We received a comment by Kian Zeytani, an Iranian-rooted free journalist based in Berlin and involved in different solidarity-networks since 2009. He takes a glance on the reactions to the killing of Iranian top-tier general Qassem Soleimani by the US and the current threats of war dominating global headlines.
It’s this time of the year again, where Iran is dominating global headlines – but for the wrong reasons. No, it‘s not about the fact, that during last heavy anti-Regime riots in November, the murderous Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI) has murdered 1500 people in a week (1) . It is about a US drone assassinating IRI‘s top-tier general Qassem Soleimani (2) at Baghdad International Airport in the beginning of our new year. With that, Trump-led US-government takes their turn in the heated escalation vicious circle with IRI; the Ayatollahs themselves do not hesitate to point their finger at the Greatest Satan of all time and to announce harsh consequences – since they, of course, are the poor victims here. Men in power, with several issues, but sadly with effective power buttons and resources, are taking their pathetic twitter battle to a level, where it actually can cost hundreds of thousands people who do not want anything to do with this their lives. A 101 in openly aggressive imperialist politics in our capitalist world.
As a lefty – no, as person with heart and brain, as someone who wants to break this abhorrent game of men in power to stay in power no matter what and literally walking over millions bodies for that – you are suddenly trapped between maniacs all over. Specifically, when it is about USA vs. Iran. In one corner, you have the „Lefties“, whose so called anti-imperialism has gone terribly wrong and who start glorifying Soleimani – a reactionary fundamentalist, a ruthless and vicious man in charge of many murders and a person providing so many reason to be hated – as the fallen martyr in the anti-imperialist cause against the US. No wonder, since Iran is a romanticized homogeneous entity to them with the only good purpose being against the US. They don’t really care for reality in Iran and – in the best case – shut their mouth about the freedom-movement by the Iranian people, because their fragile and outdated world-image of West vs. East is challenged by the first glimpse into reality and the numerous and complex contradictions that exist. Those people, in their permanent urge to reduce every question in the world to condemn the USA, become supporter of the IRI and leave no space, not even for thin paper, between them and the state-propaganda by the Islamic dictatorship. Well done, congratulations, you are disgrace to the Left.
The other corner is not better at all. It consists of people of whatever political attitude (most of the times, they don’t know themselves), but also so called Lefties and self-proclaimed left-liberals or “human rights activists”, who cannot go beyond the thought construct “IRI is bad, killing IRI is good, hail the killers and make them kill more”. The ones who are worth discussing with, are some expressive Iranians on social media who follow and report on the struggle in Iran and who have every right to hate the IRI – for example for biographical reason, because they or their families have been split apart and/or killed by IRI. When it is about getting info on what is going on in Iran, those people can be valuable and reliable sources. But when it comes to bigger political context, their masks come off. Sometimes, I envy those people, because their world-image and therefore their mind must be so easy. They want Trump, of all people Trump – a reactionary fundamentalist, a ruthless and vicious man in charge of many murders and a person providing so many reason to be hated – to invade Iran and – swoosh! Abracadabra! – we have free democracy in Iran, combined with a prosperous culture, economy and social stability and no contradictions at all. They have the magical gift to neglect the last decades of US- “interventionist policy” in the Middle East and the idea of bringing democracy by Air Force One and their disastrous consequences: millions dead, even more injured and crippled, traumatized and/or seeking refuge together and the production of some absolutely failed states. They are believers of the “human rights imperialism” and are proof, that war propaganda in the 21st century is working just fine. But let me re-assure you: those people are not representative for Iranians, even if they do everything they can to appear so (it looks quite forced and not authentic when they start every tweet with “As an Iranian I say”). Sure, people in Iran are so desperate they want the IRI go by any means necessary. But they also notice what happened in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and many other countries around them. Their do-alikes in this corner not even discussing are the mostly white liberals, who do not care about Iran but in times like these suddenly start blabbering about missing “gay rights” and “women rights” as a reason to finally, finally see those bombs destroying Tehran and their wet dreams come true. They summon Soleimani as the worst terrorist of all time, worse than Bin Laden, Saddam Hussain, Gaddafi and Darth Vader combined – but probably 90% had to google him in the first place.
What I see beyond this circle of madness and what I don’t see is this: I see two imperialists powers with big domestic problems challenged by their own people – #impeachment and #IranProtests – being able to distract from those issues and depict themselves as both, victims and strong actor. For the case of Iran, on which I have more expertise than the US, I see state-declared three days of mourning and massive nationalist mobilizations for the murderer Soleimani – and killing off the momentum of powerful, massive and radical freedom-movement against the regime. This insurrectional movement (3) (4) (5) was slowly but surely cutting one of the most important things for the highly ideological IRI: their legitimacy. Now, IRI is re-fueling this legitimacy by pointing to their life-long declared enemy down in the west. I even lost count how many times they did exactly that to distract from own problems, I just know that nearly every time it works. It nearly seems they regularly need the US to point at for their own survival.
What will happen now? No one can say, the situation is very dangerous and heated (6). Everyone is pretty sure, though, that the war-hungry faction of IRI will respond the war-hungry faction of the US government. Probably, they will take out skirmishes or worse in one of the countries they have made miserable, like Iraq or Lebanon or Yemen. They will be joined by other regional imperialists. Once again, ordinary and innocent people will take the consequences.
What can we do? Let’s not take their narrative but keep doing, what we do: when this episode hopefully loses some attention because no other disastrous actions are taken, let’s give those movements and protests against the powerful in the USA, in Iran and everywhere a voice, be in solidarity with them. They are the only ones who can end this misery without producing more failed states and more masses of people bombed into catastrophe. Because I want to see again what I don’t see at the moment, since everybody is busy having an opinion in this game of war and power: footage and information on the struggles and the movements against those in charge and for a better life.
1. Given the fact, President Piñera presented Chile as «an oasis in the midst of the restless Latin America» just a bit before the uprising, we have no choice but to think of Chile as a sleeping giant. Under the calm surface, what were the social dynamics that set the stage for the current nationwide uprising?
The current administration has been investing very much in highlighting Chile’s stability and business-friendly policies to the outside world. Many Chileans believed in this dream as well, hoping that a continued commitment to the neoliberal economic policies implemented under the Pinochet dictatorship would eventually lift them into the middle class. However, it is impossible to ignore how the growing gap between rich and poor determines every aspect of life in this country. If you have money, you have access to the private healthcare system as well as to the best schools and universities. If you don’t, you’re locked into a perpetual struggle to stay afloat. Salaries remain incredibly low in the face of a very high cost of living, leading many people to go into debt. This reality is obvious to the average Chilean and many have organized in social movements to attack the system from different angles. The current uprising wasn’t a complete surprise; it was the evolution of 30 years of movements demanding the eradication of the economic legacy of the dictatorship.
2. It seems that the main demands of the protests are the following: the immediate resignation of president Piñera and a new constitution. Let us imagine that both will be satisfied in a short time. What will actually change in Chile? Are these demands mostly focusing on the symbolic level or the cure for the social inequalities passes through them?
I think the Piñera administration would very much like this to all go away. After the first weekend of rebellion, he began offering token reforms as if he was distributing candy on Halloween. However, these reforms were not what the people wanted. If a new constitution was offered, people would reject it immediately, because the demand is for a constituent assembly from below; that is, a constitution generated by the people rather than from the government. If we can achieve this process, I believe it would be very important to the country. The constitution was written during the dictatorship and serves as a legal basis for the cruel economic policies people are rising up against. It also protects some authoritarian practices people wish to see eliminated. Of course, Piñera’s resignation and a new constitution would
be enough to satisfy a big portion of those currently in revolt. That said, others are hoping that the process of constituent assemblies can be a way of generating direct democracy on the neighbourhood level. If woven together, these horizontal neighbourhood organizations could become the basis of true counter-power capable of demanding much more.
3. Watching videos of the protests or viewing photos of the demos, we observe mostly Chilean flags and only a few leftist, communist or anarchist signs and banners. Thus, we suppose that their presence is pale or not discrete by choice. It’s a fact that during social
uprisings, the organized groups tend to dissolve into the masses. We wonder which is their role? If and how do they try to deviate the mood of the uprising to more anticapitalist or revolutionary ways?
It’s absolutely true that political parties are not mobilizing under their flags in the larger demonstrations and marches. On one level, this shows how unified people feel at this moment — as Chileans, rather than as members of a particular party. Since the beginning of the uprising, several new symbols have emerged, including a version of the Chilean flag that is almost completely black; this dark image represents how people feel about Chilean democracy at the moment. There is also the fact that these protests are targeting more than just the conservative Piñera administration: the left parties who have participated in the government since the return of democracy in 1990 are also guilty in the eyes of the people. When in power, both left- and right-wing governments maintained the neoliberal policies they inherited and resorted to violence against the population. In fact, despite their large bases, the left-wing parties have often lagged behind the country’s many impressive social movements. Of course, these parties are eager to be the mediators between the people and the government right now and are working hard to leverage current events into future electoral wins. The likely result is that their efforts will split and weaken the movement.
4. The police brutality is obvious and the military is present on the streets. Many analysts claim that one of the reasons for the protests’ success is that the young people don’ t have reminiscences from the Pinochet dictatorship and that fact makes them fearless. How do the Chilean nowadays feel about state repression? Do they feel that another coup d’etat is possible? How they organize and defend their assemblies, their protests, their political
I spent the first 30 years of my life in the US and when I arrived in Chile, I was shocked by the popular dislike or even hatred of the “pacos” or cops in Chile. Even people who weren’t politically inclined would have a negative view of them. The “fearless generation” initiated amazing student rebellions in 2006 and again from 2011 to 2013, rallying a huge base of support around demands for basic rights such as education and an end to privatization in all its forms. Chilean high school students are known to regularly engage in street fighting with police and have subsequently been brutalized by them, including accounts of torture. All this happened under “democracy.” In the current moment, you can see this abuse taking place at a terrifying scale: police are using crowd control weapons to main and even kill young protesters. At this moment, over 200 people have lost eyes. This is in addition to a long list of other human rights violations, including kidnapping and sexual torture. Even people who haven’t been directly injured are being traumatized through exposure to so much violence. For the older generation, the State of Emergency was particularly horrific. For the first time since Pinochet was voted out of power, the military was used to repress the Chilean population. Many people felt like the dictatorship had returned. I personally felt terrified watching tanks roll down my street. I’d never experienced anything like that before. Even though the State of Emergency is now over, the police are essentially acting like the military and the level of violence is quite high. In response, protesters have created their own “first responder” networks through which medical professionals can volunteer their services. You can even see medical units armed with protective shields charging through the protests in order to offer aid. This week, there have been many open calls to donate medical supplies; this reflects the shocking number of people who have been injured. In addition, groups of friends, neighbors, and comrades have instituted “check-in” practices through WhatsApp in order to ascertain everyone’s safety at the end of the day.
Regarding the potential for a coup, I don’t think it’s likely and I haven’t heard any speculation on that topic. Despite all the protests, the government is still remarkably stable and I don’t see any particular force ready to rise up to topple it — from the left or the right.
5. Chile has one of the most powerful feminist movements. Do you think that this has influenced the current situation? What is the feminist approach of the protests?
I am part of the Coordinadora Feminista 8 de Marzo (the March 8th Feminist Coordinator), the coalition that, starting in 2018, has been the main political body of the movement. Something I find interesting is like the other movements that achieved major mobilizations over the years (the students and the movement against the corrupt pension system), Chile’s feminist movement really focused on the cruelty of neoliberalism. In other Latin American countries, the feminist movements had demands to end femicides or to legalize abortion as their animating issue. Meanwhile, Chilean feminists marched under the banner “Against the Precaritization of Life.” In a way, this latest period of intense feminist activity was the runway to launch the plane of full rebellion. This was because CF8M had theorized that feminism was a force capable of uniting the country’s many social movements — movements that were reactivating thanks the energy generated by the feminist wave of 2018. Looking back from this moment, I think I can say their theory was the correct one: the feminists were able to partially unify the left and generate alliances amongst the students, No+AFP, labor unionists, and migrant rights organizations. These alliances represent a potential source of horizontal structure for the rebellion; unfortunately, cracks are already showing as different forces begin to split along ideological lines or even fight for power. That said, on the surface, the movement is booming. Last Friday’s feminist march was exceptionally large with terrific energy. Both organized and independent feminists are engaged in near-constant acts of protest and propaganda. One of the slogans that arose in 2018 is, “Never again to the back row; there will never again be a revolution without us.” Feminists certainly put that commitment into practice in this rebellion.
6. There is a long history of sexual and political violence in Chile and Latin America in crucial historical moments like Chile is experiencing now. Do you think that all this gender violence expresses an effort for gender discipline to the women’s bodies in order to control them?
Absolutely, yes. It has been the position of the feminist movement for many years that state violence and patriarchal violence are deeply connected. During the dictatorship, women were raped and sexually tortured. This was not only to individually disciple “the enemy,” but to provide a terrifying example of what would happen to you if you didn’t stay meekly at home. Now, we have complaints of rape and sexual torture under democracy. You can see why people will never forgive Piñera for this, no matter what he offers.
This article by Mina Khanlarzadeh explores the reasons for the recent uprisings in Iran, the fight against poverty of the Iranian People, and why certain opposition groups are aimed at either instrumentalising or silencing the protests. First published in zcomm.org.
It started one morning when I woke up to one gray tick next to a WhatsApp message to my mother. A day passes, and one gray tick still won’t turn into two. In a state of suffocating confusion, I eventually realize that none of the messages I’ve sent to my folks in Iran have been received yet.
I run through the possibilities in my mind: Usually when this happens, it’s because one person may not have Internet access—but in this instance, it’s an entire collective of people. I tune into social media, and images of protestors standing amidst fire, taken before the net was shut down, cover my feed, and voices shouting “down with the dictator” reverberate in my phone’s tiny screens.
The entire population of Iran has lost all means of communication that requires Internet. And the government hasn’t simply shut down the net: Borders have now turned into walls of confinement, muting peoples’ voices, so barring them from receiving information from entire neighborhoods within the country, and outside of it. This move has imposed a unique kind of silence: Instead of the absence of sound, all that’s heard is one continuous scream.
These protesters, who’ve been on the streets, have a lifetime’s worth of stories to tell, but only a few seconds to narrate them. Their stories are chopped into various, wobbly videos that only capture a snapshot of their reality, amid widespread presence of security forces and the fear of death. The government is, as the Iranian scholar Kamran Matin wrote, “practicing a shoot-to-kill policy from the very start of the protests.”
On The Necessity of Crisis
Communication and the flow of information isn’t the only thing on hold in Iran—the official calendar has also been suspended. Universities, schools, sports’ stadiums, and public transportation have been canceled in several places: “Dozens of protesters have been killed and hundreds of buildings have been burned.” Demonstrations don’t have a center, and can’t gravitate towards any particular location. They are spread all over Iran, and the more marginalized areas scream louder and are killed harder. Internet blackouts have been employed by several other states before: Sudan’s ruling military council blocked the Internet as a means to crash political resistance in April.
The IRI used the Iran-Iraq war (1980-1988) to obliterate resistance by carrying out a project of mass murder of political prisoners, and, in the last decade, has been using the US economic sanctions to adjust the economic structures towards an Iranian government styled neoliberalization of the economy, a devastation of the disenfrachised working classes, and a weakening of the more liberal section of the reformist faction of the government.  The Iran-Iraq war was used as a machine of propaganda to cast any form of resistance against the government as an obstacle towards the unification of the nation against war. Just as the war was considered a blessing (nemat) for the state to distract public opinion from domestic policies, the economic sanctions have been used (both by the government and its apologists) to justify corruption, the unprecedented widening of the class gap, and harsh economic policies affecting the impoverished majority. These harsh policies include cutting off social services, and faithful adherence to the steps carved out for Third World countries by the World Bank.
From Ahmadinejad’s presidency onwards, the intensification of neoliberalism (a particular translation of which has been made to fit the political structure of Iran) has occurred, simultaneously with the reinforcement of the economic sanctions against Iran. In 2009, the IRI invested all of its resources for Ahmadnejad to become the president to follow the economic policies of the World Bank, and for reformists to not be in power when the negotiations with the US take place. The IRI, similar to other states, translates neoliberalism to policies that adjust to its political structure. Political economist Mohammad Maljoo argued that privatization, for the IRI, can mean handing public wealth to various sections of unelected officials to guarantee their loyalty, while this is not the same as privatization, it functions in a similar fashion.
The Fight Against Poverty in Revolutionary Consciousness
Despite fabricated images framing the fight against poverty in Iran as: 1. Belonging to a less politically conscious or lumpenproletariat, 2. Being merely an immediate response to the skyrocketing of egg or petrol prices, or 3. Even as the protesters being manipulated by MEK or monarchists; the redistribution of wealth towards the abolition of poverty was one of the main causes of the 1979 revolution. In his 1970s speech “Religion vs. Religion,” Ali Shariati, the most prominent intellectual before the 1979 Revolution, quoted Abu Dharr Al-Ghifari’s (one of the earliest converts to Islam) statement on poverty: “Abu Dharr said, ‘I am perplexed by a person who finds no bread in his house. How is it that he does not arise against the people with his sword unsheathed?’”
Indeed, one of the main reasons Shariati argued that Islam can be interpreted as an emanicipatory ideology was for its consideration that one person’s poverty had the potential to be a source of guilt for the entire society. In his 1960s short stories, Samad Behrangi, a Marxist social critic, elementary school teacher, and a pioneer of Iran’s modern children’s literature, grappled with the question of class based violence and the right of people on the margins to fight against poverty. In 24 Hours Between Being Asleep and Awake, Behrangi tells the story of a young street vendor named Latif. Latif escaped the harsh realities of life through his fantasies of riding all over the city of Tehran on a camel that he saw in a children’s toy store. At the end of the story, a father and daughter buy the toy camel from the store. Destroyed by the event, and facing his incapability to escape his harsh life conditions even in fantasy, Latif follows their car and is injured. While lying on the ground in pain he tells himself that he wishes he owned the toy gun that was also on display in the window of the store. Behrangi starts the story by clarifying that he is not advocating for violence to be followed as a social template, but wants the readers to contemplate the conundrum of social class and the experience of Latif:
“Dear readers, I have not written this story for you to use it as your social template; my concern was for you to get to understand the children of your country and ask yourself what their solution is.”
Shariati and Behrangi offer us a picture of some of the sensibilities, concerns, and demands that existed among revolutionaries before the 1979 revolution, such as the abolition of poverty and social responsibility towards class-based violence experienced by marginalized sections of the society. The IRI tried addressing these demands in the first decade after the revolution, but has been trying to reverse them since then. Ervand Abrahamian asked how the IRI had survived, and he responded:
“The real answer lies not in religion, but in economic and social populism. By the early 1970s, Iran had produced a generation of radical intelligentsia that was revolutionary not only in its politics — wanting to replace the monarchy with a republic — but in its economic and social outlook. It wanted to transform the class structure root and branch. […] This [pro-equality] populism helps explain not only the success of the revolution but also the continued survival of the Islamic Republic. The Republic’s constitution — with 175 clauses — transformed these general aspirations into specific inscribed promises. It pledged to eliminate poverty, illiteracy, slums and unemployment. It also vowed to provide the population with free education, accessible medical care, decent housing, pensions, disability pay and unemployment insurance.”
Economic sanctions have played an essential role in concealing the IRI’s economic policies towards the privatization of health and education, the monopolization of public wealth by government figures and institutions called Iranian government style privatization.
Why Pro-Reza Shah Slogans?
The compromise of life conditions inside Iran, the continous depreciation of marginalized peoples’ purchasing power, their great suffering due to poor economic management, and harsh international treatments against Iranians (via economic sanctions, and restrictions on Iranians’ mobility by the Muslim Ban and similar policies) have resulted in a collective dream of a strong nationalist leader who would heal the injuries by priorotizing the development of Iran over outside adventures, and bringing international racists policies against Iranians to an end. That is one of the reasons the name of Reza Shah can be heard in some of the street slogans, even as those very people are not necessarily monarchists or in favor of monarchism replacing the current regime.
Over the last several years, nostalgia is understood to be a false consciousness created by satellite television channels (such as Manoto TV) that have convinced Iran that the Shah was great. This false consciousness argument does not help us in our analysis of the complexities and differences within the phenomenon of remembering the past affectionately. Contrary to narratives of a TV channel selling Iranians the idea that Reza Shah was great, the reference to Reza Shah is due to the complex political circumstances which lead to the glorification of a strong patriarchal figure. Inherent to this glorification is the idea that a figure like Reza Shah could lead the nation in the international realm and protect Iranians from being bullied under the rubric of the Muslim Ban and economic sanctions. Moreover, before the 2009 election, there was some hope in reformists to rely on their popular base in the society to conduct transformation, but the hope began getting demolished by internal government conflicts. Reformists moved towards hardliners to receive acceptance, and to keep a space for themselves in the government, and society became more radicalized facing closed doors to its most negligible desire of survival, presented in electing Mirhossein Mousavi in 2009. These internal government calculations and divisions translated into harsher oppressive policies (during Rouhani’s presidency), and further impoverishment, both as a means of control of the society and as a consequence of vast corruption, and deeper (consequently, costlier) involvement of the Iranian government in more countries outside the borders of Iran. The weakening of reformists is, in fact, another reason that Reza Shah’s name is heard in the slogans.
This is not to say that there is not a desire to put the entire nation’s history into a time machine and wake up to a reality in which the exiled figures of popular culture, such as Googoosh and Dariush, could sing on national television, and one in which there are no traces of human and socio-economic damages—including the Iran-Iraq war (1980-1988) and the economic sanctions—or all the repressive policies of the last forty years. The Shah’s regime is one of the possible governments in power when we enter that time machine, but it isn’t the only possibility. That’s why the nostalgia for the Shah’s regime cannot be understood without considering nostalgia for pre-1979 Iran.
I suggest, keeping in mind Svetlana Boym’s concepts of reflective and restorative nostalgias (Future of Nostalgia, 2001), that we divide Iranians’ nostalgia for the past into two divisions: patriarchal past-oriented nostalgia and critical future-oriented nostalgia. The patriarchal past-oriented nostalgia tries to restore the past homeland in the future, the figure of the late Shah is at its center. The main cause of it is determined to be a defense of the past (mainly the Shah’s regime) against all of its past and current dissidents, and the past is re-imagined time and again with the wish to annihilate all the discourse and figures that ever challenged the former regime, to its final absolute restoration. The critical future-oriented nostalgia, however, relies on the past and its fragmented affective memories, to reflect on the present, to imagine a non-linear path to the future, while considering all the marginalized side roads that were neglected in the past while their traces in society and culture are still visible.
Iranian society examines political groups and ideologies based on their attitude towards public and private happiness, and pleasure, as the primary component of measuring their political progressiveness. The state was trying to save people from their sins to pave their path to the religious utopia. Similarly, the intellectuals often attempt to save people from their lowbrow pleasure to pave their path towards cultural elitism. If the criminalization of considerable section of the popular music, after the 1979 Revolution, had occured in the name of avoiding distraction from superior values and defending the authenticity of Iranian traditional music, intellectuals’ looking down on popular culture is most of the time in the name of saving the society’s soul from banality, consumerist pleasure, and poor taste.
The former regime and their supporters have come to represent acceptance towards pleasure, happiness, and understanding of popular art. As a result, another reason for remembering the past affectionately is the IRI’s privatization of happiness, and oppositions’ equation of pleasure with lack of social responsibility and political consciousness. The private space is accessible to the more affluent strata of the society; moreover, protecting the private space form state’s control is more attainable to propertied people than the marginalized groups. Furthermore, relying on tourism for pleasure and happiness is within the reach of those who are more well-off, both for obtaining visas and being able to afford the travel expenses. This is why, for most of society, moving towards any promised utopia, if not possible to be accompanied with, for instance, the popular music songs (banned by the IRI after the revolution) of the exiled musician, such as, for instance, Hasan Shamaeizadeh, is viewed as moving towards dystopia.
Anti-imperialist Apologists and The Authentic Neoliberals
The considerable section of the current reaction to the IRI, outside Iran, consists of two main groups. The first group is anti-imperialist apologists who, at times, superficially criticize IRI, but overall perceive its policies to be justifiable responses to outside imperialist forces. Their refrain is that the IRI is preventing Iran from becoming Syria, but they often fail to consider the role of their government, along with several other governments, in Syria becoming Syria. This mantra magically explains away most of the IRI’s decisions and policies. The second group is authentic neoliberals, who criticize the IRI for not being a true authentic force of neoliberalism like they would be, in case they come to power. They are similar to religious fundamentalists who believe there is an authentic reading of the religious scriptures, they share with the IRI their hatred of Marxists, and their fanatic faith in the World Bank and the IMF. They are also as anti-liberal as the IRI is when it comes to dealing with their critics, some of them even justifying the 1953 coup against Iran. Augusto Pinochet is their favorite leader, and they hope Trump will make Iran great again.
Both groups, authentic neoliberals and anti-imperialist apologists, agree with the IRI’s economic policies. Authentic neoliberals openly express the teachings of the IMF and the World Bank to be their faith, whereas, to anti-imperialist apologists, everything outside the West is irrelevant unless it is defined in favor of or against imperialism. Within both groups, criticism has been more focused on the ways in which the IRI has conducted such policies, and not on the policies themselves.
What to Do with The Disappointed Hope?
A recently surfaced video shows Sepideh Gholian, a labor rights activist who was arrested shortly after her protest, holding a sign that reads: “You increased the price of fuel. Did you also increase the incomes?” Gholian’s simple question not only targets today’s corrupt policies towards impoverishment and weakening of society, refers to the hopes and dreams that led to the 1979 Revolution. The revolutionary hope that the IRI still finds intractable, and in turn uses crises to justify policies that stand against them. As Ernst Bloch wrote in 1998: “For if hope could be annihilated, that is, if it could literally be made nihilistic, it would never have proved so intractable to those despots who represent its opposite.”  Behind Gholian’s question, Samad Behrangi’s “Latif,” and Ali Shariati’s “Abu Dharr Al-Ghifari” stand, and the dreams and hopes that were whispered (or screamed) by the former generations that led to the 1979 Revolution. While their hopes have been disappointed, they have not been annihilated, as they are recorded in Gholian’s video and all other videos that never got the chance to be shared online in the past few days of the outage.
: Ervand Abrahamian explains the isolation of political prisoners before the mass execution of the 80s (before the Iran-Iraq war ended)
“In the early hours of Friday, 19 July 1988, the regime suddenly, without warning, isolated the main prisons from the outside world. It slammed shut their gates; canceled scheduled visits and telephone calls; banned all newspapers; cleared the cells of radios and televisions; refused to accept letters, care packages, and even vital medicines; and forbade relatives from congregating outside the prison gates […]. What is more, the main law courts went on an unscheduled vacation so that concerned relatives would not gather there seeking information. […]The wardens isolated not only the prisons from the outside world but also each cell block from other cell blocks in the same prison. Inmates were confined to their cells. […] One ingenious inmate assembled a wireless set to find out what was happening only to discover that the radio stations were not reporting news about the prisons. They were observing a news blackout. Thus began an act of violence unprecedented in Iranian history-unprecedented in form, content, and intensity. It even outdid the 1979 reign of terror. The curtain of secrecy, however, was so effective that no Western journalist heard of it and no Western academic discussed it. They still have not.”
Ervand Abrahamian, Tortured Confessions: Prison and Public Recantations in Modern Iran (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999), 279
: Ernst Bloch, Literary Essays, trans. Andrew Joron and others (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1998), 344.
Thanks to Atoosa Moinzadeh for her insightful comments.
Interview by Sven Wegner, Wissam Abu Fakher and Ricaletto with Gharib Hassou, co-chair of TEV-DEM (Tevgera Civaka Demokratîk, Movement for a Democratic Society in Northern Syria) and former PYD foreign representative in the autonomous area of the Kurdish Regional Government in Northern Iraq. The interview took place on November 1, 2019 in Dresden after a discussion at the Evangelical University. German version at lower class magazine.
Beginning of 2020 Sven Wegner and Ricaletto will publish their book “Başur” (Editions Ichi Ichi) about their journey through South Kurdistan in 2017. Their book combines interviews and factual texts with comic and portrait drawings.
Interview: Sven Wegner
Translation: Wissam Abu Fakher
In cooperation with jihadist militias Turkey attacks the north of Syria. What realistic perspectives does Rojava or the Democratic Federation of Northern and Eastern Syria have in this difficult situation?
Before the current invasion, there was stability and all sections of society lived together on the basis of international understanding. Rojava was much better than the areas of Assad and those of the Syrian opposition, which had close ties to Turkey. Both the conditions there and what the people have for their daily lives and all sorts of other things. The aim of the operation against Rojava and more precisely against Serê Kaniyê (Raʾs al-ʿAin) and Girê Spî (Tall Abyad) is to destroy this stability.
The determination of the people on the ground is to be broken. After the invasion we experienced a real state of war and we see that we are facing a war of elimination. Turkey commits many war crimes. Recently they even used phosphorus bombs, which are actually forbidden.
The fighters of the YPG, YPJ and the SDF are offering great resistance in the areas, but the Turkish state makes no difference and simply bombs everything. The international community observes this, but does not act. In addition, all international forces, Russia, the USA, Iran, which interfered in the Syrian war, are also in this area.
But my question was a different one. I was concerned about the prospects that Rojava still has. That brings me to questions such as: What is your view of possible cooperation with the Syrian regime, in other words with Bashar al-Assad or Russia? Are we not forced to cooperate with these forces? What are their positions on this?
We regard democratic confederalism as the only solution to all the current problems in Syria. We see Syria’s future only in a democratic federation, if there is a future for Syria at all. We will very simply fight to protect the system and this idea and philosophy and to combat terror. And if our model is destroyed, then the will of the Kurdish people will be destroyed, because Erdogan wants to change the areas ethnically. He is planning the same with northern Iraq.
That means a cooperation with Bashar al-Assad is not on the agenda at all?
We have long tried to open diplomatic channels with Damascus to agree talks and exchange opinions. But they have always rejected our questions and refused to engage in dialogue. There have been conferences in Bozanê (Ain Issa), in Kobanê (Ain al-Arab) and in various areas, but Assad’s regime does not accept dialogue. Recently there was an agreement between the SDF and the regime that troops would be sent to the border and not to take over SDF territory. This agreement was brokered by Russia and we also wanted to give the regime the task of protecting the border so that we do not have to take over this task alone. But it is precisely here that we can see that the regime no longer has any strength at all and can no longer take over anything. There is no hope that the regime will secure the border. The soldiers were transported in animal transporters. We also know, of course, that there is already an agreement between the regime and Erdogan. And against the will of the Syrian people. We wanted to give the regime the task of protecting the borders, but it has shirked its responsibility.
There is a danger that you will now be crushed between two fronts. On the one hand, the regime and Russia – well, the regime has little capacity, but Russia has an air force – and on the other hand, Turkey and its jihadist militias. So there is a danger that you will be worn out and the civilian population will suffer if you say “Fight, fight, fight”.
Would the regime take its responsibility, it would establish a no-fly zone. Russia could have fulfilled this task as well. Both did not do this, however, with the intention that our bases and areas would be bombed by Turkey. So we will fight now, because it is our dream and our country. This war is already a great war. To whom should we leave the territories and the land? Erdogan and the Jihadists from al-Raqqa, al-Baghuz, Tabqa and Minbic (Manbidsch) who also robbed Efrîn (Afrin) and Idlib and now want to rob our country? We will not leave the country to the occupying state of Turkey and not to the jihadists. We will not allow Turkey to occupy and rob us.
When we look at the no-fly zone, what role can the EU play? What role must NATO play? What would be concrete, realistic steps to contain this war? What is TEV-DEM’s opinion on this?
We have commissions everywhere in Washington, Moscow, the EU and Arab countries on the subject and we have already communicated the necessary steps to the countries concerned. The first step would be a no-fly zone in northern and eastern Syria to stop the Turkish air raids. Secondly, UN troops should be brought into the border region and they can take on the task of containing the war on the ground. The UN’s decisions are important and we welcome UN troops, but there has been no progress or decisions in this direction so far. The United States has also said that it would impose economic sanctions on Turkey if it crossed certain lines. But where are these lines anyway? So far everything is theory, but we hope it will be put into practice. Europeans are afraid because of the DAESH prisoners in our prisons and camps, especially when Turkey liberates them. Then there will be a great catastrophe.
Do you still have diplomatic relations or communication channels with Turkey?
We have offered Turkey several times that we would enter into dialogue and negotiate how we could secure the border and what mechanism we could find. Turkey has so far refused. If they were prepared to do so, we would welcome it very much and it could serve as a platform for more negotiations in the future. It would be an advantage for us to negotiate with them, because the entire northern border is a border with Turkey.
What is currently happening with the DAESH prisoners? What is your political position on this issue?
The SDF say they no longer have the capacity to control the prisoners because they have to protect the border. A few DAESH prisoners have already fled and are now fighting on the side of the jihadists with Turkey.
Do you notice in Rojava that here in Europe thousands of people take to the streets, demonstrate, block, occupy and do many actions in solidarity with Rojava?
Yes, we have seen and heard that the Kurds in exile and their friends do actions. And naturally we are happy about that.
We have already talked about what you expect from the EU and from state governments. What about civil society in Europe? What do you expect from it?
One cannot trust governments and we only trust society. When we talk about society, we mean trade unions, associations and other civil society organisations.
The biggest contribution that civil society can make to resistance in Rojava is to put pressure on governments. There are as many videos and evidence showing how the jihadist fighters desecrate corpses, shout “Allah u Akhbar” as if they had won against the regime or completely destroyed the “infidels”. The civil society can help to collect and distribute this evidence and videos so that the world knows better who we are fighting against.
You said that the Rojava model should be made better known and we had already spoken in Iraq in 2017 about the construction of councils and also about whether parties are necessary at all and whether they should not simply dissolve. But now there is war in Rojava and it seems to be obvious that the decisions are not taken by councils. Councils take a long time, they have to discuss. Don’t the SDF have to take independent decisions because they are under military pressure to move? Isn’t war the complete opposite of council democracy or poison for them?
Turkey is trying to destroy the construction of our democracy. We have seven democratic administrations and 35 Arab, Aramaic, Assyrian and Kurdish parties and these exchange and discuss among themselves and they deliver their opinions and perspectives to the government council in Northern and Eastern Syria. This government council then decides in favour of the SDF. Even now, in times of war, it is difficult, but the decisions are still made by the government council and this council gets the decisions from the local democratic administration.
So it is also the Councils that make the decisions?
Every democratic administration is subordinate to the councils and so the decisions are made from the bottom up.
Critics say, however, that these councils do not really exist. These are all illusions and the question is whether it is really possible for councils to exist under war conditions in the 21st century?
When Turkey began its attack, the SDF leadership met with the Assad regime at Hmeimim, a Russian military airfield, because the administration, the councils and the parties met and all voted to cooperate with Assad. This was a decision of the base and therefore the SDF leadership had to meet with the regime there. I don’t want us to be misunderstood. We did not want to cooperate with Assad. For three years we have tried to enter into a dialogue with him. After the Turkish attack we were forced to go to Assad and he accepted it, but now we see that he is not able to protect the border.
As with the occupation of Efrîn?
There have been repeated reports of forced recruitment and criticism of the introduction of compulsory military service in Rojava. There are several reports of young men who have to hide in Qamişlo (Qamishli) or Kobanê in order not to be arrested and forcibly recruited by the Asayîş (security forces of the Kurdish self-government). When I see pictures from Rojava, I see older women and older men, maybe still a few young women, but I hardly see young men, because almost all of them have to do military service. Which positions do you take on forced recruitment, compulsory military service and the militarisation of society?
We have been misunderstood. We have been at war for seven years and we have been fighting the terrorists of the Islamic State for seven years. During that time, no one criticised us for recruitment and militarisation. But now that we are militarily finished with Daesh, the attention is drawn to this issue. Al-Nusra, for example, educates children to become future terrorists. We are talking about the right to self-defence and we have the right to know how to defend ourselves and that is exactly what we want to achieve. We have built our democratic institutions and they now need to be protected. For example, people in our neighbourhoods carry weapons at night to defend them. People simply need to know how to handle them. I believe that this criticism will be used to legitimise the Turkish attack.
Some quick, classifying thoughts on the recent wave of protests in Iran by Kian Zeytani
In the late 21st century, the restriction of mobility (prices for petrol or for local public transport) seems to be a global door opener for extensive system-critical revolts and uprisings by workers and the precarious. After Mexico, Haiti, France and Chile, another country is now joining this series: Iran.
A few days ago, President Hassan Rouhani made a fateful announcement: As of Friday midnight, the subsidies on gasoline prices will be cut nationwide, doubling the litre of gasoline and later tripling it.
A few hours after the announcement, militant protests were ignited in several cities. In the form of rallies, demonstrations, street blockades, attacks on petrol stations, government symbolism, banks, police stations and security forces, the many thousands of people in almost 50 cities* throughout the country expressed their displeasure. Today, the important and symbolic bazaar in Tehran has gone on strike in solidarity with the protests. Around 1000 people have been arrested, at least twenty killed. The Internet, the most important news and mobilization tool in the totalitarian country, especially in the form of social media, has virtually been shut down. The balance of the first 24 hours shows that Iran is currently experiencing the fiercest protests since the revolution in 1979 – some even claim that things are more cheerful than in 1979.
The slogans and the goals of the actions show quite clearly: the rising gasoline prices are only the drop that causes the boiling powder keg Iran to overflow again. For years, a sometimes radical protest cycle in Iran has been solidifying and intensifying, in which anger and frustration about living conditions that are difficult to endure become visible: economic recession, lack of wages, neoliberal cuts in social benefits, authoritarian access to everyday life, increasing repression, corruption, military sword rattling and simply no perspective at all – especially among the working class and the inflated precarious sector, but also among large sections of the middle class. All those are these days again the actors of the uprising, who themselves say they have nothing to lose, which is why they risk their lives and take to the streets against the oppressive life situation in the Islamic republic.
This is expressed in slogans like “Down with the dictator”, “We do not want an Islamic republic” and even “Death for Khamenei” (revolutionary leader and highest authority in the Islamic republic). In other slogans the demonstrators criticize the millions in state support for the regional ideological allies like in Lebanon, Syria or Palestine, while their own people starve to death and slip into more and more misery.
There are reports that the government wanted to reverse the petrol price increase because of the violence of the protests. After an address by the revolutionary leader, in which he acknowledged this step as a necessity against the economic recession and denounced the demonstrators as “hooligans” and “agents provocateurs”, this measure was carved in stone and thus remains intact for the time being. Therefore, a confrontational, repressive and (even more) murderous response by the state apparatus is to be expected again. But the power bloc is not as homogeneous as the supreme revolutionary leader would like it to be. There are even supposed to be anonymous statements of solidarity with the protests from circles of security forces and quite specifically from the political, economic and military power bloc in Iran, the Revolutionary Guards. However, these reports should be treated with caution, because the traditionally conservative Revolutionary Guards are in conflict with President Rouhani, who is regarded as a reformer, and each has its own interests. Nevertheless, if the otherwise violent government is not a threat.
But the power bloc is not as homogeneous as the supreme revolutionary leader would like it to be. There are even supposed to be anonymous statements of solidarity with the protests from circles of security forces and quite specifically from the political, economic and military power bloc in Iran, the Revolutionary Guards. However, these reports should be treated with caution, because the traditionally conservative Revolutionary Guards are in conflict with President Rouhani, who is regarded as a reformer, and each has its own interests. There are also very practical problems: Iran is mobilizing ideologically loyal Shiite militias from surrounding countries, such as Lebanon and Syria, to smash the protests. Due to the complex regional situation, however, these troops are involved. In addition, they cost money, which the state does not always have. All this could strengthen the dynamics of the protests and, above all, create the self-confidence needed in a totalitarian state to stand on the right side. After all, it takes patience, because the Islamic Republic has been tried and tested in insurrection and is firmly in the saddle despite all the problems. However, nothing is forever.
*A list of cities in Iran involved in the protests is circulating in telegram channels:
Tehran, Buschehr, Sarpol Zahab, Andimeshk, Orumieh, Jam, Gorgan, Shiraz, Tabriz, Kazeroon, Kermanshah, Behbahan, Shahriar, Babol, Isfahan, Kangan, Islamabad West, Rig Band, Karaj, Khorramabad, Tehranbars, Gajarsaran, Lorest , Sari, Neyshabur, Ghaemshahr, Shoosh, Salmas, Ghods, Jajrood, Rasht, Yazd, Rabat Karim, Qazvin, Khomein, Sanandaj, Kamyaran, Nikshahr, Saqez, Zahedan, Chabahar, Marivan, Rouden, Nikshahr, Marivan, Kermanshah Shah Abad, Roudehen, Nischapur…
The protests in different parts of the world are putting the question of social alternatives on the table, says Christopher Wimmer*. First published in German in neues deutschland.
The political has once again entered the stage. A worldwide class struggle is raging. Barricades are burning in Chile, Ecuador and Hong Kong, people are dying in social unrest in Iraq. In Lebanon people take to the streets and in Syria there is still a barbaric war raging in which the project of a grassroots democratic society in Rojava is trying to assert itself.
Everywhere, behind the clouds of smoke and the clouds of tear gas, young people and dependents come together to practice new connections with women, migrants and the militant parts of the working class in order to bring various forms of protest onto the streets. These protests have rarely been planned and developed in a coordinated manner, but have mostly arisen spontaneously and unexpectedly. At times they took on a progressive, rarely reactionary character.
The common ground of the movements consists precisely in the fact that the existing apparatuses of the parties and trade unions usually lag behind them or have been made completely superfluous. The protesters themselves know what is good for them and do not need leadership. The many revolts of all those excluded and exploited, who have nothing to say and no influence on the course of events, testify to the fact that these people no longer want to come to terms with the given conditions.
In the uprising they found their language and so strikes, revolts, mobilizations against the financial industry, occupations and clashes with the police are on the agenda. Supermarkets are being plundered, the Gilets jaunes have been moving through the luxury districts of Paris, devastating them. Such actions, together with district assemblies or direct actions, bring the question of social alternatives to the table. Activists and workers are becoming increasingly interested in these clashes. They are united by the desire for their own voice and a dignified life.
The protesters come from diverse (sub)proletarian milieus, resistant subcultures and the remains of the old workers’ movement. Thus they do not form a uniformity and uniqueness in the sense of an organization, but are a diverse mosaic. Its ambiguity must be endured, its productive side understood. The participation of all these people leads to the formation of different resistant subjectivities. Thus constructions by the state are being dissolved in the uprisings. For example, the question of citizenship does not count there. What counts is the presence of the people involved.
The protesters are demanding a new constitutional process. But this is not the same as the call for organisations or existing structures. The need of people to govern themselves from below and to build new structures should not be mixed up with a political power that pretends – from the existing or from outside – to implement the contents of the uprisings. For such a perspective remains far from the real class struggles.
Which possibilities there are for emancipatory forces in the uprisings can be found out by trying oneself in it. There is no doubt that political tactics are gaining in importance if one wants to achieve an egalitarian and rational shaping of society. This requires self-organization. Its core is to create the conditions under which people choose the path of collective resistance and radically challenge the ruling order. A political organization can only be “an order in the service of disorder,” as the French philosopher Alain Badiou puts it. For capitalism, this disorder is the class struggle from below, in which the participants ally themselves.
*Christopher Wimmer is a political activist and scientist. He lives in Berlin. At the beginning of next year his anthology “Where have all the Rebels gone?” on concepts of left-wing counter-power will be published by Unrast Verlag.
Comment by John Malamatinas – First published in German on neues deutschland
The right-wing conservative government of Kyriakos Mitsotakis, elected only last summer, does everything in its power to encourage protest movements. After having started to evacuate self-organized occupations of fugitives, declared war on the inhabitants and anarchists in the left-alternative district of Exarchia in Athens, it is now the turn of the students. The latter have been protesting since the summer against the repeal of a law banning the police from entering the university campus and protecting student protests. The law was a legacy of a student uprising on 17 November 1973 during the military dictatorship, when a tank rammed through the gates of the Athens Polytechnic. Dozens were killed that day.
Yesterday’s pictures of the attack of the Greek infamous Riot police MAT on the students of the Athens University of Economics ASOEE went around the world. Six days before the historic date, MAT units stormed the campus with the aim of preventing the political occupation – an incomprehensible provocation and, at the same time, a political demonstration of power that evoked memories of the dictatorship in the public debate. Actually, the action was intended to flatter right-wing voters – exactly the opposite was achieved: an occasion for a social movement! And this in a difficult phase for the organized left after the years of austerity and the related loss of trust of the people in social change.
When I opened Facebook this morning, a feeling filled me that I had been missing since the last big general strike in February 2012: real hope! Numerous Greek activists, but also ordinary people, shared the pictures and videos of yesterday evening’s demonstrations. There are thousands and thousands of young people who do not want to be intimidated by the police operation and take up the challenge to fight for another future – a future without right-wing police cowboys, racist barbecues to “protect the Greek tradition” against fugitives or homophobic and sexist attacks. It is a two-sided struggle against the re-emerging “Greek values” and the social disintegration forced by Mitsotakis through privatization and displacement.
It should be remembered that the cycle of crisis protests in Greece did not begin with Papandreou’s famous speech from a yacht near the island of Kastelorizo in April 2010, in which he announced “that we will not make it without the financial support of our international partners”, but the youth sounded the alarm much earlier: During the student protests 2006-07 against the neo-liberalization of the universities and in the uprising in December 2008 when the 15-year-old Alexandros Grigoropoulos was shot by the police and the marginalized part of society laid the cards on the table. For weeks, school and university students together with precariously employed and unemployed people organized themselves in occupied universities and town halls and attacked police stations throughout the country. There is currently no lack of inspiration: in Greece, too, everyone is looking excitedly at the current uprisings in the world.
Intervention at offices of Dogus Holding in Athens in the context of the World Rojava Resistance Day
Today, as part of the World Resistance Day, we demonstrated in front of the headquarters of Dogus Holding in Athens. Our action was in solidarity with the Rojava populations and their struggle to maintain the autonomy and the democratic decision making of their region. Dogus is a consortium of companies, based in Turkey, that belongs to Ferit Sahenk, one of the richest people in Turkey and a personal friend of Erdogan. He holds a significant share of the country’s construction industry, as well as 10% of all Turkish media (television channels, newspapers, magazines and radio stations, all known for their pro-government propaganda). His relationship with the country’s regime is a prime example of the way Turkish capitals have been acting during the last years.
The involvement of the Turkish regime in the Syrian civil war is oriented towards a genocidal policy, of annihilating the Kurdish communities of northern Syria. After their attack on Afrin, they unleashed an all-pervading attack against Rojava, aiming in exterminating the people that live there and their goals of autonomous administration of the area. In justifying this attempt, the Turkish regime did not hesitate to use as a vessel the exact refugee populations that the Syrian civil war created, with Turkey’s involvement. Their plan is to create a “safe-zone” in northern Syria, controlled by the Turkish army, that will be used as an area of relocation for the Syrian refugees that are held in camps across Turkey. At the same time, of course, they continue the on-going war against the Kurdish minorities inside Turkey.
Παρέμβαση στα γραφεία της Dogus στο Κολωνάκι(στο πλαίσιο της Παγκόσμιας Ημέρας Αντίστασης για τη Ροζάβα)Πραγματοποιήσαμε σήμερα παρέμβαση στα γραφεία της εταιρείας Dogus Holding στην Αθήνα. Η παρέμβασή μας πραγματοποιείται ως ένδειξη αλληλεγγύης στους πληθυσμούς της Ροζάβα και στην προσπάθειά τους να διαφυλάξουν την αυτονομία της περιοχής τους και τη δημοκρατική της διαχείριση. Η Dogus είναι εταιρική κοινοπραξία με έδρα την Τουρκία και ανήκει στον μεγαλοεπιχειρηματία Φερίτ Σαχένκ, ενός από τους πλουσιότερους ανθρώπους της Τουρκία και προσωπικού φίλου του Ερντογάν. Κατέχει σημαντικό μερίδιο στον κατασκευαστικό τομέα της χώρας, ενώ υπό την ιδιοκτησία του βρίσκεται το 10% του τουρκικού τύπου (τηλεοπτικά κανάλια, εφημερίδες, περιοδικά και ραδιοφωνικούς σταθμούς, όλα γνωστά για τη φιλοκυβερνητική προπαγάνδα τους). Η διαπλοκή του με το καθεστώς της χώρας και με τις πολεμικές της επιχειρήσεις είναι ένα τυπικό παράδειγμα του τρόπου, που λειτουργεί το τουρκικό κεφάλαιο τα τελευταία χρόνια. Τα δίχτυα της Dogus, όμως, απλώνονται και στην ελληνική επικράτεια είτε μέσω επενδύσεων σε φαραωνικά τουριστικά έργα που ερημώνουν τον τόπο είτε μέσω της συμμαχίας που έχει συνάψει με τη γνωστή Lamda Development του μεγαλοκαπιταλιστή Λάτση. Η εμπλοκή του τουρκικού κράτους στον συριακό εμφύλιο είναι προσανατολισμένη σε μια γενοκτονική πολιτική εξόντωσης των κουρδικών κοινοτήτων της βόρειας Συρίας. Μετά την επέμβασή του στο Αφρίν, ακολούθησε η γενικευμένη επίθεση εναντίον της Ροζάβα, με στόχο την εξάλειψη των κατοίκων της περιοχής και της δυνατότητάς τους να διοικούν αυτόνομα το έδαφός τους. Ως όχημα χρησιμοποίησε τους ίδιους τους προσφυγικούς πληθυσμούς του συριακού εμφυλίου, στον εκτοπισμό των οποίων συνέβαλε και το ίδιο το τουρκικό κράτος με την εμπλοκή του. Σχεδιάζει να δημιουργήσει μια «ζώνη ασφαλείας» στη βόρεια Συρία, την οποία θα ελέγχει ο τουρκικός στρατός και την οποία θα χρησιμοποιήσει ως τόπο επανεγκατάστασης Σύριων προσφύγων που κρατούνται στα στρατόπεδα της χώρας του. Παράλληλα, συνεχίζει τον πολύχρονο πόλεμο εναντίον της κουρδικής μειονότητας στο εσωτερικό της χώρας.Μία από τις ελάχιστα σχολιασμένες αποχρώσεις της τουρκικής επέμβασης στη Συρία είναι η οικονομική της διάσταση και το όφελος που προσφέρει στις επιχειρηματικές δραστηριότητες ανθρώπων όπως ο Φερίτ Σαχένκ. Μετά την κατάρρευση της τουρκικής λίρας πολλές τουρκικές επιχειρήσεις όπως η Dogus βρέθηκαν υπερχρεωμένες. Η λεγόμενη «ζώνη ασφαλείας» του τουρκικού κράτους στη βόρεια Συρία, πέρα από τα εθνικιστικά κίνητρα της, προσφέρεται και ως πεδίο επενδύσεων, ιδίως για τις κατασκευαστικές εταιρείες που είναι και ο πυλώνας της τουρκικής οικονομίας. Δεν είναι τυχαίο ότι την επόμενη μέρα της τουρκικής πολεμικής επέμβασης στη Συρία σημειώθηκε άνοδος στις μετοχές των τουρκικών επιχειρήσεων που συνδέονται με τις κατασκευαστικές εργολαβίες.Η δημοκρατική, φεμινιστική και οικολογική επανάσταση της Ροζάβα ήρθε σε σύγκρουση με τους στρατιωτικούς και πολιτικούς σχεδιασμούς των κρατών, βάζοντας μπροστά τις αξίες της κοινότητας και του πλουραλισμού μέσα σε έναν από τους αγριότερους πολέμους των τελευταίων ετών. Οι αιματοβαμμένες μιλιταριστικές στρατηγικές των κρατών και των οικονομικών τους συμμάχων είναι η βασικότερη απειλή για τη Ροζάβα, αλλά και για κάθε δημοκρατική πολιτική προοπτική όπου κι αν εκδηλώνεται. Δεν πρέπει να τους αφήσουμε να δρουν ανενόχλητοι.Rise up for Rojava! Νίκη στον Δημοκρατικό Συνομοσπονδισμό!Η Αλληλεγγύη το όπλο των λαών!
Gepostet von Αντιεξουσιαστική Κίνηση Αθήνας – Antiauthoritarian Movement am Samstag, 2. November 2019
What is rarely mentioned regarding the Turkish intervention in Syria, is its financial aspect and the benefits it offers to people like Ferit Sahenk and their business interests. After the downfall of the Turkish lira, many Turkish enterprises, such as Dogus, were found greatly in debt. The so called “safe-zone” in northern Syria, aside from the nationalistic motivations behind it, will offer plenty of opportunities for investments, especially for construction businesses, that are the cornerstone of Turkish economy. It is not a coincidence that on the second day of the Turkish operation in northern Syria, there was a significant stock rise of the Turkish businesses linked with construction.
The democratic, feminist and ecological revolution of Rojava clashed with the military and political plans of the nation-states, promoting the values of community-building and pluralism, in the middle of one of the fiercest wars in recent history. The bloodstained military strategies of the nation-states and their economic allies are the fundamental threat for Rojava, as well as any other democratic political prospect, wherever it is attempted. We will not let them act unopposed!
Rise Up For Rojava!
2nd November 2019
Report and photos by Paul Frei – First published in German on hydra magazine
There’s a fire in South America. While in Brazil and Bolivia the rain forest is literally burning, in Argentina there have been protests for weeks against the neoliberal reforms of the conservative president Macri. In Perú the president dissolves the congress and in Ecuador the government has to flee the capital after massive protests and a general strike.
In this chaos Chile presents itself as a calm and stable country, which is why the right-wing president and billionaire Sebastian Piñera still swarms at the beginning of October about it: Chile is “an oasis in the midst of the restless Latin America”. Less than two weeks later, this fiction has burst. Piñera now speaks of “a war against a powerful enemy”.
Since 19th October there has been a nationwide uprising in Chile. The balance after a little more than a week: 20 deaths, thousands of injuries, of which almost 500 by gunshot wounds, 6000 arrests, 18 charges against the police for rape, further 20 missing persons.
But what has happened that the situation has escalated to such an extent? I am on my way to Santiago de Chile to get an idea of the situation on the ground.
“Chile is a sleeping giant,” says the taxi driver on the way to my accommodation in Barrio Brasil, a few blocks from the Palacio de la Moneda, the seat of the government.
“The increase in fares has overflowed the glass,” he says. School pupils and students called for collective fare evasion after the gradual increase in fares. They themselves are not affected by the fare increase, but showed solidarity.
When the cops react with a hard blow, the metro is attacked, whole subways are on fire, supermarkets are plundered and set on fire. In the port city of Valparaiso, the congress has to be evacuated after demonstrators* have overrun the barrier. All over the country the police lost control and the president declared a state of emergency and sent the military into the streets.
Since the neo-liberal restructuring of the country by the dictator Augusto Pinochet (1973-1990), the state’s assets have been privatised and state benefits massively reduced. To date, electricity, water, the health, education and pension systems have been privatized. The protest quickly developed into an uprising that accuses the everyday and systematic constraints of capitalism.
A burned bank
One day after the huge demonstration, the streets in downtown Santiago are eerily empty. The area around the Palacio de la Moneda is closed off. Carabinieros in green full outfit stand at every street corner, the shops have barricaded their windows and entrances.
With more than 1.2 million participants in the capital, the demonstration was the largest since the end of the military dictatorship almost 30 years ago. The demonstration, as well as the demonstrations before, are concentrated in Plaza Baquedano. The square acts as a roundabout from which the 8-lane main street Avenida Libertador Bernardo O’ Higgings leaves and leads to the seat of government. Along the street and in the side streets countless graffiti and tags can be seen.
In this area the fights with the cops concentrated in the last days, so a demonstrator describes the situation to me. “Chile despertó” he said. Chile woke up. The slogan is to be heard again and again on the demonstration and to read banners.
On the about two kilometres between the Palacio de la Moneda and the Plaza Baquedano there are three metro stations which are all devastated and still closed. Five buildings that are located on the track are burned out and the remaining, mostly public buildings or shops along the street are closed and barricaded. A big graffiti adorns the cultural centre Centre Gabriela Minsitral: “There is no dialogue as long as the military is in the streets” is written on the improvised wooden protection from the building. The images of tanks on the streets have awakened associations with the military dictatorship in many Chileans and fired hatred for the state.
According to a representative survey by the CADEM institute, 78% of the population are against the policies of the right-wing president and his coalition of right-wing and fascist parties such as the Independent Democratic Union (UDI). After the massive protests and the big demonstration, President Piñera apologized and introduced a series of reforms to return to normality, such as reducing weekly working hours by 8 hours to 40, increasing the minimum wage and pension by 20%. He also fired his entire cabinet. With this step he tried to restore normality, because on Monday a UN deputy was supposed to come to observe the human rights situation, but this was postponed for unknown reasons.
But the normality in Chile these days is the uprising. While a peaceful spontaneous demo of about 2000 people is on its way to the seat of government, barricades are burning again at Plaza Baquedano and the cops are attacked.
One day after the big demo, several thousand people gathered again on the square to protest further. Nobody wants to return to normality here. On one of the signs of the demonstrators it says “my biggest fear is that everything will go on as if nothing had happened”. A few meters next to it the main entrance of the metro station Baquedano is covered with cobblestones and some Molotov cocktails. The cops are behind the gate that blocks the entrance to the metro and try to hold the entrance. Next to the entrance, a graffiti accuses the cops of “torture here”.
The entrance of the Baquedano station in Santiago
The cops and the military have been heavily accused. Not only did the cops and the military shoot at the demonstrators sharply, injuring several hundred people, some of them seriously. According to official figures, five demonstrators have already been shot, run over or beaten to death and at least twenty people have disappeared.
Furthermore, according to the Instituto Naciónal de Derecho Humanos (INDH – National Institute for Human Rights), 94 charges of torture and 18 sexual abuse (including rape) have already been filed.
In addition, social media circulated the autopsy report of burnt bodies found in a supermarket. According to the report, the bodies are said to have gunshot wounds to the chest, suggesting murder and cover-up by the police or military. Whether this is true will only be conclusively clarified – if at all – in the coming weeks.
Most demonstrators but also taxi drivers, journalists or shop assistants believe at least that the cops or other “Infiltradores” are often behind the arson attacks on already robbed supermarkets. Even a firefighter from Santiago thinks this is possible. “In the event of an arson attack, the insurance company has to pay for the damage. And why rob an already robbed supermarket?” (However, he himself rejects the looting. Not because it is not fair, but because it harms the public image of the demonstrators.)
The mood in Plaza Baquedano remains unchanged. On the square the protest is sung about, street vendors sell drinks and food. Rubber bullets and tear gas are fired again and again to fend off the attacks on the station.
After a few hours more police units arrive to clear the square. As they approach the square from one of the streets, they are greeted by a hail of cobblestones and the slogans “Pacos Culiaos” (fucking cops) and “Asesino, Asesino” (murderer).
Whether masked with a gas mask and armed with a slingshot or filming the situation with a smartphone in hand. Everyone wants to show their aversion to the cops. Since the massive repression and violence, the population’s aversion to the Pacos has been enormous.
Even a driver of a city bus, who drives his alternative route two parallel streets further, passes the fire extinguisher through the open window without hesitation when two masked demonstrators ask him for it. When the cops finally manage to clear the square, the fighting shifts to the side streets around the square. The street battles can finally be cleared completely after about an hour and minor back and forth.
The next morning we should go to Valparaiso for three days to get an impression of the situation away from the capital.
The port city is located 120 kilometres west of Santiago and is regarded as a left and alternative city. In contrast to Santiago, the atmosphere in Valparaíso is more tense. The bus station is guarded by military with machine guns, further units are stationed on standby in the city centre. The criminal police guard their station in heavy gear and military helicopters circle over the city. A large proportion of the residents walk through the winding streets of the city, situated on various hills, wearing a gas mask, because the biting smell of tear gas is in the air.
As was already the case in Santiago, the port city can also be recognised that protests have been held here for over a week. Each of the four main streets in the city centre area is covered with graffiti and destroyed shops on a stretch of approximately three kilometres. In the inner city area there should be around 20 burnt down buildings. Mainly large supermarket chains and pharmacies. Smaller shops were spared the looting, but still barricaded their roller shutters and asked them not to loot their shops with notes, because otherwise they would be faced with nothing.
In Valparaíso, as in all of Chile, the morning starts with Asambleas, neighbourhood meetings in public places to discuss the situation and make demands on the government that go beyond social reforms: Piñera’s resignation is called for, and nothing less than a new constitution for the country. The current one comes from the military dictatorship and is imposed by neoliberal laws.
In front of the Congress in Valparaíso
Even if very few or no organized left and communist groups participate publicly in the demonstrations, the class struggle is omnipresent on the posters, in the demands and the slogans. On Plaza Sotemayor, one of the big squares in Valparaiso, a young demonstrator holds a DIN A3 cardboard sign in the air.
Her sign protrudes between flags and balloons. “If there is no bread for the poor, there is no peace for the rich.
The fans of the local football club, among others, who lead the demonstration, called for today’s demonstration. Followed by several thousand demonstrators of all ages and a block of about 100 motorcyclists including their motorcycles, the demonstration is heading for Congress. On the way people applaud and more and more people with cooking pots and lids join in. “Cacerolzas” – a widespread form of protest in South America, in which people hit pots on the street or out of their windows to show their protest.
Accompanied by trumpets and drums the demonstration sings the well-known resistance song “El pueblo Unido jamás será venecido” (The united people will never be defeated). The song has become a kind of anthem of the protests.
The police, for their part, have placed their barriers a few streets in front of the National Congress, which has its seat in Valparaíso. Compared to Germany, there are ridiculously few cops in Valparaíso and Santiago de Chile. The approximately 10,000 demonstrators in Valparaíso are confronted by a maximum of two dozen carabinieros in full gear, including armoured vehicles and a guanaco. The demonstrators inside describe the water cannons as guanaco, as they spit like the animal.
Approximately 50 metres before the barriers, the cops start firing gas cartridges at the demonstration top. In response to the irritant gas, there is a massive shower of stones and occasionally Molotov cocktails fly. The mood on the demo is angry and fighting. Molotov cocktails are cheered and permanently the drums and trumpets set the rhythm for the slogans and the crowd boosts the front rows.
Burning barricade on one of the hills
While the riots continue in the main street, burning barricades are erected in the side streets to prevent the cops from entering from the side. The curb is broken open, material is collected against the cops and graffiti is placed on the walls and tags are placed against the cops and the government.
Again and again, the front rows are pushed forward to overrun the cops.
However, the cops can use rubber bullets to push back the demonstration tip. The projectiles with which the bullets are fired contain approx. 20-25 about 0.8 cm sized hard plastic bullets. According to the paramedics on the inside, the bullets also have a metal core. When rubber bullets are used, injuries repeatedly occur in which the rubber bullets penetrate the skin and get stuck. According to INDH, more than 100 people have already lost their sight through the rubber bullets.
To support the front rows, the motorcycles ride forward. Accompanied by an uncanny noise the whole demo moves forward and tries to push the cops back. But they manage to disperse the crowd with rubber bullets and massive use of tear gas, which is shot far into the middle of the demonstration.
Usually gas cartridges are quickly erased or fly back to the cops thanks to an Instagram instruction. However, if there is a massive attack, the cartridges are not extinguished quickly enough and the strong wind from the coast distributes the tear gas.
If the cops manage to push the demo back a bit, they advance with the water cannon to clear the middle of the road, then speed through the road with the Zorillo (Spanish for skunk), an armored car that ejects irritant gas to the right and left side, letting the crowd flee into the side street and dissolving the demonstration.
After the dissolution, the fights with the police shift to different corners of the city center and burning barricades are erected at the crossroads around the park. The riots and the final game of cat and mouse between protesters and cops drag on for hours. Partly from noon into the night.
The burning barricades can sometimes be held for hours. Cars are diverted by the protesters and it happens that a car stops and lets music play over the loudspeakers and the crowd celebrates. At the edge of the barricades, shops such as pharmacies are plundered again and again.
Especially in Chile expensive articles like toilet paper, handkerchiefs or medicine are appropriated and distributed. Computers or refrigerators are used as barricades and set on fire until the cops move in and extinguish the last barricade in the city centre.
The next morning, everyday life continues as usual. People seem to be used to the uprising and meet at the Asambleas. The fire brigade extinguishes the last fires in the pharmacy, which was plundered yesterday and set on fire overnight.
The shops that are open can only be entered through a small door.
While some of them weld their shops with metal plates, small groups of masked people stream down the hills and set off on their way to the demonstration. By now, people seem to have gotten used to the masked demonstrators. You won’t be bothered if demonstrators with gas masks and slingshots make their way to the demonstration. They are occasionally applauded.
“We have rabies” is explained to me by a friend whom I visit in her shop. The whole week she only tattoos Anticop tattoos. The opening hours are only until noon, so that she and the people go to the demo. The events of the last week have upset the people so much that they are rabid and will not stop fighting until their demands are implemented. She sounds determined but also exhausted. 12 days of protest are dragging her strength. Meanwhile I’m on my way to the demo with one of her friends. He has a wound on his cheekbone. A rubber bullet hit him. But stopping for that reason is out of the question for him.
The demo is more a riot than a demo. It is not a large walk, it is rather a gathering with a few thousand people in front of the police barrier and attacks on the cops. All in all the demo is smaller than the day before but more offensive and Molotov cocktails fly regularly to the cops. Among other things on an armored car, which was just about to disperse the crowd. But when it was hit by a cocktail, it goes into reverse. Accompanied by cheering and shouts of “el pueblo Unido jamás será vencido”.
Altogether the Riots are better prepared. Wooden plates are torn out to erect a protective wall against the rubber bullets. In addition, the criminal police are kept on their toes by repeatedly attacking their station. The attacks are not really coordinated. Much more involved is everyone who is just in the mood for it. A large part of the demo is masked. To protect yourself from the tear gas? To attack the police or because it has become part of the demo style in Chile? We don’t know.
Only in the evening hours the cops manage to scare away the masses by using motorbike units. About 10 carabinieros drive towards the crowd in order to drive them away and then extinguish the barricades.
Only on the hills the barricades are still burning. The neighbors of the street have erected them and almost 100 people guard the quarter at various points. “The police do not protect us, we must protect ourselves from it, so a local resident justifies the barricades. She tells me about missing people, rapes, murder and cover-ups by the government. The INDH confirms the investigations. There are also videos on the Internet of cops breaking into houses and even throwing Molotov cocktails at houses. That is why they organise themselves in the neighbourhood, the cops are not trusted. They are also sceptical about me and prefer to ask twice who I am and why I am here.
The neighborhood guards are well connected with the other neighborhoods and know when the cops are coming. When the barricades in the other streets were cleared one person shouts “We are the last”. Preparations are being made for the arrival of the repression troops. Bottles, stones and Molotov cocktails are ready to defend themselves. They have been here every night since last week. During the nightly lockdown they had to flee as soon as the military arrived. The cops didn’t come tonight. Enough time for the sprayers a few meters below to finish painting their picture. “Resiste” decorates the facade of the house wall. The owner sits a few meters away.
Back in Santiago. For Tuesday the mobilization was again bigger. Several tens of thousands of people have gathered again in Plaza Baquedano. The mood is exuberant. On the square the two main demands are presented on banners: A new constitution and Piñera’s resignation.
In different streets it comes to riots for hours like in Valparaiso. However, the mass of protesters is much larger and better organized, so that the police units can be attacked on several fronts. The roofs of the bus stops are torn down to use them as shields in the front row and to eliminate the effect of rubber bullets. For hours, the fights shift by a maximum of 100 meters forward and backward.
The time is used to redesign the freshly cleaned subway station and some protesters try to take everything useful from a construction site for 30 minutes and then set it on fire.
In order to get an overview of the situation, a police helicopter circles over the city and is caught above the Plaza Baquedano almost by a closed firecracker, which is cheered by the thousands of protesters.
The later it gets, the more serious the cops get. Now they use the water cannon more and more to shoot rubber bullets at the distributed crowd.
With every bang, the demonstrators duck reflexively so as not to be caught by the rubber bullets. Behind the large palm trees in the middle of the dividing strip of the road, whole queues of people take cover so as not to be caught by the rubber bullets or to blind the cops with laser pointers.
Around 10 pm, after more than six hours of uninterrupted riots, the cops finally manage to break up the demonstration with the Zorillo and clear the square.
At least for the night.
For the whole week further protests and a general strike are announced. In addition, feminist groups have called for a march of witches on Halloween. A few hundred meters from Plaza Baquedano, the mostly young people return to their neighborhoods. Singing, they pass a house that just burned down and announce in their songs:
“You will see. The bullets you fire at us will fly back!”
It is never too late to join a movement: We call on all anti-capitalists and anti-authoritarians to participate in the demonstrations, actions and strikes of the 20-27 September. The current climate movement is perhaps one of the best things that could happen to us – against the authoritarian formation everywhere and for a different future for all! Feel free to print and distribute this text, paint a banner with the slogan “Capitalism kills our future” or to reproduce our stickers. You will find the resources under the text.
There must be some kind of way outta here…
Bob Dylan, All along the watchtower
The headlines are flashing. Disaster reports of peat fires in the Arctic, the record speed melting polar ice caps and last but not least the alarming forest fires in the Amazon region, made possible by the racist and pro-capitalist policies of right-wing conservative Bolsonaro. The last example very impressively illustrates the two threats that are currently leading to a double course of events in our time: The planet is being destroyed and the new fascists are pushing for power.
Trump, Bolsonaro and Co. accordingly join the anti-climate alliance, which sees itself as an opposition and thus clearly stands behind the interest of capital. Even if Marie le Pen in her last speech stages herself as a “climate protector” and thus pursues a supposedly new strategy, she is in no way inferior to her male colleagues, “each for himself” is to survive and the blame for any misery is to be found in the other. Whether it is the local bio-bourgeoisie in the metropolis (which is opposed by the simple people of the diesel drivers), the “refugees” who flow to us and destroy our ecological values, or the overpopulation in the global South – whether national climate protection or homeland protection – they are both on one side of the same coin. On the other side is conservative-authoritarian climate denial. The combination of the two serves nothing but the interests of growth and isolation, ultimately capitalist exploitation.
Others anticipated the climate crisis earlier and turned it into a good – not only political – business. This refers to the green liberals who want to tame deregulated capitalism with a green face under the “Green Capitalism” brand. The moderate demands formulated in this context quickly reveal that the sacred principles of the market, hidden behind the “cloak of feasibility”, should not be touched in this process. But the contradiction between profit interest and ecological sustainability is always resolved within the system at the expense of the environment and ultimately mankind.
The climate crisis does not hit “us” all equally hard. Even now people are fleeing not only from war and hunger, but from the next climate catastrophe, in which women, by the way, have a 14 times higher chance of dying, in order to line up in the capitalist centres of the global North behind the marginalised of deindustrialisation. Perfidiously, the industrial nations of the global North – whether right-wing or neoliberal – have caused climate change, but they will be the least affected. An apocalyptic existentialism – i.e. putting the naked survival of the species in the foreground – deliberately overlooks precisely this fact. According to the elite, it should be important that enough people should abstain – or that in the end the “right people” survive in Noah’s Ark. The change of strategy in the right-wing camp indicates that the problem should not be denied, but that an alleged “overpopulation” in the global South is to blame. The latter doesn’t exist because it’s not about how many people live on the planet, but how their needs are met and their coexistence organized.
So what should we do? Buy enough air conditioners for the whole world? Raise protective walls from endangered coastal cities? Or how many billionaires in Silicon Valley dream of emigrating into space? All these solutions will hardly be possible – except for the rich who want to expand their precious life horizon in the short term. The most useful project for a society that wants to survive is another new deal: the social, system-critical and feasible one. In this sense: smash CARpitalism, fight the fascists and show an undead system how to die. And above all, join the wonderful climate movements everywhere!
On 20th and 27th September we will meet at the Beyond Europe banners!
Banner to paint:
Banner for social media:
There will come a time we shall rise
as the leaven dough does
the iron burden will brake
your mountains, like the heavy clouds, will disperse
the worlds will tremble and squeak.
Michalis Katsaros- Against Sadducees.
For everyone in the Exarchia neighborhood, the new permanent police presence in Exarchia has changed something in our daily lives. The only ones who remain intact in their business are the drug traffickers and the mafia, even if the repressive forces are a few meters away. Until now, those who have suffered are 150 refugees, women, children, infants and men. Therefore, it turns out that the offensive against the Exarchia neighborhood, according to the long-announced “Law and Order” policy, is simply vindictive and does not target the drug traffickers, as claimed by the new government.
The offensive against the neighborhood, escalating daily with its enclosure, the evictions of squats sheltering immigrants/refugees and solidarity structures, the unjustifiable arrests and abductions, the racist and sexist practices of the MAT anti-riot police units against transient residents and visitors alike, have the absolute goal to intimidate the residents and to establish a climate of terror. Everything is designed and executed according to a short term along with a long term goal:
• Terrorize the inhabitants,force them to abandon the neighborhood in order to carry out a grandiose lightning war operation against all the resistance strongholds, such as self-organized free social centers, where structures are housed that facilitate creation, culture and solidarity.
The broader plan is supported by the overall upgrading of the legal framework for repression, the creation of special arrest squads, the abolition of university sanctuary (asylum) which was established after the downfall of the dictatorship in 1974 and the restriction of labor rights and freedoms.
• The long-term goal is to “clean up” the “rubbish” from the neighborhood, and to force it bringing the gentrification and its surrender to real estate or the golden visa pile of airbnb tourism, to bury Exarchia and its history. At the end of the day the goal is that no one will remember this neighborhood of disobedience, solidarity, self-organization and culture. No one will remember that in our neighborhood as a practical resistance against the memoranda, emerged the first social wards, the solidarity kitchens, the hubs of culture, self-education and creativity, the self-organized playground and the Navarino park, etc.
No one will remember that in our neighborhood the desperate of our time found shelter, food, care and reclaimed their lost dignity.
We call on every resident, working person and friend of our neighborhood to participate, join and fight in a massive, unifying struggle against the escalation of oppression and the police-state that starts from Exarchia in order to expand against every person in society who strives for dignity and solidarity, treating him as a “criminal”, a “suspect”,or an “internal enemy”.
We all fight together : residents, employees, friends and collectives of Exarchia . We are taking part in the demonstration against repression
Saturday the 14th at 12.00 pm Propylaea, Athens.
Exarchia United Social Front against state oppression
Residents, employees and collectives
For further read the text from our comrades from Antiauthoritarian Movement:
On Your Guard !
State has its continuity in Violence, exclusion
and the politics of Death.
The government that represents the Greek Industrialists Association, the CEO’s of non-productive Companies, the wealth hustlers, the scavengers of a particular Balcan type; that government declares emphatically the doctrine of “Law and Order” along with the other one of “Zero Tolerance”. Having already scheduled the privatizations the actual neo- liberal economic planning is within its intentions. Already in the Ministry of Public Order the concentration of power and the Statist logic became apparent. Everything ! Prisons, Immigrants, political opponents, social movements, collectives are under the direct control of that Ministry (ex-Citizen’s Defense). As for the rest like the Secret Service, News Agencies, Mass Media, all are under the surveillance and control of the Prime Minister’s Office. The Deep Greek State is returning in its past looking towards the future while it imposes the modern Statist Totalitarianism through cruel managing and governing.
Just to make things absolutely crystal clear they placed Chrysochoidis at the head of the Ministry, the pure representative of the Deep State, the protector of greek capitalism, the one who created and organized the motorized assassins of the Greek Police, the same one who recruited and broadened the Police Repression.
Apart from Chrysochoidis who ensures the continuity of the State as an eternal model Minister of Public Order, also the managers of SYRIZA already performed their duty showing their Statist Autocracy and Oppression when the police invaded the Squats which gave Shelter and Hospitality to Immigrants in Nikis Avenue, Thessaloniki (something that we will never forget), the Squat Orphanage in the Touba area and in C. Deal Str. at dawn on Wednesday July 27th, 2016 ; as a result immigrants and people of the movement who supported showing their Solidarity, were arrested in mass.
Just recently by order of the same Ministry but from a right wing Government, everything leads us to understand that they are preparing to
evict the Squats Sheltering Immigrants, starting from the Symbol Squat of NOTARA 26. The Notara 26 Squat Sheltering Immigrants was the very first (since September 2015) Squat which gave Shelter and Hospitality to Immigrants and Refugees and at the same time it was a political proposal in the context of Solidarity by creating a free space and denying in practice the state of exclusion of the State and the status which was imposed on immigrants. It was during that time when hundreds of thousands crossed the Aegean Sea and the ones who managed to survive the waves faced not the Benevolent State but a whole Society which in majority was showing its Solidarity to the refugees of the Aegean.In those circumstances Notara 26 was created ; more than 9.000 men, women, children, invalids, LGBT’s found shelter in one refugee community while at the same time food and other products were equally distributed to the local “damned” population.
“ In that asphyxiating context we decided to Squat the abandoned building of ETEAM in Notara 26 Str. intending to create a space for our Solidarity towards the immigrants/refugees in order to take care of their immediate needs (shelter, health care and every other kind of support). That is not an action of Charity, private or public, but a self-organized solidarity venture where the activists and the refugees decide together. The open Assembly is the institution that decides and everyone can participate men, women or other without any exceptions.”
That was at the time and it is still, our commitment for that Squat and it holds us till that day responsible, so we will defend it with no concern for the cost.
The movement has also continuity in Resistance, Solidarity and self- organization.
Using as a pretext Exarchia and everything that happens in that neighborhood – some are a result of the capitalist nihilism of individualism and the rapture of social bonds – they are ready to attack against anything that refuses to accept that condition in order to reinforce the process of fragmenting every bond, every collective, imposing barbarity, the graveyard silence, the institutionalized privacy and socialization.
In other words according to their own declarations, they are
preparing an invasion against the Anti-Authoritarian Movement, it’s collectives, the Free Social Centers where it’s ideas are practiced. They are promising that by the end there will be nothing left standing. In essence they are searching for a pilot program of Suppression like a blitzkrieg against Society and Nature, against the social, political and individual rights.
Using the Universal being of liberalism, Profit, they are distributing to every Commercial Corporation
every right to transform public space in enclosed money-making districts, every piece of land for all kinds of mining and drilling, refusing at the same time the workers’ and social rights from the local and immigrant population ; thus enabling the investments, the economic growth of all the bloodthirsty tycoons and the robbery of the natural wealth, destroying every balance of the environment with the human population.
The Anti-Authoritarian Movement has already a vivid history of multi- level and multi shaped struggles. It is an always contemporary Movement, having its own political, social and cultural presence. A Movement with hundreds of political prisoners that defined the resistance movement against every Authority, against every government. This Movement which never abstained from any social protest, is placed once more in the epicenter of a new Suppression from the managers of Power. Today as never before it must – as we must – build a Barricade against the State Offensive.
We must uphold the Anti-Authoritarian Social Front of both the desire and the need to Resist and Fight Back. A Front open to Society, the working people and all those who are suffering from the gangster style capitalist barbarity.
A Front Everywhere to Resist against Suppression.
For the defense of Free Social Spaces
For Solidarity to Immigrants and Refugees
Resistance against the Ecological Destruction caused by mining and drilling
For the Defense of the University Asylum
For the Struggle against the Anti-Social Reforms and for the Working Peoples Rights.
ANTI-AUTHORITARIAN MOVEMENT ATHENS
This weekend in Dresden, Saxony a big by Unteilbar (“indivisible”) coaltion demonstration against racism, fascism and the rightward shift in society will take place. As part of the anti-fascist campagin “Nationalism is no alternative” umsGanze calls to join the demo.
Join the Defend solidarity – United Against Racism and Fascism bloc.
…ums Ganze! call for the germanwide anti-racist and anti-fascist big coalation demonstration of #Unteilbar on 24.08.2019 in Dresden, Saxony:
At the gates and harbours of Europe the mass dying continues daily. Inside the fortress, the fascists are busy writing death lists and packing their ammunition boxes. That is the situation in which this autumn in Saxony, Brandenburg and Thuringia new county parliaments will be elected. And the expected results mean a not unlikely government participation for the AfD (Alternative for Germany).
The composition of the AfD, consisting of Burschenschaften (male-only völkisch student fraternities), “Identitarians”, mens’ rights activists and former politicians of the conservative party CDU, is on the one hand only an expression of reactionary ideologies. But everyone who wants to know is aware of it: The AfD is the organisational centre of a new fascist movement. Its rise is also the result of an undead neoliberalism, whose perseverance slogans are no longer effective. Merkel and Macron still have many fans, but their hegemony is challenged from the right. All the glamour is gone and the contradictions are coming to a head. Social insecurity has become a permanent feature of a precarious full-time employment society and the distribution of wealth is polarising from year to year – the trend is towards second yachts and forced evictions. The necessarily produced exclusions are countered with the classic ensemble of security: order, state power, and social problems are to be solved by the police. At the global level, neoliberalism, although crisis-prone, continues to cause far greater misery as it is advertised without alternative. Not only the distribution of wealth, but also the first consequences of climate change, civil wars and epidemics affect people in the southern hemisphere more frequently and more severely. Aggressive exports, neocolonial exploitation and the overexploitation of natural resources are the foundations of our way of life – whether it is characterised by luxury cars or cheap meat. We do not live at our own expense, but at the expense of others. A slogan of past Refugee protests summed up the connection between the imperial way of life and the causes of migration and flight: “We are here, because you destroy our countries!”
All this unnecessary suffering is at the same time a necessary element of capitalist production and the policies that organise the framework of accumulation. In this country, these are first and foremost the grand coalition leaders of the SPD and the CDU. Thank you for nothing!
But with the multiple crisis of politics, economy and environment (world-wide) new keyword providers step into the limelight. The AfD and other reactionary forces bring new dynamics into politics. The right-wing hegemony project promises to bring order back to the shop or, in case of doubt, at least to secure the privileges of the northern hemisphere in a racist way. The neoliberals, for their part, are more authoritarian and racist than usual. Whether they do this because the time is right, or whether they feel compelled to do so in order to at least survive the current legislature, does not matter in consequence.
The AfD takes up the frustration experiences of capitalist everyday life, but denies the contradictions that underlie them. Their success cannot be explained by the theory of impoverishment, and no one chooses the AfD because of its (non-existent) socio-political promises. The AfD rather shifts conflicts to another terrain and culturalizes and ethnicizes them. Those who speak of the “Volk” do not speak of classes. They are concerned with the interior worthy of protection and threats from outside.It conducts national politics, represents German-national historical revisionism, wants to ban gender studies and antifa, denies climate change, wants to deprive single mothers of their financial basis and, if necessary, shoot migrants at the border. The party says all this openly. For it’s cultural struggles it can start with the bizarre mainstream understanding of many and often only has to slightly sharpen a already hegemonic opinion. After all, identification with the nation promises orientation in confusing times. The distinction between a population of service providers and taxpayers to be protected and the rest exposed to repression and job centres can also be continued.
Although the new fascism presents itself as an alternative to the neoliberal status quo, it is rather its product. It is the result of the omnipresence of capital, which makes it the only possible world – also because no desirable alternative seems to be available.
So far, so bad. But the complete description of the situation also includes the fact that in the last weeks and months we have taken to the streets in the movement for save passage and the right for migration (“Seebrücke”), feminism and climate justice and have put ourselves in the way of the fascists wherever we could. We do not need new police laws, but circumstances that do not constantly marginalize and criminalize people. Nor do we need a division into multicultural urban milieus and villagers in regions devastated by capital, but free trains that bring us together. It is about infrastructure, not habitus. And we need housing – To live and not as investment objects.
But unfortunately our struggles remain mostly isolated. As antiauthitarian leftists, we cannot afford this in view of the historical situation. It is now important to be indivisible in our everyday struggles and for example to work together as anti-fascists with anti-racist structures or to visit the people in Saxony not only every two years to a big event. Because Saxony is not the stuck right-wing conservative past, but an experimental laboratory, which gives a view into a possible fascist future, in which there is nothing to laugh about for migrants, leftists or women. This laboratory – to stay in the picture – has to be destroyed.
It is not enough just to fight urgently needed defensive battles. So that we don’t misunderstand each other: Of course it is necessary to be active against fascists, always and everywhere, on all levels and with all means. But as antiauthitarian radicals we must be indivisible and have the courage to transform the politically heated situation into another polarization. Beyond undead neoliberalism on the one hand and fascist fantasies of awakening on the other, we must show a credible real alternative. We need a project! But As leftists we have a harder time than fascists. Because the project of fascism is not a project, in the sense of a draft of the future. Gauland, LePen and Salvini offer as the cultural horizon the way of life from the 1950s if not worse. Trump, Orban, Erdogan and Bolsonaro show us how via enforced conformity in media and universities this project should be realized.
We, on the other hand, want the Internet in the hands of Workers’ councils with no state and no capital, we want the whole bakery. The much praised democracy also in questions of economy and ecology. Otherwise the coming generations will probably have to fight for the last fresh water supplies on a planet devastated by climate catastrophes. We want to sleep longer, work less. Open borders on earth and between genders and a life without fear for all. Luxury for all instead of poverty when you grow old . Communism for future.
So come with us to Dresden on 24 August and show solidarity with your comrades who are raising the flag in Mordor. Against neoliberal conditions and new fascism – For a completely different whole thing!
Do not be afraid! The future belongs to us when we fight. Together indivisible, in anti-fascist solidarity.
…ums Ganze! – antiauthoritarian alliance in August 2019
Our friends and comrades in Thessaloniki are creating a new collective – a hostel in the social space Micropolis! Soon information about a crowdfunding will be published. In the meantime read the declaration, check out the FB page of SLG Salouga Hostel and leave a like!
August 2008: Airbnb is founded
2010: The company goes over 1 million subscriptions and accepts financing of 7.5 million dollars.
2011: Airbnb grows to over 5 million subscriptions.
June 2012: 10 million subscriptions.
2013: Airbnb already has offices in Ireland, London, Singapore and USA.
2014: The company accepts financing close to 500 million dollars.
2015: It reaches a valuation of 2.3 billion dollars with additional financing.
November 2015: Airbnb is not accepted in San Francisco
2016: Airbnb becomes the only company in its sector having bought all the other smaller ones.
2018: Airbnb has by now taken over all the major cities of Europe and the USA. Most homeowners choose to throw out those renting their homes and to place their home in the Airbnb platform which reaches a valuation of 38 billion.
2019: Madrid adopts a law which essentially forbids to 95% of houses to come under Airbnb.
2020: This is followed with similar laws by other European cities such as Barcelona, Milan, Paris.
2021: The valuation of Airbnb develops with slower but steady rhythm as it continues to develop around the world despite the legal limitations placed by some cities.
2022: In all European cities and metropoles, where Airbnb has been forbidden, pressure is growing to bring the platform back for development purposes by owners of properties, restaurants, bars, foreign investors, airlines and the tourism lobby.
2023: A new world economic crisis breaks out. It is fired up first by the second nuclear explosion in Fukushima, 12 years after the first. The extremely high levels of radiation in the Pacific Ocean, which destroy natural resources, result in an ocean where no exploitation can take place, all life in it either dies or gets sick, all this while cancer levels exceed all records in its coasts. As coastal areas are evacuated insurrections break out, while in the USA armed revoltsdevelop. The second reason for this is the break up of the bubble of student loans in the USA, which had reached in the USA already from 2019 1.5 trillion dollars and in 2023 it reaches 3 trillion. Studentmobilisations and occupations of universities starting in America and then in Europe are the biggest ever recorded. At the same time, a new phenomenon appears which was called by economists “mass fall out” and “mass skive”. It grew like an epidemic, especially after it expanded to mass media; persons around 25-40 “could not get up from bed”, leading this way to the greatest multisector long duration wild strikes of all time. An asymmetric attack by hackers is launched against state institutions and multinational companies. New revelations come to light after whistle blowing by members of several secret services around the world. Depression reaches 30% of world population, suicides and hunger strikes reach massive proportions.
2024-2026: An enormous war has erupted which has become known in history and human conscience as “worldwide civil war”. Extreme pauperisation leads to chain insurrections worldwide. The central slogan „The future is NOW!“ is being shouted in all languages around the world. NATO, Russia and China send international fully armed armies in the streets of metropoles and provinces; coordinated attacks with drones in occupied areas result in the death of many millions of civilians and imprisonments of many more millions. State prohibitions shut down the internet in many areas.
2027: Airbnb buys out the monopoly of privately managed prisons in the whole world, which in the context of the new state of exception penal system function also as production chains for big multinational companies, such as Amazon, aiming at a faster economic growth. Other impoverished areas have been transformed into huge lagers by states and international military organisations and their populations work in big chains of production for just a daily meal. In parallel with all this, conflicts continue around the world with somewhat lower intensity, since because of insurrections autonomous zones were created which continue to resist including evermore greater parts of population.
2028: Airbnb launches its “all inclusive trip packages”. In cooperation with Google’s big data management, it offers specially adjusted to everyone door to door trips, i.e. from the moment they leave their house until they return to it. All intermediary steps, including transportation, hotel accommodation, entertainment and food have been bought by Airbnb. Disneyworld, which has the monopoly in the spectacle industry, converts cities and metropoles in huge tourist thematic parks. Cities are equipped with “intelligent borders” for the prevention of insurrections. All this takes place with the agreement of state governments for “economic growthand anti-depression” reasons. The valuation of Airbnb explodes to 600 billion dollars.
2029: One after the other, many European metropoles such as Rome, London, Paris and Athens are bought by Airbnb. The historic centers of cities are converted for rent by rich locals and tourists, while the lowerclass is obliged to live outside the center in production lines in the suburbs and live in overercrowded buildings or encampments. Their possibility to move is limited, except for higher level company employees able to travel through Airbnb in poorer countries. Any protest, if not quashed before it even appears due to extreme controland collection of information, is put down brutally by international armies that have replaced the police in the streets of cities, in addition to the newly established U.O.M.A. (Units for Order Maintenance Airbnb).
2030: And then, when we had thought that all was finished, some glimpses of freedom appeared. Antiauthoritarian groups and communities, pushed to the edges of cities, since living in the center was impossible if you were not rich, decide to join together and prepare one last plan. Feverishsecret processes in encrypted communications and collaboration at global level are following. All those who have continued participating in movements decide to create from below conditions of living and housing against the monopoly of Airbnb. Selforganized structures of hospitality are created with rules of resistance to the wave of tourism and uprooting of people, which cater to those who want to visit various cities in Europe, and exchange experiences and ideas on whether another world is finally possible. In Thessaloniki, this starts from the (since 2025)occupied autonomous zone of Aristotle University , a movement conducted via the underground tunnels and catacombs toward the center of the city. Finally, the until 2023 Free social space Micropolis, is occupied with the intention to create a center of the struggle against Airbnb and expand the autonomous community into the centre of the city. SLG Hostel takes form.
by John Malamatinas
1. I think many of us know. But tell us again in ten short sentences what the hell is going on in Austria?
In a nutshell, one could say that two of the most important leaders of the extreme right in the Banana Republic have embarrassed themselves enormously. In a conversation with alleged donors from Russia, HC Strache (Vice-chancellor) and Joshi Gudenus (FPÖ Vienna) promised them to sell Austria’s biggest newspaper (“Krone”) to them and also to secure orders from the Ministry of Infrastructure. This seven-hour dinner (apparently a code word for vodkacoca party) was secretly filmed and published two years later, forcing the two to resign. Baby hitler* Kurz had initially offered to continue the government, but without Interior Minister Herbert Kickl. The FPÖ, on the other hand, did not want to play along and so all FPÖ government members resigned. Shortly afterwards, “experts” – whom he himself had chosen at his discretion – went to the ministries. Now we are all waiting to see whether a no-confidence motion announced on Monday will get a majority in parliament and also force Kurz to resign.
2. This trap… – quite obvious antifascist action or not?
3. Will the fascists and neo-liberals manage to talk their way out of the story once again?
Shortly after Strache announced his resignation, he intervened again via Facebook and announced “Now more than ever” in the style of the known Nazi Waldheim. Of course a bit cryptic, but just broken down Strache emphasizes two things: “I wor bsoffn (I was drunk) and the Jews are to blame”. The fact that in the presence of an “attractive oligarch,” after one or two little lines and four to ten vodkaenergy drinks one tends to boast of adolescence, is understandable to the core voters of the FPÖ and appeases them. The fact that an ominous foreign power has pulled the strings is also obvious to every average anti-Semite in Austria. One who for the time being emerges more strongly from this situation is Sebastian Kurz, the nation’s school spokesman, yet the authoritarian project “Schwarz-Blau” (Black-Blue) has failed for the time being.
4. Are the political balances of the European elections changing in Austria and throughout Europe? And who will ultimately benefit from the scandal?
According to initial estimations, the European right-wing parties will not lose for the time being, and it is difficult to predict how the FPÖ will perform in the election. There is a realistic danger that Babyhitler will now try harder to get the FPÖ voters into his boat; he has long since adopted the hostile program of the FPÖ. He himself is pleased that the normalisation of right-wing extremism is beginning to bear fruit: “Much of what I am saying today was massively criticised three years ago and dismissed as right-wing extremist, that has changed”. According to him, “leftists to communists” profit from these scandals and he warns against a political shift to the left in Europe… a real optimist!
5. How does the left and the anti-authoritarian space in Austria react?
It should be emphasized that on the day after the video was published, thousands gathered in front of the Federal Chancellery to articulate their anger and celebrate Strache’s political suicide. The joy over the resignation of the former Neonazi vice-chancellor is justified, but it must not be forgotten that nothing has changed in the political environment and the current right-wing hegemony. The parliamentary left hardly reacts and is weaker than ever, the “state left-wing style” Federal President Van der Bellen worries about the image of Austria and its economic site and many leftists babble something about the stability in the country, which must be secured and misjudge that we should shake the conditions. But emancipatory demands can be heard from the street, especially from the “Thursday Demo”, which is not satisfied with the current resignations. They want to “chase away” Kurz and open a perspective on a good life for all, after this system has been overcome.
6. According to your Instagran page you have been protesting against Kurz, Strache&Co since the formation of the government. Is Ibiza the crowning highlight of the campaign?
Definitely a success and it even helped the Vengaboys, who are currently number 1 in the Austrian charts (laughs). No, but seriously, now it’s all about knocking down babyhitler!
7. What should the progressive forces think of this dispute among fascists and neo-liberals? And can the announced new elections change something fundamental or will everything remain the old way?
As we have already pointed out, it is of course a cause for joy if such a government project breaks down. But the progressive side has not yet gained much. We must now consider how we can further open up the cracks that have arisen in order to make visible a concept of society based on solidarity. In this sense, we hope that the much-used term of recent days will come true: state crisis!
*Titanic magazine published some time ago a cover calling Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz “baby hitler”. Kurz than tried to forbid the use of this name by court decision. At the end Titanic won the court case!
In September 2017 the concession of 4.187 square kilometers for research and hydrocarbon mining in Epirus to the multinational company Repsol and Gas was signed from the minister of energy and environment G. Stathakis. The area of research and mining in Ioannina is Kalpaki, Pogoni municipality, near Zagori. But the concession area is larger and includes the Zagori municipality, a large part of Thesprotia region including Kalamas river after its delta in Sagiada. In the first phase the geophysics seismic research is included in the area of Zitsa and the municipalities of Souliou, Filiates, and Igoumenitsa. The research will be continued in Dodoni, Pogoni and Zagori, with the aim that until the end of the next year the total of kilometers that are to be researched must be finished, while in 2021 the first drillings are expected for hydrocarbon at zones of Ioannina and Thesprotia. The unavoidable results, among others, concern the danger of releasing in the atmosphere hydrogen sulfide which is a colorless, poisonous, erosive, inflammable and explosive gas. This put us in risk of wildfire caused by the explosion of the inflammable gas in combination with the lush vegetation of Epirus. This could turn the whole area into an inferno, during the period of summer. A nightmare that we live every year in Greece even without the hydrogen sulfide. Undeniable is also the contamination of water which consists the actual richness and common good for the residents of the area. We all know about the war that has started concerning urban water and about bottling companies. Lastly, we might have a possible landslide and other soil problems while risk of earthquake.
One of the most important matters about land and marine mining is the increased possibility of accident. Like the recent case of Salamina and the leak of mazut at the Saronic Gulf and Piraeus. We remember the tragedy that took place at the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, an explosion at the facilities of BP 1.600 meters under water allowed the oil and gas leak till the platform “Deepwater Horizon”, which was sunk and led to the death of 11 workers. It is clearly that despite the rhetoric about profitability for the local community the only ones that benefit from that are the joint-venture Energean Oil and Gas / Petra and others, institutional or not, that are involved. The local community will receive only burned soil. In the name of “national aim” or public interest, state and multinational companies contribute to social destabilization and the environmental destruction of entire areas. The “new jobs” is only the bait before the trap. The “development” that comes to “save us” concerns outdated energy forms in a country “virgin” of heavy industrialization, resulting with mathematical precision to grieving. More specifically about the few and temporary new working positions, how many fields will be ruined, how many herds will be wiped out, what will remain of our land?
With the contract of concession for research and hydrocarbon exploitation in Epirus, the Minister of Energy and Environment G. Stathakis together with representatives of associates from the joint-venture are destroying yet another place. The prospect of exploration and mining of hydrocarbons in areas near Ioannina caused the residents’ protests, in the areas included in the plan and of the basin. The people of the surrounding villages have created a civil movement against research and mining named “Save Epirus: No on land extraction of hydrocarbons “. In a short period of time the initiatives were multiplied. Following an event organized by the Anti-authoritarian Movement, an initiative named the “Open Meetings in Ioannina against mining” was created. Initiatives followed in Athens, Arta, Preveza, Thesprotia, Ithaca/Kefalonia. The latest research news are about the work that has already begun through the Italian company Geotech, which has begun deforestation by opening paths, cutting trees and putting ribbons and stakes by defining the areas for mining and in some places the first phase of the investigation, the seismic eruptions are already under way. Residents and solidaries have been able, in some cases, to prevent the crew, which were unable to show the necessary licenses and were forced to leave.
Note here that there is no danger signage in the area where the work has started, increasing the risk of accidents. In addition, the interventions in the field has shown us the huge rigs that the company is trying to install, which are transported by helicopter. With the presence of an intervention team, one of these helicopters stopped its route, a security car appeared and started the threats. Still, the police in the area asked for the details of the people who participated in the intervention without any reason whatsoever, since as we said there is no indication of a construction site. We have seen the police forces in several interventions so far, in the ancient theater of Dodoni, in an intervention against sponsorship of oil companies at the Dodoni festival, at the Herodion on the Pan-Epirotic feast, at the event for the mining at the Cultural Venue Dimitris Hatzis with speaker El. Konofagos.
In their multipronged attacks we respond with collective struggles for nature and freedom, in direct solidarity with the struggle of Chalkidiki against Eldorado Gold and the struggle of Acheloos against the Mesochora dam. While people like Kahrimanis and Kalogiannis sell out to multinationals, we will prioritize the need for social control and direct-democratic energy management.
Some friends on the other side of the Atlantic are trying to organize solidarity with the migrant caravans arriving in Tijuana. This is a callout for people around the world to come to the region and to help out or to support the project from afar. You will find the callout in different languages on the website of the initiative. Please share it widely among your networks, groups and organizations!
Callout for the Free Movement of People
From its watchtowers, U.S. Customs and Border Protection has been mapping the desert. Its surveillance sees drugs, smugglers, and cartels in every man, woman and child who approach the southern border. We do not wish to live in a world where security strangles freedom. In 2018, the American political imaginary was focused on the caravans. We fear 2019 will follow with new walls, deportations, detention centers, separations, ankle monitors, camps, and deaths. We do not wish to live in a camp. We desire a world without borders.
In the most recent caravan, about 7,000 people joined together to endure the perilous journey north to present themselves at the San Ysidro port-of-entry. Their motivations were similar to the 1.3 million who filed asylum claims in the EU in 2015, the hundreds of thousands of refugees who have lived in Calais alone, and the thousands who died in the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas. The members of this caravan primarily traveled from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. They have organized together, publicly and as a political force.
At the same time, thousands have made the journey on their own, hidden from sight and braving even greater risks. In the past, hundreds of thousands more have taken this same surreptitious and dangerous path, riding La Bestia and risking everything at the hands of gangs, human traffickers, and police.
This is neither the first nor the last caravan. This model of collective organizing has been in development in Central America for at least a decade. It has opened up a new political potential for Central American Migrants—-by creating a safe means of transit without collaboration with human traffickers. Doing so constitutes a refusal to cross the desert alone and in secret.
A number of us live on the US-Mexico border. We provide jugs of water, food, socks, and blankets, and offer shelter, warm meals, and needed medical attention. We resist militarization of the borderlands. We also mitigate its effects: by working in detention facilities to help the incarcerated recover their belongings from the border patrol, by training ourselves in the legal processes necessary to stop raids and deportations, and by searching the desert for those who have disappeared. The government criminalized these efforts.
In Tijuana, we organize around the needs and desires of the caravanerxs to facilitate their autonomy from state structures, for example through assisting with the defense of the migrants’ warehouse and occupied camp, running supplies across the border when supplies can’t be sourced locally, and fundraising and building kitchen and tech infrastructure with and for the migrants’ use. In an effort to raise awareness of these issues, we have published articles, wheatpasted posters, and put together a website, commotion.world.
Fascism in the US has advanced to the stage where the government separates migrant families and imprisons them in camps. In response, we occupied Immigration Control Enforcement field offices and immigrant detention centers across the country. Now, as fascism progresses and imprisons the people who try to help the people in the camps, we realize we need help. With its terrifying sovereign power to assign rights and deprive dignity, the US government has defined the migrants from Central America as a class of invaders. The nations at work in San Ysidro and Tijuana are attempting to transform the 2,000-mile border into a permanent impasse for certain people, certain classes. There has been a proliferation of places of internment, which are maintained by drones, GPS, infrared scans, and a variety of products from the booming border technology industry. How long before there is no refuge?
We’re reaching out to you, our comrades in Europe—those of you who have been mobilizing in support of migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers, who have been agitating for the free movement of bodies and the habitation of the world, and who have been waging war against the enemies of those people whose livelihoods and conditions of survival have been destroyed, shipwrecked, turned to rubble.
We write this letter to formally invite you to participate in our struggle: to join us here in Tijuana. You have already participated in a border struggle with similarities to our own for many years. We would benefit from your experiences building an infrastructure of resistance and rebellion to the border regime, and we hope to collaborate on long-term perspectives.
If you cannot come, please support us from afar. Contributions will be used to help meet basic needs, such as renting large houses, warehouses, or other collective living spaces for those who travel in the caravans and who travel to Mexico to help; buying food, medical supplies, and communication devices to facilitate the migrants’ autonomous control over their media and messaging; purchasing bus or train tickets for caravanerxs to move back and forth across Mexico to circulate knowledge and techniques between the caravans; and paying unavoidable bail and other legal fees.
Please write to us at email@example.com if you have anything to share.
We’re looking forward to learning from and with you.
“In truth, the problem is not migrants, refugees or asylum seekers. The [problem is the] border. Everything starts from it and everything brings us back to it.”
– Achille Mbembe, “Le Grand Debarras”
“The precariousness of migrant groups means they would always need to develop new ways of organising in order to survive. The loss of old ties and certainties encourages new ways of thinking and acting.”
– A No Borders manifesto
A context of accelerated exploitation, oppression and disorientation
In March 2018, the Beyond Europe platform met in Nicosia, Cyprus to reappraise the potential of anti-authoritarian struggle against global capitalism. At the present time, capital is tightening its repressive grip in order to continue destroying our communities, our human and other rights, and the earth itself. This was a rare opportunity for the members to meet face-to-face and have extremely constructive discussions. While exchanging thoughts and experiences, we became aware of the speed at which damage is being done globally, the confusion surrounding facts, events and motives, and the numbing effect that this constant turbulence seems to have for coordinated resistance. But while this increasingly intense storm has led to widespread disorientation and a debilitating sense of our collective incapacity to control the situation, we realise that reversing this is of the utmost urgency.
Following this meeting, we captured our vivid impressions of chaos, confusion and the inability to act in two statements (We won’t accept anything less and Let’s make this century wild (will be published in March 2019) which both aimed to highlight the pressing need for new approaches, strategies and direction. Almost a year after the meeting in Nicosia, repression has further intensified on multiple levels, again reaffirming the need to step up our own efforts, acting strategically and taking concrete actions. Indeed, there seems to be plenty of energy for new ideas and practices. An organisational turn to organising communities around housing struggles has slowly been gaining ground. New concepts and tactics are being explored in anti-fascist struggle with women and feminists crucially reconfiguring the terms of the game across the globe over the past year. Finally, more recently, the Gilets Jaunes who appear as a hub for every conceivable anti-capitalist demand, occupy the streets of France with impressive assertiveness and have become a major challenge for the French police and establishment. How does Beyond Europe come into this picture?
Beyond Europe’s position
Beyond Europe reiterates the need to scale up the fight, and develop new methods, tools and frameworks for anti-authoritarian politics.
Beyond Europe stresses that the present moment is ripe for this radical reconsideration of anti-authoritarian forces in the fight against global capitalism, as its desperate attempts to continue ruling the planet resort to increasingly oppressive means.
Beyond Europe proposes that we leave behind reactive forms of resistance and transition as quickly as possible to a different level which enables us to act pro-actively. Firefighting constantly on multiple fronts (which also proliferate exponentially) has become untenable. We have reached a stage in which we have to try to stop the emergence of new fires. And although firefighting against authoritarian attacks of all kinds will not end any time soon, our long-term aim should now be to find ways to stop conditions of oppression from becoming tougher, explore how to stop instances of oppression before they materialise rather than just confront them once they are in full swing.
Beyond Europe 2.0 programme
What tools, concepts and new techniques of organising do we need in order to be in a position to perform anti-authoritarian politics pro-actively?
The first step is to implement internal organisational changes, so that the anti-hierarchical principles of anti-authoritarianism apply more consistently to Beyond Europe itself. For more information about what is the anti-authoritarian, see Positions, Proposals, Framework of Antiauthoritarian Movement produced by Anti-Authoritarian Movement | Αντιεξουσιαστική Κίνηση (AK).
Beyond Europe remains an anti-authoritarian platform against capitalism. But rather than this being an alliance of national networks and organisations – which raises the expectations that entire countries are represented – individual city groups can now participate autonomously in the work of the platform. This means that we no longer must canvas the views of a whole organisation to move forward. Local city groups, rather than national networks or a few individuals, are now sovereign. Cities interested in common issues can join forces together without needing approval by “national” organisations. Beyond Europe is now properly defined as a platform among many, rather than the “international” wing of our respective organisations, which amounted to maintaining an unnecessary informal hierarchy and was enhancing engagement with internationalism. But this does not mean that it has any less reason to exist. Quite the opposite. We expect to produce more content, inspire more people to participate, and become more democratic in the process.
Building on transnational strengths
A new programme of work has been agreed which includes a comprehensive upgrade and sharing of best practice and skill in the following areas: media, outreach strategy, technology, security and an organisational structure driven by city-led initiatives as mentioned above. In broad terms, working groups have been formed with a decent geographic spread on the following areas: feminism; eco-social struggles; antifascism and the far right; labour digitalisation, technology and the future; housing, community and neighbourhood organising.
These groups will build on our transnational strengths in a variety of areas, including the women’s strike, reproductive rights, and trans rights; action against extractive industries and for sustainable de-growth strategies; attending and building for summit actions on European migration regimes and far right party conferences; action against local fascist groups; establishing a strike watchdog; drafting ten theses on technology; collaborating with the struggles of Amazon warehouse workers and workers in logistics; establishing and maintaining social centres, anti-eviction campaigns, tenants’ unions and opposing gentrification.
Anti-authoritarian information provider
We have also established a collaborative editorial group with the task of becoming the ‘beacon’ of anti-authoritarian struggles for Europe. The idea is not to be the ‘hegemonic’ anti-authoritarian media outlet within Europe, but to establish ourselves as the preferred source of information about anti-authoritarian struggles happening in Europe for the rest of the world. This link is desperately needed for building an anti-authoritarian internationalism that is simultaneously against globalisation and against nationalism. A user-friendly media strategy is being worked on to turn this into a reality in some years’ time.
The second step is to plan activities with an understanding of the skills, expertise and strengths of the current membership while aiming at expanding it by reaching out to other groups and initiatives interested in converging forces for the purposes of a strong anti-authoritarian movement in Europe (and beyond) which will overthrow global capitalism.
Current active members
… the German-speaking antinational and antifascist federation ums Ganze, with local groups across Germany and Austria. Ums Ganze hosts annual congresses attracting hundreds of militants, accompanying BE to the Hamburg G20 and bringing back riots to the streets of Germany on occasion of the inauguration of the European Central Bank in Frankfurt. The building of an antifascist network called “Nationalism is no alternative” is a serious asset in the fight against the rise of the far right in Europe. In the next years ums Ganze will focus on (pro-)feminist interventions and the revival of social struggles.
… the anarchist/antiauthoritarian collective Syspirosi Atakton, is organised in Nicosia acting in both sides of the division line. For SA the struggle against nationalism is a daily struggle for survival as Cyprus is one of the most militarised areas on the planet, while trying to circulate the ideas of self-organisation, self-legislation and solidarity. Efforts also take under consideration the environmental crisis and gender social aspects.
… the Greek antiauthoritarian movement Alpha Kappa, who are responsible for much of the anti-authoritarian influence in Beyond Europe. With local groups in Athens, Thessaloniki, Komotini, Ioannina, Larissa and Piraeus – AK have hosted several of the defining moments of Beyond Europe: a camp against a gold mine in the Chalkidiki peninsula rooted in local communities; the No Border Camp in 2016; and a camp against the construction of a damn in Piraeus. AK have a fascinating political history coloured by resistance against dictatorship, severe repression against communism spanning several generations, fierce disagreements with other local anarchist groups, fearless street battles against fascists and the police, and the eviction of social centres. All this in a country where there are sizeable Stalinist and Fascist parties with electoral success, resurgent nationalism, and a left party in power.
… the UK-wide anti-capitalist organisation Plan C with similar interests in anti-authoritarian politics, focusing on feminist anti-fascism, the socialisation of strike, radical municipalism, and Rojava solidarity, and following direct democracy principles of organisation and decision making for city-led activities, which expand into UK wide projects when appropriate.
… the recently formed group from Prague Kolektiv 115. K115 brings non-dogmatic leftist politics and new forms of language and culture of protest into cold post eastern block region. Consisting of working groups focusing on topics such as the right to the city, feminism and antifascism, the group seeks progressive answers to massive reactionary wave rolling through Visegrád Four (V4) countries
The promising potential for expansion of the current Beyond Europe membership relates to a strong belief (shared across the European radical left) that capitalism is a system which must be fought, criticised and abolished systematically if we are to win. For this reason, the existence of a platform such as Beyond Europe adds coherence and a sense of purpose for anti-authoritarian politics where there is confusion and disorientation, additionally aggravated by the distraction of media propaganda.
Beyond Europe calls all organisations, groups and initiatives, who believe that anti-authoritarian politics leads to the end of global capitalism, to join us so that we can learn from each other and use our collective power and counter-power to trigger the necessary dynamic ruptures that will allow us to move to the next level.
On December 18th 2018 the first trial, which deals with the events in Elbchaussee Street during the G20 summit in the early morning of July 7th 2017, began in Hamburg. Accused are four comrades from Frankfurt metropolitan region and a comrade from France. Most of them are only accused of being present in this action, but the Public Prosecutor’s Office wants to blame them for all the events and expects high prison sentences. It is about the right to demonstrate in general. On January 10th 2019, the public was expelled from the trial at the request of the prosecutor. We therefore spoke with an activist of the solidarity alliance “United We Stand Frankfurt / Offenbach”.
“Dear Caro, in Hamburg the Elbchaussee trial is taking place against five young men from Germany and France. Why is the trial so important?”
“At the moment there are two main questions in court: Was that even a demonstration? And depending on it: Was it accusable to be present there? The trial has parallels with other G20 trials like the “Rondenbarg trial”, which was suspended in early 2018 with no verdict announced. The big question of the Elbchaussee trial is therefore whether the Public Prosecutor’s Office will prevail over the so-far legal opinion and equating demonstrations with arranged fights of football hooligans. This would be an enormous erosion of the right to demonstrate with far-reaching consequences.”
“These are the general political consequences. What does the trial mean for the defendants? What are the exact accusations in that case?”
“Only one of the five is accused of a direct involvement in “Sachbeschädigung” (property damage: denomination of a criminal offence in German law; §303 StGB). The other four will only be charged with the alleged participation in the demonstration through the Elbchaussee and shall be convicted for “besonders schwerer Landfriedensbruch” (roughly translated as especially serious breach of public peace; §125a StGB). The Public Prosecutor’s Office and the court want to reach a sentence of at least five years imprisonment – of course without parole. The five shall be convicted of basically everything that happened this morning, shall be convicted because the police could not identify other alleged “criminals” despite huge effort. The pressure on the defendants is further increased by the fact that they are also threatened with civil lawsuits in the event of a conviction. They could face claims of millions of Euros for compensation. The Public Prosecutor’s Office is listing everything in detail from a broken mirror to traumatized car owners. The reading of this took alone more than an hour at the opening of the trial.”
“These five are the very entire result of the police special investigation commission “Black Block”, despite publicity investigation and all that? How do they identified these five?”
“Yes, the police had hoped for completely different results from these. One of the five charges is based on a backpack with an ID card, which was found near the Elbchaussee. The other four sees the prosecutor as a co-operative group that was acting together in the city during the G20 protests. On this morning they should have been recorded by a CCTV camera in a Metro station close to the Elbchaussee. In this particular demonstration of mostly masked activists, the prosecutor believes to be able to recognize them despite their disguise. All in all, the charge is only based on circumstantial evidence.”
“During the raids last summer in the Frankfurt area, one of the involved police officers involved said that they knew that the accused were “minnows”. Though, two have been in custody since then. Why?”
“Responsible for this is mainly the Oberlandesgericht (“Higher Regional Court”, court of last instance below federal level) which has already incarcerated a young Italian for alleged “harmful inclinations” in his character for months. The court having jurisdiction (Landgericht, “Regional Court”) has indeed released the two defendants due to the absence of danger of flight in November. Immediately afterwards, the Public Prosecutor’s Office raged against this decision and reached their re-imprisonment only hours after they have been released. The Oberlandesgericht decided that the two must remain in custody because of the expected high punishment. A third comrade has been in Hamburg since October. Since he is a French citizen, it is very easy for the judiciary to justify the need for detention.”
“The trial was opened on December 18th 2018. What happened that day?”
“First of all, it has to be said that many comrades were there to accompany the opening. More than 120 people – and not only from Hamburg – have attended a rally in front of the court to make clear that this trial is not only about the five accused comrades, but this is about us all and of course we do not leave the five alone. But the bourgeois media was also present with journalists and numerous cameras. Everyone is aware that no small issue is being negotiated there. In the court session itself – as usually in the beginning of big trials – not much happened. The absolute highlight was the welcome and farewell of the accused with applause and noise. The expectation for this moment has motivated them all the time, as they have repeatedly assured us in letters. In the court room, they have shown a lot of self-confidence and reliance. We had hoped that this could continue…”
“… but the public was excluded from the trial soon. How did that happen?”
“On the third day of the trial, the Public Prosecutor’s Office has filed an application for exclusion of the public for the duration of the hearing of evidence. The hearing of evidence is actually everything between the opening and closing declarations. They cynically justified their request with the benefit of the defendants: they would be put under pressure by the massive public interest and an active audience. It is obvious that it is all about suppressing expressions of solidarity. Also the public attention that the trial gets is thereby weakened. We must not tolerate that. This is clearly a strategic move, just like the prosecutor’s motion for recusal against the judges, because they considered the pre-trial detention as baseless. That the Public Prosecutor’s Office is that obviously politically motivated forcing a lawsuit against the court is a new dimension for us.”
“What else can we do now to support the defendants and the solidarity work?”
“You can do a lot in order that their strategy does not work out: Write letters to the prisoners! Accompany the trial by informing yourself and others, but also accompany it physically – the trial dates can be found on the internet – because showing that we do not leave them alone is now even more important. We cannot allow this secret trial to quite simply create precedents. Let us all rather realize how important it is to act politically against the repression and persecution that so many comrades are affected by. Thus, the same slogan as always applies: The struggle goes on!”
Please send letters to the defendants to:
Rote Hilfe – Ortsgruppe Frankfurt am Main
c/o Café ExZess
60487 Frankfurt – Germany
Be aware that the cops are surveilling the correspondence of prisoners. If possible write in German (but they also understand English, French, Turkish and Kurdish), because letters in other languages are usually delivered with a massive delay.
Yesterday 15/1/2019, Cypriot Conscientious Objector Halil Karapaşaoğlu has been arrested and taken to prison to serve a 20 day sentence for refusing to pay a fine for not attending reservist service call ups.
This is happening just days after a draft amendment law to recognise conscientious objection has been submitted to parliament. The Initiative for Conscientious Objection in Cyprus calls on the international community to show their solidarity and react to Halil’s imprisonment.
The number of troops and military bases that exist in Cyprus are disproportional to its size, but at the same time indicative of its strategic importance in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East. The (Greek Cypriot) “National Guard”, the “Turkish Cypriot Security Force”, the “Hellenic Force in Cyprus”, the “Turkish Force in Cyprus”, the British troops and the UN’s multinational force, have transformed the island into a huge barrack, making it one of the most militarized regions of the whole planet. In addition, many other (mostly NATO-aligned) armies are granted use rights and facilities for training, logistics support, or raiding purposes especially against Middle Eastern and North African targets.
On one hand, military agreements between the Cypriot government and some of the neighbouring countries (such as for example with Israel and Greece) escalates the situation in Cyprus and the wider region. Additionally, the intention of the government of the Republic of Cyprus to extract hydrocarbons, be it natural gas or oil, without solving the Cyprus problem first, creates a new explosive situation, which automatically leads to a new arms race. Whilst the public debt and the national deficit increases, wages and pensions are being cut, and public spending, as well as the social welfare and environmental protection services are reduced, military expenditure increases, through the purchasing of warships worth millions of euros, as well as through spending of tens of millions of euros for the maintenance of old weapons. The increasing militarization of the police and the use of the anti-terrorist special forces to suppress strikes, bi-communal actions and hunt immigrants is also alarming.
The ethnic conflict and the geographical division of the island have become the perfect excuse for the rulers to maintain the same peculiar and extended state of exception. This regime tries to expand its power and extend its dominance to every part of our lives. It is sufficient, simply by invoking it, to suspend labor, social, political and environmental rights, but also to suppress class struggles and mobilizations of all insubordinate pieces of the society (such as from the lower classes, as well as those marginalised). During this state of emergency, it is not only our rights that are being violated and our freedom(s) neglected, but even the provisions of “constitutional legitimacy” and the principles of the “rule of law” of the so-called “liberal democracy” are lifted.
One of the easiest ways to ensure nationalism and ethnic conflict is to maintain the army forces, both in the south and in the north parts of the island. The (Greek Cypriot) “National Guard” and the “Turkish Cypriot Security Force” respectively, consisted of local teenagers, who right after hishschool at the age of 18, become obligded to serve the army. Despite the nationalist frenzy, following the opening of checkpoints in 2003 which made free movement between the two sides of the island possible, several common initiatives were formed, aiming to counter the preachers of hate, demand the demilitarisation of the island and the recognition of the right to conscientious objection, and ultimately the reunification of the island through a federal model. Reunification of the island is the change which will allow societal struggles to move out of the shadow of nationalism and militarism, and take the main stage again.
Consientious objection has become an important way through which both, greek as well as turkish speaking Cypriots are expressing their refusal to become part of the militarised insanity on the island. Though in the Republic of Cyprus, consiensous objection has been legally acknowledged since 1992, it is still illegal in the northern part of the island. T/c have been campaigning for many years, demanding ammendments in the law. Their demand is simple: to have the right to refuse to become soldiers and refuse to fight against their g/c friends. Instead, their refusal has led to T/C consientious objectors being sent to jail in a number of occasions.
The most recent one of these cases is that of the t/c conscientious objector Halil Karapaşaoğlu, whom on the 3rd of January 2019, the military court in the northern part of the island, found guilty on 4 cases where he refused to fulfill his reserve and was thus given the sentence to either pay a fine of 2000 TL within 10 days or go to prison on the 14th of January for 20 days. Halil refused to pay the fine as he beieves that paying the fine is like accepting his refusal to serve the army is illegal. With his imprisonment Halil wants to highlight that consientious objection is a right whilst attempting to get as much support as possible towards this cause: for consiencious objection to be legally accepted.
We believe that every person must have the freedom to develop their own autonomy and offer to society without being forced by those in power by imposing the “duty” to serve h@ country. Military service – whether it is conscript or reserve – is not “sacred”. The army by nature turns against human life, and as a mechanism “teaches” the servant to be subjected completely and without objections to any authority. Conscientious objection is not a liberal civil right, but a libertarian act of political disobedience and anti-militarism.
We declare our solidarity with conscientious objector Halil Karapaşaoğlu.
No soldiers never and nowhere,
We will not give our lives for the bosses!
Beyond Europe, 15th January 2018
Dear friends, we can imagine that you are also following the events in France in the last days. We publish here a spontaneous report of comrades* from France which includes a small review and current evaluation. In the next days the movement of the “Gilets Jaunes” seems to go on. As probably in many parts of the autonomous left, discussions are also taking place in our circles. Some of us are curious about what is to come, others sceptical about the political composition of the movement, and all of us together acknowledge the ambivalence of the situation. This movement clearly represents another stage in the crisis of classical politics and the neoliberal system. In the next days we will try to follow the events and publish some further translations from France.
[About the Gilets Jaunes movement]
Short report and call from France (4th December)
It is quite important that the non french speaking comrades understand a bit what’s going in France these last weeks. Here is an attempt to explain partially what is happening in the Gilets Jaunes (GJ) movement. This “presentation” is for sure incomplete, it’s a complex situation, different in many places, and it is just impossible to know everything which is happening.
Feel free to share this text to people you know (and please apologise us for our broken English).
The beginning of the movement: Facebook and economical blockades
This movement started to mobilise against a new tax on fuel that was supposed to be enforced on 1st January. It picked the Gilet Jaune (yellow safety jacket) as its symbol. Besides the meeting and organisation that took place during the blockades, the movement is organised mostly on Facebook. The first day of action was on 17th November. There were 2.000 blockades all over France, a lot on the paying entrances of the motorways, at the entrances of some commercial centres, and in some refineries and ports. A lot of the people who take part in this movement are blocking and demonstrating for the first time in their life, this movement might be a lot of things but for sure not the “usual” French social movement.
During the week, a lot of GJ are working, so there are less blockades, but some places are permanently occupied and sometimes partially blocked since 3 weeks; mostly some round-abouts (it even happened that some people built up huts and say they will spend Christmas and New Year’s Eve there), but also some ports.
The 24th November, there was the first demo of the movement, organised only in Paris. A lot of people came from all over France, and the Champ Elysees, the most famous and posh boulevard of the country which leads to the government palace, was full of barricades and people were rioting for nearly 10 hours. It was the same situation in all the surrounding streets.
Despite there were millions and millions of euros of damaged after the 1st December riots in Paris and everywhere in France (we’ll speak later about it), the main cost of the movement is due to all the blockades and all the shops which closed last Saturday because of the riots. Considering that most of the shops are making 15%-25% of their year profit in the 4 Saturdays before Christmas, the cost of the movement is already counted in billions. And it is far from being over.
About the 1st December, the demonstrations all over France and the support of the people
On 1st December, demonstrations were organised not only in Paris but in dozens of cities. Actually, we cannot really call it “demonstrations”, there are no authorisations, no official way, no official organisors, it is rather some calls on Facebook to take the streets or to go to some state institutions (the “préfectures” or the city halls mostly).
Despite that 65.000 cops were mobilised (who are basically nearly all the cops the French state can mobilise), the situation was totally out of control for the whole day in many places: Paris, Toulouse, Marseille, Dijon, Bordeaux, Le Pouzin, Tours, Le Puy En Velay. Those places have seen the biggest riots since at least 1968, many demonstrations, hard fights with the cops, burning barricades, sometimes looting. In many other cities, there were also clashes in smaller scale. Even some “prefets” (the regional chief of police who are legally not allowed to make that kind of statement) have contacted some journalists and declared that the situation is some kind of uprising, or even “a pre-revolutionnary moment”, and that the government doesn’t understand the situation at all.
We can point 2 really surprising aspects of this movement:
– According to the pools (we know, we usually don’t give a shit about these craps, but here it has an importance), more than 70% of the French people are supporting the movement. Even the hard clashes of the 1st December haven’t changed this rate of support. This is significant considering how the media speaks about the movement – sometimes it can be really funny to watch the news or to listen to the radio these days – and also about the way the government assesses the situation – Macron had to walk back for the first time, but it seems he did it too late and his concessions weren’t enough (we’ll speak about it later).
– One of the main problem of the government is that the people who are demonstrating and rioting feel they are legitimate to do it and are claiming what is theirs. A lot of them say they cannot take the way they are living, working full time and still being poor anymore. They think that it’s their right to protest, that it’s written in the constitution, and that there is no question whether a demo is authorized or not. So when the cops shoot tear gas and rubber bullets to them (like they use to do), the people get really mad, some shout at the cops that they pay their salary and that the cops should be ashamed of doing what they do, some are fighting them back hard – right now, a lot of images of cops violence (which went wild) are massively shared on the GJ Facebook accounts. Even if there are are some organised leftists and fascists groups in the riots, it seems that most of the rioters are “simple” citizens who are getting “radicalised” in a really short time.
About the fascists
As we mentioned it, there are some fascists present in this movement, at least in some places. In Paris, some organised groups, coming in most parts from other regions of France, have been present. On the 1st December, several groups gathered (we don’t know how many of them, might be around 200 people) and stayed for the morning around the Place de l’Etoile, taking part in the clashes with the cops and doing their nationalist bullshit (song, commemoration) around the historical monument Arc de Triomphe (we don’t know where they were in the afternoon). There were some fights with some antifascist groups. In some cities, the fascists don’t seem to be part of the movement, and in a few other cities, they seem to structure the movement. As for the ” traditional leftists”, they are really a minority in this movement. Nevertheless in many places the protesters are clearly against racism and fascism. But it is a important to prevent the fascists from consolidating or taking an important position in the movement. On that matter, any militant antifascist help is welcome.
Another thing is the disturbing use of the national flag and anthem which can / could scared us. Quite some people are having some small flags, and the anthem is sometimes sung by the protesters. For sure some GJ see it as a patriotic / nationalist symbol (the extreme rightwing party Rassemblement National (ex-Front National) has over 20% in the polls France), but there is also all that stuff about the French revolution which related to that. After all the anthem is a call to rise up against “tyranny”. More basically a lot of people used the flag for the French victory in the football world cup. For it is a symbol of a massive national event / party. We have seen some huge bold guys with the flag, that we were suspecting to be nationalist, shouting slogans like “black, white, red, yellow, we don’t care, we are all together”; we have met some young guys with huge flags who had close political ideas to us. We see also the revolution of 1789 and the decapitation of the king is quite present in the ideas, the talks, the slogans (the main slogan you hear is “Macron démission”). We don’t want to paint a picture that is one-sided and that everything is great. There is a nationalist part in the movement, in Lyon it seems the 1th December demo (rather small, +-300 GJ with no riots) was coordinated by the fascist groups (quite active in the city for long time) and the same is true for some blockades in that area, where protesters clearly claim to vote for the extreme right. But there is also something totally opposite in the movement, in St Nazaire, the port has been occupied for a long time, the GJ have opened a collective place where they share a daily life (la “maison du peuple”) and have really clear anti-racist positions. We have the impression that a lot of people have the urge to talk and they are doing it. By occupying places for 2-3 weeks, a lot of people have some kind of first political experience. We don’t know where all that will lead to and fore sure it is not a comfortable “left militant event”, but we think the potentialities of this movement – who will certainly stop or change at some point (soon?) – it’s worth getting into it.
About the government reaction, the claims and the representation of the GJ
Today (Tuesday 4th December), the government announced that they will postpone the application of the tax on fuel (which was the starting point of the movement), that they will freeze the price of gas and electricity, and another small reform, all that for 6 months. The interior minister also asked the GJ not to demonstrate in Paris on the 8th to spare the merchants.
It seems or it is even quite sure that the announcement of the government won’t calm the GJ. For some days, a list of 44 claims (supposedly written from lot of discussions with GJ) is circulating on the social medias, including a tax on the richest, the rise of the minimal wage, and many other reforms that Macron won’t ever accept – but we have no idea if this list is really representing something for a lot in GJ stand for. More interesting, a growing part of the GJ seems stopped being interested in a negotiation dynamic. Tonight the front page on the site of “Le Monde” (one of the few big newspaper) quotes the blockers in Charleville-Mezieres. They say “We have to get rid of these politicians who are just working for themselves”.
Another big problem for the government (after the legitimacy of the protesters) is that they are no official representatives of the movement. The government tried to invite some GJ who became famous because their videos have been seen millions of time but they refused to come. Some of them because they wanted that the government make a step first, and all of them because they received a lot of threats by other GJ who refused that they represent them. Even though the government is now really looking for some “responsible” representatives of the movement, it seems quite unlikely that they will find some.
Since the 1st December on other fronts
On Monday 3rd, 11 fuel refineries of Total were blocked. It seems most of them were unblocked on Tuesday.
On Monday 3rd, nearly 200 secondary schools were partially or totally blocked all over France – while none was blocked on the Friday 30th. There were wild demonstrations gathering up to several thousands of high school students, some of then ended up in clashes with cops. At least one hundred high schools were still disrupted Tuesday. The high school students have their own demands, linked to the reform of the baccalaureate or access to higher education, but also showed their solidarity with the GJ. More blockades are expected in the next days.
In two universities in Paris (Censier and Tolbiac) the students voted on Tuesday to block the university and to refuse the increase of the school fees for foreign students, mentioning the GJ movement.
The CGT and FO unions of drivers announced that they will go on strike from Monday 10th, as did the FNSEA, the (right wing) union of farmers.
The situation in Paris for the 8th December
In Paris, many big cultural public events have been canceled, as well as the football match of Paris St Germain (because the organisors didn’t want to take a risk or on demand of the government who need all the cops in the streets). Some organisors of the march for climate, planned since a long time, refused the demand of the government and said they will demonstrate, that there should be a connection between social and climate justices.
On the 1st December demo, there were 4.500 cops in Paris, a lot of them were in static position, defending the Champ Elysees (all side streets were blocked with huge metal fences and cops) and the state institutions (the assembly, the senate, etc). The ones in the streets used 10.000 grenades in one day (they used 5.000 on 24th November, which was the previous historical record) and they totally lost the control of the situation: dozens of (burning) barricades, smashed shops and burnt cars (the firemen were called for 200 fires). For the people who know Paris, the area of those clashes was going from Place de l’Etoile to St Lazare and Hotel de Ville, which is just a 5km long area and it lasted for 8 hours. During the morning were some “normal” clashes with the cops but the most the day was going on, the most people were there, and the hardest it became (in terms of dimension of the area and burning places).
The interior minister said that they will mobilise more cops for the 8th December but it is unclear where they will find them. He also said they will use another tactic to face the “extreme mobility” of the protesters which probably means that the cops won’t be so static and that the Champ Elysees might be more accessible. So probably there will be bigger units moving in the city. So we don’t really know what to expect on this day, but it would be really surprising that after 2 Saturday of massive riots, they would suddenly take control of the city back completely.
What the fuck are you waiting to come to take part in the revolution?
(and don’t forget your gilet jaune!!)
Overview and comment about the demonstrations and actions of the last months in Germany
14th April Berlin: 25k at a demonstration against gentrification and the “insane housing situation”. On 20th October the next one with a similar topic and similar size is scheduled for Frankfurt
10th May Munich: 40k at a demonstration against a new authoritarian police law in Bavaria
21st May Berlin: Occupation of 9 houses in Berlin. During the year as many occupations as not for a long time in other cities, some more successful, some less
Since the beginning of June in Leipzig: Strike against the closure of the steel-foundry “Neue Halberg-Guss” where 1500 jobs could be vanished. Solidarity strike at another facility of this company in Saarbrücken. See below why this is listed here
During July nationwide: tens of thousands at decentral demonstrations, rallies, actions etc. against the criminalization of the sea rescue in the Mediterranean
7th July Düsseldorf: 20k at a demonstration against a new authoritarian police law in North-Rhine-Westphalia. On 8th September the next one is scheduled for Hannover, Lower Saxony. There are also plans for Saxony but without a date yet
11th July Munich: 8k at an antifascist demonstration in Munich at the end of the NSU trial. Several thousand at decentral demonstrations in more than 30 cities
22nd July Munich: 50k at a demonstration against the “politics of hatred and fear” and especially against Bavaria´s ruling party, CSU
If you look at this list, you might get the impression that new social movements are about to start in Germany, but – as always – things aren´t that clear if take a closer look. Almost exactly three years have been passed since shit-lord Schäuble blackmailed the Greek government after the referendum on the austerity measures. One consequence in Germany was that the – indeed not super-powerful but nevertheless existing – anti-austerity movement collapsed from one day to another. A few months later the “summer of migration” emerged, where a huge wave of solidarity and politization of the people could be experienced. Since then the development we had predicted since the beginning of the crisis, became more and more evident: state of exception is the new normality, fascism is on the rise, under the justification of economic competitiveness and security an authoritarian transformation of society can be noticed.
The answer of the anticapitalist scene? None. Or to be put it less drastically: partly successful attempts to tackle specific consequences, but nothing radical. “Radical” in the sense to tackle the causes of this situation in a particular praxis. While daily attacks on refugees are happening, the AfD gained 13% in the last federal elections and all parties are moving to the right including factions in the left party, we (not “we” as a specific group or network, but “we” as a huge majority of anticapitalists) focused on more or less symbolic events with the aim to gain attention and agitate people (big exception G20 summit). But in fact the opposite happened: we weren´t able to repel the attacks of police, state and press. Our mobilizations became always less successful. If something failed, activists left behind exhausted and frustrated because the next big thing was approaching. We were only thinking in our own logic and forgot the necessity to strengthen our structures and in our daily businesses we lost the duty to develop and promote a vision of better and solidairy future, a specific cause why people should get active, what we can offer to them/to us.
Now a situation emerged where several mass demonstrations took place on specific, but more or less leftist topics, where we were not standing there alone anymore. Such big demonstrations in such a frequency haven´t happened for years. Of course this is positive. Of course this raises hope. Of course this could be a new start of social struggles. But: These protests are very diverse, from Christian groups, to different parties, unions, NGOs and whatever. Furthermore we would consider not all of them as our allies and it´s also not that easy to make anticapitalist positions visible in this constellation. We must not do the mistakes of the past and project something in these emerging movements which they most likely cannot fulfill. Our duty should rather be to explain why it´s not about Bavarian hillbillies who accidentally came in power or not about a single law but why it´s worth struggling for something else.
Two examples in this context, one positive and one negative: After the summer of migration many people got active in solidarity structures for refugees. These people still exist and they are still doing important things, but they are almost invisible in the public discourse. After Italy and Malta started to criminalize the sea rescue in the Med, a wave of solidarity actions is taking place under the slogan “Seebrücke” (sea bridge), where it´s not only about the NGOs who are directly affected but also about this antiracist groups and structures which are active in Germany under increasingly harsh conditions. But on the other hand in Leipzig a strike in a steel-foundry is going on for more than six weeks now. They resist against the announced closure of the factory with a temporary unlimited strike, the workers blocked the factory for example, had some minor confrontations with the police, a solidarity strike at another facility of this company in Saarbrücken is going on. In the routine of German labor struggles this is quite militant compared to how unions usually act. This could be a great chance to show concrete solidarity with already struggling people and fight together with them and explain through this why organization is important, but there is literally no response from antiauthoritarian leftists.
Hard times are approaching. There is no hint that the authoritarian formation will end soon. Police laws are getting passed and the AfD is getting more successful. Next year there will be two very critical elections in the states of Brandenburg and Saxony. In Brandenburg the AfD could win (last polls: SPD 23%, CDU 23%, left party 17 %, AfD 22%) but will most likely not come into power. In contrast to Saxony (polls: CDU 32%, left party 19%, SPD 9%, AfD 24%). The regional branch of the CDU is far-right compared to other states and it would be not a big surprise if they form a coalition with the AfD, although they are denying such plans officially, but it could be possible that they can´t build a government without them.
So the next time will show if this mass demonstrations and actions are only punctual events or if they could be enhanced to a mode of acting against this societal constellation. Until then, regards from the streets of the heart of the beast.
The demonstration against the summit oft he European leaders will start on the 20th of September at 2pm in front of the main station in Salzburg. From 11am there will be an announced rally and a public exhibition about the issues of migration and escape will be organized. At 11.30am a public hearing will take place, where activists from Sub-Sahara- Africa will speak about deportations and the exterritorialisation of the European border regime to northern Africa. At 2pm the the program of the demonstration will start with different speeches and music. With this demonstration we want to show, what we think about the deadly migration politics of the EU. We want take a clear stand for a better future for everybody, regardless of their origin or their place of birth. The European rulers won’t be able to discuss undisturbed, about their plans to destroy and end thousands of human lifes. We want a future, that allows everybody to live without fear, by organizing production along our needs and beyond concurrence.
Most likely there will be controls by the police, especially at the border. Keep this in mind, when you plan your travels and calculate with some spare time. On our homepage you’ll find information about the legal situation and there will be an active legal aid structure as well. Also there will be organized rides with bus or train from some cities and regions. We will collect all this information on our homepage as well.Take something orange with you, for example a shirt, a hat, a scarf or else. The colour orange stands for the thousands of life vests and boats an became a symbol for the catastrophe, that happens on the Mediterranean sea. But the meaning of this colour gained another meaning during the last weaks because oft he different mobilizations of the #seebrücke (safe passage) movement. Now it stands as well for the demand and the hope, that at the end human lifes are more important than crazy phantasies of natonalistic isolation. That a humans fortune is not decided by criterias of exploitation. That people unite on the streets to demand an end of war, poverty and death. In cruel times like these it stands for a movement, which fights for a better future for all.
On the 20th of September the European leaders want to meet in Salzburg to discuss the issues of migration, asylum and internal security. The discussion is going to be led by the Austrian government. The meaning of this we’ve seen during the last months. Since we wrote our first call to the demonstration in Salzburg, a lot of things changed and most of them to the worse. At high speed more and more authoritarian suggestions find their way on the negotiation table of the European rulers. Nationalists, just as Salvini, Kurz and Seehofer started a competition over the question, who is able to make the most inhuman politics. Official politics demand things in a way that shameless, one couldn’t imagine some time ago. Sea rescue gets criminalized again, rescue actions get stopped. The consequence: More people than ever drowned in the Mediterranean see this year. But because “it’s just not working without ugly pictures” (Sebastian Kurz), this pictures shall be taken far away from public attention and shouldn’t spill the blood on European ground. Therefore one recruits authoritarian regimes like Turkey or Libyan militia, who are responsible for massive violations of human rights as the bouncers in front of the European doorstep. This structures get financed by the European Union. Beside the Mediterranean Sea the dessert of northern Africa becomes one of the biggest graveyards due to the transfer of Europes outer borders. People just get dropped in the middle of the dessert, but all this is ok with the migration regime, the only thing that counts is, that no more people come to Europe. But people don’t escape without a reason. It’s not the sea rescue, which animates people to leave their homes. It’s war, poverty, the lack of perspectives and the hope for a better life, that makes them to take such a risk. The global relations of production and distribution of recourses are an important cause of this things. Europa and the global North have to be seen as reasons for escape.
There is protest against this inhuman forms of politics. In Germany thousands of people gathered on the streets under the label of #seebrücke. Also in Italy, Greece and Spain there are voices against the widespread deaths, that are happening in front of their eyes.
But a big part of society is not shocked by the things that happen, but on the contrary whish for an even more brutal drive. “Liberal” press discusses the pros and contras of saving human lifes. People should be locked away, the further away the better. One is inventing new words for not being forced to clearly say, what one is planning. Anchor centres, return, secondary migration: The meaning of all this words is nothing else, than the installation of camps and forced deportation of people, whose only „crime“ is escape.
Refugees get staged as a threat, even as enemies which have to be defeated. Soldiers should be sent to the European border. These “enemies” from the outside get used as an legitimization for the militarization of internal politics. The competences of the police get extended and surveillance increased. Thee police law in Germany is an example of the authoritarian shift within internal politics.
Whether the beating presidential adviser in France, the police-horse minister in Austria or Salvini, who wants to count and register Roma people to get rid of them as soon as possible:
We confront this nationalistic madness, which intends to „defend“ the shrinking zones of capitalistic wealth at all costs against so called strangers with the perspective of transnational solidarity. Because when they speak about security, they mean the conservation of the current social conditions. The same conditions, that mean insecurity through cuts of social rights and fear through omnipresent concurrence for most of the people.
Within this social brutalization we want to build a visible and powerful counter pole. We invite all of you to come to Salzburg. When the European leaders want to decide over thousands of lifes, we will resist with words and action. We demand no less, than a good life for everybody, a better future for all. We demand safe ports for those, who want to escape miserable conditions. We demand a #seebrücke (safe passage) to stop the death on the Mediterranean Sea. Because fugitives are part of our global class and we will defend their rights along with ours until we manage to overcome all these wrong conditions, that capitalism is producing, together!