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.

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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:

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