In contemporary activismit’s not a questions of online or offline, but how to integrate the two. Tactics are likely to be hybrid, making use of tools and processes in digital and physical space. Here’s a new example of that trend from Spain, where indignados areusing online crowdfunding to lodge an offline legal complaint against the mismanaged financial institution Bankia.
Bankia was created during the financial crisis from a number of troubled local banks who had made bad housing loans (a similar situation to the US). It was not a smart move. Now, instead of many small indebted banks there is one large indebted bank that could do serious damage to the national economy if it fails. The bank sold shares to raise funds, but international investors knew better, so Bankia sold the faulty shares to their own customers and other Spanish citizens – shady! Now the bank is in an even worse mess, asking for $24 billion in bailouts, and the shares’ value has decreased by 75%.
In the US, these kinds of financial shenanigans have met with outrage but little action. However, while our Occupy is stalling, Spain’s 15M movement is roaring, and they took action – ingeniously. According to Global Voices:
people in Spain raised money from donations to submit a complaint before the court and meet the requirements to conduct a legal investigation efficiently. The initiative has had a massive following in social networks under several hashtags, one of which is#CrowdfundPaRato[es]. In 24 hours, more than the €15, 000 (Euros) of the required funds were raised
Unlike the bank, whose dealings have been dishonest and underhanded, the organizers of this hybrid tactic have been thrifty and transparent. They even stopped soliciting money when they reached their fundraising goal.
In his blogsteph.es/blog[es], [documentary filmmaker and campaign organizer] @fanetin explains how the money will be broken down:
- €200 for the shareholder’s authorization before a notary.
- €6 000 for the lawyer (for everything the case implies, among other things questioning approximately 80 people).
- €1 000 for the attorney (compulsory)
- €3 000 for trips to Madrid by the attorneys, witnesses, etc (during a year).
- €5 000 for paperwork, research, and communication.
- €1 300 for the Crowdfunding Goteo platform
None of the perpetrators of America’s financial crisis have been prosecuted, and while this has annoyed people (see cartoon, left) no one has successfully tried to do anything about it. But Spanish activists are bolder, not letting governmental foot-dragging stop them from seeking justice. According tothe website of the crowdfunding project:
we won’t be able to count on the instruments of the State (not that we trust them very much). And they think we can’t do it because of lack of money, but what they don’t know is that we are many, and that with a small contribution from each one of us we will do it.
On June 14th they submitted the legal complaint. As activists get a better sense ofhow to channel online power into offline institutional processes we’re likely to see more of these strategically targeted hybrid tactics.