'Only naïve people see the world with clarity'

Alejo Cuervo celebrates the 'naïveté' of the indignados, saying, 'Only naïve people see the world with clarity.' Is he right?

(This piece was originally published in Spanish here.)

The winds of change are blowing all over the world. At the time, the fall of Iceland’s government and the Arab revolts in Tunisia looked like isolated social movements. However, the replica effect sparked off in Tahrir, Egypt, was widely discussed. The initial news was that students had taken to the streets calling for freedom. How very naïve, don’t you think? But they managed to rally all of Egypt and make the government fall. Nearly as naïve as the Icelanders — they also stood up for their rights, and also managed to make their demands a reality.

Now a tiny spark ignites, and the south of Europe goes up in flames. The youth suddenly mobilizes in ways not seen since May ’68. A small group of  ’indignants’ takes to the streets in Madrid’s Puerta del Sol (REAL DEMOCRACY NOW!) and the next we know is that their demands are running amok all over the world, threatening to become global.

What’s happening? Nothing special, it seems. The youth has always been guilty of being naïve. The young have always denounced injustice and tried to change the world. That’s nothing new. Idealism has always fueled youth demonstrations, and it’s nothing to worry about. Just ignore them, and they will desist in the end. But that was how things were. Not any longer. Now they make governments fall, and their impact multiplies overnight.

The difference is the web. Particularly, the growth of social networks. It’s no longer possible to hide their rebellious voices. The media don’t pay attention to them? No big deal. They organize themselves through Twitter, Facebook, or whatever. If you think this can be stopped, you must be kidding.

Íñigo, my 17-year old son, is like many other kids his age. He seldom reads any books, and spends as much time as he can playing computer games. But not these days. These days he’s been infected by the revolutionary virus. He’s following and sharing links about the movement. He’s doing daily ‘cacerolazos’. He’s spamming his neighbors’ mailboxes explaining why does he feels guerilla-like. He’s part of a viral movement, and he knows it. Whenever he can, he goes to Plaza Catalunya and enters into conversations with the people camped there. And he poses naïve questions. Everybody answers him gladly — it’s no big deal. And how he learns! And even more important — how very excited he is! Whenever there’s an opportunity, he jumps in to help.

Íñigo explains that many of his schoolmates can’t visit Plaza Catalunya as he does — their parents forbid it. They’ve heard rumors about the police beating up some misfits, and they are afraid it may be dangerous. Since I also visit Plaza Catalunya, and boast about this, I have also received mails and phone calls from friends and family who are afraid and want me to take care. This only shows that they haven’t seen for themselves what’s going on!

When there’s nothing special scheduled, the outstanding moment tends to be the Assembly. It’s usually held at 9 pm, after the cacerolazo. Sporadic incidents aside, seeing the Assembly in action always impresses me. At 10 or 11 pm, even well past 12 pm, Plaza Catalunya becomes fully crowded. And so many young people! They are motivated, excited, and respectful towards each other. They are the engine that powers the ongoing revolution. They meet daily to reload their batteries, to propose new strategies. And there are more of them every day, in many more places. And they aren’t watching TV.

Yes — it’s a revolution, and it’s changing the world NOW.

But don’t panic — it’s a non-violent revolution. Our revolutionaries are naïve, indeed, but they are no fools. They know that violence is the last resort of the incompetent. They know that the best way to confront repression is to reveal it to the world. They are not afraid. They have nothing to hide, they are right, and they know it. Youth is society’s conscience and, at long last, it can’t be silenced. Hear it ROAR!

The study of revolutionary processes teaches us that revolutions are nothing but gestalt shifts — or shifts in consciousness. Transitions between ways of looking at, and understanding the world. These usually erupt when some naïve question is asked, a question that may not make any sense from the point of view of the previous gestalt — or mindset. And yes, most of the times, revolutionary processes thrive on young people. Naïveté is not a sin, but an actual tactical advantage when confronting problems. It’s the cutting edge of those with a broader mind, those who take nothing for granted.

The so-called ‘sin of naïveté’ is a hoax. It undermines the youth’s dignity and élan. It degrades their most valuable treasure: they are not afraid, and thus bear no prejudice. The perspective upon the world of those who feel fear cannot be objective — their fear projects its shadow over everything they see. Only naïve people see the world with clarity.

Nobody knows what this movement will eventually develop into. But I think I know what’s happening. The 21st century is finally here, and  the world’s conscience has discovered its own voice on the Web. We are seeing its first babblings.

The century’s dawn lacked promise. Social apathy was endemic, and there was a notorious absence of ideologies on display in the market. The ‘indignant’ movement has no marvelous Utopia stored up its sleeve, either, and that’s probably for the better. It only aspires to be a social channel to denounce injustice, to demand changes.

And what shall we do with the ‘indignants’?

Easy enough. Just the same as happens with Íñigo — listen to them, and answer their questions. Help them. Co-operate with them. They are offering us a chance to take part in a society with a conscience, and, quite simply, that is better than what we have now. Don’t waste their effort.

If you wish to see a sparkle in your kid’s eyes, don’t hesitate — join the revolution!

Me too. I declare myself naïve. I declare myself willing to change the world. And, speaking from from my uttermost naïveté, I stand indignant in front of the most offending social injustice of all — the very existence of frontiers.

Let’s go global!


The author has requested this piece to be published as ‘copyleft‘ - feel free to republish and distribute.

Image top: Ojo Espejo.