism, to an unjust distribution of the tasks of sustaining life, and to the invisibility of those who historically had to bear this burden. Never again a city that does not put life and care at the center, and that does not allow mutual support and spontaneous and self-managed neighborhood networks to proliferate. Those same networks that we have so clearly needed and appreciated during the quarantine: giving us warmth during the confinement, demanding palliative measures, denouncing police abuses, and mobilizing resources when necessary.

For all these reasons, we are unable to imagine a city without social centers. We want to warn citizens that we are in danger, but also send the message that we are not going to be satisfied. If their intention is to dismantle our mutual support networks, they will have us in front of them, combative and insubordinate. Today, as every day, we can’t be evicted. We are ungovernable.

PS. We take this opportunity to send a big hug to all the people whose health or that of their families is in danger. This health crisis is, once again, a problem in which we are all together. We want to express our love and admiration for all the people who are making it possible to face this challenge, from the public health services to all those people whose activity does not stop during quarantine and who continue to go to work every day.

La Ingobernable

Some squats in Madrid:
Groups (social centres, collectives, squats) in Madrid:
Events in Madrid:

Directory of squats in the Iberian Peninsula:
Spanish State:
Basque Country:

Directory of groups (social centers, collectives, squats) in the Iberian Peninsula:
Spanish State:
Basque Country:

Events in the Iberian Peninsula:
Spanish State: :
Basque Country:

Original statement in Spanish published by la Ingobernable.