Daniel Trevino (Madrid, 30 years old) works in bars. He does not do it as something transitory, but as a stable form of livelihood and vindicating the rights of the workers. He is an anarchist, deals with communication work in the historic CNT union and has frequently appeared on programs such as Gen Playz, Raw meat or Saldremos mejor. He has several books published by independent publishers: the stories of Goodbye, Good Sunday (This is not Berlin) or the essays Without Connection (Ultimo Mono) and La memeizacion de la politica (Lauredal Ediciones).
He is taller than he appears in his videos: he measures 1.90. And it shows that he likes to take care of his image: the scarf around his neck, the tattoos, the slender demeanor. He has quoted us in a market in his neighborhood, on the other side of the Manzanares, in Madrid. He speaks serenely, slipping a well-spun speech and opening numerous parentheses and paragraphs. “Then you’re going to have to do a lot of cutting and pasting,” he says. It wasn’t that bad.
Question. You do many things, but you prefer to define yourself as a waiter.
Reply. Being a waiter is what keeps me going and what I dedicate most of my time to. If I get collaborations in the media or interviews, it’s because of the dissemination I do on the networks about labor rights, unionism, anarchism…
Q. So, you are a waiter.
R. I am a waiter. I’ve been in the profession for ten years and I’ve worked since dawn, putting on breakfasts, and until dawn, closing nightclubs.
Q. Is it a vocation?
R. No, no. In addition, work in the hospitality industry is considered demeaning employment. I claim it because people seem to be in on this in passing. I have psyched myself up: empowerment is important to fight. There are those who experience the hospitality industry as something temporary, almost like an accident, so they do not demand better working conditions.
Q. How are those conditions?
R. We have an agreement, we have some rights, but they are violated in more than 90% of the cases. The salary tables of the agreement are outdated, the labor inspections are conspicuous by their absence… I have only worked in a place where the law was complied with.
Q. Recently, the Community of Madrid launched a curious campaign urging the population to leave tips as something essential for workers to fulfill “those little dreams”.
R. I am fed up with publicity movements that romanticize precariousness. From the Popular Party there have been a lot of favors to the hospitality employers that have nothing to do with an idea of healthy hospitality. I won’t deny that tipping is a substantial part of my income, but it has always seemed like an overreaction to me: it makes us waiters not only have to do our job, but also, if you don’t smile much for a week because you’re screwed, you still earn less money .
Q. It is said that Spain is going to be “a country of waiters”.
R. It is that Spain is a country of waiters. The popular imagination has a very toxic relationship with the hospitality industry. He denigrates her at the same time that he praises her. The first thing a Spaniard does when going out, according to the topic, is to talk about our food.
Q. And that’s where you guys come in.
R. We are the ones who serve the tortillas and paellas. But if the quality of the food were the same as the quality of the job… the food would be nauseating. We love bar culture, going out to eat, but we don’t want to know anything about what’s going on behind it.
Q. How does the youth get along with unionism?
R. I think it is a challenge. I found a fight in unionism because I understood that the task of our generation was to discuss politics with the institutions, to recover it for the street. Unionism is undervalued, but for me the struggle for labor is the root of all other struggles.
Q. There are those who say that the so-called identity policies cannot be reconciled with labor policies.
A. It is not true. Migrants, thanks to the blackmail that the Immigration Law does to them, are forced to accept unworthy conditions. It is not necessary to explain here how women’s relationship with work has traditionally been, or the invisibility of care. From unionism, ways of rethinking production that contemplate ideas of veganism are proposed. Instead, the racist far-right discourse goes a long way to destroy class consciousness, claiming that your fellow migrant is inferior. That the queer person is not one of yours. The opposition between identity and workerism is interested and absurd.
Migrants, thanks to the blackmail made by the Immigration Law, are forced to accept unworthy conditions
Q. Does unionism have a worse accommodation than other demands?
R. It is clear that work is what stings the most and generates the most tensions. It is difficult for the system to absorb because it goes against its economic foundation.
Q. What sense does anarchism have today? We no longer aspire to the Revolution or anything like that…
A. Well, why not? I have the feeling that we live in a time intoxicated by exaggerated narratives. All possible futures have already been presented to us by Hollywood. In the cinema we see amazing Marvel movies. It is curious that, at the same time, we lower our tone to talk about phenomena such as social transformation. It makes us feel
Q. But does anarchism make sense?
R. There are places where it is practiced, like in Chiapas or in certain parts of Kurdistan. Thinking on a large scale, in our cities, is ambitious. I cannot tell you that on such a day at such an hour wage labor will be abolished and we will be free. I am a realist, I do politics because I think it is the way we communicate as a society. I think more about the present, and I try to make things change. And I am confident that we will achieve something better.
Q. In a program of La Clave by Jose Luis Balbin, Federica Montseny, a historic libertarian, explained that anarchism had been useful by introducing ideas such as environmentalism or feminism.
R. I agree that in a democratic system anarchist ideas serve to balance the scales a bit. The opposite would be giving the free market a blank check. A social suicide.
Q. Right-wing anarchism, anarcho-capitalism, is also rearing its head.
A. Well, that’s one of the best branding moves I’ve ever seen. Those people continue a bit what punk did…
Q. How? In fact, the far right sometimes calls itself the new punk.
R. Punk contributed to the maintenance of anarchism in Europe, but perhaps it was the movement that understood it the worst, as something individualistic and antisocial. There is nothing more social and collective than anarchism. And that I have been in punk. But what was an adolescent rebellion was shielded in a political cause.
Punk contributed to the maintenance of anarchism, but it was the movement that understood it the worst, as something individualistic and antisocial.
Q. Some anarchists of the 1930s had such a great moral commitment that they saw themselves almost as Christian saints and even identified with the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
R. One of the best books I have read lately are the speeches of Salvador Segui, the Catalan anarchist leader. He was Catholic and had a vision of reality that made the people fall in love, because he appealed to some fundamental values. I do not believe that faith should be understood only as something religious, but as the awareness of a better future. Like the anarchists in relation to utopia. And we don’t call it utopia because it’s impossible, but because of its ability to appeal to reality.
Q. When I contacted you, one Sunday, due to being in a hurry, you told me not to worry, that for you Sundays “have not been Sundays for a long time”.
R. We waiters are what we work when nobody is looking. I usually talk to colleagues about what it means to come home at dawn, and not to party, but sober because you come from work. Codes that are only handled in the sector. Sometimes they tell me “there are holidays this week”, but that doesn’t matter to us, because we work anyway, and we do things on Mondays, weird days.
Q. You prepare an essay where, instead of citing thinkers or studies, you quote your friends and family.
R. Now I read a lot of essays, and Marx is always quoted, of course. But my intention is that the word Marx does not come out at any time. And those who count things are those around me.
Q. What is your book in progress about?
R. To encourage active participation and popular struggle. We have to organize ourselves to do politics. It’s costing me, because between work and my comments on networks…
Q. You have a house full of handwritten notebooks.
R. Yes, many notebooks. For me writing is to record reality on paper, I have it very internalized. For example, I keep a dream journal.
Q. They say that this makes you have lucid dreams.
R. Yes, and now I know why I dream about certain things, why certain places appear, certain people. It is a way of self-knowledge that I usually recommend. But without falling into esotericism. The filmmaker Jan Svankmajer said that the only difference between the one who dreams and the one who is awake is that one has his eyes closed.
For me writing is to record reality on paper, I have it very internalized. For example, I keep a journal of my dreams.
Q. Social networks?
R. They have lights and shadows. They have helped make visible many marginalized groups. But in them we understand politics in a soccer way: I have to defend my people at all costs, whatever they do. Anarchism is a way of being above that.
Q. When the 15M the hegemony in the networks was of the left, now rather the opposite.
R. I would turn the argument around: was Twitter a place dominated by the left or was it that 15M made society more akin to those ideas?
Q. Well, that must be it.
R. At that time, a discourse coherent with the concerns of society was created. That is what I aspire to through trade unionism: to give society the tools to understand its frustration.