Saturday, December 28, 2013

"Merry crisis and happy new fear – Heavy clashes in Hamburg" by Antifa AK Cologne

This article was written shortly after the occurrences in Hamburg. We cannot bring in all of the impressions this day has left us with and maybe others will draw different analytical consequences, which we look forward to reading and discussing. Our main aim is to try to explain the events from our antinational, anticapitalist perspective here in Germany, especially for our international comrades, who asked about information and who cannot follow everything due to language barriers.

A report from the working group “International Affairs” from Antifa AK Cologne
Greek version (ελληνική μετάφραση)

On Saturday, the police attacked and stopped a big autonomous demonstration called in defence of the social centre ”Rote Flora”  in Hamburg. The heaviest riots we have seen in years lasted the whole day and night, hundreds were injured or taken into custody. The organisers speak of a “political scandal”; the media discuss violence, the meaning of the constitutional right to assemble and violations against it by the police; for the radical movement, this further criminalisation of vital social struggles (coming after Blockupy 2012 for example) show that the front lines against state and capital might be hardening.

Who was calling for what?

Several organizations and initiatives called for demonstrations on Saturday which were all politically connected. The initiative for the asylum right of refugees, the “Lampedusa-Group“, called – as they have done frequently in the last few weeks – for an antiracist demonstration. This initiative has to be seen in the context of the refugees struggle, which has been taking place in Germany for a few years now. In Hamburg, it has created a large and vibrant political dynamic and drawn the supportive attention of various section of society, from the autonomous milieu to students and liberals.
A “right to the city”-initiative also called to gather and to protest, in particular against the eviction of the so called “Esso-Houses“, an old housing complex in Hamburg-St.Pauli with a few over 100 housing units, stores, clubs etc. This housing unit was sold to investors in 2009 who directly said that they wanted to bulldoze these buildings and create new, more profitable estates. The houses were evicted only six days before the demonstration, last Sunday (15th December)! The slogan of the protests that day was “Right to city does not know any borders”, this made clear the link to the antiracist struggle.
The biggest demonstration was expected by the initiative for saving the Rote Flora, the legendary autonomous centre in the gentrified district “Schanzenviertel” in Hamburg. The Flora has been threatened by eviction for some years now. Occasionally the owner clarifies how hardline he is and that there is now a discussion about the need for eviction. The situation of the Flora – one of the autonomous centres which refused to negotiate with the city administration and chose a strategy of resistance – is one of the most important symbols of the “right to the city” initiative not only in Hamburg, but in Germany. Furthermore, refugees around the Lampedusa-Group are in intense exchange with the alternative-autonomous scene around the Flora. All the issues for the day can be seen as being crystallised in the Flora demonstration (racism, exclusion from city development). The other demonstrations and assemblies wanted to join the Flora-Demonstration, which was set for the Saturday afternoon. Important to mention is also a strong support from the mobilization by antifascist groups.

The days before

The mobilisation had massive effects. Not only because of the traditionally large representation of the autonomous movement in Germany that comes together at the Flora-demonstrations, but because of the links between the topics described above, which are at the moment most relevant to the radical left in Hamburg. But the mobilization did not stay German wide. Many people from Europe, mostly from the autonomous scene, travelled to Hamburg. An aggressive demonstration was expected.
Politicians, local press and the police built the ideological groundwork for its total-escalation strategy in the days before the demo by playing on people’s fears in the media; Hamburg should be “worried about the city, which is in danger of being burnt down completely“, local press said.. The large crowds of christmas shoppers had to be protected. The police expected 6000 demonstrators, amongst them 3000 “ready for violence”. The eviction of the Esso-Houses in the days before heightened the tension. The police mobilized aggressively, including bringing in specialist riot police units from all over Germany.
On Friday, the police declared the zone of the inner city (St Pauli is not strictly in the inner city, so it was not included directly) as a “danger zone”. You can understand it as a temporary “state of exception”: anybody can be stopped, controlled and taken into custody with little reason needed. This “danger-zone” method is unusual in Germany and its last large use was during the Blockupy-protests in 2012 in Frankfurt. Last time this provoked huge amounts of popular outrage. With tensions rising, the organizers of the antiracist demonstration feared violent dynamics, especially provocated by the cops and replaced their demonstration with a rally instead.
Also on Friday, after an FC St.Pauli football match, a group of about 300 persons organised a spontaneous demonstration to the Reeperbahn (in the “Red-Light-District” close to Flora) and smashed the police station there with stones and paint bombs. The building and several police cars were damaged

Saturday: Warzone Hamburg

This added even more wood to the fire. Hours before the Flora demonstration started, the police had a massive presence in the area. Helicopters, riot police everywhere, 12 water cannons and a lot of tanks against barricades. People were stopped and taken into custody even before they could demonstrate. In the public many have said that this was necessary, especially because of the attack on the police station the night before. Most of the local media did not see these arrests as being a problem.
At about 2:30 pm the first speeches began, but the demo did not move yet. The police say 6000, press about 8000 and the organizers 10000 came together in the end. The demonstration only walked some meters (most people did not even start moving) before the front rows were stopped by the police brutally and without any warning. First there was some skirmish, and then the police fired the water cannon directly into the front rows. After that, stones, bottles, and fireworks were thrown at the police. All in all, after 30 minutes the police said the demonstration was now over.
The “official reason” varies between two versions. The first being that the demonstration started violently and too early. This is as ridiculous as it sounds, so another version popped up: just at the beginning some people threw stones from a bridge at the police. This is more realistic. Or is it?


Take above video, which documents how the demonstration was stopped. First it shows that there was no attack from the demo till the cops stopped it. In this image from the bridge, where the stones were supposed to be thrown, it becomes clear, that the train traffic is still rolling and with the exception of some photographers and spectators no people (I.E. possible stonethrowers) are to be found on this bridge.
The official reason for stopping this demo is extremely poor and it hints to the fact, that this early stopping was pre-planned. As well as attacking the front of the demonstration another riot police unit stormed the back of the demo, where the creative Right to the City bloc was situated. The police co-ordinated attacks on both sides.
The demo was over even before it started properly. Heavy rioting began, barricades were built. The Police used batons, pepper spray and a lot of water from those cannons, which were said to have been filled with chemicals. Even if not, the cold water, combined with the freezing weather and the high pressure with which it is shot make them extremely uncomfortable and dangerous. The cops kettled some thousand people in a big area close to the Flora.)
Even people living in the houses nearby who were not part of the demonstration could not get in and out of their homes. After two hours the police opened the kettle and people were free to go. The big group dispersed, a lot of smaller groups were trying to reach the Esso-Houses, which were seen as one destination to go to. Spontaneous demonstrations of many groups and further fights occurred on many
spots. The inner city was not reachable, but many areas, including the large Reeperbahn avenue were completely blocked by the police.


During the day, about 500 demonstrators were injured, some badly. Probably 300 were taken into custody, 19 charged. The police reported 117 injuries to their officers. We know about how these numbers are produced and expanded but this image of an uncosciousness cop show about the high levels of violence from the day. Furthermore, the press report large levels of damage to property, including party bureaus of the governing Social-Democrats, banks and luxury hotels.
The big, legal and authorised demo never happened due to police escalation. They do not even put this into question, just claiming that it was unavoidable because of the violence. Local and regional
press have hardly criticised the strategy of the police, mostly they believe the fairytale about the attacks on the police before the demonstration from the bridge or the front rows and therefore the necessity to never let this rally happen.

Political consequences

What does this event mean politically? How should we understand it? One mainstream argument, mainly pushed by the (left-)liberal press about the meaning of constitutional rights is a popular argument; This is the third time (after Blockupy 2012 and 2013) that large, nationwide protests from the left and radical left have been declared illegal and dispersed. Despite the fact that about 90% of all Nazi-demos are made possible by brutality against antifascists because it is “the constitutional right of the Nazis” to demonstrate. It seems some have more of a constitutional right than others. Nonetheless, this debate is accompanied by discussion about violence at demonstrations, which in many cases prevents widespread solidarity from German civil society towards anticapitalists who are being successfully criminalised.
This liberal outrage about the right to assemble can be taken as a discursive push against authority. The radical movement, though, should not reduce its arguments to the constitutional level and the book of law. Bourgeoise democracy always has been compatible with massive repression and exceptional actions which are seen to be needed occasionally to guarantee it. In Europe, most recently Spain and Hungary, the rising tendency of exceptional actions (against abortion, migration etc.) are put into “democratically legitimate” forms by passing them as law.
Still, this day could harden the front lines. Every time the German police state shows itself, many already politicized people are confirmed in their (very justified, as the day shows) belief of the impossibility of making peace with the state and become more radicalized. The ideological, German interpretation of “democracy” became obvious that same evening: as the official 8pm-news celebrated the freedom of Russian opposition activists, who fit neatly into their understandings of “Freedom” (of market and surplus production) and “Wealth” (for those who can be used for state and capital and therefore “earn” it), the demonstration in Hamburg was attacked brutally and was not even reported about.

Not out of the blue

But it would be naïve to believe that this development is a total surprise. It is rather the result of the ongoing criminalization and political defamation process against social struggles in Germany. Two central topics of the (radical) Left at the moment – which also were central in Hamburg on that weekend – are refugee and antiracist struggles and those surrounding housing . On these issues, the Left – despite the mistakes one can assert – could receive relatively more acceptance from civil society than usual. The central slogans are “No Borders”, “the City belongs to everyone” and “International Solidarity”.
Take the interventions against racist crisis discourse. By the slogan “We are here because you destroy our countries” the refugee-activists make clear, that the crisis is not to be personalized and projected on them, but should be seen as a crisis of the international capitalist system, its world market and its accumulation dynamics. The same can be said about the housing struggles. For years now, especially in Berlin and Hamburg, but increasingly spreading, initiatives get active and build up a good public standing without necessarily hiding a radical (i.e. revolutionary, anticapitalist) critique. They make clear that current city planning is not for those people who live in that city and need a roof above their heads, but for capital interests and against any imagination of a reasonable society. Living space is not treated as a need for everyone, but as a commodity which is commercialized at every cost.
These struggles and their message question and negate the strong national hegemony of austerity as current crisis management. In a time where Europe is building its fortress even higher to prevent migration with dramatic results and in a place where people are kicked out of their apartments because they cannot afford it and face the risk of homelessness and death, these are topics, where the radical Left in Germany (and beyond) with its radical critique can reach more people than usual.

flashback to blockupy 2013
These two struggles show, that the crisis is also in Germany and was never out of it. No state is immune to the everyday crisis of capitalism. The message is clear: the whole country – as depicted in the ideological national narrative – is not the “winner of the crisis”, but only some classes and groups and only by exploiting more heavily the others – within or outside national borders. Activists from all over Germany and beyond came together to express this critique in Hamburg and they were harshly criminalized and attacked, maybe on a new level we have not seen before. There was even hardly the well-known distinction between “violent” and “non-violent” protestors in Hamburg. This police action was a decision by the local, social-democratic government in Hamburg. But this policing method is not unique to Germany and not to be distinguished by local governments – be it conservative (as in Frankfurt against Blockupy), green and/or social-democratic.

In Europe and beyond

Seen in a European context the ruthless attack on the demonstration is no singularity. Repression, criminalization and political defamation are problems that radicals all over Europe and beyond have to face. Counterinsurgency, not only as a practical method on the street but also as a political act, is not just a national affair; secret services and police forces across Europe are in intense exchange. The German police are well known for their tactics but we are also seeing more authoritarian police responses in the UK, Greece and beyond. So the tactics we faced in Hamburg do not only concern us, but are common problems for social movements in other countries as well.
Links and Media
Photos on flickr: pm_cheungboeseraltemannpresseservice_rathenow


Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Germany: Updates from the streets of Berlin, Hamburg and a few other places


November 23rd

On Saturday, nearly 6,000 protesters marched in the city centre of Berlin during the annual demo in remembrance of comrade Silvio Meier, who was killed by neo-Nazis in 1992. However, on the same day, approximately 150 thugs from the neo-Nazi scene held a rally in one of their strongholds, Schöneweide, against asylum seekers and a recent attack on a prominent Nazi (Björn Wild, who was beaten up by antifas on the street). The fascists waved Greek and Golden Dawn flags next to other nationalist emblems. The antifascist counter-demo on location was rather small in numbers.

Housing instead of concentration camps…

November 24th

In Berlin, the refugee camp at Oranienplatz has been in imminent danger of eviction already since late November 2013. Refugees and people in solidarity are determined to keep the square as the basis of their struggle against the German asylum policy. However, Kreuzberg mayor Monika Herrmann of the Green Party (Bündnis 90/Die Grünen) asked the cops to prepare a raid on the entire camp. She also stated that leftist radicals try to take advantage of the situation… Following these developments, heavy police violence was unleashed at Orienplatz, however activists counterattacked on many occasions.

The refugee camp at Oranienplatz exists for over a year now, and is a point of exchange between residents of Kreuzberg and refugees. There were several political attempts to end this square occupation, with subsequent police attacks. In summer of 2013, there was even a racist knife attack on a participant in the protest camp. The camp began after people in isolation camps, trapped by the restrictive German residency laws, broke out in order to march to Berlin. Refugees have made the camp both a living space and a site of struggle, and have also occupied a nearby school building (that was previously unused), in order to have an inside space during the winter. Both the camp and the occupied school building had been given official “tolerance” by the supposedly pro-refugee Green Party government of the district, in the face of large-scale support. After a disused building in Wedding was offered as winter housing to the refugees by a charity group, the Greens took the opportunity to claim that both the camp and the school should be evicted. The eviction threat comes despite the fact that the building offered only has space for 80 people from the camp, not everyone, and that the residents of the camp made it clear that they have no desire to leave the central and visible location in Oranienplatz to be put away in a house located on the northern edges of the city. However the State is using the rhetoric of democracy and charity to make it seem as if they are helping the protesting refugees, even as they call the police to evict them.

On the night of the eviction attempt the camp at Oranienplatz released the following statement:

“Today 24/11 in the early evening the refugee camp was almost evacuated by the police. The district mayor – Monika Herrmann of the Greens – has ended the official tolerance of the protest camp and has asked the police for help with the eviction. Through a massive mobilization and a large crowd in solidarity at Oranienplatz, an eviction was able to be prevented for the moment. The district government and the police say that the eviction will take place neither tonight, nor tomorrow 25/11 in the early morning. But we cannot rely on that! It is clear that the camp is not protected anymore by the district and that the mayor is ready to destroy it. It is also clear that the camp is a disturbance to the government of Berlin. Even if the district government will not evict it, the mayor of Berlin might do it instead. Mrs. Herrmann was at the camp this afternoon and talked to refugees and supporters. She received the following information: The house that has been offered to some people of the camp as a replacement is only large enough for 80 people. At least 30 refugees returned to the camp because there was no room for them in that shelter. Additionally, some refugees have made clear since the beginning of the negotiations for a ‘replacement object’ that a replacement is not an option for them. Rather, they want to stay and protest at Oranienplatz until their demands (abolish restricted residency requirements, shut down isolation camps, and stop all deportations) are met. Even though the mayor already knew that a larger number of people want to, or have to, continue living at Oranienplatz, she called for a police action. The Green Party, which claims to act for the rights of refugees, has trampled on them in this case. Since the beginning of the negotiations, we have viewed the limited access to a replacement house as an attempt to separate us. Those who are responsible have been informed that it is not an option for some people to leave Oranienplatz. Mrs. Herrmann reacted with the accusation that the struggle of refugees in Berlin has been taken over by left-wing radicals and is being instrumentalized by them. Therefore she has denied the refugees the ability to act politically and in a self-determined manner, even though they have directed their criticism and their demands directly to her. She has also launched a media campaign to de-legitimize the protest. It is an often used procedure: divide and conquer – integrate those who are satisfiable with an emergency shelter for the winter, and deny and suppress those who attempt to change the system; those who fight for equal rights for everyone; those who have demonstrated for more than one year at Oranienplatz. (…) Mrs. Herrmann and all politicians should understand that it is the strength of the protest that refugees and supporters can come together. The protest camp breaks isolation. The demands for open borders and the right to asylum are not those of a small minority. They are unevictable, solidary, and international! (…) Viva la revolución! Viva el Orienplatz! Freedom of Movement for Everybody!”

When the word of the eviction spread, hundreds of supporters spontaneously mobilized to defend the camp and began arriving at Oranienplatz. The police backed down from the eviction, but those who had showed up to defend the camp launched a spontaneous demonstration through Kreuzberg. Between 500 and 600 people marched through the area and broke through police lines several times when the police attempted to stop the demonstration. As during the last several spontaneous demonstrations in Berlin, barricades were constructed as the demo passed through the neighbourhood. Eventually the cops, overwhelmed and facing kicks and punches from the crowd, used pepper spray heavily and at least 5 comrades were arrested and many injured. That night the nearby office of the Green Party was attacked with paint.

The same day, a solidarity demonstration took place in Frankfurt am Main with 80 participants, and in Leipzig a solidarity demo of more than 150 people took place.

November 25th

Another, more pacified, demonstration of several hundred people took place in Berlin after the refugees gave a press conference declaring their intent to stay at Oranienplatz until their demands have been met: closing all isolation camps, stopping all deportations, the right to work in Germoney, and the abolition of restrictive residency laws. (Related announcement, from 29/11, here.)

Further solidarity actions took place in Frankfurt, where a demonstration of 100 marched to the local offices of the Green Party and the SPD (Social Democratic Party).

November 30th

Over 250 people participated in an antiracist demonstration in Bochum. The march went through the inner city, where lots of people who were shopping on the Christmas market received flyers and listened to the speeches. In one speech, a refugee from Africa talked about the current situation in the camp in Heiligenhaus where she has to live. She thanked everybody for their support and invited people to come to the camp, take a look at her situation and to talk about how to organize the struggle in the future.

Red banner reads: “Borderless solidarity instead of narrowed nationalism”; white banner reads: “Our welfare is based on exploitation – Economic refugees welcome” (in response to a racist ‘argument’ claiming that most of the migrants are only seeking state welfare benefits, and naming them ‘economic refugees’). More pictures here.

The weekly demonstration of the group “Lampedusa in Hamburg” became an Advent Demo on Saturdays (before the holiday season, refugees and people in solidarity took to the streets every Wednesday in the city).

On 30/11, nearly 1,000 people participated in that march. Later on, some 50 people demonstrated spontaneously for about ten minutes on the route of the Christmas parade, on the main shopping street. They unfurled banners and shouted slogans for the rights of refugees to stay. No detentions were reported.

December 1st

An antiracist unauthorized demonstration was stopped by cops at the Altona Christmas market.

December 7th

The second advent demo of Lampedusa refugees took place in Hamburg, counting with the participation of 700 people.

About 50 people carried out a spontaneous demo in the afternoon through the inner-city streets of Mönckebergstraße and Jungfernstieg. They carried a banner reading “Fire and flames to the Hamburg’s Senate!” The demo was soon kettled by the police, and participants ended their action.

December 11th

An unauthorized demonstration of about 50 people walked through the Christmas market of Bielefeld. The participants handed out leaflets regarding the German State’s key role in exploitation and war that are forcing people to seek refuge in other places. Police did not notice the action at all.

December 12th

Nearly 3,500 school students in Hamburg took to the streets during school strike, and demonstrated their solidarity with refugees. They went in front of the headquarters of Hamburg’s SPD and shouted combative slogans at them…

A spontaneous demonstration was held later that evening in the Schanze district in defense of the Rote Flora project.

December 14th

The third advent demo of the Lampedusa refugee group in Hamburg was bullied by a heavy police force with dog units. The robocops used also pepper spray. Protesters dropped a big banner from a building, reading: “We Love the Right to Stay!”

More footage from the streets of Hamburg shows a spontaneous demonstration of a few people trying to get to the main shopping street and into a mall. Second part of this video by utopieTV covers the police response the next evening—hundreds of cops protecting the Christmas parade from any kind of protest, and people being detained for disturbing the peace:

December 15th

In a lively protest march in Berlin, around 1,500 people moved from the camp on Oranienplatz to the offices of interior senator Henkel, member of the major party CDU (Christian Democratic Union), in Mitte. The refugee camp on Oranienplatz was set for eviction between the 15th and 16th of December, but apparently Henkel has scheduled the eviction for mid January 2014.

In Hamburg, all residents of the Esso houses in St. Pauli were evicted and forced to move to hotels or relatives, of course getting no help from the Senate.

December 17th

A refugee lady (not so enthusiastic with activists…) pleads for help from the occupied school in Berlin, in response to yet another police raid:

December 18th

From Freiburg’s prison, long-term prisoner Thomas Meyer-Falk addressed a message of solidarity in view of the demonstration on December 21st in the city of Hamburg.

December 20th

One day before the big demonstration on December 21st, investor Gert Baer and owner Klausmartin Kretschmer demanded the eviction of the Rote Flora squat. Even though it would take them months to get a judicial decision on such an eviction, their ultimatum was a direct provocation.

Late in the evening, the Davidwache cop station at the Reeperbahn was effectively attacked by more than 200 people (see videos here: i, ii).

December 21st

The main demo was scheduled for 2pm, starting at the Rote Flora squat, located on Schulterblatt street in the Schanze district, but there were a couple more calls for street protest before and after this one.

More than 7,000 participated in Saturday’s protest (others estimate a total of 10,000 people) against attempted eviction of the Rote Flora squat, a building occupied for over 24 years, threatened to be sold by owner Klausmartin Kretschmer. Additionally, the mobilization referred to the right to stay for refugees and the Esso houses at the Reeperbahn, but was also directed against gentrification, daily surveillance, and repression within the “danger zones” (authorities are calling parts of Hamburg danger zones, like the area where the Rote Flora squat is located). Meanwhile, in the early hours of Sunday, December 15th, the Esso houses were evacuated by police and municipal authorities on the pretext of danger of collapse.

On December 21st, the police attacked a large contingent of protesters shortly after the beginning of the noon demo in the Schanze district, to prevent people from continuing the protest. The Hamburg police announced that the demonstration “started too early” and was therefore stopped; later they claimed that first they were attacked, and then unleashed a crackdown. Truth is the demo was halted at circa 20 meters from the Rote Flora squat, when the cops used water cannons, baton charges and pepper spray against protesters. Despite the repression blows, many demonstrators fought back, and it came to strong clashes. Police forces were pelted with stones, bottles, fireworks, smoke-bombs, and other objects. In addition, construction barriers and other materials were used for street barricades. The situation went out of control, and cops were massively attacked. Amid street battles, two cops reportedly drew their weapons at people (a rumor regarding a warning shot has not been confirmed), and repression forces kettled almost the whole of Schanze. Many protesters were heavily injured by cops, while anti-riot squads attempted to detain demonstrators en masse, but mostly to split blocs and chase people away.

The Hamburg police announced that 19 people were taken into custody, investigated for ‘committing a breach of the peace’. The legal aid team (Ermittlungsausschuss Hamburg) counted approximately 260 arrests/detentions, and more than 500 injured protesters. One of the arrestees, who did not have German documents, was kept in custody.

Hamburg’s free radio FSK transmitted live reports from the streets all day.
More videos here: i, ii, iii. More photos here.

Later that evening, protesters tried to carry out further rallies and spontaneous actions in the inner city, and some skirmishes broke out. Spontaneous gathering and barricading took place in front of the Esso houses, too. Around the St. Pauli district, some of the actions included attacks on the Empire Riverside Hotel, stores, cars (smashed windows), the Hamburger Sparkasse (Haspa) and other bank branches. Surprise demonstrations and direct actions took place the whole night. At the same time, solidarity actions were called in other parts of Germoney.

Solidarity to the Oranienplatz protest camp, the Rote Flora squat, the Esso houses initiative, and all combative refugees and migrants!


Tuesday, December 3, 2013


 "In the middle of the revelries, a man whispers into the woman's ear: What are you doing after the orgy?" (Baudrillard 1990)

In his "Cool Memories" on America, the French writer Jean Baudrillard discusses through his anectodes some of the problems that contemporary societies of mass consumption are facing: In an endless schema of frustration/gratification, is human desire kidnapped and turned into a hostage without exchange? Aren't we sacrificing something through the model of affluent society in which we are trapped in a vicious cycle of coping up with the others? Isn't our obsession to compare our desires with those of the others reducing the ambivalent character of it to a "natural" and "naked" state so that our only pleasure resides in the act of watching? Isn't this commensurate spectacle leading to the impoverishment of the ambivalent character of human desire? Or better, is ambivalent symbolism itself becoming a parody through the system of signs of social standing as an only way of existing in the society? Are the orgies, feasts, potlatches, in short, ecstatic states of mind where the people could forget their self consciousness and transgress the limits of reason in order to be a part of the other, becoming a simple pornography, a simulacrum, a hyperreality, a reality more real than real? Are our irrational passions continously captured and programmed into a hyperrational order? Are we living in a permanent state of surveilled dream?

The first aim of this presentation is to try to investigate the philosophical origins of our obssession to "discover" the human desire and to "colonize" it by turning it into "needs" and "wants". Secondly, I will try to discuss how these "discoveries" and their utilization in their attempt to "educate" people are implicated in the modern societies. Last but not least, I will try to question the "success" of these implications in the process of disciplining the behavior of the consumer and shape the discipline of "consumer behavior". Can we get a "well behaving" function of consumer behavior and does the consumer behave "well" as presupposed by the consumer researchers and mass-media?

Sunday, October 27, 2013

"Mapping Europe’s war on immigration" by Philippe Rekacewicz

Europe has built a fortress around itself to protect itself from ‘illegal’ immigration from the South, from peoples fleeing civil war, conflict and devastating poverty. The story is best understood through maps.

The Forbidden World

It is a strange thing, this paranoid fear of invasion, this determination to protect themselves at all costs from these human beings who every year exile themselves from their homelands to head for an imagined promised land in the rich countries. But the rich have decided that these tides of humanity are unwanted.

They fortify their frontiers, erect barriers, build the walls higher and higher. A veritable military strategy put into effect to keep out the “invaders.”

In an act of mimicry, other important countries like Brazil, China and Russia are joining in, putting in place their own “fortifications” to limit economic migration from poorer areas to their own regions of rapid growth.

Such physical obstacles are efficient tools for criminalizing immigration, for making it possible to pronounce concepts that should be unthinkable: “Illegal immigrant.” They make people think they are breaking the law. With the help of these new obstacles, juridical and physical, we have created a new category of criminal: the migrant.

Thus do we confound both international law and universal values.

Europe's Three Frontiers

This map was drawn for the first time in 2003, thanks to the meticulous work of Olivier Clochard of the Migrinter Institute at the University of Poitiers. We update it regularly, and alas, every time we have to add more black dots and draw the red circles even bigger.

On Jan. 1, 1993, Gerry Johnson is discovered dead. A citizen of Liberia - a country at the time being destroyed by a bloody civil war - Johnson had suffocated in a train freight car in Feldkirch, Austria. On Oct. 3, 2013, a boat sinks near the shore of Lampedusa Island, with 500 immigrants on board, most of them from East Africa. Between these two dates and these two places, more than 17,300 other immigrants - and that is the low estimate for this unknown hecatomb - lost their lives while trying to get to Europe, the continent of liberty and human rights.

They die while trying to leave, too, like Marcu Omofuma, a Nigerian murdered on May 1, 1999 by three sadistic Austrian policemen aboard a Balkan Air plane during his forced repatriation.

The geography of an unwanted humanity

To the West are our pals, who are welcome to come over; they are the ones with the fat wallets. To the East, the unwanted, the unwashed, the little guys from a world too poor to ’deserve’ us. A near perfect symmetry: clusters of the poor persist in the West, and clusters of the rich in the East.

Manichean? Hardly. The political geography of European visas shows with a certain cruelty Europe’s vision of the world, an ungenerous thing. Someone must explain to me the logic of the EU requirement that the citizens of Kosovo — one of the poorest countries in Europe - purchase overpriced visas to be able to move around in the Schengen zone.

There are many methods of dividing the world, its territories, its regions. Whether it be according to the principle of the nation state, or of groups of nations, or by socioeconomic or political indicators, they all remind us cynically of what we would prefer not to see in ourselves: our selfishness, our violence. We pretend to aid in development of poor countries, while in reality we export economic models that cannot work.

And then we impose on their people our unattainable visas.

And yet, impoverished Africa like elsewhere, has culture, music, theater. Diplomats, teachers. Students, workers. writers. All are the human beings that Europe sends back tied up like sausages on airplanes - when it does not send them back wrapped in burial shrouds — for failing to obtain a visa or a residency card.


This project owes much to the careful work of the Dutch NGO United,
without whom this butchery would remain largely unknown.

    Read also Alain Maurice and Claire Rodier, “The EU’s expulsion machine”, June 2010.

article's source:

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Spain’s Micro-Utopias: The 15M Movement and its Prototypes

Dear comrade, for sure there are a lot of projects In this article that Void Network  disagree with them or we could critisize them as naive, non antagonistic, alternative or passive. But we have to agree that there is a lot of inspiration, a lot of creative effort, a lot of fantasy and many many good intentions in all these projects that this article includes. It is the work of all of us to bring these projects further and further
to understand their limitations and use them as better as possible  as 21st century beneficial tools for radical social transformation

Translated by Stacco Troncoso, edited by Jane Loes Lipton – Guerrilla Translation!
Originally published in two parts at Part 1. Part 2

“The old protests, so dull and single-minded, have passed into obsolescence, and given rise to infinite possibility. We’ve rethought the concepts of action, protest, relationship, the public, the common…”

In the collective text,  This is Not a Demostration, we find a hidden corner of thoughtfulness completely ignored by mass media. This is Not a Demonstration isn’t an exercise in nostalgia. There’s no sense of longing for that Vibrant Mass that Occupied the Squares which formed that unpredictable collective body, the tangle of relationships some call “The 15-M Movement”.

This is Not a Demonstration has taken all-inclusive stock of actions, processes and projects which simply can’t be done justice by the old lexicon of protest. This is not a demonstration, we said: “And our imagination has totally overflowed the space of what’s possible, even as we build new worlds upon the carcass of the old”. This is not a demonstration. This is not a sum total. This is more than a rattling-off of victories. This is more than an echo of  “we’re going slow, because we’re going far”.

Some of the media is too quick to bury “what’s left of 15M”. After the second anniversary protest of May 12th, which took place all across Spain, some will rush to hammer the final nail in 15M’s coffin. After the headcount, they’ll pick the photo with the sparsest crowd. They’ll even go so far as to manipulate some images, like any dictatorship would.

Alone in their cave, they’ll toast the funeral, reflected in the tarnished mirror of old-world media. They won’t see the details, the process, the steady drip. They will not take note. They will not listen. They will not read this text.

Surely, 15M is too complicated to be easily categorized, explained, translated. Besides, the eye sees what it’s used to seeing, as Amador Fernández-Savater reminds us in his highly recommended Seeing the Invisible: on Unicorns and the 15-M Movement. But it might just be possible to catch a glimpse of its transformative power by describing the little things, the modest dreams, the collective projects, invisible to many. There´s no need for that utopia of May 68, that ridiculous “Beneath the paving stones, the beach” which never materialised. There´s no need for it because 15M has already built its own: dozens, hundreds, thousands of networked micro-utopias. 15M has no use for a utopian model because it already has one, hundreds, thousands, of working prototypes. Micro-utopian prototypes, connected amongst themselves and (almost) in real time.

Keyword: Prototype.  “An early sample or model built to test a concept or process or to act as a thing to be replicated or learned from”. Digital culture, copyleft processes and the hacker ethic, so pervasive in the leadup to 15M, all imbued their spirit in this new revolution of the connected crowd. The working prototype, within this new, open, process-based world, replaces any fixed model. And 15M is still churning out prototypes. It has built them collectively, as a network and in an open way.

The initial Acampada Sol (encampment at Madrid’s Puerta del Sol square) wasn’t made up of groups protesting the collapse of the system. Within the encampments were prototypes for the new world. And the devil was in the details: its day-care centers, its open libraries, its food gardens, its video streaming, its analogue and digital mechanisms for proposing change. 15M –  whether seen as a signal, a movement, a state of being or a set of human interactions – has built its prototypes, and they’re many: judicial, urban, cultural, economical, technological, communicative, political, affective.

The true power of 15M doesn’t lie in its (necessarily) reactionary collective defense of the welfare state. Its real, and massive, hidden strength is in its creative, innovative, proposal-oriented nature. Given our willfully blind politicians and media, increasing the visibility of these real, shareable, living prototypes is crucial, now more than ever. But it’s not a list we need, it´s more like an act of poetic justice. A subjective inventory, giving shape to something so big we don’t yet have a name for it.

As we’ve been saying for some time,  being happy is our best revenge.


 Image: Ondas de Ruído. Creative Commons Share Alike 2.0 

 The encampments of 2011, specifically their restoration of community assemblies, took the political old guard by surprise. Here were non-hierarchical, open assemblies that anyone could take part in. For the first time in decades, we saw political assemblies held in public spaces. Assemblies that turned into method, human hardware for uniting urban citizens.  The need for consensus arose from a spirit of dialogue and coexistence, born in reaction to the visceral antagonism of the old political class:  we won’t go until we reach an agreement. Following the erosion of the mechanisms of consensus during the encampments, the strategy of geographical and thematic diaspora came into being. #TomaLosBarrios (#TakeTheHoods). #TomaLaPlaya (#TakeTheBeach). #TomaLoqueQuieras (#TakeWhateverYouWant. Join with others. Open it up. And, from the hardships of coexistence, the slow nature of consensus, from decentralization, the workings of autonomy emerged..

In free software jargon, “fork” describes a peaceful deviation within a common project. The term was quickly adopted in 15M citizen politics. The newly formed Comité Disperso (Scatttered Committee) sums up 15M’s fresh ways of dealing with an assortment of processes. “You can be there without always being there.  You can be, without being the same. You can participate without needing to tie yourself to anything or giving up your autonomy. Acting from mutual respect, scattered organization allows varying degrees of collaboration amongst people and collectives, according to their own wishes, goals and abilities at any given moment”. It isn’t surprising then that Partido X, Partido del Futuro, which forked out from 15M, defines itself as “a method”.


\Image: Campo de Cebada. Creative Commons Share Alike 2.0

The encampments led to a double mutation of urban space. First: the shift from public space into common space. Public squares, beset by excessive prohibitions and the privatization of their usage, were reborn as the urban commons. A leaderless, non-hierarchical citizen network organized this urban space “peer-to-peer”, consisting of interconnected public squares.

Second mutation: hybrid space. These weren’t squares made of paving stones. These squares were of bits and atoms. Analogue and digital life were intimately intertwined, inseparable. During the encampment at Sol, theTwittómetro connected networks and public squares, virtual and physical spaces. The #AbreTuWIFI, (#OpenYourWifi) campaign, which encourages people to open their home WI-FI access during protests to allow easy communication, nurtured this new hybrid urban space. Another good example is the #Voces25S map, created to protect mass groups from police violence. You only had to tweet from your GPS-activated mobile phone to lay out the “digital rug” over the physical city-space.

The first of the two mutations described above is building a network of former public spaces, now transformed into self-organising, self-governed places bristling with activity, like Madrid’s Campo de Cebada, recent winner of Ars Electronica’s prestigious Golden Nica Award in the Digital Communities category. These spaces are often supported in part by stale, dried up public institutions desperate for new ideas. The second mutation is branching out through Convoca!, a mobile app that allows you to check in at gatherings, protests, events or encampments. Both mutations coalesce in a melting pot of networked spaces, connecting peers locally and globally, beyond institutions or boundaries, on the fringes of commercial logic.


Friday, October 4, 2013

"The Rioter and the Witch" by Olivier Marboeuf

(...) For weeks, the riots filled our screens with their void. What did we see? Fires in the night, enigmatic, faceless youths who disappeared seamlessly into darkness or behind smoke-screens, according to vanishing recipes we know nothing about. Something that refuses to be grasped but traps us in a fascinating anxiety. A possession. Like every magic ritual, a riot is a fleeting moment of perception of the invisible. It corresponds to an instant of intensification, to a charge. Suddenly our perception level increases and we see, as if looming up out of nowhere, another social space with its own connivances, a moment when everything that has been produced in secret is aggregated, illicit witchlike practices whose mode of transmission – like in every ritual – is first and foremost part of a practice, a performance. It is necessary to commit one’s body to receive this unspoken knowledge. By staying outside, one literally understands nothing. It is thinking through experience. Just as a vaudoo rite at nightfall reveals the incredible heartbeat of another world that is hidden during the day, a riot is not a rupture but, as we will try to imagine here, a secret community that briefly reveals itself before returning to its anonymity. The ghostly body of these hooded youths is that abnormal body which warns us that another world exists, beyond the visible. (...)

Void Network invites you to print and read this pamphlet that you will find here in pdf format:

for more info about how you can print a pamphlet:

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

"Down and Out in Athens" Documenting the unemployed and homeless in Greece / a photo journal by Yannis Behrakis

Reuters photographer Yannis Behrakis, based in Athens, spent several weeks documenting the unemployed and homeless in Greece as the continued economic downturn has impacted the numbers of homeless. Since the debt crisis erupted in 2009, hundreds of thousands of Greeks have lost their jobs -- the unemployment rate in the country reached 26.8 percent, as the economy contracted by another 5.6 percent in the first quarter of 2013, and even stricter austerity measures are being urged. See also Portraits of Greece in Crisis from last year. [23 photos]

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Alexandros, a 42-year-old from Serres in northern Greece, sits in the abandoned car he lives in, at the port of Piareus near Athens, on April 10, 2013. Alexandros owned a plant shop in Athens until 2010, when it was forced to close, he became homeless soon after. According to Praxis, a non-governmental organization, the number of homeless in Greece has nearly doubled to over 20,000 from 11,000 in 2009. (Reuters/Yannis Behrakis)

Michael, 36-years-old and unemployed, poses by an abandoned open-air cinema in central Athens, on February 8, 2013. Michael worked as a hotel clerk for over fifteen years but when the hotel closed he was unable to find work and in late 2011 became homeless. Two months later he was diagnosed with lymph node and thyroid cancer. He now lives outside a church. (Reuters/Yannis Behrakis) #

Adrian, a 51-year-old from Romania, extracts copper from a cable in central Athens, on January 18, 2013. Living and working in Greece for over a decade, Adrian lost his job in 2011 when the lorry company he was working for closed down. He now lives in an abandoned warehouse in an Athens vegetable market and survives by collecting scrap. (Reuters/Yannis Behrakis) #

Tareq, a 46-year-old unemployed painter, sits in the shed where he lives at an abandoned factory in central Athens, on May 30, 2013. (Reuters/Yannis Behrakis) #

Tareq, a 46-year-old unemployed painter, reflected in a mirror in the shed where he lives in Athens, on May 30, 2013. Tareq, a Syrian refugee, who lived in Greece during the 1990s, returned to Syria, but fled back to Greece in 2012, to escape the violence there. (Reuters/Yannis Behrakis) #

A homeless scrap collector sleeps outside in central Athens, on May 26, 2013. (Reuters/Yannis Behrakis) #