The Manual of Economic Disobedience

Over the past few years, an interesting hybrid has developed in Spain: a combination of elements from the traditional war tax resistance movement, which in Spain has a largely pacifist or anti-militarist conscientious objection focus much like the war tax resistance movement in the U.S., and elements of the critics of neoliberal state capitalism who emerged in new forms during the recent economic crisis — roughly the counterparts of the “occupy” movement in the U.S.

I’ve been keeping an eye on this for two reasons: first is that it’s obviously an interesting development in terms of this blog’s subject matter and my pet interest, and second is that people in NWTRCC have been toying with the idea of trying to increase their influence in activist circles by reaching out to other movements and trying to find ways of linking up — and this looks like one possible model they could consider.

So to the end of understanding this a little better, today I’m going to try to translate the introduction to the second edition of the Manual de Desobediencia Economica, which recently came out, and represents some of the ideas that are fermenting in this hybrid movement:

In these times when corruption has become unmasked, we live at a turning point of a historical cycle at which the portrayal of the State can no longer hide the extent of its villainy.

The impunity enjoyed by the usual suspects contrasts with the criminalization of all social movements and the persecution of all those people who daily tell themselves: enough.

In this context, disobedience and rebelliousness transcend a purely ideological issue. It’s about giving some meaning to the word justice.

It’s about our dignity, but even more, of shedding fear, because they want to take everything from us except for the right to consume and the duty to obey.

There is much that we can recover if we also disobey fear: another social order in which the people are the most important.

We have much to do, and who knows how far we can go this time… we’ll see you on the road.

In this second edition of the Handbook of Economic Disobedience, we invite you to take some steps to make your life more in line with your manner of thinking and feeling.

Specifically, we address those of you who may want to stop acting under the force of economic pressure and instead to dedicate your time to activity that would really make you feel accomplished. Also, those who want their money, as the fruit of their labor, to go to what they believe and not to the banks, or politicans’ salaries, or armaments, or grand infrastructures… among other misuses with which we do not want to collaborate.

The State is paying to indulge and engorge the fortunes of the banks and other financial speculators — more money than it has been “forced” to cut from various budget items.

Throughout this Handbook, we take part in a call to initiate and extend an action of tax resistance against the Spanish State and those who control it, and consistent action to demonstrate that we will not pay their debts, because we do not recognize the current Constitution nor the current government which is a puppet of global financial capitalism, nor the 2013 State Budget. In place of this we put our money towards self-managed taxation.

This way we will funnel the resources we do not want to pay to the State into self-managed projects that are helpful for meeting the needs of the people. Although the Handbook, to the extent that data, laws, and experiences are referenced, is written for the Spanish State, we hope to inspire disobedience anywhere on the globe, since the situation we are living out in the Spanish State is common to many countries in the world. In this way we hope to have the cooperation of dozens of volunteers to translate it into multiple languages.

The centralized distribution of this Handbook of Economic Disobedience on paper will only be made thanks to funding from the CoopFunding crowdfunding campaign “Disobedience Cannot Be Imprisoned” and is available on and in the offices of economic disobedience with the corresponding local appendix of self-managed projects, where we hope that they can self-publish copies as needed and possible.

Much of the funding for starting up this project, as I understand it, came from an interesting bank robbery masterminded by Enric Duran. Duran took out loans from dozens of banks under false pretences and then donated most of the money as start-up capital for these radical self-managed projects, went bankrupt, and then went underground to escape prosecution.

This raises the question of how self-sustaining this movement really is (that is, how dependent it is on this one-time influx of funds) and also how grassroots it really is (does this manifesto represent the gestalt of a movement, or just the axe being ground by its sugar daddy).

If I have time and interest, I’ll try to translate some other sections of the Handbook. The usual disclaimers apply about my sub-par command of Spanish.