december 16, 2017

Working on the Balkan Route: “I Can Still Here Croatian Cops Screaming ‘One line!’ in #Opatovac”

States and borders are dividing people. Dividing in them and us. When do we finally get rid of these tools of suffering and oppression? On December 17 I will travel to Lesvos, Greece, again and will stay there for almost a month. It seems a long time ago that I started working with refugees on the Balkan route, but actually its not. A little more than two years have past after I drove to Slovenia. A good friend wrote me in September 2015 about the situation on the Croatian/Slovenian border and asked me to come and support. A lot has happened since then…

Video by the author of this aricle, Riot Turtle, about the next campaign on Lesvos.

Published by Enough is Enough. Written by Riot Turtle.

Note: Presence Counts is not organizing any of  these events, we are publishing this text for people across the US and Europe to be able to see what is going on and for documentation only.

Riot Turtle About Border Closures: “The EU Member States Don’t Want to be Confronted With Their Deadly Policies”

States and borders are dividing people. Dividing in “them and us”. When do we finally get rid of these tools  of oppression? On December 17 I will travel to Lesvos, Greece, again and will stay there for almost a month. It seems a long time ago that I started working with refugees on the Balkan route, but actually its not. A little more than two years have past after I drove to Slovenia. A good friend wrote me in September 2015 about the situation on the Croatian/Slovenian border and asked me to come and support. A lot has happened since then…

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Image: Slovenian/Croatian border in Bregana, Slovenia on September 19, 2015. Image by @RiotTurtle65

I didn’t think long when Luka (name changed), a Slovenian comrade and good friend, wrote me in September 2015. I was planning to drive to the Netherlands for a few days but I immediately changed my plans and drove to Slovenia the next morning. I first met Luka and we discussed the situation. Luka proposed to document it all and spread it through our independent media channels.

I drove to Bregana at the Slovenian/Croation border and the first thing I saw was a lot of riot cops and military. Helicopters in the air, armoured vehicles, shields, helmets and batons. The full program. A group of people was sitting on the ground on the so-called no man’s land, a small territory between the Slovenian and Croatian border posts. I started to talk with people and asked if I could take some pictures. They agreed and so I started to document the disgusting scenery. A totally militarized border to stop people from seeking refuge.

During the night that followed people again and again asked to let a sick child pass the border. On the Slovenian side of the border was the nearest hospital. But the cops refused to let her pass and in the early morning hours the child died. I wiped a few tears, and got sad and angry at the same time. Borders kill!

The Slovenian ruling class didn’t mind to let these people suffer and refused the necessary treatment of the sick child, but they seemed to be stressed about possible bad publicity after the child died. The image of their state could suffer. A few hours later suddenly coaches parked at the border and Syrian families with children were allowed to pass the border to get into the coaches. All refugees protested, including the ones who were allowed to get to the coaches. The solidarity between all people on this tiny piece of land was inspiring.

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Image: One of the coaches on the Slovenian/Croatian border in September 2015. Image by @RiotTurtle65

Nobody knew where the coaches were bringing these people and together with some other people I decided to follow the coaches. We discussed who would stay at the border  with the people who were still there, to make sure that enough people would stay.

In the beginning it looked like the coaches were only accompanied by one police car, but soon the first of our cars was stopped by state security in a civil cars. Soon the second car was stopped and I decided to take a bit more distance. I managed to follow them a long time but a few kilometers before Maribor I lost them. I circled around but didn’t find the coaches again. A little bit later I heard that the coaches had left Slovenia and crossed a small border post. The coaches were in Austria now and I decided to drive to Austria.

I drove to Heiligenkreuz at the Austrian/Hungarian border and met a few comrades. Thousands of people arrived here and it was a pretty chaotic scene because the Austrian army and cops had surrounded them on a small piece of land. But little by little people were transported to different Austrian cities and to Germany.

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Image: The scenery in Heiligenkreuz, Austria in Septemeber 2015. Image by @RiotTurtle65

During my stay in Heiligenkreuz we (me and some comrades) heard that Hungarian cops started to chase and arrest refugees on the Hungarian side of the border. We mobilized more people and drove to the Hungarian side of the border. We saw that the information that we received was correct and started to act. The Hungarian cops tried to arrest as many refugees as they could. It was the implemenation of a new law of the fascist Orban regime, which allowed the Hungarian state to detain people up to 3 years for illegally entering Hungary. For obvious reasons I can’t write about what kind of actions took place during that night but somehow many people arrived in Austria and were save for the Hungarian cops.

I was able to sleep a bit in the car and a few hours later I drove to Salzburg, Austria. Around the main train station I saw soldiers patrolling with machine guns in their hands. Many people were sitting on the ground at the main train station. Waiting for things to come. All trains to Germany were cancelled. A few kilometers from the main train station German riot cops closed the Austrian/German border, only letting in a certain amount of people per day.

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Image: Monitor at the main train station in Salzburg, Austria in September 2015. All trains to Germany were cancelled. Image by @RiotTurtle65

I drove back home after that, with a head full of images. But soon I was back on the Balkan route. We organized a convoy to Slovenia, Croatia and Serbia about 1 month after I returned to Germany. The Cars of Hope collective was born. The misery on the Balkan route was getting bigger and bigger. More and more European states were sealing-off their borders with military, cops and fences.

The scenery in state-run camps like Opatovac (Croatia), Šentilj and Dobova (Both Slovenia, video below) was similar. People were treated more than just inhuman. They were subject to police violence and terrorized. I can still here Croatian cops screaming “One line!” in Opatovac. Even mother and children were only allowed to walk behind each other in a line. “One Line!” I decided that I was not going to support the scum that created these camps by working there. I documented (which was forbidden) the situation in Opatovac and left again. I drove to Serbia and started to work there on a rest area along the highway from Sid to Belgrade. There we were able to work self-organized. People were allowed to move and we build-up a mobile charging station for smartphones. Smartphones were crucial for many people as they often lost friends or family on their long journey… For me it was important not to get exploited for the goals of state rulers, but to work in a self-organized structure and on eye-level with people. Also when it comes to decsion making.

After that I went many times on the Balkan route with the cars of Hope collective. We worked with Soul Food kitchen for people who were sleeping in the streets and parks of Thessaloniki (Greece), with Soul Welders in Belgrade (Serbia), with No Border Kitchen Lesvos (Greece) and many others.  We also worked a lot in Idomeni (Greece) and organized appartments for many people after the “wild” Idomeni camp was evicted. But we also did a lot of presentations in many German cities to create awareness about the situation of refugees on the Balkan route. Many activists of Cars of Hope also fight deportations in Germany and are involved in demonstrations and other actions for the freedom of movement.

The EU/Turkey deal from March 2016 is a disgusting deal which caused more deaths and  legalized trade with humans. The European Union and its member states are paying the Turkish state billions to keep refugees out of Europe and if people do manage to reach the European Union, the EU member states can deport them back to Turkey. But Erdogan’s authoritarian Turkish state wasn’t enough for many EU member states. An even more down-and-dirty deal was made with Libya. A country where people are put in camps that are even worse than in Europe. The European Union is doing business with a country where refugees are being sold as slaves.

The year 2017 is coming to an end I will travel on the Balkan route again. This time to Lesvos and Athens, this time for almost a month. We still have states and borders, we still have people dying at sea and at inner European borders. I will continue to fight for peoples rights like the freedom of movement and also support people who are seeking refuge as much and as good as I can. It makes no sense that people like me are priviliged and can travel wherever they want to just because I was born in northern Europe. I absolutely didn’t do anything that justifies this kind of privilage in comparison to people that were born somewhere elso on this planet. All people have the right to the freedom of movement.

The continent that colonized large parts of the world, that is making money by selling arms to war zones, that is crushing out peoples basic existence with trade deals that destroy local economies around the globe, has closed its borders. We have to overcome this kind of policies, we have to overcome states and borders. We have to get rid of an economical and political system that is dividing us and that destroys our planet.

On Lesvos we (the Cars of Hope collective) will support the Open The Islands campaign, just like we did in the Vohwinkel district and the university of Wuppertal, Germany. For me personally thats not enough, but its a first step towards a real freedom of movement.

Many people support the work of the Cars of Hope collective on the Balkan route. If you also want to support the work with refugees we do you can join our crowdfunding campaign at (scroll down for English) https://www.leetchi.com/c/soziales-von-cars-of-hope or donate directly by PayPal: carsofhopewtal@gmail.com

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december 15, 2017

Transnational mobilization for the rights of migrants and against fascism – Humanity Welcome

restiamo umani

HUMANITY WELCOME

Gorizia – Saturday December 16th, 3pm, Casa Rossa/Rusa hiša
Transnational mobilization for the rights of migrants and against fascism.

trasagorica

Originally published by Rete Solidale Pordenone.

Note: Presence Counts is not organizing any of  these events, we are publishing this text for people across the US and Europe to be able to see what is going on and for documentation only.

 

HUMANITY WELCOME

Gorizia – Saturday December 16th, 3pm, Casa Rossa/Rusa hiša
Transnational mobilization for the rights of migrants and against fascism.

Gorizia is by its nature a crossing point in the centre of a common territory, which was always, and is nowadays more than ever, transnational, multilingual and multicultural. It is not a coincidence that diverse nations in this city stood together to stop the rise of Nazi after the fall of the Fascism in September 1943. For the same reasons, Gorizia is also under constant pressure of nationalisms, of racism and fascism. A hundred years ago in its surrounding area there used to be the most bloody battles of the First World War, which left hatred and false divisions behind.

In the past weeks this contrast was evident as never before: we could witness the civil war of institutions against the migrants who found shelter in the Bombi gallery – the gallery that years ago used to be a shelter for people during Second World War bombardments. This gallery is a symbol and a proof of the past and actual Fascism. A proof that can be summed up in one word: INHUMANITY.

IT IS INHUMAN:
neglecting the hygienic minimum and even water to whom has no place to go to,
forcing hundreds of people to sleep in makeshift shelters;
in the depths of winter preventing an access to a few shelters, which protect from rain and snow;
transforming the person who comes from somewhere else into an object of miserable political campaigns, stirring up xenophobia and intolerance.

This inhumanity has already many faces and too many responsibilities. On the one hand, we can notice an obvious inhumanity, claimed by the mayors of Gorizia and Pordenone and their councils – among the members of the councils there are persons who have no problem sharing the table with whom openly praises Fascism. On the other hand it is also true that the tragic situation of the migrants in Italy, Europe and African countries facing the Mediterranean, is a result of precise choices.

IT IS INHUMAN:
externalizing the control of migration flows and national borders as the European Union does;
the Italian Government’s deals with Libyan criminal militia, that practices slavery;
the exploitation of migrants and the idea that someone can migrate only if he/she sacrifices his/her personal freedom and life itself;
the criminalization of those who offer first aid to migrants, on the sea and land;
the Dublin agreement and the pervert bureaucratic mechanisms asylum seekers are bound to;
the false welcome actions, based on the principles of security, and the permission to application of them to private institutions that follow profits, or to volunteers, that are taking the risk of becoming instrument of control and blackmail;
the use of administrative detention and imprisonment for those who don’t have personal identification documents;
the exploitation and the denial of migrant labor rights as a feature of European labor policies;
the economic exploitation by the European Union countries of the territories from which the migrants come;
the military interventions and sale of weapons by the European Union countries, which perpetuate a state of permanent war in the countries from which migrants are forced to escape.

From Gorizia we can and we want to start renewing the idea of humanity, reconstruct the concepts of hospitality, mutualism, mutual recognition and universal equality.

FOR US IS HUMAN:
rejecting and fighting any kind of war between the poor, and the inhuman idea that the poorest and weakest are the ones to pay the cost of a crazy development system;
guaranteeing a suitable welcome, that is not only guaranteeing secure and easily accessible places, but also places integrated with the territory, which allow real mutual awareness and the approach of autonomy, identity and individual integrity of everyone;
opposing ourselves to the opening of detention centres and fighting for the closure of the existing ones;
unveiling that there is no “immigration emergency”, and that migrations are a structural phenomenon of human history, very extended in an irreversibly globalised world;
understanding that this phenomenon can only be tackled by involving and including migrants in the decisions and routes that are related to them;
learning to change through mutual recognition, all of us, HUMAN BEINGS, BORN EQUAL ON THE ONE AND UNIQUE PLANET.

To reaffirm these principles of universal humanity, in Gorizia we are starting a common transnational fight with common mobilization, which starts on the border crossing Casa Rossa/Rožna dolina, on Saturday, 16 December at 15 h.

december 12, 2017

Statement of AKC Metelkova city, Ljubljana: Let’s Stand up Against the Attack on Metelkova/Zoperstavimo se napadu na Metelkovo

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(slo below)

Municipality of Ljubljana has decided to sell a plot of land on which currently hostel Celica stands. This decision represents a radical shift in its relation towards the entire Metelkova area. This move introduces an authoritarian element into the relationship between the municipality and Autonomous Cultural Centre Metelkova mesto, an internationally renowned example of successful cultural, urbanistic and social practice, while truth be told the said relationship has never been a simple one. The latest intentions of the municipality however oblige us, the users of ACC Metelkova mesto, to publicly and unequivocally make our position clear: Capital and Municipality – take your hands off Metelkova!

We recognize in this attempt to fragment and sell the area of Metelkova a symptom of a wider problem of an intentional transformation of the city centre according to the tastes of tourist and real-estate capital. Ljubljana is currently in a period of transition to a second phase of gentrification that coincides nicely with a new investment cycle in the country that has began to pick up speed, which was itself ultimately enabled by taxpayers’ funded bail out of the banks. The profits derived from this process will in turn end up in private pockets. Inner city centre of Ljubljana is now reduced to polished scenery for tourist consumption, local bars without local people and endless array of (small) hotels and AirBnB businesses. By now construction sites, themselves a material expression of the blind desire to “beautify”, have moved to Tabor neighbourhood and touched the very doorstep of Metelkova.

As a part of this process more than a year ago the municipality attacked the Autonomous factory Rog, first by private security contractors and heavy construction machinery and later through still ongoing court procedures against the people involved in the activities of the factory. ACC Metelkova mesta has been however dealt with differently throughout its 24 years of existence. On the one hand, the state never really gave up on visits of various inspection officials and police harrasment as its go-to forms of pressure. On the other hand a policy of recuperation has emerged through which the municipality promotes Metelkova as a tourist product par excellence, leaning heavily on its “alternative image” and quality forms of sociality that are being developed in its midst. Recuperation happens under the false pretense of support and tolerance while the visions of the very people that are creating Metelkova on a daily basis are brushed aside. The fact that the municipality had integrated Metelkova into the Ljubljana brand was misinterpreted by many as a discrete statement of intent that we should no longer fear any hostile moves on its part. Today, with the declaration of the beginning of parcellation and subsequent sale of Metelkova it finally became clearly evident that such interpretations do not stand up to scrutiny.

It has been many years since corrosive effects of commercial activity on the edges of the autonomous area gave birth to the to the same appetites that are now fueling the current sale to the highest bidder. If we are to realistically assess the situation, which we are obliged to, we have to conclude that it was in fact Celica ho(s)tel through its specific trajectory and its relation to autonomy in Metelkova the decisive contributor to the very process that has now reached a point where the same people that presided over Celica are now at risk to be pushed out in the name of even higher profit. Let’s be absolutely sincere: Celica grew out of the fertile soil of Metelkova’s creativity. It was built by enthusiasm, ideas and labour of Metelkova artists and architects. Yet, before the ho(s)tel was even fully established the paths separated. In unclear circumstances the management of the building was given to the partnership of corruptive capital of Student organization of University of Ljubljana and the municipality. Ever since Celica functioned as a profit making venture and a gentrifying force of the entire city, not only of Metelkova. It was due to the apparent and always uneasy acommodation with the community and space of the autonomous centre and to the fact that it was just next door from the latter that Celica managed to break into many tourist guidebooks from around the world as Ljubljana’s main attraction. In the past tourists might feel intimidated just by venturing through the gates of the autonomous space, but today growing masses roll through it every day, photographing the individual natives at their work and thus creating a certain discomfort. Despite the fact that Celica was to a large extent created by people that justifiably claim an intimate connection with Metelkova, its current goals, mode of production and values are very different from those of the ACC Metelkova mesto.

ACC Metelkova mesto regards the announced sale of the plot of Metelkova’s land as the beginning of the hostile takeover of the entire area including of the spaces and activities of the autonomous cultural centre. We have nothing in common with the battle between the current and possible future manager of Celica. As far as we are concerned the municipality is opening wide open the gates of destruction of the autonomous centre, since there can be no doubt that the investors’ apettite will not be satisfied with one building and one plot of land only. To the municipal authorities the sale of Celica will serve as a model for eviction for all the other buildings in Metelkova which are also owned by the municipality. The ongoing sale of Celica can serve as a lesson from which we can learn that processes by which the autonomy of Metelkova is being undermined find support also among those that otherwise situate themselves within a wide field of Metelkova, despite their entirely truthful claims about their clean intentions and motivation. Yet, few moves down the line one of the most significant social and cultural centres in the region, which is a source of pride and pleasure for countless musicians, cultural workers, supporters, critical voices, artists, alternative crowd and even travelers, will be destroyed. This can happen much faster than many are able to even imagine.

Despite the many levels and factors involved the underlining truth is very simple: by parcellation and sale of Metelkova the municipality of Ljubljana is giving up on the principles of public, communal and socially-owned space, replacing it with the rule of terror of the private property owners and their security contractors. We cannot, we must not and we will not let this happen. Not in Metelkova, not in Rog, not in Tabor neighbourhood and not in the city in general. We demand therefore that the premises of Celica are given back to the community, back into the hands of thos that many years ago have successfully defended it against destructive lust of those who then were in power, back into the hands of those that have continuously proved through many years of work that they are guided by longterm interests of the community and not by shortsighted profit-making agenda.

Autonomous Cultural Centre Metelkova
6th December 2017

 

—SLO—

Mestna občina Ljubljana (MOL) se je odločila za prodajo zemljišča, na katerem trenutno stoji Hostel Celica. S tem so se odločili tudi za radikalno spremembo svojega razmerja do celotnega območja Metelkove. Ta poteza v sicer nikoli enostavno razmerje med MOL in AKC Metelkova mesto – slednji je svetovno priznan kulturni, urbanistični in socialni primer dobre prakse – vnaša oblastniški diktat. Zadnje namere MOL uporabnike in uporabnice AKC Metelkova mesto obvezujejo, da javno in jasno sporočimo: kapital in MOL, roke stran od Metelkove!

Poskus razbijanja in odprodaje območja Metelkove je zgolj simptom širšega problema načrtnega preurejanja mestnega središča po okusu turističnega in nepremičninskega kapitala. Ljubljana je trenutno sredi prehoda v drugo fazo gentrifikacije mesta. Ta sovpada z razmahom novega investicijskega cikla v državi, ki ga je omogočilo reševanje bank z denarjem davkoplačevalcev, profiti tega procesa pa bodo romali v zasebne žepe. Gradbišča so se iz ožjega središča mesta, kjer so ostale le še zloščene kulise za turiste, lokali brez lokalcev ter nepregledna goščava hotel(čk)ov in AirBnB obratov, premaknila v sosesko Tabor in se s slepo željo po »olepšavi« dotaknila tudi Metelkove.

MOL se je lani v sklopu tega procesa spravil nad Avtonomno tovarno Rog, najprej z varnostniki in gradbeno mehanizacijo, nato pa tudi s sodnimi procesi proti tamkajšnjim uporabnikom in uporabnicam, ki še vedno trajajo. Avtonomne kulturne cone Metelkova mesto se lokalne oblasti skozi vseh 24 let njenega obstoja lotevajo drugače. Na eni strani se država pritisku v obliki inšpekcij in policijskih napadov nikoli ni zares odpovedala. Na drugi strani pa že dolgo poteka lokalna politika rekuperacije, ki je pod pretvezo podpore in tolerance Metelkovo zaradi njene “alter podobe” in kvalitetnih oblik družbenosti, ki jih razvija, promovirala kot turistični produkt par excellence, pri čemer vizije uporabnikov in uporabnic niso imele prav nobene veljave. Mnogi so dejstvo, da je MOL Metelkovo vgradil v blagovno znamko Ljubljana, napačno razumeli kot diskretno napoved, da se od MOL ne rabimo več bati sovražnih potez. Danes je z napovedanim drobljenjem in začetkom odprodaje Metelkove dokončno postalo jasno, da zadeva ni takšna.

Zajedanje komercialne dejavnosti na obronke avtonomnega prostora je že pred leti ustvarilo apetite, ki poganjajo današnjo prodajo najboljšemu ponudniku. Z vso treznostjo moramo ugotoviti, da je ravno Celica s svojo specifično trajektorijo in odnosom do avtonomije na Metelkovi tisti dejavnik, ki je odločilno prispeval k procesu, spričo katerega njenim ustvarjalcem sedaj grozi, da bodo v imenu še višjega profita izrinjeni. Iskreno zato priznajmo: Hostel Celica je dejansko zrasel iz bogatih metelkovskih kreativnih tal, s svojim entuziazmom, idejami in delom so jo zgradili Metelkovke in Metelkovci. Toda že pred vzpostavitvijo hostla so se poti razšle, stavba je bila v nejasnih okoliščinah predana v upravljanje koruptivnega kapitala Študentske organizacije Univerze v Ljubljani – v navezi z MOL – in vse odtlej je Celica delovala kot profitni obrat in agent gentrifikacije mesta, ne samo Metelkove. Na račun navidezne in vedno nelagodne akomodacije s skupnostjo in prostorom AKC Metelkova mesto ter na račun sosedstva se je hostel vpisal v svetovne turistične vodnike kot ključna ljubljanska atrakcija. Vse večje trume turistov, ki si še pred nekaj leti niso upale niti pokukati čez prag avtonomne cone, se zdaj dnevno valijo čeznjo in množično fotografirajo primerke domačinov med njihovim vsakodnevnim ustvarjanjem ter vnašajo nemir v skupnost. Četudi so jo v mnogočem naredili ljudje, ki so (bili) Metelkovci, je današnja Celica po cilju, načinu delovanja in vrednotah daleč od AKC Metelkova mesto.

AKC Metelkova mesto razume napovedano prodajo kosa zemljišča na Metelkovi kot začetek sovražnega prevzema celotnega območja, vključno s prostori in dejavnostmi avtonomnega kulturnega centra. Nič skupnega nimamo z bitko med obstoječim upravljavcem in morebitnim bodočim. Kar se nas tiče, MOL z velikim zamahom odpira vrata uničenju avtonomnega centra, saj se investitorski apetiti zagotovo ne bodo končali pri eni zgradbi in eni parceli. Prodaja Celice bo kot model evikcije mestnim oblastem prišel nadvse prav tudi pri vseh drugih zgradbah na Metelkovi, ki jih ima prav tako v lasti MOL. V tej luči se iz poskusa prodaje zemljišča Celice lahko naučimo tudi to, da imajo lahko preko svoje prakse ne glede na izpričane namene in motivacije podporno vlogo v procesih spodkopavanja metelkovske avtonomije tudi tisti, ki se sicer umeščajo znotraj njenega širokega polja. V nekaj potezah, ki se lahko zgodijo precej hitreje, kakor si to marsikdo misli, bo uničen eden najpomembnejših socialnih in kulturnih centrov v regiji, ki je v ponos in užitek nepredstavljivi množici glasbenikov, kulturnikov, somišljenikov, drugače mislečih, umetnikov, alternativcev in nenazadnje tudi popotnikov.

Ne glede na vse ravni in akterje, je osnovna resnica situacije jasna: Mestna občina Ljubljana se z drobljenjem in odprodajo območja Metelkove odpoveduje principom javnega, skupnostnega in družbenega prostora ter jih nadomešča s strahovlado zasebne lastnine in njenih varnostnih služb. Tega ne moremo, ne smemo in ne nameravamo dopustiti tako na Metelkovi kot v Rogu, širše v četrti Tabor in v mestu nasploh. Zato terjamo prostore Celice nazaj v skupnostno upravljanje, nazaj v roke tistih, ki so jo pred davnimi leti obranili pred uničevalno slo tedanjih oblastnikov, nazaj v roke tistih, ki so s svojim dolgoletnim angažmajem dokazali, da jih pri delovanju vodi dolgoročen interes skupnosti, ne pa kratkoročne profitne agende.

AKC Metelkova mesto, 6. december 2017

 

november 8, 2017

#AKSC #Skopje: “We Want to Offer a Space for Creation of the New and Destruction of the Old”

An interview with Ana about the Autonomous Socio-cultural Center (AKSC) in Skopje.

skopjecover

 

Originally published by Enough is Enough.

Note: Presence Counts is not organizing any of  these events, we are publishing this text for people across the US and Europe to be able to see what is going on and for documentation only.

AKSC Skopje: “We Want to Offer a Space for Creation of the New and Destruction of the Old”

An interview with Ana about the Autonomous Socio-cultural Center (AKSC) in Skopje.

skopje4

Enough is Enough (EIE): How and when did the Autonomous Socio-cultural Center (AKSC) in Skopje started? (To explain: the history of the first version of AKSC).

Ana: The idea of an autonomous center was not a new one, especially among those of us who have visited this type of places around Europe. Skopje has seen some alternative centers before, but not of this kind. So, this center came out of the need for critical thinking and free expression that was felt in the atmosphere of our society and its creation began spontaneously in March 2013. It was spreading word to mouth and suddenly we were there, a group of 30 people sitting together in the city park discussing our needs about the space we were about to create.

As we were discussing our ideas, they started to materialize and were transformed into action. We decided to rent a space in an old building that once belonged to the railway workers and we succeeded to equip the space practicing DIY culture with minimal budget and all sorts of donations: from paint, chairs & shelves to cups and teapots for which we are very grateful to the local community.

EIE: What kind of activities took place at the AKSC in the past?

Ana: Only in one year we managed to organize around 200 events including movie projections, discussions, presentations, book promotions, diy & creative workshops, free language courses, music evenings, tea parties, collective kitchen & cooking events, workshops for children, exhibitions, performances, poetry readings, really really free market, psychology & personal development workshops. That’s where our first organic food coop started. Different kinds of organizations could come for their meetings there. It offered a shelter for many travelers on their way throughout Europe. We had our own zine and a library which we still keep today!

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EIE: Can you tell us something about the interaction between activism and independent culture in Macedonia?

Ana: At the moment, the independent culture is fighting for its life in Macedonia. Most of the alternative spaces are shut down and public spaces are flooded with easy-to-sell type of culture. There are some people that are working for their causes, but I would say, like isolated atoms in our society. So, we are trying to find a formula that would end with a reaction that would bring them together.

EIE: About two years ago the AKSC was closed. Now people are working on a AKSC 2.0. What were the reasons AKSC closed and will there be a differnce between AKSC 1.0 and AKSC 2.0?

Ana: We had to close it down because on one hand, there were some attacks on the space showing us that we are not very welcome anymore. I see this as a sign that our activities had an impact after all. On the other hand, we struggled with financial difficulties because the concept of donation is pretty new to us and many people can’t see that a donation was crucial to keeping it alive. But, a lesson lived is a lesson learned, so in the new space we would like to implement more ways of reaching financial stability, for example, making our own products or a small publishing project.

EIE: AKSC 2.0 will be created and maintained by the KoprivaKolektiv/The Nettle Collective. Can you tell us something about the collective?

Ana: This is a very new collective, but we carry an idea recycled from the experiences we’ve had the past 5-6 years with different collectives and organizations. I can say that we have experienced good and hard times, so this collective is trying to avoid the ways that didn’t work in the past and to take our horizon to a whole new level. Every member has his own artistic project and brings his personal touch in the group. For the first time, we are formally registered as an association for independent culture and we would like to act in every possible way – formal and informal, to experiment with ways of expression and to break the old patterns of functioning, even within activism itself. This Nettle will sting!

EIE: Can you already tell us what kind of activities will take place at AKSC in the future?

Ana: Similar like the first one, in this place people can come and do something that is not possible elsewhere, without the boring bureaucratic processes. Also, it will be more open for hanging out, socialization and a good place to meet a stranger with a cup of tea or find a good book to read. We welcome all kinds of wanderers, poets, artists and everyone who would like to share their talent and is ready to question the fabric of our reality! J Also, we would like to continue with more workshops and practical things and be less theoretical. Personal development is also a very important topic for us.

EIE: What are the main objectives of AKSC?

Ana: First of all, to offer a home for freedom-friendly ideas. We want to inspire people to take charge and responsibility for their lives, they choose the medium through which that process happens. We want to see people who no longer live automatically in pre-arranged schemes, but to be able to recognize, criticize and visualize what kind of life is close to their heart. We want to offer a space for creation of the new and destruction of the old. And in this process, we are not trying to be likeable or commercial. Quality before quantity!

EIE: Do you need support and when yes, how can people support the project?

Ana: We would really appreciate a helping hand! At the moment we are running a crowdfunding campaign on the platform Firefund, which is run by a very dedicated and a fantastic collective! Everyone who supports our ideas can help us by donating on the following link or simply by spreading the word J

https://www.firefund.net/aksc-skopje

AKSC 2.0 also has a Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/AKSC2/

Video about the AKSC (For English subtitles click at the first button on the right side at the bottom of the video player)

oktober 25, 2017

#Catalonia: Waiting for the Big Bang

 

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Originally published by Solidaridad Obrera, written by Joni D. Translated by Enough is Enough.

Note: Presence Counts is not organizing any of  these events, we are publishing this text for people across the US and Europe to be able to see what is going on and for documentation only.

Read all reports about Catalonia; here.

Catalonia: Waiting for the Big Bang

Little by little, and especially from September 20, when the current Catalan Republican independence movement crossed the line of no-return, individuals and libertarian organizations have been positioning themselves on the issue.  Yes, I am aware that some have already done so previously and do not pretend to distort reality, the objective of this “little by little and especially from” is exclusively to imply that this is such a delicate conflict for the “members” of the libertarian movement that it turned out to be complicated to take a position on it.
 I have followed some of these positions, although reading them vertically, without paying too much attention (not because of lack of interest but because of  lack of time) with the exception of texts signed by Tomás Ibáñez, a fellow whose texts I like to read. 
From his text of October 3, which I will not evaluate here, I would like to comment on a concept that struck me: “the anarchist arguments”, the fact that it is dificult “to understand (…) that participation in this struggle is justified by anarchist arguments”.  Are there such anarchist arguments?  Can they be used as a backbone of movement? 
Anarchism is a movement for change, as Tomás himself has explained to us.  A movement that moves constantly.  And in the Spanish state, it is made up of dozens of organizations and thousands of individuals who have not agreed on a time to draw collective lines of action for years.  What should be the anarchist arguments which we use to analyze the current situation of the Catalan conflict?  I am afraid that these arguments are as heterogeneous and heterodox as the libertarian movement itself and, therefore, trying to unify them is impossible and, if they do, they would lead to a new witch hunt that we have become so accustomed to since 1978 (coincidentally thisdate is linked with the Holy Constitution!). 
Many months ago I was publicly in favor of the republic (this is not true, but my provocative character can articulate, as Tomás has explained perfectly, many positions against the monarchy, a fact that in this context implies being for the republic, a unique outcome realistic and comprehensible) and the option to blow up the Spanish State.  I came to the conclusion that I could make my position public, or rather, I came to that position, after asking myself two questions.  (Actually, there were more, many more, but they can be reflected into two open questions and the desire to answer them openly and without fear). 
 One, the first, question was of a collective nature, and the second one (which had to be used to confirm, or not, the answer to the previous one) of a purely personal nature.  And both questions I formulated in the key of considering myself being part of something collective such as the libertarian movement. Could these then be the arguments of which Tomás spoke?  I doubt it, but instead its very clear to me that these yes therefor are one of the many arguments of “anarchists”, or rather, arguments of the libertarian movement.  And maybe there’s the difference … 
The first question, the collective one, was whether the libertarian movement, as a collective and by extension the majority of its members (I have difficulty in referring to the whole when we speak of such a diverse movement, with so many nuances), had something to lose.  It was an open question that also contained the opposite question: Can the libertarian movement be strengthened or do it have something to gain?
 
I must admit that of the double formulation, the negative and the positive, for me the first weighted much more , the fact of having nothing to lose, because after so many years of distance from the social mass, people, little real impact in society, I am willing to accept any possibility of change just so that anarchism can keep moving and get out of the ghetto.
The individual question was obviously the same. What do I have to lose as an anarchist?
 All the answers took me to the same destination.  As always with many contradictions (because as libertarians, in this capitalist and territorially compartmentalized world, it is impossible to achieve purity) but without fissures.
In the collective: The Catalan libertarian movement (if it can be so adjectivized without unleashing the ire of holy anarchy) has nothing to lose.  It will not be worse if the Catalan Republic is declared.  It is a reality that we now have the bigger weight of the Spanish State, and therefore, a Catalan Republic  will offen more possibilities to realize certain alternatives.  Should we continue to wait a possible global revolution, all over the planet at the same moment, to continue to maintain the anti-nationalist anarchist purity? Or is the problem is that we only have the right to an Iberian revolution because our ancestors decided this a hundred years ago? 
Let me say it (and crucify me for it, if you think it is appropriate – or call me Catalan supremacist, as some have already done), but the Catalan people have shown over the last few years to be able to force their politicians to accept social progress that are among the most advanced in Europe, and, unfortunately, Spanish politicians are not willing to grant any kind of progress in that direction.  No, I will not be the one to decide if the Spanish people are qualified to force their politicians to accept their wills, but instead I dare to venture that it is the Spanish democracy that is not qualified for such advances.
This is just a small excerpt from the many questions that have crossed my head, in short, to conclude that the libertarian movement has nothing to lose if change finally occurs and we stop living in the Spanish state and happen to live in a Catalan State.
And in the personal sphere, those who know me already know that hope can … 
  1. End the monarchy (that is, to stop being a vassal of a type to which I owe homage to his ancestors).
  2. End our Catalan schizophrenia (we were never nationalists and we did not mind having doubts, “Where are you from?”, “From Barcelona”, “Ah, Spanish”, “Yes, well, no …”) so long as the members of the independence movement stop being “independentista” to join the ranks of the movement that they want most – natives, communists, social democrats … Whatever it is but no longer “independentista” as a definition of “politics”).
  3. And of course, the most important of all, the mother of all reasons, the Big Bang, the explosion in pieces of the navel of the world, the reason the Universe turns, the Spanish empire…
Anyway, I do not know if all these are anarchist arguments, I would not dare to confirm that they are arguments of an anarchist (as some say, we do not yet have membership identity cards), but while the libertarian movement argues and takes a position, while some look at it from a distance and others participate, I can assure that many, here and there, will not stop looking at the street… Waiting for the Big Bang. 
Joni D in Solidaridad Obrera, October 22, 2017.
oktober 23, 2017

#Catalonia: Fundamental Social Change is Far Away

Yesterday we documented a demo against the activation of paragraph 155, which will suspend the autonomy of Catalonia and for the release of the two leaders of two groups independence movement. Yesterdays events made us even less optimistic about the Catalan independence process. Fundamental social change is far away.

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Image: Front banner of the finger that marched from the Sants district to the city center of Barcelona yesterday.

Published by Enough is Enough.

Note: Presence Counts is not organizing any of  these events, we are publishing this text for people across the US and Europe to be able to see what is going on and for documentation only.

Read all reports about Catalonia; here.

Mixed Feelings After Saturdays Events in Catalonia

Yesterday we documented a demo against the activation of paragraph 155, which will suspend the autonomy of Catalonia and for the release of the two leaders of two groups independence movement. Yesterdays events made us even less optimistic about the Catalan independence process. Fundamental social change is far away.

Several demonstrations (fingers) started in different neighbourhoods of Barcelona. All demonstrations were marching towards the city center, where they all came toghether.

We started to report about yesterdays demonstration in the Poble Sec neighbourhood, where we visited an assembly on Friday night. A group of about 30 people marched towards the finger that started in the Sants neigbourhood. During the march people joined and the group started to grow. After we reached the fringer from Sants the march started togrow rapidly. After a few hundred meters we were several thousand people.

In the city center a huge crowd came together and in the early evening hours people where still arriving. According to local police authorities 450.000 people joined the protests. We could not verify that number, but we had the impression that although the protest was huge, the number was actually lower.

We witnessed that people didn’t mind a helicopter of the Catalan police was monitoring the demo, but every time a helicopter of the Spanish cops flew over the demo people started to whistle and put their middle fingers up. Later people celebrated the Catalan cops, cheering at them, a thing that didn’t happen for the first time. We tweeted that we could publish another blog about the role of the police in society but that we won’t…

What we saw was a demonstration of people of all parts of society. Although we respect the intensions and motivation of anarchist comrades who are active in the independence movement, we cannot close our eyes when we see that actually the only thing a majority of the independence movement agrees upon is the independence itself, not what happens after that.

The majority of the Catalan government is formed by the Junts pel Sí (Together for yes) coalition which also contains christian democrats. The leftwing CUP party is also part of the Catalan government and at least has many basic-democratic elements. The major pro-independence groups are the ANC (National Catalan Assembly) and Òmnium Cultural. These groups are also not exactly anarchist or anti-capitalistic. On October 17 we already published a critique about a video that was released by Òmnium Cultural.

In our statement from September 30, one day before the Catalan referendum, we already wrote that “we are not exactly enthousiastic about states and nations. Not about new states and not about old states.” So yes we are very critical in our reporting of the events in Catalonia. After yesterdays events we are even less optimistic about the Catalan process. We already wrote above that we do respect the good intentions and motivation of anarchist comrades who are active in the independence movement, but we think this is a relatively small minority in the independence movement. Yesterday people were not only cheering Catalan cops, they also cheered politicians of the Catalan governing parties who attended at the demonstration.

Last night Catalan prime minister Puigdemont didn’t declare the suspension of the suspension of the declaration of Catalan independence (this impossible sentence says a lot about politicians). He announced a parliamentary session of the Catalan parliament for Friday, October 27, the same day the Spanish parliament will decide about the suspension of Catalan autonomy. Puigdemont also said the fight for Catalan independence will continue, but he didn’t say how. Once again Puigdemont was buying time. This isn’t surprising. Puigdemont is not be trusted (like all politicians and political parties, they alway have their own agenda.), as he is serving the interest of the Catalan political and economic elites.

Two comrades from Athens wrote on October 18: “The Catalan bourgeoisie, which is represented by the governing alliance of president Puigdemont and consists of a center-right wing party (which has repeatedly cooperated in the Spanish central political arena with the center-right wing PP supporting austerity policies) and the Catalan social-democratic party, propagates independence but they do not wish independence. They only wish a broadened financial autonomy.” Which is the reason Puigdemont has still a something to negotiate: “Puigdemont did not have the slightest problem to ignore the “popular will” of thousands of people that he manipulated and mobilized, those who stood outside the parliament and waited for the declaration of independence. Puigdemont served the interests of those who support him. With an abstract statement, he threw the ball back to Madrid: “Let’s negotiate, let’s see what you can offer us” was the bottom line of his statement.”

Nobody knows how the Catalan process will develope, but fundamental social change is far away. The repression by the central Spanish state will probably increase in the coming days, weeks and maybe even months. We are not confident that the Catalan government and the major independence groups are willing and/or able to protect people when a possible wave of repression will be started by the Spanish state. We think anarchists can’t look the other way when that will happen, but they also can’t look away when it comes to the intensions and motivation of major parts of the pro independence movement which have nothing to do with social liberation.

We think anarchists could play a role in the district assemblies to encourage self-organization which makes people less dependent or even independent from the political elites, but also to push social issues and to prepare for the fight against possible increasing repression. The engagement in the district assemblies mus not necessarily mean that people support Catalan independence. People can engage in these assemblies as part of the social struggle in the neighbourhoods. No more, no less. To build coalitions solely on the basis to create a new state is a dead-end street. We don’t need any states, we need total liberation.

Some of the Enough is Enough team, October 22, 2017.

Images: Barcelona October 21, 2017.

oktober 21, 2017

Different Positions by Anarchists on #Catalonia

Last night we were on a district assembly in the Poble Sec neighbourhood of Barcelona. Some anarchists were also taking part in the assembly.

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Image: District assembly in the Poble Sec neighbourhood in Barcelona on October 20, 2017.

Published by Enough is Enough.

Note: Presence Counts is not organizing any of  these events, we are publishing this text for people across the US and Europe to be able to see what is going on and for documentation only.

Read all our reports about Catalonia; here.

Different Positions by Anarchists on Catalonia

Last night we were on a district assembly in the Poble Sec neighbourhood of Barcelona. Some anarchists were also taking part in the assembly. It was an assembly of the so-called neighbourhood defense committee and it reminded us of the 15m assemblies we visited a few years ago in different cities on the Spanish territory. We published a lot of reports, essays, letters and statements from anarchists about the situation in Catalonia, many of them, including our own statement, opposing the idea of another state.

The majority of people who spoke at last nights assembly where women and it was a discussion free of hierarchies. People spoke about what they expect to happen in the coming days and how to push the independence process. For us it wasn’t an easy discussion. To visit an assembly of an indepence movement, while we consider states as part of the problem, isn’t an easy thing to do. But we want to follow and document the independence process.

Most anarchist comrades we personally know in Catalonia oppose the idea of a Catalonian state. But they also told us that there are also anarchists that support the independence process. After the assembly we had a discussion with an anarchist comrade who took part in the assembly. She told us that they call themselves “Independentistas” and for her the process is to breakaway from Spain. She said that she is not fighting for another state, but to weaken the central Spanish state. The idea is that as soon as Catalonia breaks away, other regions like for instance the Basque country sooner or later will follow. In the end one of the biggest EU member states would break apart.

There are many different factions and the comrade we spoke with said she doesn’t support Puigdemont and his Catalan government. She also said that the process is far from over when Catalonia would become an independent state. In the assemblies people are often talking about how to build up Catalonia from below. Yesterday people discussed a manifest were they are working on. For many people this process is not about a new ethnic state, the comrade we spoke with wasn’t even born in Catalonia or Spain.

People aren’t naive, they are aware of the fact that many people in Catalonia who are supporting the independence movement have different goals. Many people just want a Catalonian capitalist state,  not only a majority of the political parties who are in favour of a new Catalonian state (only CUP is a leftwing anti-capitalisitc party), but also parts of the movement. The comrade we spoke with said, that this is one of the reasons for her why self-organization in the neighbourhoods have absolute priority. The organization from below, where social struggle is also an important issue. For her its not a goal to create a new state, but abolishing the central Spanish state is part of a bigger goal and just a point on a long road towards total liberation.

Like we wrote before; we are not very optimistic about that and we are affraid that the Catalan bourgeoisie will turn against them when they are not needed anymore. But we do respect the intentions of comrades who support the independence process out of this kind of anarchist motivations. Even when we will continue our way and will not support the creation of any new states, we hope the comrades who support the Catalan process proof us that we were wrong. Time will tell how the situation in Catalonia will develope.

In solidarity, Some of the Enough is Enough team, October 21, 2017.




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oktober 18, 2017

Peter #Kropotkin: The Action of the Masses and the Individual

The following excerpts are taken from an article by Kropotkin, “The Action of the Masses and the Individual,” in which he responds to a letter regarding increased strike activity among the workers in conjunction with May Day demonstrations.

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Originally published by La Révolte, 24th of May 1890. Re-published by Robert Graham.

Note: Presence Counts is not organizing any of  these events, we are publishing this text for people across the US and Europe to be able to see what is going on and for documentation only.

Peter Kropotkin: The Action of the Masses and the Individual

Our comrades are perfectly right to say [in their letter] that the May strikes are a consequence of general economic conditions. If the return of work to the mines and in the iron industry, and if dreadful poverty in the other trades did not exist, there wouldn’t have been any strikes at all, as there weren’t any on such a large scale ten years ago. But what our comrades ignore is that, outside all socialist organisations, right now, within the workers of all nationalities, an immense work to press on to a general strike is taking place. Democrats, trade unionists, socialists, anarchists, have absolutely nothing to do with it. – “We are overwhelmed by this movement” we were told, two years ago, by a Belgian socialist. In England, in a big city, at least socialists took hold of this movement. They were well received at first; but when people realised that they wanted to enlist it to an electoral aim, they threw them overboard.[1]

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Whether it is enough to say that this international movement comes from America; [2] that it is taking form outside all [existing] organisation; and that we find ourselves faced with one of these facts that have always characterised the great popular movements – tacit understanding that becomes established outside newspapers, committees, agitators. A word put out in a workshop is enough and they tell each other: “So be it, see you on the 1st of May!” Then a worker goes from England to Austria, or from Austria to England, and expresses the same idea, and the idea – since it results from an economic necessity – is accepted straightaway.

Every strike of the last two years, in Belgium, in England, in Moravia [3], etc., etc., are due to this spontaneous spreading of the idea. If ever there was a movement anarchist by its essence and a propaganda essentially anarchist in its processes, it is this one. Because there is no secret – it is a tacit agreement that becomes established.

Our comrades from Geneva are mistaken to attribute the 1st May to the Paris Congress. [4] It was made absolutely outside of the Congress, against the will of the social-democrats, against the will of trade-union committees and despite indifference of socialists, anarchists and authoritarians. It is precisely for that reason that we attach significance to it.

In a Congress where Liebknecht [5] enjoyed royal rights, an unknown coming from Australia makes the proposal. The flabbergasted chiefs do not dare to renounce it, because the worker delegates – the unknowns – acclaim it unanimously. Then, the proposal is forgotten. The watchword of the socialist press is to not breathe a word of it. Socialists and anarchists treat it as a joke. Democrats oppose it. And meanwhile the workers spread the call [for a general strike] amongst each other: see you on the 1st of May. And fifteen days before the 1st of May the trade unionist, socialist and democrat leaders learn with dread that the working people will be on the street on that day. So they put on a brave face at this bad news, then they try to curb the demonstration and they end up joining it. But still, they expect a demonstration of no significance – and there is the whole of working London coming out of its hovels, a third of Vienna going to the Prater [6], the whole of Hamburg on its feet, and a general uprising of miners starts in Moravia, in the Basque provinces, etc.

In fact, we are persuaded that what the popular initiators of the movement wanted for the 1st of May was the general strike – as they had wanted it, a few years ago, in America. And we are persuaded that the idea of a general strike has only been postponed and that popular agreement will find in a year or two another date, unforeseen by those in power, to start the general strike.

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We think that these facts are generally unknown and are the best reply to our comrades’ letter and for that very reason we had to set them out at length

“Individual initiative?” – Damn it! Let us practice it as much as possible! Let us not talk: let us act! But when we face a spontaneous movement of the masses – in front of an individual initiative of millions of workers – let us not put a spanner in the wheels of what is being done without us in the name of individual initiative, which will be excellent when it is taken but which, on its own, will not make the revolution. The strong point of individual initiative is to awake the spirit of revolt in the masses – because without the masses, no revolution. But once the masses awaken, once they move and descend onto the street, at the risk of sleeping that night on the barricades (it was the idea in Vienna), where does individual initiative have to go?

The answer is obvious – Where the masses are! And on the very day when the masses arrange to meet up! For us, it is absolutely obvious that in Moravia, in the Basque provinces, in Barcelona, in Valencia and elsewhere, those amongst the workers who really have some individual initiative and who wait for the watchword from the anarchists no more than from the democrats, told themselves: “While the troops are in Vienna or in Madrid, we will start the revolution here, in Moravia, in Barcelona or in Bilbao. And we will do it precisely on the 1st of May (or rather on the 2nd of May) whilst the troops are still in Vienna or in Madrid, and not on the 15th of May or on the 15th of June, when they will be back in our provinces”.

They have not been supported, precisely because the initiative was lacking elsewhere.

As for the arrests of anarchists – it is time to anticipate them in advance. Every time there is agitation in the masses, wherever it is from, the government will arrest anarchists – if they do not take precautions. That will take place before the revolution, during the revolution and after the revolution. We need only to remember Marat [7] and so many others, less known, who were forced to live in cellars right in the middle of 1793, while aristocrats were guillotined by the dozens. Anarchists will be arrested because – sometimes wrongly, but most often rightly – governments will tell themselves this: “When the people are in the street and that individual initiative is lacking amongst these masses marching to storm society, it is from the anarchists that the initiative of a movement will be able to come, not from the legalists”.

And, let us note, that it will be absolutely the same thing during the revolution itself, as long as the revolution, in its development, has not reached the anarchist phase. Therefore, let us not speak of it.

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Let us also add that if, on the day of a large popular demonstration, a movement in a big city hardly ever takes place, it is always a few days after such a demonstration that the movement starts. We counted ourselves, we understood its strength, we were offended by the brutality of the police, we were enraged by the blood shed at a peaceful demonstration: the soldiers themselves are furious at the leaders who made them shoot women and children; and then, on a call that, once more, is born spontaneously in the masses – we prepare another demonstration. But, before that day, the revolution already breaks out.

In short, let us turn the question over and over as much as we like, but we cannot reach another conclusion than this one: “whether we are the partisan of individual action or action of the masses – and it is obvious that both are necessary – the man of action’s place is where the masses are. If he carries out an individual act; if he responds to a policeman’s kick with a pistol shot; if he rebels against such iniquity; if he extinguishes the fire in some working factory, or if he breaks its windows (as was done in Moravia); if he goes to prison for spreading some propaganda amongst the troops or if he carries out quite another act of individual courage – his act will only have more impact, since it was done in the eyes of the masses, openly and publicly, while the press will talk about it in all details, while every worker will talk about it in the workshop”.

It is so simple, and we are so certain that all revolutionaries are of the same opinion, that there can only be debate on it by misunderstanding.

Peter Kropotkin, La Révolte, 24th of May 1890

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[1] A reference to the 1889 London Dock Strike (see Kropotkin’s article “Ce que c’est qu’une gréve” [“What a Strike is”], La Révolte, 7th of September 1889. (translator)

[2] A reference to the 1886 eight-hour day movement in America that called upon workers to strike on the 1st of May. The Haymarket event in Chicago – a police attack on a strike meeting, a bomb being thrown and subsequent framing and hanging of five Anarchists, was a part of this strike wave. (translator)

[3] Moravia was a historical country in Central Europe in the east of the Czech Republic and one of the historical Czech lands, together with Bohemia and Czech Silesia. (translator)

[4] A reference to founding congress of the Second International held in Paris during July 1889. This congress designated the 1st of May as an international holiday for labour to be marked by demonstrations and parades. It was inspired by the American Eight-Hour movement of 1886. (translator)

[5] Wilhelm Martin Philipp Christian Ludwig Liebknecht (1826-1900) was a leading German social democrat. Under his leadership, the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) grew from a tiny sect to become the country’s largest political party. (translator)

[6] The Prater is a large public park in Vienna’s 2nd district (Leopoldstadt). (translator)

[7] Jean-Paul Marat (1743-1793) was one of the one of the most radical voices of the French Revolution. He was a vigorous defender of the sans-culottes and published the newspaper L’Ami du people (Friend of the People) which was renowned for its fierce tone and advocacy of political and economic rights for the working classes. He was Marat assassinated while taking a medicinal bath and became a revolutionary martyr for the Jacobins. Kropotkin quoted him favourably in his classic 1909 history, The Great French Revolution. (translator)



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Last week we returned from Barcelona. But on Wednesday October 18th we will be in Barcelona again. Please continue to support our independent on the ground reports. Its your support that makes it possible.

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oktober 18, 2017

Voting in #Catalonia – an anarchist glance on the Catalan Referendum from Athens

The independence of Catalonia is a complicated issue. It may have entered the European public discourse with a blast, partly due to the referendum and partly due to the raw and disproportionate suppressive violence that the – addicted to this sort of behaviors – centralized Spanish state exercised, however it is a matter that occurred and has been solidly developing throughout the years.

gatorna

Originally published by Gatorna Info.

Note: Presence Counts is not organizing any of  these events, we are publishing this text for people across the US and Europe to be able to see what is going on and for documentation only.

Read all reports about Catalonia; here.

Voting in Catalonia – an anarchist glance on the Catalan Referendum from Athens

The independence of Catalonia is a complicated issue. It may have entered the European public discourse with a blast, partly due to the referendum and partly due to the raw and disproportionate suppressive violence that the – addicted to this sort of behaviors – centralized Spanish state exercised, however it is a matter that occurred and has been solidly developing throughout the years. Any approach to understand this issue must leave aside obsessional ideological fermatas and simplistic slogans. Examples of this style are references such as “from national to class emancipation” or a vague “solidarity with the people of Catalonia”. Those who delve deeper into the issue of Catalonian independence must make themselves familiar, at least to a certain extent, with the conditions within which this issue arose. Therefore, it is important to us, before expressing any opinion, to make a short historical account of the political, social, economic and class aspects that constitute the Catalan issue.

After the death of Franco and the Spanish Transition to democracy, the 1978 constitution was enacted that divided the Spanish state (and nation, according to the constitution) to 17 autonomous communities with increased self-organized jurisdictions. This was a negative development for the supporters of a complete independence of territories such as the Basque Country or Catalonia. It also signified a shift from the centralized Francoist model to a model that provided the Autonomous regions with the ability to decide on their own, on issues regarding, amongst others, culture, public transport, public order and so on. Policy areas such as healthcare, education and justice were subject to a shared jurisdiction with the Spanish state. One initial observation to make is the fact that the approval of the Autonomous regions system was set to a referendum, for various reasons, to solely four regions: Galicia, Andalusia, Catalonia and the Basque country. In 1979 in Catalonia, 88% of the voters voted for the constitutional (under the auspices of Spain) Autonomy, a result that significantly weakened the dynamics for a potential struggle for complete independence. Likewise, in the Basque country, 90% of the voters voted YES, against the 10%, supported by Herri Batasuna and ETA, who wished complete independence.

A minor comment here: Catalonia’s Autonomy does not include the Autonomy of the community of Valencia or the Balearic Islands, regions where Catalan dialects are broadly spoken and related cultural traditions have survived. Pancatalanism, as a nationalist ideology, includes regions such as one part of Aragon, part of southern France and the Principality of Andorra. The referendum that took place on October 1, 2017, concerned only the Autonomy of Catalonia. The rest of “Catalan Countries” (as defined by the nationalist ideology) wish neither to be independent nor a potential union with Catalonia.

In 2005, there was an attempt to change the status of the Autonomy of Catalonia, involving improved conditions that allowed a greater autonomy and, mainly, the abandonment of Catalonia’s obligation to financially support the rest of the Spanish Autonomies. The government bill was eventually blocked in 2010 by the Constitutional Court of Spain, despite the fact that it had been approved (74% of the voters, 51% electoral abstention) by a referendum in Catalonia in 2006. Catalonia has had one of the highest GDP rates in comparison to the rest of the Autonomies for several years now, before and after the 2008 financial crisis. A large part of these revenues is allocated for the economic support of the financially weaker Autonomies. This system of state redistribution of resources was what the Catalan bourgeoisie has aimed to get rid of, but has failed. This is actually one of the main disputes in the current situation, which is directly related to the formation of a Catalan state tax collecting mechanism that will not be accountable to the central Spanish government.

The financial aspect of the Catalan issue consists of two main axes. First, the Catalan capital does not wish independence from Spain, because this event would directly imply exit from the Eurozone, political instability and the loss of the status of duty free exports for its products to its main target market, namely the Spanish as well as the European. However, the Catalan capital wishes the Autonomy of Catalonia but with upgraded jurisdictions, since only then it will gain a privileged position because its interest will be directly accommodated by the neoliberal Catalan governmental alliance, which will have thrown away Madrid’s centralized financial control and the obligation to channel part of its revenues to the rest of the Spanish regions. Simultaneously, an enlarged autonomy could pave the way for direct negotiations with the EU and demands for increased EU resources, a recurring demand of the Catalan capital and the Catalan government that are skeptical to an equal distribution of European funds amongst the financially weaker Spanish Autonomies. This demand is also made evident through the rhetoric that accompanied the narrative of independence: the initiators of the referendum wish a Catalonia within the Eurozone, as part of the EU, as member of NATO and do not propagate for any political or economic rupture in the case of independence.

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The second axe concerns the class background of the demand for independence. Based on data sourcing from the Catalan statistical authority, the statistical profile of the supporters of independence is citizens with middle or high income, of Catalan origin that goes all the way to their grandparents, and higher education. The lower the income and the educational status of a citizen is, the lower the support to independence. In other words, if someone would attempt to define simplistically the class background of the vote, this would be “the rich vote for independence”. The poor, “the common people” as a populist approach would say, are largely against independence or indifferent. Correspondingly, in wealthy areas of the Catalan province, where families-bearers of the Catalan tradition live, independence is entirely accepted in comparison to the e.g. class differentiated area of Barcelona’s suburbs. In any case, the opinion surveys of the Catalan media showed before the referendum and the violent intervention of the Spanish state that only 42% supported full independence. In conclusion, the Catalan bourgeoisie, which is represented by the governing alliance of president Puigdemont and consists of a center-right wing party (which has repeatedly cooperated in the Spanish central political arena with the center-right wing PP supporting austerity policies) and the Catalan social-democratic party, propagates independence but they do not wish independence. They only wish a broadened financial autonomy.

This text was conceived and came to life the day after the referendum. The course of events confirms our argument, given that during the well-expected historical declaration of independence, on Tuesday October 10, Puigdemont did not have the slightest problem to ignore the “popular will” of thousands of people that he manipulated and mobilized, those who stood outside the parliament and waited for the declaration of independence. Puigdemont served the interests of those who support him. With an abstract statement, he threw the ball back to Madrid: “Let’s negotiate, let’s see what you can offer us” was the bottom line of his statement.

Nevertheless, the right-wing Spanish government through its non-tolerant stance, which united its voters and made itself appear as the only “responsible” actor in this crisis, inflexibly continues demanding president Puigdemont to clarify his stance, so the Spanish state will be in a position to have knowledge of whether it will declare Catalonia in a state of emergency or not and overthrow Catalonia’s elected leadership. This development would be the only solution regardless the result of the referendum and the timing of such an event. No state hands over its power and territory without consequences. When it comes to the unhappy crowd that left the streets around the parliament in silence, they should be aware that this is what happens when they are asked to take a stance for or against a state imposed dilemma and to act within a framework defined by the ruling political and economic elites.

As expected, the events in Catalonia also engaged the anarchist movement. Several reasons lie behind this: the history of Barcelona in regards to the anarchist movement, the violent police suppression of Catalonians, the consequent strike, the “direct democracy” narrative that accompany referendums, as well as the correlation between a national liberation sensation and a revolutionary prospect and social subversion are some of the main reasons.

With regard to the historic relation of anarchists and Catalan nationalists, their relationships had been – with minor exceptions- of the worst kind. CNT reached the audiences of poor workers that swarmed in Barcelona to work in the factories of the Catalan capital. Before the 1934 uprising, when autonomists cooperated with the socialists against the right-wing ruled state, the Catalan rebel government detained a great number of CNT militants to prevent the anarchists from taking action in the region. The Catalan cops of 1931-36 where unceasing torturers of anarchist activists. Catalan politicians on the other hand had leading roles in the political machinations against CNT-FAI during the civil war and the events of May 1937 and – since the Communist Party was non-existent in Catalonia-, they took the initiative to deter the Revolution through their dilatory actions. The only sentimental commonality that ever existed between anarchists and Catalan autonomists overtime was one of hatred against the central fascist state of Madrid, especially during the dictatorship.

With regard to police brutality, we are obviously against any similar instances of cops against crowds of protestors, let alone against a peaceful and unarmed crowd who only cries out “Votarem”, meaning “we will vote”. We stand against any repressive mechanism and the state of terror that has been imposed over many areas of Catalonia. Unfortunately though, there was no global condemnation when the Mossos d’Esquadra, the police force of the Autonomy of Catalonia, was indiscriminately beating protestors of austerity, was taking out eyeballs of our comrades using plastic bullets, was enforcing the evictions of home residencies over debts, when it repressed all strike rallies, the Indignados movement, the libertarian squats and so on. The logic of victimization played a role in favor of the Catalan government’s goal, but we, as anarchists, as the usual candidates for state repression, we ought to comprehend the limits between sympathy and solidarity. It is not a coincidence that more severe state repression against movements with popular support takes place in many places in the world, movements that were fomented by reactionary elites or are imbued with disputable demands. For this kind of repression, it is difficult for us to comment and to adopt a clear position as a political movement.

We stood in solidarity with the struggle of Catalan protestors when they encircled the Catalan Parliament (while the Catalan middle-right wing party was in power) in 2011, forcing the politicians to enter the Parliament by helicopters in order to vote for the austerity budget. We stood in solidarity with anarchists when the Catalan police participated in the “antiterrorist” raids of Operation Pandora or cracked down on our comrades who were striving to hold on the Can Vies squat. However, solidarity grows on and results from common visions; otherwise, it is reduced to mere expression of sympathy and in this case, the dispute, the vision, is a Catalan independence as a demand and pursuit by the Catalan bourgeoisie.

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The support of the demand for independence by the anticapitalist CUP (Popular Party) is not a sufficient condition to make as stand in solidarity with the Catalan cause, since the question of the referendum, the terms for a possible independence, the reason why it takes place, are all elements evidently alien to any libertarian logic, to any social emancipation concept. This sort of Independence is not accompanied by a program of self-determination and autonomy neither by a prospect of federalization of the Spanish territory. The anticapitalist and libertarian cause would be the first to receive repression in an independent Catalonia, an independent Catalonia that would be the result of the political powers that pursue it. An independence with no social and communal characteristics, with no class characteristics, with no revolutionary program, has nothing to do with libertarian principles. As anarchists, we do not believe in the theory of stages, in good and worse states, but we believe in self-determination, anti-hierarchy and direct action. When we abolish our fundamental principles and adopt the logic of “lesser evil”, “realism” and adaptivity, we are in great danger of becoming mere supporters of state planning.

If the referendum in Catalonia had been the result of popular pressure with liberal characteristics, this discussion would take place on a completely different basis. Unfortunately, part of the people who align themselves with the plans of the Catalan government, are the same people that fought against austerity, in favor of self-determination through the indignados movement, against the very governmental elite that organized the referendum. Today they stand allied with this elite, influenced by the all-powerful nationalist paradigm, decorated with a little bit of anti-Francoism, Barcelona FC and pacifist civil disobedience. The readiness by which an anti-systemic social predisposition can be channeled towards patriotic and nationalist ideologies is something that we need to contemplate on.

In Spain, like in Greece, the goal of the revolutionary movement is to regroup after the successive repressive blows that it suffered and after the social dejection caused by austerity and by the failure of the Movements of the Squares and work constantly and by plan driven by libertarian demands. Delegating our lives to the hands of political parties, politicians and enlightened avant-gardes will never deliver the desired outcome. The pursuit of political instability can only bear fruit when there are grassroots organizations and structures from below, to grasp it and use it for opening prospects of struggle, prospects of social and class emancipation. Otherwise, we just pave the way to reaction and state organization.

Δ.Β. and Κ.Φ., two anarchists from Athens

Two anarchists from Athens



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oktober 17, 2017

#Catalonia: Welcome to Europe

Tomorrow some of the Enough team will travel to Catalonia again. They will produce independent on the ground reports about the situation in Catalonia. Last night 2 key figures of the pro-independence movement were imprisoned by the Spanish state, answered with massive protests across Catalonia. On Thursday another ultimatum by the Spanish state will end and could heat up the growing tensions between the central government in Madrid and the independentistas in Catalonia.

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Image: Massive demonstration Barcelona tonight. Protesters are demanding the release of imprisoned key figures of the idependence movement that were imprisoned by the Spanish state yesterday. Image by Twitter account @asj_dasilva.

Published by Enough is Enough.

Note: Presence Counts is not organizing any of  these events, we are publishing this text for people across the US and Europe to be able to see what is going on and for documentation only.

Read all reports about Catalonia; here.

Catalonia: Welcome to Europe

Tomorrow some of the Enough team will travel to Catalonia again. They will produce independent on the ground reports about the situation in Catalonia. Last night 2 key figures of the pro-independence movement were imprisoned by the Spanish state, answered with massive protests across Catalonia. On Thursday another ultimatum by the Spanish state will end and could heat up the growing tensions between the cenral government in Madrid and the independentistas in Catalonia.

After the Spanish state imprisoned Jordi Cuixart and Jordi Sànchez yesterday, massive protests popped up across Catalonia. The protests continued today with a short work and school stoppage at noon and massive demonstrations tonight.

Although we are aware of the fact that the independent movement in Catalonia consists of different parts of society and political parties, we were irritated after we saw a  theatric video about the repression by the Spanish state that went viral last night. The video was posted on the YouTube channel of the independent movement Òmnium Cultural. In the video EU flags were shown and a woman speaks about “European values. Freedom, democracy and human rights.” The video continues with “We as Catalans have always stood for social rights. Public health, equality for women and education.”

This brings us to the question: how naive are the people who produced this video or are they misleading people? Jordi Cuixart and Jordi Sànchez are not the first political prisoners in the European Union and they will not be the last ones.

Cracking down protests is something which happens regularly in EU memeber states. Days before the first stone was thrown during the NoG20 protests in Hamburg, thousands of cops were surpressing any kind of protest in the German harbour city. 18 year old Fabio is one of the NoG20 prisoners. He is imprisoned since early July because the judge stated that Fabio has “destructive tendencies” and a “substantial deficiency of social and educational competence”. Fabio and both Jordi’s from Catalonia are just 3 of many political prisoners in the European Union.

When it comes to human rights, the European Union also hasn’t a good reputation. Tens of thousands of people seeking refuge drowned at the EU borders. People who try to save lives at sea are facing repression by EU member states. The refugees that manage to arrive in the European Union are often subject to police violence, show trials, detention and illegal pushbacks.

The European Union also hasn’t a good reputation when it comes to referendums. After people voted against the EU Lisbon treaty in a referendum in Ireland in 2008, they had to vote again in October 2009. The European Union pushed hard for the second referendum in Ireland to make sure the Lisbon treaty could be implemented. After people in Greece voted against the Troika cuts in the famous OXI referendum, the European Union have used methods that remind us of old maffia movies to put pressure on the Greek Syriza government to ignore the results of the referendum. And the Greek goverment did ignore the results of the OXI referendum.

We could publish an endless list of acts against democracy and against human- and social rights by the European Union and its member states. So what do people who produce videos with European Union flags in it actually expect from this neoliberal machine?

In our more detailed statement from September 30, we already stated that we are not exactly enthousiastic about states and nations. Not about new states and not about old states. For us social struggle and the struggle for a society free of hierarchy with equal rights for all is a priority. We know that many leftwing people are active in the independence movement in Catalonia. We also know that many of them share our views about the policies of the European Union and would never ever produce a video with EU flags while speaking about “European values”.

Among anarchists there is still a division between those who support the independent movement and those who oppose the creation of a Catalan state. Most anarchists in Catalonia agree to fight repression, also the repression against the independence movement. Anarchists that are active in the independence movement often say their objective is to destroy the central Spanish state. They often have no illusions about a new Catalan state, but argue that a new Catalan state will weaken the deeply Francoist and fascist Spanish state. They also try to bring the self-organisation of people on a higher level in order to create preconditions for autonomy on the Catalan territory.

We are not to optimistic about that, but also have to admit that we are also not optimistic about achieving these objectives in the current central Spanish state. Tomorrow we will travel to Catalonia again and speak with many comrades. We will produce independent reports about the situation in Catalonia and need your support to be able to do that.

In solidarity, some of the Enough is Enough team, October 17, 2017

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Help maintain our site and continue our work: Donate

Last week we returned from Barcelona. But on Wednesday October 18th we will be in Barcelona again. Please continue to support our independent on the ground reports. Its your support that makes it possible.

On December 16 we will return to Lesvos to report about the situation of refugees on the Greek island.

We want to stay independent and want to expand our work with coverage from on the ground across Europe and even beyond.  Therefore we need your support. Help maintain our site and continue our work.

You can donate on our Paypal account: enough14@gmx.net

Crowdfunding campaign: https://www.youcaring.com/enough14solidarity