Thanks to Isabel Diaz Ayuso, president of the Community of Madrid for the misnamed People’s Party since 2019, Madrid has dethroned Barcelona as the capital of party and booze tourism. In her campaign for the early elections she provoked by resigning, she has simply adopted the style of the far-right Vox party (while PSOE candidate Gabilondo sees nothing more urgent to do than to warn against communism).-Tlaxcala’s Note
Saint Isabel of the Covid-19, patron of IFEMA (managing body of the Madrid fairs). Mrs. Ayuso, a favourite target of Internet users, for her unpopular actions and grotesque statements.
Big capitals all over the world run the risk of becoming a guinea pig for right-wing political experimentation. However, they are also always sites of resistance for the left.
With globalisation, nation states have lost some of their power, while a sizable proportion of the minority that has siphoned off the wealth lost by the masses agglomerates in capital cities. However, they are also joined by those who are desperately searching for opportunities, as well as those who, without being losers, manage to become generous through the force of their own values.
Crises breed fascism, be it of a higher or lower virulence. The 2008 financial crisis brought with it an attempt to dismantle the last remaining social structures that were born in Europe after the Second World War. This is where we find ourselves today, and the situation is being aggravated by COVID-19.
In the same way that Madrid has been a bastion of the right wing, other cities, such as London, Palermo, Berlin, Paris or Barcelona have been sites of resistance against the attempts by the right-wing to dismantle the social fabric.
One of the most desperate attempts by the right-wing to turn Madrid into a bastion of unrestrained capitalism was with EuroVegas. In that operation, schemed up by Ignacio González, one of the former presidents of the Partido Popular (People’s Party) currently in jail on a theft conviction, wanted to hand over 750 hectares of hotels, skyscrapers, golf courses and casinos to an industry magnate, Sheldon Adelson. Adelson is an empresario from Las Vegas who is famous because he is ultra-wealthy, and because in that city, the casino workers were not allowed to join a union.
The thief González wanted to give Adelson a carte blanche so that within EuroVegas not even the Spanish constitution would be of legal effect, thus allowing him to dictate his own rules over issues ranging from smoking in public spaces and money lending to individuals to the right to freely associate with a union or allowing prostitution.
In other words, a paradise for the winners, propped up by a few invisible losers that are forced to do what they are told to, but who are kept out of sight. A place where the global elite comes so that the proletariat can, for poverty pay, serve them food and drinks, clean their rooms, and should the elite so desire, make them feel comfortable in applying once more the droit du seigneur formerly held by the absolutist kings and quite possibly one or two monarchs of the constitutional era.
Converting Madrid into a casino fits with the perceptions the new right-wing has about our societies. In fact, Madrid has become a gambling capital anyway, despite the fact that it might be the ‘new heroin’ that devastates the lives of future generations.
The house rules are the same as those of the unprincipled neoliberal right-wing: the winner takes it all. The only rule is money. A few play, while the rest work. In the casino, there are no queues for food support, nor do they serve pizza; there is nothing public about them because everything is private; there are no power outages, and nor do they cut off the electricity, as the lights must always sparkle; no one looks like they are not going to make it to the end of the month, as poor people are not admitted to casinos. In the casino-society of the right-wing, the right of admission is reserved.
That is why these casinos even have their own private hospitals, just in case a rich person has a heart attack, so they can treat them there and then. And if a worker takes ill, they will leave via the back door, so that no one can see them, and go to a public hospital.
Who wants to bet that more poor old people have died than rich ones in the retirement homes?
The new right-wing will always have more tokens to play with, ice in their glass and an apartment loaned to them by the casino owners, with the trade-off that when the latter needs something, like in The Godfather, they get it, no questions asked. This could take the form of a subsidy, land, a contract, a favour with a judge or a defence of their interests in the mass media.
Madrid increasingly resembles EuroVegas. Achieving herd immunity is the public health policy of the right against COVID-19. It is the first thing they talked about, and it is what they really think. Those with the means, the healthy, the rich, the selfish, always measure the world based on their own fortune and their access to medicine, food and healthy environments.
They have always believed that if the Coronavirus were to spread, it would affect the poor more than it would the rich. Perhaps one or another privileged person falls down in the meantime, but it has always been an assumed cost that the odd millionaire might go to ruin or even wind up in jail. It is a price that they are prepared to pay for the wellbeing of their clique.
For this reason, Isabel Díaz Ayuso has opened Madrid up to foreigners, who come here to do what they cannot do in their country. Herd immunity must substitute for the absence of vaccines, as they too are privatised.
There was a time when in Spain we threw our rubbish on the floor, or spat on it, but we did not do the same in France or Germany. Now, the tables have turned, and the selfish French people, not all of them, of course, come to Spain to throw their shit on the floor and behave like colonisers.
It is not true that all this helps the hospitality industry, because it does not help the waiters, and when another outbreak occurs, nor does it help the business owners. Help would be provided by stricter controls and with direct assistance to sustain the losses. This is help that Ayuso has not given. Selfishness and myopia always have their way with the right-wing.
Personal freedom ends where the freedom of others begins. This is the foundation of democracy. Yet in the casino-society of the uninhibited right-wing, freedom is a privilege of the winners, who also buy off a few of the losers, the ones that believe they might just catch a few of the crumbs that fall down to them from the table of plenty.
It is curious that in Spain, those that speak of freedom are the very same who repressed it for 40 years, those who preach about the flag are the very same that have the most politicians in jail for stealing public money, those who live and breathe Spain are the very same who yesterday were selling off our territory for USAmerican military bases and are doing the same today for the new EuroVegas, which the capital of Spain, Madrid, is quickly turning into.