PAULA explains herself

november 2007
Meanwhile a series of asessment papers have been published about the G8 protests, some of them carry approaches that are worth discussing. a text that quite some people have been waiting for has not been published, it somehow disappeared in between. So here it is, it should reach many and play its part in the evaluation-process.

PAULA explains herself
With this paper we want to publish a part of our evaluations and self-criticism. PAULA, the crossregional plenary for a decentral space of actions and blockades around the G8 Summit in Heiligendamm, has been a heterogeneous, temporary alliance of groups and sole persons. For this reason we will only evaluate the decentral blockades and not deliver a collective statement about the G8 protests in general. We take part in this discussion in another place in our everday lives and in our groups.

The idea and the hope
The idea for PAULA emerged from the background of years of experience of protests against the Castor nuclear waste transport inWendland as well as from our experiences during the defensive summitblockades 2006 in Gleneagles. To complement the concept of massblockades of Block G8 and because of our criticisms of its restricted frame of action, we wanted to try to massively hinder the summitmeeting 2007 with a circle of decentral blockades of the crossroads to Heiligendamm. We wanted to use the "specific summit" situation- to be with very many people on the spot - to effectively disturb the course of the summit at various infrastructural points, thereby expressing our clear and unmisunderstandable rejection of the meeting and of neoliberal politics. To create an uncontrollable situation we thought of several material blockades with materials that were already there, deposited for this. Decentrality should enable us to act as uncalculable and flexible as possible.
Part of the PAULA concept was firstly) that further groups and networks would be inspired by PAULA and prepare decentral blockades and secondly) that lots of activists woulld join in and take part during the days of the summit. By this we also tried to get out of the small clandestine circles and open the door for mass militancy. There was work done to establish a structure of information to enable groups to exchange points in time and place of an action expected to happen, and that should guarantee the short term integration of other groups, especially of the internationals.

The conditions and us
Shortly before and especially during the actiondays we realized our weaknesses and limits. The result was desillusioning. We only heard of a few actions that we could count as a decentral blockade (see Some of the partly well prepared decentral actions could not take place. Partly this was because the cops got infos about planned actions, or because of missing activists, which against our expectations got very close to the fence and therefor far from our material depots. At other places the prepared points for blockades and the material depots collided with other actions, so that these points could not be reached because of the joyful trafficjam caused by them. Besides these outher conditions a certain failure has to be ascribed to our own inability to stay able to act in repressive surroundings. Already in the preparation we put the focus on the concrete preparation of the individual actions and not so much on the effective mobilisation for the actionplan. Connected with half-clandestine action-forms is the difficulty to promote the ideas and have spokespersons for the actions, which became a big problem for us during the days of the summit. In the preparation we could work with known comrades from other alliances who spread the decentral blockade-concept in different places. During the days of the summit we failed totally to get our ideas known in a self-conscious and offensiv manner. Because of fear of repression, we were way too much in the background, so that even people who sympathised with the idea, had hardly a chance to participate.
We became aware that the announcing of the actions needs to be much more and more precisely thought about in the preparation-process. Instead of concentrating on nice sounding calls we probably would have interested more people when we would have given more detailed informations about the concept, how to participate, orientation (accomodation roads, good points of attack) and how many people are needed for the action. During the days of action we would have needed an autonomous meeting or we should have been more visible on the campmeeting, or the last autonomous meeting organised by the internationals in Reddelich, to propogate our ideas and plans offensively. Another not unimportant reason for our being absent, we see in the overloading of activists being too much involved also through our responsibilities in the general protest-infrastructue, which was mainly taken care of by persons of the autonomous spectre. They took care of the wholes and helped in this way for the success in the other concepts, but did not take care enough responsibility for their own concepts. Finally, we have to say, that even when the hope should die at last, to hope that many other groups will be animated to organize own actions, only by calls, is not realistic at this time.
PAULA was an attempt. The result does not only mirror the organisational weaknesses and limits, but also mirrors the lack of willingness of the radical-left-scene to participate in this kind of concept by taking their own initiative. When, because of bad preparation or consuming-behaviour, self-organized and militant forms of protest stay away, then we see this as a bad signal for the dedicatedness of the radical left.

The other way of "friendly fire"
In the discussion about possible action and blockade-forms during the G8-summit we have decided not to participate in the concept of Block G8 (BG8), because in the concept there was this ghost of regulation and the wish to control the action and a stress on civil disobedience; all militance and further going actions were rejected and strongly misliked in this concept.
Principally we liked the idea of mass-blockades. But the way it was put into practice was wrong, in our eyes. Because in its precise and clear description which forms of action are accepted and which not we do not only see the wish to make space for participation of young and unexperienced activists. We also see this way of acting as an implicit taking over of the criminalising view of militant forms of actions. In this way in the BG8 a polarisation between forms of action which are justifiable and those who are not took place, which could not be corrected through the participation of radical left partner associations.
Two days for the blockades representatives of BG8, a person who registered the anti-militaristic actiondays in Rostock-Laage took part in conversations with the cops in order to negotiate their space of action. The background of this decision for BG8 has been their fear of not having enough space to act, because of the riots on Saturday. Through the disclosure of their own plans they hoped for a deescalation strategy of the cops or at least being more able to critisize and delegitimate the cops when they would behave in a hard way. We see these kind of conversations with the cops as a political mistake because the idea of civil disobedience is to break the rules, especially we see this as a problem because BG8 urged the activists in some cases to keep themselves to the rules BG8 has dealt out. Our estimation got affirmed already on Wednesday when the cops managed to neutralize the blockades. In this situation BG8 was not able to create more space of action or to open the fence.
Our relationship with BG8 cannot be described only with the above mentioned critisism. We always tought of both blockade-concepts as a complemention of each other and also coordinated our blockades with parts of the BG8 alliance.We were happy that thousends of people were willing to take part in the blockades and we learnd of BG8 how to promote clearly. In the end also many people of our circles took part in the BG8 blockades because of missing alternatives.
It is clear that propaganda of militant action-concepts is in contradiction with the legitimated system and the majoritarian opinion. Therefore it is one of our biggest challenges to cope with this contradiction in our political practice and to represent publicly. The emanzipative character of actions and political campaigns can surely not be measured to their grade of militance, but to their antigonism towards the established system. Laying behind the discussion of breaking the rules lays the relationship towards the violence of the state.
Solidair criticisms for the development of militant concepts of action ist wished for and necessary. But it should be clear in all statements to other forms of actions not to change sides in the fight for social change. Too fast exclusion, denunciation and thinking over handling out comrades to the cops has nothing to do with solidair behaviour.Very quickly a “ do not hit us” can change in a “do not hit /us”/ .

The dissolution and the future
We have been PAULA. It showed that the concept of PAULA had its weaknesses and needs changes in the preparation and the putting into practice. But still we believe that the idea of decentral blockades can be useful, either during summits, castortransports or fascist demonstrations.
We keep to our belief that unforeseeable and uncalculable forms of resistance are necessary. A logical consequence of our analysis of the society is a militant practice in the radical left.
We hope that our thuogst can be helpful in the planning of other subversiv actions.
Solidair greetings with the comrades who are accused with the 129a proceedings

(überregionales Plenum- Antiautoritär-Ünversöhnlich-Libertär-Atonom)