The Locksmiths of Pamplona
It sounds rather like the title of a marvellous opera to me: fiery Spanish women, muscular bulls, fatal conflict under clear blue sky. The truth behind the title is more prosaic, involving the terrible austerity in Spain and mass house repossessions, but the resistance of the Locksmiths of Pamplona stands out in a drear landscape of finger pointing at the poor and indebted throughout Europe.
In short, the locksmiths have refused to change any more locks in the city, as part of the process of repossession of properties when people have defaulted on their mortgages. The locksmiths are standing with their community, as part of their community. They are losing earnings in the process, but they say it took them less than 15 minutes to decide on the policy of not working with the banks and courts evicting people.
Of course, it will do no obvious material good to the people in arrears. The houses and flats will still return to the banks who do not own them, in moral terms, any more than the customers who were lent 100% of the money on overvalued property. These are the banks that are being bailed out whilst the people who took out their loans are thrown onto the street. But, in standing with their neighbours in refusing to change the locks the locksmiths are counting themselves in the Us of it all and their neighbours will surely not forget.
It is a small resistance, but it is still worth making – one day the small resistances might form a critical mass. Debt is often painted as a moral issue only for the debtor. The truth of it is that it should be more of a moral issue for the irresponsible lender.