autonomously gazing after the g8

one of us, 17th of june 2007

a text written in the hope of an empowering self-critical debate in autonomous and anarchist circles about what happened and what didn´t happen during the protests against the g8...

one swallow doesn´t make a summer
there it was again for a moment: the exalting feeling that we really can attack sometimes, that we are lots, at least here and now courageous and determined. a spirited beginning, a promising prelude. besides legitimate critique of friendly-fire-rocks thrown from row 57 (and the regret that we didn´t make it into the inner city): after rostock many people i met were quite pleased with the resoluteness of the black block, a twinkle smiled at me from so many eyes. no-one would be able to misinterpret this symbolic challenge of capitalism into an appeal to those in power.

not so much might have changed for comrades, who went home after that and followed the things to come mainly through the media. they could not compare the accounts with their experiences, they did not realise that a mean little paradox saw the light of day. while the battle of rostock grew bigger and bigger in the mainstream media, while everyone was talking about the black block and even the most ugly smear-sheets started speculating about a renaissance of the autonomous, our own organising process quietly collapsed. no matter no-one outside realised that - those who were there know it. the aim of this text is to take away the power from this paradox and to reclaim it for our own future actions. therefore i think it necessary to overcome the multicoloured silence, that i found characteristic of the autonomous movement as i experienced it during the days of heiligendamm - to overcome it at least afterwards, in the evaluation of the protests. critique is love.

long, steep, and often stony is the way
maybe it is not only bad having destroyed the already a bit musty-smelling myth of the strength of the german autonomous. aside from the refreshingly offensive actions in rostock on the 2nd of june, we have to admit that almost all of our practical plans failed. also on an organisational level we did not exactly cover ourselves in glory. the generally announced "autonomous decision-making" inside the mixed camps that we had been discussing over and over again just didn´t happen. lots of internationals waited days and days for comrades of the german dissent! spectrum to share more detailed information with them, to get them involved in orienting discussions. the infosystem didn´t meet our expectations and was not able to make the knowledge of the small insider groups available for the bigger collective - lacking bigger assemblies our comrades now were depending on personal contacts even more. moreover, after the press started stirring things up against the black block only very few still dared to publicly advocate autonomous positions. this was not the least important reason why the interventionist left, being heavily under pressure, all of a sudden stood as the only voice of the radical left - a monopoly that we would usually never accept. instead of coming to common evaluations and actions as autonomous, radical left and anarchists in heilgendamm, we preventively disappeared in more than one dimension.

apart from this, seen on a larger scale the protests have not been without successes. there were many situations the police did not have under control. despite some unpleasant taste this is true as well for block g8. lacking their own plans, lots of autonomous and anarchists supported and participated in these actions. in the end some blockades were worked out spontaneously, withdrawing cops from the sitting blockades. actions like the police car being wrapped in tape and carefully deflated kept the spirits high. the sheer masses of people sitting on the streets and roaming through the forests turned the days into something more than the state could have wanted. nonetheless there is something perturbing about the "mood swing" in police strategy that – after the show of rudeness at the beginning of the week – occurred just in time for the arrival of the g8. the pictures of the masses of people marching through the fields carrying pace-flags are to me far too compatible with the self-righteous image-cultivation of germany as an oh so democratic country. on the other hand the endeavours of the government not to appear as a police state to the world public opened up rooms to manoeuvre that we could have used much more effectively. although foreseen by some, we did not manage to collectively talk about what we want to do in this case. the possibility to self-consciously anticipate this situation and to tow state power into a catch 22 situation with our actions was already way off the horizon at that time. as regards the autonomous part of the movement, protest meanwhile came to a halt more or less completely, one just went along with the others...or waited for the next plan that was going to fail.

far from an entirely different entirety
as you can see from this niggling, i guess that we have to confront serious questions in the days to come. ok, the last thing i´m interested in is to brand personal shortcomings, the key point is to politicise our understanding of our acting and not-acting. to first of all grasp what happened: to think about how all the things that did not happen are related to developments maybe not fully understood so far, to strategies of domination and peace-keeping to which we obviously haven´t found answers yet. speaking less abstract this means for example: how do we counter a police strategy that is not devoted to prosecuting per se all offences, but tries to get some of us to cooperate, to win their support for co-management in the name of the rationality in power? the rationality of a technique of domination that does not depend on ideological consent as long as the flows are not seriously interrupted. a rationality that suggests that militant anti-capitalism can go together well with a life inside of capitalism undisturbed by the authorities of law and order, as long as, yes, as long as "it" keeps within bounds. i guess we all had talks like this the last days. scissors in the mind [internalised contradictions] - absolutely nothing new, but still, seen against the backdrop of prevailing high-tech concepts of control and the frightening extent of social isolation obtained in society this remains a major problem.

how can we deal with a police strategy, that again and again wants to impose this fear in each and every one of us that eats up all collectivity - is it ME, ME, ME targeted by the camera? is there a microphone taping my voice? - a strategy that again and again wants to implant the timid question into our hearts, whether the moment of liberation that i am fighting for right now will end 10 or 20 minutes later in an arrest backed up by police videos. one answer to that for sure still is the "just do it!" of our clenched fists. and this is what we experienced in rostock on saturday: that there can always be situations where the cops run away from us, where they have to instrumentalize fire engines to break our lines in the first place, where we manage to collectively jump across their techniques of isolation and intimidation.

fucking british conditions
alas, there were also lots of moments during the following days where our communication failed, moments where we anticipated possible repression and denied ourselves to conspire beyond our small circles as international black block. how much more collective fighting strength could have emerged if we had better used the time to exchange different ideas in discussions, to develop actions and turn them into the eminent concerns of all of us - instead of only ordering each other to meeting points here and there in the last minute. at this point we should really think about how to challenge our paranoia, which is paralysing us already on the level of discussion. all the caution so predominant in this country for good reasons must not lead into lonely anxiety and collective silence, or else the other side has won. in order to act collectively we have to recognise each other as militants somehow, to meet for real here and there and to exchange. and by the way: we were talking about street blockades. no-one planned to kill the american president. the risk was limited.

the problem continued into the camps in general, into alliances and the wider public: apart from the declaration of the international brigades and one sympathising newspaper interview there was only silence to be heard from the radical left after saturday. the black block simply seemed to no longer exist. in the tv-show of sabine christiansen speculation was made as to whether it had been in the forests the whole amusing as it is to read expertise articles about "what makes the hooded man tick?" in the yellow press, in the end we were also not visible for unorganised and potentially new comrades in the camps. the autonomous assembly that was established on the reddelich camp on tuesday came way too late and was not really attended by german groups. except maybe in wichmannsdorf dissent! did not manage to establish itself any forum, and apart from some individuals dissent! no longer had any influence on the debates in the interventionist left or the larger alliance. Given this situation, remarkably few dissociated themselves from us. obviously the concept of the big alliance of the interventionist left bore some fruit. at least in rostock the vast majority of the protesters kept together surprisingly well.

besides avoidance of repression another cause of the non-existence of autonomous structures could be described as a kind of organisational rigidity. in view of the 1000s of people to come it was for sure understandable, that – as potentially nervous hosts – we initially were seeking refuge in the security of plans. too bad that after a while we forgot to think about some really important questions like transport and communication. in nearly all working groups a strong tunnel-view with a tendency to autism developed. for sure it was due to the chronic shortage of manpower that, additionally to all the things that needed to be done, we spent lots of time permanently mobilising each other, to try and get each other volunteered for ever new task. maybe we should have met in-between some day for a mid-term review [in heiligendamm?], to check our structures and modify them according to actual needs. also for this we would have urgently needed an autonomous assembly. in retrospect it can be said that some organisational things could have been handled more easily, as a lot of situations above all depended upon spontaneity anyway – unfortunately this was something we had quite often lost already.

personally i was shocked about how close the situation here got already to the preventive invisibility, that we realised in great britain two years ago. contrary to all lessons we wanted to draw from gleneagles, we as well were not present in situations in a guiding way, but rather often exuded some undefined uncertainty in our relations to our comrades from other countries, up to open distrust. as pretty good children of the spectacle quite a few activists here wavered back and forth between some abstract euphoric enthusiasm for using harder means in street-fight situations than is usually common here - and the reflex to think of everyone as more or less insane and irresponsible who than in reality wanted to use these means close to them. this contradiction is not always easy to understand for our comrades, could only be insufficiently discussed in the situation and should be scrutinised more closely "amongst us" as well.

there must be some kind of way out of here
asking myself where to go from here in the time to come, i start to helplessly mumble a bit. the only things coming to my mind are in direction of more common experiences and discussions, less facade and less blabla. to better keep demands at some lower levels, before we only get dizzy and everything breaks down again. no plans anymore for the moment, and if there will be some, than very minimal and immediate and above all meant to do it ourselves! small things, maybe an initiative concerning demo-culture: for example to break out of the intimidating practice of assistance in police controls on the way to a manifestation. my heart is bleeding each time i see comrades walking separately with hands up to the police to get searched. we don´t have to put up with that! if the cops were the only ones lining up at the announced starting point of the demo, if they would have trouble again and again with unwilling protesters all around them, they might in the long run think to stop that shit. another point are arrests from out of the demonstration: the cops themselves say that this situation basically is difficult for them. too bad we often make it easier for them doing nothing or taking pictures, which is not better - if people successfully resist, we don´t need videos of it that can later be confiscated. instead of resigning and documenting arrests we should do our utmost to prevent them. the risk of getting arrested for "rescuing prisoners" diminishes if a lot of people do it and anyways, so what?

how much safer could we act knowing our comrades will do their best in the situation to free us? besides our comparatively elaborate defensive techniques, we could think again about how to prepare something for a demonstration. to have some spray-paint with us just in case some opportunity arises, for example. we could think about how we could mix or open up our rows here and there to give people protection and support who want to do things or already did things. in rostock the civil police did not dare to make arrests from within the crowd, and what was possible there will basically be possible in other places as well. there are innumerable possibilities to get our demos out of the defensiveness of endless debates about the length of banners. we can demand the withdrawal of the cordon (maybe otherwise people could cause some trouble to them from outside), we can refuse to leave central crossroads until all those arrested are out again, we can think about ways to push back the cameras of the cops, or to quit cooperation completely if necessary. meaning: not to announce demos anymore if the conditions grow too intimidating.

there are for sure a lot more proposals. the second one on this piece of paper is to create a group-crossover-forum to enable us to discuss about things like that, to bridge the actual split in multiple channels and organs. open meetings are one possibility, but they bear some disadvantages. what do you think of freely vagabondizing pamphlets, read, spread and answered all over town, criss-crossing all scenes and teams? if the unrealised plan b on friday in berlin showed something, its that we as autonomous, radical left and anarchists need to basically sort ourselves out anew, if we want to see some collective action happening here and there. crossover exchange could help us to get rid of the often frustrating halfheartedness in realising ideas that are not our own. it would be nice to see well-received proposals of some groups vigourously turned into action also by others, instead of taking the first chance to retreat.

be it as it may - whether we like it or not, there seems to be no other way - so let´s go on fighting pigsystem

plan b continua - vive la commune des brigades internationales