What we do has to express itself in our actions
The following text is the result of our discussions after the Anti-G8-meeting in Mehringhof in Berlin in January 2006. We talked about the various papers of different groups presented there [you find them on http://www.gipfelsoli.org/Inhalt+Theorie.html - though most of them only in german still] as well as our own ideas. Initially we planed this paper to be a contribution to discussion on the follow-up meeting in Leipzig - but supposedly we are not the only group who needs a bit more time to produce texts sometimes. We send this around now without any further actualizations knowing that the float of time and ongoing debate didn’t stop. We would be really happy to get some reactions. For comrades in other countries the second part which is about concrete proposals may be more interesting than the the first. But maybe you also want to know about the different factions and discussions in the german dissent! mobilization...
II. The Text
Discussions were more than lively during the second preparatory meeting of the radical dissent! spectrum
As an autonomous group we want to publish our process of discussion, which has in some respects been quite spirited and controversial. One reason is that we will continue to dedicate ourselves to this issues, another that we want to counter the resignation some felt after the quarrels in the meeting with a little bit of our passion. We still see the chance to gain a lot on different levels by connecting and coordinating our groups and actions (part 1). On the other hand we come up with some topics and organizational proposals (part 2) and wait for hopefully a lot of reactions.
Part 1 or: What we can win?
Together with lots of well prepared, organized and motivated activists there is a hell of a lot we can do before, in and around Heiligendamm - in all the different forms of action that there are.
No matter whether groups predominantly have the aim to bring their subjects on the streets in an attractive and persuasive way; whether they want to attract new comrades, to improve networking, to support local structures in MeckPomm
Concerning the aims of mobilization, we think of the request of the Berlin group six hills - to widen critique - as being too defensive. Even if we hold that the slogan "Prevent the summit" might be a bit unrealistic under the power relations given at the moment, we think of terms like "disturb", "block", "shake up" or "being present and unpredictable" as fitting much better. To make it clear, that we do not think that capitalism with all its institutions can be reformed, we think that "Attack the summit!" could also be a useful slogan. This is what we would actually like to reach, even though we all know it´s not only the bad 8, and that these are more than 8 unfortunately...
Anyways, before talking about slogans we’d like to discuss and decide about the contents and aims of our mobilization at this point in time.
But also the ways in which we organize mean more to us than a means to an end, even though it has been quite tiring and difficult on some of the big plenaries.
Naturally it is much easier to express the desire to bring together many people from different groups and associations, single persons of this and that spectrum, working on diverse issues and coming from many countries than to find a common or agreeable language and working method. The more or less wild disputes over ways of decision making or usage of sign language in our opinion are not without reason. At a minimum they show that we are active in very different groups and feel home in them that much, that other people’s ways to deal with things are quickly regarded as absurd, silly, dominant or unnecessary and treated respectively.
We would all be well-advised to be a bit more reluctant to snap at each other immediately and to think a bit more about where the different ways come from.
Even if there were political differences being argued out between the quarrelling factions, there were also some quite unhelpful simplifications like "Anti-Imps"
Additionally we expect that we put into practice our demands and findings, e.g. concerning the fight against sexism not only on the level of consciousness but also in the ways we organize ourselves. We do not want to see again, that predominantly women feel responsible for group processes, the handling of social conflicts and translations whereas men take care of computers, technical equipment and the first rows on demonstrations.
The chance to have good discussions or maybe good disputes about what it actually means these days to hold radically left positions is something to gain for us within a large, and also radically left mobilization.
The discussions of the working group on content
We want to discuss the propositions of some groups now. Moreover we want to present our positions to some debates we find important. We share the opinion that there exists a lot of unpleasant historical unawareness in the radical left in the sense that terms like Internationalism or (Anti-) Imperialism are rashly declared unnecessary or even wrong. We share the impression e.g. formulated by the Gegeninformationsbüro GIB that often an arrogant or elitist academic perspective, in the worst case in a far-away-from-movements antideutsch form builds the background of the denial or attacks to relate oneself to social struggles in other times or places. But even though this gets on our nerves enormously, we don’t think that it’s very clever to generalize the term "Liberation" and the struggles to reach it like the GIB does in their text "Kapital Macht Krieg"
In our opinion far too often supposedly subordinated struggles get delayed (not seldom to never) in fighting situations, when authoritarian positions prevail demanding blind obedience pointing to the severity of the (historical) situation. We think it is worth one or the other dispute where vertical structures begin and what they should be good for.
There´s still a good deal of discussion needed about the question with whom to fight or relate to in a positive way.
What does it mean for example to demand solidarity with the struggles in "Palestine/Israel, Iraq, Columbia, Nepal, Kurdistan, Euskadi" (GIB "Kapital, Macht, Krieg"). Are there any practical consequences resulting from that and if yes, what are they? Or does it remain just a slogan? Compared to former years it seems to us that there is practice missing in this field right now. Today, there are still solidarity groups, a lot of newspaper projects, some solidarity parties and travelling groups here and there. Also the protests against summits, often quiet strong and internationally connected, mark a change in this area. We think that expanding these existing initiatives should be the way for us to get more practice. Just as we find it necessary to strengthen an international perspective, we want to get some criteria for solidarity, or better for cooperation more clearly. So, to begin with, we ask to be more precise: Who is meant, for example, if you talk about fighting groups in Iraq? Take a stand here! We neither know what to do with insurgents from the former Baath party in power under Saddam Hussein nor with the forces of Al-Sakarwi. The opposite is the case. Especially in this respect we’d like to hear or read of names or examples to make a more thorough discussion possible. For example, we find it worthwhile to consider the positions of the secular, meaning non-religious oriented iraqian women’s organization OWFI (Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq) who is opposing the war of the USA, the occupation but the fundamentalist resistance groups as well. Is it also a "privileged german left ghetto debate" ( GIB - "Kapital, Macht, Krieg") to have a closer look at the differences between, for example, anarchist squatters in Irunea, the street fights (kale borroka) of the militant youth and the often authoritarian structures of ETA? As just said, we’d like you to put some butter to the fishes! It´s mainly the projections and descriptions of those in power and the organs of repression to throw all of these groups into an obscure swamp of sympathizers in order to hold all of them responsible for everything!
Also uncritical solidarity - perhaps not meant like that - with the struggles in Palestine seems to be nothing more than a slogan to differentiate oneself from others. To clarify the complex relations there, it’s no help at all. There was no one opposing the statement given in the working group on contents that we have to have a pretty close look at the situation in the particular countries, including the respective fighting groups. The swing to the right within the Palestinian population is no reason for us to take back a single point of our critique on the politics of Israelite occupation. But there is no reason to be solidary with Hamas, Islamic Dshihad or Fatah because of that. On the other hand there thoroughly are other groups, like the queer black laundry group, the Palestinian organization of lesbians Ashoa or the anarchists against the wall, the latter acting across borders, which puts them relatively close to us alone for that reason. Generally it is interesting for us to deal with struggles not emerging out of a perspective of nation states but spark off fields of social conflict, like the strikes of the secular oriented bus driver’s union Vahed in Iran. Finally we’d like to know from GIB and company why they do not mention the struggle in Mexico in their enumeration!
We want to become more precise and visible with our internationalist and anti-imperialist positions in our Anti-G8-statements and calls
The era of "strategic alliances" or the old game of "the-enemy-of-my-enemy-is-my-friend" is definitely over for us, and never had any validity to many of us. At this point much more precision is needed, simple slogans don’t make any sense. The general demand "solidarity with the struggles in xy" remains damn toothless and does not provoke a discussion about reactionary vs. emancipatory struggles. But this is debate we want to have - to get clear the positions of the radical left and to get them out. Therefore we want to introduce some of the criteria discussed amongst us:
+ + + Even if most struggles, riots and social movements often have a central aim - to insist on an apparent master-antagonism to us is far away from emancipatory and radical left positions, for other mechanisms of power and domination are simply ignored by that. Solidary we are only with those ready to engage in processes of discussion about all that as well. One does not have to be an academic or use the same terms we do to develop consciousness about the different and in parts very complex forms of oppression. To take readiness for discussion as a starting point we will for sure get further than with a fixed written codex - especially in an international perspective.
+ + + It´s important to us that the struggles we refer to come from below. As we can, for example, learn from Argentina how quickly formerly emancipatory movements like some Piqueteros and district groups got bought out and integrated by social plans of the state (a kind of unemployment-money they fought for) - methods which look much alike the old clientism and which moreover lead rage and resistance into controllable bureaucratic channels. For the rest of the people, who tried to remain independent from this money from the state and therefore politically independent, too, the situation got worse - but these are the groups we feel closest to.
+ + + A further criteria is the rejection of reactionary oriented concepts of society, fundamentally based on religion, and groups or movements that take religion as a starting point of their ideas and struggles.
Part 2 - Proposal for Days of Action during the G8-Summit in Heiligendamm
To get more concrete: After the discussions on the dissent! and in our group meetings lead us to propose three action days in Heiligendamm. In our impression, there are three main issues that often sprang up in debates so far and were pushed by some groups/activists/currents. The following proposals reflect our present estimations, which are in no way meant to be final and for sure all of it could be much better formulated.
- War & Imperialism
Within each of these huge fields there are obviously active groups and networks existing, who already work on activities during the summit or made proposals how to deal with the issues - we have some ideas on them as well.
Regarding War & Imperialism the airport Rostock-Laage nearby Heiligendamm offers itself for an action day like few other places. Laage is the home base of the fighter bomber group 73 "Steinhoff"
That’s why we think that an action day in Laage is not only fitting perfectly to criticize wars in general, but to make concrete Infrastructure visible and open to attack. On the other hand there’s more discussion needed to understand and politicize the rather slow process of the militarization of everyday life. One problem with it is to distinguish between ideologies, test balloons and actually realized militarization. There are a lot of opinions which need to be thought over more thoroughly. In our discussions it was relatively undisputed, that the plan to create acceptance for the Bundeswehr along the flood-, snow-, or H5N1-virus-front is unfortunately working all too well. We also agreed that the operations of police and military merge into one another not only after the CDU demanded to put the Bundeswehr to action during the soccer world cup. Much more heated and straightaway difficult it turned out to come to an assessment of the role women play in this development. Is there a new type of retreated women-back-to-the-hearth ideology? Or is the strong mother of today besides other double burdens allowed to bear arms? Or will she again find herself only driving the supplies tank?
Concerning the issue of Migration there’s a working group existing already and we assume that they will propose topic to focus on, and practical actions as well. Here we want to critically discuss some of the points made by groups present there, e.g. the glocal group Hanau. We explicitly understand this critique as a contribution to a not at least strategic debate about how to relate to migrants in the still rich North, and how much we expect to gain from joint organization under this often so enforced label. What we criticize is the perspective of the glocals, the political concepts they derive from their analysis - the however experienced realities of the migrants themselves are under discussion only in so far, as to show why we oppose the contradiction-free views of the people from Hanau. For our fundamental solidarity this discussion is more or less irrelevant. We share the opposition of the glocals against the border regime and capitalist slave-trade - in the first place we are fundamentally solidary with all those exposed to this shit. In a bad case this could lead, as criticized by the glocals, to codify migrants in the role of victims, classically causing paternalist relations and further cementing the border between us and them. But to chose an access out of the rejection of the conditions existing can also express the refusal to nail down people to their existence as migrants any more than the resistance against discrimination and exploitation makes necessary. And thereby exactly undermine the codification on the migrant role. Doing this we are aware of the difficulty that such a meeting at eye level always has to acknowledge the experiences of the people; that thus for the foreseeable future antiracist politics will be forced to simultaneously recognize the special status of migrants that it wants to overcome.
We think it is misleading to equate form and content of migration according to the principle "very illegal = very good". An illegal organizing of refugees as well as processes of appropriation are apparently seen as positive. Like we said for international solidarity with fighting groups we notice an enthusiasm for "the refugees" far too undifferentiated. Rarely it is mentioned for example who actually has the chance to arrive in the metropoles
The important point is: Who is organizing for which aim. The slave-trade of women and enforced prostitution for sure is illegal as well, and not seldom run by people without a german passport - that there is nothing emanzipatory in these organizations goes without saying. The structures of trafficking sometimes are solidary an ok, but sometimes also bad and degrading - we should be able to formulate more differentiated estimations here as well.
Often a collective of migrants is invented that naturally doesn’t exist like that.
Therefore we propose to take a negative perspective against the border-regime and the machinery of deportation, but not to relate positively to the effects that this shit has on the people - in this case on refugees. Instead of this we should emphasize the things we have in common in the everyday struggle for the improvement of living conditions in the here & now. Otherwise "All for All" would turn out to be a reactionary slogan.
We also cannot see that migration as such is a threat to the capitalist system, "challenging the gradient exploitation constructed through borders [...] as a social movement."
Following from this we see a perspective of joint struggles on eye level as it doesn’t seem necessary anymore to provide tolerable conditions for the vast majority of the people living here. Trailer communities, squat/houses and other projects of collective living are harassed and chased away, recipients of social benefits are pressed into useless and repressive loops of application and 1-€-Jobs by the laws of Hartz 4. This means in consequence, that no survival beyond neoliberal (auto-) obedience is wanted: "Encourage & Demand"
As our last and favourite point we’d like to ask how to widen the understanding of war and imperialism in an internationalist & anticapitalist perspective. The contradictions may be most aggravated where the tanks of the NATO get under way, but they are only the last means in the game. Before them arrive the companies, international agencies, consultants, development aid workers, and scientists exploring existing oil-deposits and bio-diversity in the name of commercialization - activities that can as well be unmasked and attacked! It’s only in the next step that military aid, support in training police forces, and low intensity wars are started. As the neoliberal book author and columnist of the New York Times Thomas Friedman said: "The hidden hand of the market will never function without a hidden fist. McDonalds can not proper without McDonell-Douglas.
The latest example of this collaboration of chequebook and gun is the mine Lueshe in eastern Kongo
As long as governments made rich open up their countries made poor to the penetration of transnational companies (or are respectively forced by the IMF or other, sometimes bilateral agreements) and allow that billions of $ and € are transferred to the cashboxes of these companies, no tank has to roll and no bomber needs to take off. And up in front there are not only the governments but also the multinational companies.
To us this (still) seems to be a point, where practical internationalism can and should start. We don´t think that it’s obsolete to attack the Coca-Cola Company here for having had murdered unionists in Columbia. Relating to existing emancipatory struggles can only help to expand them: In Italy there has been more than 40 actions in the run-up to the Olympics to disturb the main sponsor of the games. In the USA more than 20 universities boycott Coke products. The company also is a global player in the privatization of water. In San Christobal/Chiapas and other places the water in private households is turned off when the bottling plants of Coke need water. We don’t want to propose a campaign against Coke here (which already exists!) but strife to concentrate more on transnational companies and to attack them wherever possible. What is produced under intolerable conditions in the maquiladoras of Central America and the Free Trade Zones in China is often planned and sold here (and last but not least this is where the profit goes) - which means that these condition can also be targeted here!
We don’t know whether the influence of the nation states is waning or not, even though we had really intense discussions about that. And, if the answer is yes, whether this is to the benefit of the companies or of the supranational institutions. There are good arguments for both: Certain huge companies grow larger and become more influential while international agreements obligate states to install certain (neoliberal) standards, denying their sovereignty by that. On the other side, these agreements are signed by nation states and the legitimation of market economy as well as the repression of its foes unambiguously remains to be the domain of nation states. And seen globally, a lot of states (especially in the southern hemisphere) have never been particularly strong. But maybe this is not the really important question, as the one (the multinationals) can only be thought of together with the other (the bourgeois state), and vice versa. Moreover from our point of view we have to get rid of both anyways.
Important it gets in the moment when we ask ourselves: Where do we want to take actions?
We should try to find points where struggles and resistance can be focussed and related to each other - not only looking at the summer of 2007. People struggle against the privatization of water in the rich countries of the metropoles as well as in the Trikont. Therefore this struggle has some potential to make a link, even though it is by far less offensive here than in Cochabamba/Bolivia. There not only the privatization was withdrawn again, but also democratic control was demanded and tried out. Again we don’t have to blur and level out the differences. In the Trikont the struggle for unhindered access to water often is a matter of life and death, while in the metropoles we are only affected by rising water bills (and on an abstract level by the logic of maximizing profits, that the transnational companies try to commercialize every sphere of public live and transform it into profit).
Privatization of up to then free (or public) goods happens in the Trikont and here - likewise the working conditions and social policies are subject to cuts and attacks here as well - even though not as deadly yet as elsewhere. The best international solidarity is not the one that argues on a moral level, that the conditions are intolerable in other parts of the world while accepting them here as passable, but to make the connection between living conditions and resistance here and there. Referring to water privatization there’s the additional point to emphasize that the respective companies are the same all over the world. Suez, RWE, Veolina (former Vivendi) and Coke accept the potential death of thousands in the Trikont to increase their profit rate, and here increasing water bills force us to either work more or tighten the famous belt once more.
The struggle against genetically manipulated or patented food brings together some consumers and farmers here at least, in Iraq farmers at the moment have to face a guideline set up by Civil Administrator Paul Bremer that only seeds with an US patent are allowed to be sowed. To use seeds from the last harvest is made a punishable offence; the rights on the seeds are transferred to the agro business company Monsanto, which holds the monopoly in Iraq. In McPomm there will be fields of genetically manipulated corn in the summer of 2007 - they can become fields of action in the most literally sense.
We think that there are more than enough places and occasions - let’s get going!
autopool, Berlin, Springtime 2006