Prof. of Pol. Sci. Publishes Seminal Work on Los Indignados

Richard Weiner

RIC Professor Richard Weiner

RIC Professor of Political Science Richard Weiner, former dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (1989-2008), has co-authored one of the first definitive books on “Los Indignados,” radical activists who went from demonstrating in the streets of Spain in 2011 to winning 80 of the 350 seats in the Spanish Parliament in 2016, all in a quest to bring power closer to the people.

Titled “Los Indignados: Tides of Social Insertion in Spain,” and written in collaboration with Iván López of the University of Zaragoza, this book gives a detailed account of the events following the 2008 global financial crisis, which led to the mobilization of the Occupy movement in Madrid and subsequent occupation movements throughout Spain and on every continent.

The first Occupy protest to receive widespread attention in the United States was Occupy Wall Street in New York. On Sept. 17, 2011, in Zuccotti Park, 1,000 people protested American social and economic inequality, particularly large corporations and a financial system that disproportionately benefits the richest one percent.

By October, Occupy was being staged around the world. Thousands of groups formed, working toward similar goals, under the Occupy name. 

“Spain’s Occupy movement was primarily made up of unemployed youth,” said Weiner. “In Spain, about 50 percent of the people between the ages of 18 and 35 are unemployed, so there were many dissatisfied youth.”

At the same time, a Stop Evictions campaign, led by Ada Colau, was underway to halt the removal of tens of thousands of Spanish people who had lost or were scheduled to lose their homes as a result of the subprime mortgage crisis.

“It was like a confluence of rivers,” Weiner explained of the Occupy and anti-eviction movements, “which came to be called the ‘Indignados’ – the Indignant, the Enraged.”

Meanwhile, the 2012 United States presidential election had drawn attention away from Occupy Wall Street, said Weiner. By the time President Barack Obama was re-elected, Occupy Wall Street had ended. In Spain, however, the Indignados continued to build momentum. From it emerged a new political party – “Podemos” (“Yes, We Can!”) in 2014.

By the 2015 elections, Popular Unity platforms supported by Podemos won 13 of 17 regions, and Colau was elected mayor of Barcelona.

In his book, Weiner explains the Indignados’ unbelievable success and why Occupy Wall Street died an early death. He views these events as lessons for his students.

“I want my students to be change agents,” he said. “I’d like to show them what their contemporaries are doing and what they themselves can do. In America we have movements like Black Lives Matter. How do you institutionalize a movement? How do you go from being a movement to creating laws and enduring practices?”

Weiner’s and Lopéz’s scholarship have been endorsed by academicians on both sides of the Atlantic. ​

“This is such an important book on such an important topic . . . it is wonderfully liberating in its detailed account of [los Indignados’] mobilization and their attempts to make for themselves, indeed for us all, a better world.” – Colin Hay, Sciences Po, Paris​

Richard Weiner specializes in the history of social and political thought, with particular focus on the concept of social democracy in movements and parties. Writing extensively on the subject and presenting papers throughout the world, he is currently completing a book on social rights.​