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Cops Behaving Badly: Brutality in Barcelona

"Watch them move into the future
Got a lot of catching up to do
Hope they take a lesson from their neighbours
That'll show 'em what not to do
Should have happened for them in the Thirties
But the pleasure got caught in pain
Ended up like the bull in the china shop
Under the name of Spain..."

--The Stranglers, "Spain"

Spain supposedly elected a democratic socialist government in response to the Madrid train bombings of a few years ago. But you'd be hard-put to believe it, seeing things like this, which are more reminiscent of an earlier era of fascist dictatorship:

According to YVKE Mundial, this was the scene in Barcelona on Wednesday, as university students and their supporters turned out en masse to protest Plan Bolonia, which would hand over university education to the private sector under the general pretext of "streamlining" and "efficiency" (gee, where have we heard all that before?). The antidemocratic nature of the "reform" is a major sticking point (did they bother to consult any students? Noooooo!), as is the back-door privatization of education it is intended to bring. This problem is nothing new, and certainly not limited to Spain (as it is EU-wide). Even "neutral" Switzerland has had trouble with it.

The Spanish oligarchy is all for this unpopular measure, of course, because they can afford it--and because they don't want to pay the taxes that would keep higher education public (and thus available to the "undesirables"). As was ever the case with oligarchies, though, they are very much in the minority--especially in Catalonia, which has a long and proud history of standing up to fascism (George Orwell, who fought as a foreign volunteer alongside the socialist POUM milicianos during the Civil War and narrowly escaped death by a bullet to the neck, chronicled his adventures in Homage to Catalonia.)

As you can see from the video, the police goons were well organized, clearly under orders to attack, and had no problem assaulting unarmed demonstrators. Their preferred method is kneecapping--they hit the protesters hard on the legs, then beat them some more when they inevitably fall down. One of them can even be seen striking a woman from behind; she reacts in shock to this unprovoked attack (she never even saw them coming at her, and neither said nor did anything to aggravate them.) All of this is par for the course when an unpopular and antidemocratic plan is being rammed through somewhere. In fact, that's the only way such a plan can pass--by force.

BTW, I've had the devil of a time finding anything written in English about all this going down in Spain, but if you want to see why so many Europeans consider the Yanks to be anti-freedom, self-righteous, hypocritical, uncouth, clueless and frankly just plain ol' ugly, here's something you might want to get your rabies shots before clicking on.


How the hell didya find that blog? I mean, I have taught in both the US and Spain, but there isn't much difference in average student quality or seriousness. (There are lots of inadequacies in Spanish universities, but the seriousness of the average student is no worse than in the US). That bloggers main problem seems to be that the students smoke.

Heavens, I dunno. I just googled "Plan Bolonia" and waded through page after page of Spanish links until I found something in English. I found another blog entry, too, by some other Yank, who also thought the damn Euro-peons were protesting too much about nothing. Yeah, nothing--except their educational future. Clueless, clueless buggers, those expats. They make me smug about being Canadian, and not in a good way.

What got to me about THAT one, though, was the defence of inequality, claiming it IMPROVES quality. WTF? Yeah, sure. Dubya and his "gentleman's C" average are a real improvement over Europeans getting their university education for free regardless of social class or wealth. And I'm the Queen of Spain...

BTW, I'm against smoking too (having watched my grandpa die agonizingly of emphysema had a funny effect on me), but gimme a break, that happens on university campuses EVERYWHERE. To claim it doesn't happen in the US is just plain wacky. Makes me wonder where that one got its education--Brigham Young, would be my guess.

Haha, Dubya was the first thing that came to my mind when I read that blog too. I mean, look, a university degree is like a ticket to some kind of social success in all "modern" societies. Then there are those who study, because they are interested in things, and in any case if you want to do things with your degree later in life, you make sure you learn stuff whether the education is free or not. I find exactly the same mix of students in Spanish universities as in the US (a mass of people who want a degree who couldnt care less about anything, a few who are interested in the subject matter, either because it would be useful to them later in life for professional reasons, or because they want to pursue an academic career). Spanish universities are not very high quality mainly because they are underfunded (social spending in Spain is below UE-15 average), salaries in Spain are low across the board, etc. etc. They are also a little relaxed, maybe a bit too much, but I don't exactly mind that. But other European countries don't have the same problems, at least to that degree, so the "free" part is not relevant. The main difference between Europe and the US is at the graduate student level, I think, where the public-private partnership that prevails in the US helps (most grad stuents in US universities don't pay anyway).