American photojournalist “El Marco” is currently visiting Spain and a couple days ago witnessed Europe’s latest political outburst, as Spain’s three largest unions tried to shut down all commerce for a day in a “general strike” to protest the government’s new right-to-work laws designed to alleviate the country’s rampant unemployment:
While the general strike pretty much fizzled (as the linked photo-essay reveals), and it’s difficult to get American readers worked up over confusing Spanish politics, an intriguing detail from El Marco’s essay stands out:
Here and there throughout the crowd, in addition to the now de rigueur “V for Vendetta” Guy Fawkes masks, protesters were wearing “A Clockwork Orange” t-shirts and regalia (the orange shirt on the right side of this photo). It seems the nihilistic smash-everything “ultra-violence” depicted in Stanley Kubrick’s 1971 film version has a new generation of fans seeking some hipster cultural justification for their mindless contrarianism.
What makes this particularly relevant to the American scene is that our Occupy Wall Street movement itself claims it was inspired by and is the direct descendent of the 2011 Spanish youth protests in the exact same Puerta del Sol plaza where this recent protest erupted, which means that “What happens in Madrid does not stay in Madrid,” and that American copycat play-revolutionaries are likely to imitate the fads popularized in Spain, which has emerged as a radical chic trendsetter.
So: Look for “A Clockwork Orange”-themed fashions to join “V for Vendetta” masks and Che Guevara shirts as the unofficial uniform of 2012’s occupy protests.
One final note: “A Clockwork Orange” has many literary themes beyond the scope of this short post, but one of those themes was a condemnation of totalitarianism, as the novel’s fictional government tries to brainwash the unhinged lead character with mind-control techniques. Apparently the unconscious irony of this idiot waving a totalitarian flag while wearing an “A Clockwork Orange” shirt was lost on everyone but the insightful El Marco — and you the reader.
Check out the full photo essay for a full examination of Madrid’s union protests (which went completely unnoticed in American media) and El Marco’s lucid explanation of dizzying Spanish politics.