Interview to Enric Duran. CGT Catalunya Magazine. October 2013

Enric Duran Giralt, a Don Quixote of utopia for a new society.

Enric Duran is an example. An example that we can do it. An example that each one of us, each group, even a minority union like ours, can. And we are called to transform the world. How? Enric uses the enemy’s mistakes, therefore we need to know the enemy well. And to think big, with no fear.

Enric Duran struggles for the impossible, to turn it into a reality. He has the strength to believe in himself and chooses to create another world instead of fighting the old one. One of the lies told by the State is that one person alone can do nothing, and neither can a small group or a small community. This is our frame of mind in Catalonia, our self-esteem always underground, except lately.

There is much information online about Enric Duran: personal blog, Twitter, Facebook, Wikipedia, and publications such as Crisis, We can, Go rebel, Catalonian Integrated Cooperative, and his book Abolishing banks.

Will we abolish the banking system?

The title I meant for the book I wrote in 2009 was Disobeying banks. The word “abolish” was a consensuated decision with the publisher. From my point of view our power lies in organizing ourselves away from the power structures, rather than trying to transform them. And we have increasingly more tools to do it.

Abolish consumerism, hyper-consumption? Especially consumption of oil, mass media, etc.?

We can change our consumption habits, and we need to, for many reasons: ensuring planet sustainability, managing our own economy, enjoying good health, are among the most important. Changing the way we consume is one of the simplest tools available to us to decide with our acts which world we want.

You are being very productive, despite your hiding. How is it living in clandestinity?

Actually, you could say clandestinity helps me to stay focused by having fewer external inputs. In this sense I can be, so to speak, more productive on different projects, at the expense of reducing my social life. This situation is not new, I was already living like this for six months after publicly declaring my action and I know that I feel well enough to keep going as long as necessary.

What did you learn in this time of hiding?

I’ve been updating many projects and ways of thinking that are meaningful to the change we want to accomplish. It was maybe 10 years since I spent some time observing what is happening in different parts of the world, because I was very focused on the Catalan situation. This new perspective helps me to learn many things and to be able to connect to what’s being done at home.

One of your ideas is to prioritize the creation of alternatives to the system, self-organization, to protest and denouncing power abuse. Can you tell us more about it?

It’s not just an idea, it’s what I’ve been doing, as I said, in the last 10 years, but the last three, with the Integrated Catalan Cooperative, have been the most successful.
When I experienced in person the cycle we call the anti-globalization struggles, I could feel the weakness it means to spend months organizing a one-day event, without then having the ability to repeat or maintain it… I realized in order to confront power, we have to prioritize self-management and self-organization, rather than generating self-empowering single-day street events every now and then, thus including our rebellion in our daily life.

Your bank expropriations were a well aimed shot to the banks, and very meritorious. Did you think this action up collectively, to find out if it worked, before making it public?

People had many doubts as to what would be the possible reactions from the decision makers, and even though they supported the idea in diferent ways, no one felt ready to do it at the same time as me. In addition to the risks and the non-reversibility of insolvency, one also has to consider that the interaction with bank employees and the paperwork are heavy tasks for many people who, although assuming a disobedient and political commitment, did not feel they could also do it.

Was yours an individual act, like a Robin Hood, or was it the action of an affinity group?

It was something in between. Individual in the more detailed aspects of the action itself, credit, documentation, etc. Collective in the political participation and self-organization to make an appropriate use of the resources for the goals we had at that time.

Have there been imitations, or similar expropriations? Are there new security flaws in banks? Can we continue to expropriate those who are robbing us?

For all I know there have been other actions, but they have not been made ​​public. Several people have written me asking questions related to this. There are still security flaws in the banking system, there will always be, because humans make mistakes, this means that although certain protocols exist, there are also holes because in practice these protocols are not applied.

You say it is legitimate to expropriate banks. What good is that, if it’s illegal?

The arguments for legitimacy are diverse, as I exposed in different texts. This legitimacy helps us to have a broad social support for actions that are detrimental to the banks, in order to generate a greater collective good, in contrast to the damage they are causing. The struggle against their abuse is another important and worthwhile cause in the confrontation with the banking system, more and more groups are doing an interesting work in this area.

You inform us that several of your rights have been violated and that you are going to respond to it. Which rights? How will that answer be?

I refer to the right to defend myself. Right to call witnesses, right to the information of the process, right to choose a lawyer, right to have a lawyer, etc.
The answer will depend on our strength as a legal support group, therefore it’s not yet defined, but in any case it is clear for me that we must respond when this happens, in order to stop people’s rights being stepped on by our current laws.

One idea I like is the one you stated about you not wanting to belong in any state, even in the hypothetical Catalan state.

I think the state as a concept implies violation of freedom, especially in the sense of being obliged to belong to a certain territorial jurisdiction. One of the key struggles of our time, I believe, is to question this requirement, and from the individual sovereignity of human beings, to practice our inalienable right to self-organize as we want, within a framework of respect for those who do not want to be part of it.

Living away from the state is difficult, we are stuck in since the moment we are registered, for example, with the imposed ID card. How do you do it? We can’t get rid of ID cards while the state is still there.

I believe we can actually get rid of the ID. In fact there are several movements in the world as the freeman, who are bringing this concept into practice. It’s a question of challenging this idea that “we can’t “, and put it in practice with every action we do.
Obviously this means giving up some of the facilities with which we are purchased by the modern state, but relating it to what I said before, as we increase our level of self-management, it becomes easier to lessen our dependance from the State.

Now you are also wanted for an smaller action. What is it about? When do you plan to come back?

This latest move will be explained at the right time, which isn’t yet now. The strategy regarding my return is the restorative project on which we are working and still doesn’t have a due date. I think restorative justice is a line of thought and practice regarding justice, which all social movements facing the legal system should discover, because it contains in its root the way of relating to others based on inclusion and respect that we all have inside, as opposed to the authoritarism prevailing in the official system.

Tell us about restorative justice and its advantages. Is this new proposal applicable with ultra-conservative governments such as CiU and PP?

Restorative justice represents a profound questioning of both the current judicial system and the penal policy that predominates in most states.
It suggests that instead of focusing on punishing the defendants if they are found guilty, it focuses on reparation towards the people who have been affected by the crime, and it proves, through diverse experiences, that in order to be effective this process needs to be fully participatory. This model is being applied in many countries around the world with very practical applications. It’s not so much a question of right or left, as a question of liberation from over 2000 years of Roman law and penance, for the benefit of methods that have survived since ancient times in many indigenous experiences and that still survive today.

You say that prison doesn’t benefit anyone. Prisons benefit the establishment. The threat of punishment and the punishment to those who break their law are needed to maintain this unfair order.

Exactly, that’s why we need to highlight those interests the power has on prisions, which are often not recognized, in order to show that those involved in a conflict have better ways to solve the problem than exemplary punishment.

What can be improved in the CIC, the Integrated Catalan Cooperative?

This is a very large project with many faces. Since it began more than three years ago, it has been a constant process of learning and improvement. However one can say we are just starting, although we have generated a significant economic self-management, which is one of the main goals. There are strategic areas where the room for improvement is very large and could be done in a short time such as facilitating and extending economic relations between all people and projects involved. We are also at an important moment for developing open source, sustainable fablabs.
The cooperative public system, in key areas such as education and health, is only beginning. Each project is large and complex.
Finally, I think it’s also important to go on extending the process at a local level, so that local groups can replicate tools and resources that allow us to decentralize everything.

What should we do to use social currency? What advantages are there, but especially in a practical level, how do we start using it?
There isn’t just one single social currency, there are several ways to implement social currencies and to use the existing ones. We use the ecos, which is the generic name that we have given to different coins created from diverse eco networks and the CIC. For me the most significant aspect of this tool is that it helps us to empower ourselves in the path of economic self-management, not depending on conventional money and discovering that currency may depend on a participatory process.
So there are no magic formulas and only when someone is producing something or is willing to work outside the system, can you really take advantage of social currency as a tool. Those who use it only as consumers are also passively supporting productive initiatives.
Moreover, I think it’s important to know and try to understand crypto-currencies like bitcoin, which although are not social, they can play an important role in liberating us from the banking system.

Is the Integral Revolution similar to the Zapatist model? Do you know the Zapatists? To what degree do you see resemblances?

Well, I know the Zapatists since long before working with the concept of integral revolution, in fact they are one of the most significant references for me since I am an activist. When I began to prioritize the construction of local alternatives, I immediately thought that what had to be done here was to build our autonomy like they do there.
In recent years, with the CIC and the concept of Integral Revolution which means going outside the limits of Capital and the State, we’re feeling especially close to the Zapatista proposal. For example, last summer we participated in a project called Escuelitas autónomas (autonomous little schools): they created one in Aurea Social, in winter the experience will be repeated, and there will be several people linked to integral cooperatives who will travel there.

Have you considered requesting exile in a dozen countries, like Snowden did, since your basic rights are not being respected?

That is not an option for me, because it would mean recognizing the legitimacy of any of those states, and even more, leaving my freedom in their hands. The last thing I would want is to become diplomatic exchange currency. So also, I found symbolically interesting the proposal of ZAD from Britain to communicate by public correspondence, accepting his proposal for asylum, from the autonomy of their struggle.

What are you preparing now?

We are consolidating many areas and driving some new ones. Among them, as we published not long ago, a global, decentralized digital communication channel to be called RADI.MS which will be the most visible project from the Radi collective, created at the time I started hiding. We believe that after the experiences with our paper publications (Crisis, We can, Go rebel), at the present time we’re more interested in creating a stable communication system which at the same time serves as a tool for building collaborative networking at planet level.
Besides I have already talked about restorative justice, and there is something more important, but it isn’t time to talk about it yet.

Are we moving towards an increasingly authoritarian and terrible market dictatorship?

The level of corruption shown in the highest levels of power has even exceeded what many had imagined. I think we have been in this market dictatorship for years and it is true it gets rougher in certain areas, but I also believe we can continue to generate more and more tools to get rid of it and not give in to its craving for dominance.

In the current class struggle, the rich (bank, transnational corps) are beating us by far, as Bufet put it, and are not even paying for the crisis they have created.

Perhaps from the point of view of traditional struggle it is like that. It is clear that the street response doesn’t match the harshness of the situation. But I think it has to do with us restructuring our strategies: mass movements going down, other answers based on social networks, decentralized actions in affinity groups, self-management and viral communication, although they are not effective enough, but I think they will be.

CGT’s confederal congress, which is currently taking place, has the motto “resisting is not enough, we build self-management”. That’s similar to CIC’s motto about constantly building community and self-management.

Of course, among other things, we have this concept in common, as well as much of the imagery behind it. Until now we have met at lectures, round-tables and discussion meetings, but it would be interesting to find more and more ways to do it in our self-managed daily life.

In an interview to Catalunya about five years ago you proposed CGT to organize a true general strike to get the richer ones to pay for the crisis. One-day general strikes have failed. How do you see it? How to organize an indefinite general strike?

I remember I was talking about a sustained social strike that could take place in all areas. It was part of the proposals from the We can fanzine. Meanwhile we lived the 15M movement which, besides some massive participation on particular days it became a sustained disobedience action led by tens of thousands. I think we learned that we have the means to perform sustained disobedience actions, but we should not expect the masses to be involved (which is the target in exchange for a single-day general strike), but let a “large minority” get a visibility that can multiply the effect.

What sort of training have you had in your life?

I had a self-taught training based on motivation to learn and also on research. Internet has been a basic tool for this, as has also been my practical experience in all movements and projects in which I have been involved, which gave me new challenges every time.

What events of your life have made you feel best?

Perhaps what satisfies me the most is the consistency and determination I have kept all these years I’ve been in activism, it’s almost 15 years of continuous involvement.

How do you see the current libertarian movement?

I think we are in a crossroad between practices based on an important historical tradition and other new ways related to libertarian culture, which work in unpredictable ways. In relation to that I think it is important to continue generating a framework of respect and willingness to learn from each other, because only then can we enjoy the wealth generated by this diversity and become stronger.

This post is also available in: Catalan, Spanish

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