- Digital Struggles Theme
Autonomous spaces theme
- Presentation of the "squat from a to z", a french legal and practical support book and team
- Squat.net international Legal Guide
- "The toboggan", squat opening in Dijon...
- Movie project about squatting in Europe
- When « when the streets are burning » gather in the garden... it is good there
- Autonome: Movement and repression
- vision of a practical solidarity network between squats and other autonomous zones
- autonomous spaces reportback and concrete proposals
- Social Struggles CPE and Greece
- Others workshops and reflexions
The end of squatting in Holland? A call for action
Squatting in the Netherlands is to be banned. According to the minister of Housing (amongst others), squatting is ‘an old ideology that does not fit in the present reality’. If mutual help and resistance do not fit, then maybe the present reality needs to be bent? There are eight million square metres of empty office buildings in the Netherlands, and in Amsterdam alone, some two hundred thousand people are looking for a place. In the inner cities, it is becoming impossible to find a house that most people can afford.
- Our representative political parties want to make more use of temporary housing contracts to combat emptiness of buildings. These contracts are a vehicle for stripping renters of the modest housing rights that they did have until now. They explicitly exclude people from bare essentials such as a legal house peace and include the possibility of being dumped on the streets, sometimes within a day, without any reasons given. These temporary contracts are a direct result of the governments struggle against squatting. People placed in empty places with hardly any rights are also called ‘squat guards’ or ‘antisquat’. When we are speaking of squatting, it is useful to keep an eye on the rights of renters. Squatting, for many, is not a goal but a means, the goal being to live and have a roof. But clearly not in the rightless position of someone on a temporary housing contract. Because they are denied the rights of an owner, a regular renter and even of a squatter, antisquat does not just place a negative pressure on squatters, but also on the rights of renters. Antisquat could also be called antirent. The Dutch political parties want to see an end to squatting. The ‘right wing’ wants to end it right now, the ‘left wing’ sees squatting as a transitory situation, to come to an end in the bright future that will come naturally when market and government have been allowed to do their good work. If they succeed, squatting will in hindsight have been used as a crowbar to break open the lower regions of the housing market. In the current parliamentary bill that was adopted as a basis for subduing squatting, the practise of squatting is considered ‘a grave incursion on ownership rights’. Let’s agree with the minister on that point. The damaging of ownership rights and the current economic division might, at least in a political sense, be seen as our core business.
International solidarity actions can support the fight to maintain our right for a radical protest against housing injustice.
Please keep us informed on email@example.com
Solidarity with Resistance of Adivasis in Kashipur(India)
- against the Bauxite Mining and Alumina Refinery venture of Alcan- Hindalco(UAIL).
Since 1993 the Adivasi and also Dalit communities in the Kashipur region are fighting against the mega industrial venture of UAIL for Bauxite mining , Alumina Refinery and connected to it a power generating factory. The whole bureaucracy-administration-government-police-judiciary-media are for the corporations and against the adivasi people. For twelve long years the adivasi communities blocked this mega industrialising venture; the corporations couldnt get control even over a piece of land. Since 2004 December the state stepped up the process of mass repression and terror through more than 800 paramilitary forces. It is in this period in 2005 that the corporations were for the first able to take control of more than 300 hectares of land which they have fenced off and levelled as a preparation for the construction of the Alumina refinery. It is at this time that some of us started a solidarity campaign in Germany. There are more than thirty places in Germany where Alcan has factories, offices and service centres. The small protest actions we made on July 14(global action day) this year helped motivate the people in kashipur to make a direct action two weeks back . This is just to say that even if we dont really hurt Alcan here in Europe atleast it gives heart to the resisting adivasi communities in Kashipur to continue their powerful sustained resistance in the face of almost impossible odds. In France there are Alcan factories, offices and service centre at 64 places and also in many places in Britain and rest of Europe. A european wide campaign would make much more sense and impact. This would be a concrete way of solidarity against the global industrial State of Capital which at the same time concretely also confronts the way life is organised here and now and as a way to solidarising in preventing genocide, destruction of nature and other(adivasi) ways of life who have more connection to values of egalitarianism , freedom and living in nature and in peace whether in india, brazil, chile , botswana or wherever else.
Talk and discussion on this solidarity campaign here in the PGA conference on 31st August between 15-18hrs at h17
.... and now for something more and completely different.
a global call written at campinski, August 2006
Many calls like this have been made before - for people to voice their protests against an unjust, unfair, unequal international system. The G8 summit represents just one part of this. Many have called for mobilisations and hoped networks would grow on their own. Although unsure wether or not we have the right recipe, we will try to avoid making the same mistake. We, the international working group on resistance against the next G8, are just a group of people sitting in a field, wanting to change the world.
We call for people all over the world to join us in expanding the basis for a strong and effective resistance here and now against the G8 summit in Heiligendamm in 2007 - and in the future - against the entire bloody capitalist circus.
Looking beyond this mobilisation, we will make this the next building blocks of a strong, continuous global resistance, drawing strength from our diversities. We call for the creation of lasting networks sharing and expanding discussions and ideas across borders, which in the future will make it unnecessary for us to even consider them.
To make resistance against the G8 as effective as possible we wish to facilitate the participation of people across the world - in the preparations, sharing their experience and in the actions themselves - both abroad and in Germany.
Practically this means several things: We will publish a two-way newsletter - firstly to provide relevant news and information about the preparations and discussions in Germany and abroad. In addition to this, there will be an English language website and mailinglist as a forum for communication between the working group and activists, creating a strong international network in advance. To achieve these goals we call for you to contribute with information, experiences, issues, forms of action, views and ideas for practical resistance. Also we call for help with translation and distribution of information - the creation of a pool of translators to help make information accessible to everybody and volunteers to help by printing and distributing the newsletter to their local communities.
We invite everyone interested to get involved in the working group itself. Especially we invite you to participate in the international meeting in the first or second weekend of February. The location for the meeting has not yet been selected but it will be outside of Germany. The meeting will provide a space for everyone to get up to speed so we can all participate on an equal footing. To enable people to be present both at the upcoming international planning meeting and at the protests in Germany we will provide real, up to date, practical information about aquiring visas and travelling, and if possible to help financing visas.
This and many other projects of the working group will require funding, therefore we also call for all who are able to help raise the funds needed.
We will help make the process as well as the actions open as widely as possible, by coordinating and providing clear and relevant information as well as easily accessible ways of communicating.
We want change - not just for our children, but for ourselves.
We call for you to join us in making this mobilisation yet another stepping stone, another nail in the coffin of international capitalism.
contact for the international working group: firstname.lastname@example.org international mobilisation mailinglist: email@example.com german language mobilisation list: firstname.lastname@example.org websites with info on g8 mobilisation: http://gipfelsoli.org http://dissentnetwork.org http://dissent.org.uk (dissent! uk)
Movin' Europe - From one caravan, thousands
In their 6th Declaration the Zapatistas declare that they are going to join together with resistance struggles in Mexico and the World against neo-liberalism and for humanity. They will do this by exchanging with mutual respect their experiences, histories, ideas and practice of democracy, liberty and justice. To do this they are going to seek those that want to organise, struggle and build 'another politics' from the grassroots. This new way of moving forward, leaving traditional party politics behind is what they have called the Other Campaign.
Europe is not Mexico and so we cant simply adopt the Other Campaign but rather have to find our own way to develop the struggle against neo-liberalism and for humanity that is relevant to our context.
To make our struggle stronger and more effective we need to move beyond the traditional way of revolving around an ideology developed by a few, but rather fascilitate dialogue between people to find their own solutions. This means that to have a global movement of resistance it is necessary first to understand, share and work in the local struggle, to know how women and men are affected by Capitalism and how they are organising to resist these effects. We want to show a Europe where people are resisting Capitalism everywhere in both politicised and unpoliticised struggles and that to get rid of Capitalism itself we need to connect all these struggles together. The caravan, 'Movin Europe', is a practical tool for everyone who believes in this concept to have a way to form these connections horizontally. It will take place between april and september 2007 (the warm period in europe), it is not a mobilisation for the G8 summit but rather a mobilisation of minds, bodies and hearts before, during and after the G8.
The caravan itself is the second stage of the process. The first stage is starting a dialogue with local groups and local struggles outside of our usual activist structures. This will help us see that there are many people from different backgrounds struggling everyday against the effects of capitalism and see the reasons that motivate people to say NO! We have to take the reponsibility to go back to our neighbourhood to know better the struggles we have around us; saving a local park, preventing the builiding of a road, anti-nuclear campaigns, struggles against the politics of immigration, workers struggles, environmental campaigns, movements against the privatisation of education, health, transport etc. To connect with these local struggles will be the basis of how we can link struggles from all over Europe to see what others' lives and struggles are like, what their thoughts about the world are and realising the common cause between the struggles.
The traditional idea of an activist caravan is a single group of activists travelling around visiting social centres and various campaigns. This caravan is different in that it is more of a caravan network that not only connects activists but creates permanent links between similar or related local struggles. This means that the activists' role is largely that of a fascilitator to create ongoing connections between people saying NO! The vision is to have many different caravans connecting many different people/groups. The caravans would come together at 'stations' which would be autonomous spaces, social centres etc that have the ability to host people. These stations would be a place to share experiences, find out what the different caravans have been doing, what links have been made, have workshops and discuss practical steps to move forward.
The caravan will also try to share culture and develop art & creativity as we use culture to shape our politics and politics to shape our lives.
The planning of the caravan will happen partly through the website (www.vision07.net) which will have an interactive map of europe. This will highlight the different local struggles, autonoumous spaces, groups and collectives involved in resistance and the connections already made with other struggles around the world.
Practical Steps to get involved:
- Get involved and create a dialogue with struggles in your area. - Send information of your local struggles, autonomous spaces, groups, collectives, and exisitng networks to other groups
around the world to email@example.com
- Visit www.vision07.net and register as a user to add content, initiate discussion, post and read news, propose ideas, find
- related struggles and groups and help develop the caravan.
- Prepare to both be a caravan and host/invite other caravans. - Spread the idea, meet with other interested people and see how you can join in and develop the idea. - COME TO THE MEETING AT THE CENTRALISED CONFERENCE ON FRIDAY AT 6.30 PM IN THE CINEMA!
Global Perspectives – Which Future project
From a working group formed in Dijon
The world is at the threshold of an energy, environmental and economic crisis that will end the present-day occidental way of life. Fossil fuels, the energy drug that has so hugely accelerated growth for the last two centuries--and on which practically all our transport and production depend, are running out. At the same time, their use is provoking unprecedented climatic changes that are causing huge problems (of water and many other nasty things like hurricanes, extreme heat, cold and general climatic instability, increasing sea level, species extinctions and ecological imbalances). The question is WHO will determine the future, the kind of society that will perhaps survive the coming crisis.
The ruling classes are already designing their future to try to preserve their privileges and power : hugely increased inequalities, including in the North (no more pensions, social rights, etc.); totalitarian governments manipulating permanent war, xenophobia, fundamentalisms, etc.; even more disastrous attempts to counter (and make money out of) the growing environmental and energy problems : GMOs, nuclear energy, massive biofuel agribusiness (already being planned to take the place of the rain forests of the south), speculations in « pollution rights », etc.
BUT countless and varied struggles are also fighting the different aspects of this program and trying to preserve or develop the possibilities for an alternative future. There is also already a more or less clear consciousness of the links between these struggles and perspectives. For example, the last PGA global conference in 2001 added a statement about climate change to its manifesto, alongside of the visions of the indigenous peoples, farmers organisations, etc.
Our project is to try to further clarify the links between the different problems and struggles and contribute to the unification of these themes, visions and networks of struggle that are still often treated in a relatively isolated manner - to encourage the development of solidarity, of a common vision and common campaigns.
Themes to be linked: Oil wars, geopolitics, energy crisis Climate change The limits of growth, necessity of negative growth, critiques of development and growth. Autonomy and self-sufficiency perspectives in: ...Northern alternative experiences
- .. Indigenous resistances
- .. Peasant communities struggles
First steps we propose. Develop some more this proposal in order to: - Contact the Climate Change Camp and Rising Tide campaign Contact the Oil Watch network, which has already made a call for a similar process. Contact networks discussing and mobilizing on the energy crisis (like crisisenergetica.org and peakoil.net ) Contact groups interested in negative growth (decroissance people in France), people who worked at Bellevue site of conférence and others working on practical self-sufficiency, autonomy projects. Propose the subject for the possible Zapatista Encuentro. Contact networks or groups working on oil/antiterrorist wars, etc. Propose the discussion on the global PGA network, proposing that indigenous, peasant organisations, northern groups, etc., work together on the subject, for example before the next global conférence.
..and one day there was punkrock cooking. in this nice trashy kitchen in La Friche, Lyon, France, Occident. and there was punk and beer and tofu and a lot of vegetables and soy sauce and really nice people, but not enough big knives i think. however, everybody had fun and the food was tasty and served quite in time. this cooking was really good for my mood, thanks to cl. who had the idea. and thanks to the person who made the guacamole - it was so fucking good! moments like this were rare at the pgaconference because everybody had to do a lot of things all the time.. so thanks for that.
greetings to all the cooks and all the others who where at the pga conference !red-head!
UNDERSTANDING HETEROSEXISM IN RADICAL POLITICAL SCENES
- - some thoughts after a workshop in the decentralized PGA meeting in Lyon
To talk about heterosexism in society in general – about how it is expressed in violence and legislation is one thing. Another, and often more difficult thing, is to talk about how it appears in our own radical political scenes, where most people see themselves as “openminded” and innovative. One reason is the lack of knowledge about what heterosexism is – both on a theoretical level and on a practical, individual level. The lack of knowledge makes it difficult for heterosexuals to take responsibility for their position.
The attitude in radical scenes where heterosexuals are the majority is often “homo-friendly”. This attitude easily makes oppression and different positions of power invisible. The problem with this “homo-friendliness” is that it will only hold as long as the heterosexuals are not openly criticized – they expect a “hetero-friendliness” in return, which has to be so permanent that they never feel questioned. An example of this is when the number of nonhetero persons in a heterosexually dominated gathering increases to such a degree that they appear as a collective rather than as individuals. They often then start to be seen as a threat and some heterosexuals might start complaining that a new norm has been created and that they have to hide their relationships – without reflecting that what makes them want to hide might be their own desire to be “politically correct” and not to take responsibility for their position in society. Blaming the nonheterosexuals for the fact that heterosexuals do not feel free to show their sexuality is in fact heterosexist- how could it be the responsibility of the “homos” to make the heteros feel comfortable in a hetero majority situation?
Many heterosexuals confuse their own experiences of experimenting with the norms of sex and relationships with the problems faced by persons who permanently live outside the heterosexual norm. (For example: many heterosexuals have occasional sexual relationships with persons of the same sex or experiment with / practice different forms of relationships that do not conform to the norm of monogamy. ) The unwillingness to realise that, even if you are experimenting and exploring your identity, you have a heterosexual position in society, seems to sometimes block the interest in informing yourself about the subject of heterosexism, queer issues etc, and to reflect on your position.
Heterosexism also manifests itself in the reaction an individual from the “nonhetero - collective” might get when this person criticises how heterosexist structures are reproduced in somebody's way of behaving or arguing. The discussion often then changes focus from a structural level including the heterosexual him- or herself, to an individual level focusing on the nonhetero's feelings of opression. This way of changing focus implies that the structures themselves are not the problem – the problem is how they make the poor nonhetero individual feel. In the long term this kind of reaction will silence the critics because you grow tired of being put in the position of victim.
Another problem is the confusion between heterosexism on the one hand and sexism/patriarchy on the other. This distinction is important to make in order to be able to see the specific oppression which people outside the heterosexual norm suffer. If you don't do this, the analysis of heterosexism tends to disappear behind the feminist issue (that is, a feminism focusing mainly on “gender roles”). This distinction is also needed to understand heterosexual women's position of power.
So... more knowledge is needed if we want to do something about the heterosexism inside our scenes. This knowledge can be gained by talking to nonheteros about their experiences and by reading texts on the subject. But also by reflecting why you live the way you do and which norms you break and which you don't - and how this positions you in society.
Kristina Loretta Daphne
sexuality ? activism ? frustration !
On Wednesday evening in Lyon a group of people proposed a debate entitiled “Sex, Activism, Frustration” followed by a party ewith the theme “sex is political”. I was interested in participating in the debate because, actually, there are tons of things that could be said, and it is not really a discussion which is often proposed. At the same time, I was a little apprehensive about the form that it could take; it's not an easy subject for me and in this space it would be with people who i didn't know well or not at all. But I told myself that sometimes it's necessary to take a leap into the darkness in order to make something happen...
So around thirty people met up and made a go-round, with every person saying a little about why they came to speak about sexuality... There were many different and wideranging contributions, but I saw several strands that came up often: a critique of a sort of norm in radical scenes that excludes visible signs of affection from public or collective space, notably by monogamous couples, and expecially when they are heterosexual – desire to break taboos more especially when this affection is sexual, and so should be even more hidden – the fact that girls especially are judged as “sluts” when they have lots of sexual activity with different people - critique of the way that sexuality is turned into something sacred, or the opposite: to take everything just a little bit too lightly – some men expressed the feeling of a malaise or pressure because of ideas or demands for deconstruction of patriarcal domination within sexual relations, and didn't know (anymore) how they should behave – many girls made reference to sexual violences reminding people that these experiences are really widespread and so it was likely that they were not the only survivors in the group. And that the representations of sexuality(s) that exist in this society can in themselves be a form of violence. So that when we talk about sexuality we should take into account that it's not a simple topic and that we need to always pay attention to people – some people expressed that, coming from a different cultural background (muslim culture, non-western networks), they wanted to understand other visions of sexuality, -etc.
After the round table a slightly difficult discussion started, often jumping from one subject to another, without managing to go deeper into any of them (such as is often the case with discussions in such a big group. And the fact that there was alcohol and so on going around didn't so much help the possibilities to talk about the subject with the necessary delicacy...). I don't feel capable of reporting everything that was said, so I'll just talk about a few contributions which made an impact on me.
The discussion revolved around questions of gender power dynamics, and the search for ways of relating to one another that can manage to break out of the frame of domination, when a man claimed that it was completely impossible to have sexual relations (he wasn't specific, but I suppose he was speaking of hetero relations...) without domination, and that that was part of the attraction(!)... this provoked a few murmurs in the crowd, but the only concrete response came from a girl who said strongly and with some provocation that she practiced an S/M sexuality and in this the dynamics of domination could be turned around. Then she added that these power dynamics were consensual, but I really regretted that she didn't take more time to explain more clearly that power dynamics within S/M practice don't have so much to do with the structures of domination between men and women precisely because they are done in a consensual way. Personally, I'm not into S/M, but after quite some conversations with people who are, and also reading around this subject, one of the things which to me seems very interesting about it is this very idea of consensuality. To reach an agreement it is necessary to communicate well and many people in the discussion had been talking about the big difficulties in communicating around these questions. So OK, I felt we missed the opportunity to talk more about this, it was limited to a provocative affirmation of a sexual identity, rather than a wish to exchange views and go deeper into this subject.
I tried at other moments to raise the idea of proposing what could be other rules of the game if we want to reject existing sexual norms. If, for example, we want to disconnect our sexual relations from the demands of fidelity, what other sort of engagement can we imagine, to not just fall into the trap of “everyone does what they want with no attention to anyone else”. I would call that a sort of “responsibility” but this term doesn't seem to connect with the representations of many people. I had to repeat the explaination three times before being understood, which shows that it is very complicated to understand, because we don't use the same words to describe things. But that also made me question that the idea of engagement with or responsibility towards other people always returns only to norms, restrictions and very traditional visions of “sexual things”, in short, limitations which are in opposition to any form of liberation. It seems to be that even if we want to deconstruct things, we are also constructed by this society. And in it there is notably an idea of the hyper-sanctity of sexuality. So I don't see so much how it is possible to construct other relations without reflecting on the ways to create bases for trust, to allow all individuals with their different personal histories to gain from this “liberation”... We've already seen sexual revol utions that actually were nothing of the sort.
A last point to which I would like to return concerns the reactions to a comment by a girl about the lack of intergenerational exchanges on this subject. I don't know what annoyed me the most between: “I don't really know what we're talking about, what is the connection between sexuality and my grandparents?” (1) and “When it comes to sexuality, I have more in common even with my worst enemy than with my grandfather” and a girl who seemed to find it very funny to make out that she was fucking her grandfather and crying out “oh, papi”. Maybe it was the fact that some of these reactions came from people who had organised the discussion and therefore claimed to want to struggle against norms and taboos. In this moment they seemed completely closed to the idea that older people could have fun sexually...
- I left the discussion at this moment, and I walked out frustrated. With a bit of afterthought, I saw at least the value of having brought up some possible starting points for reflection, but unfortunately without going any further, without really putting in any content, and without honestly questionning the representations made. If it is enough to put on sexy (2) clothes and to “fuck without limits” in order to be “liberated”, then the job would be much easier. Don't misunderstand me, I've nothing against it and for sure it's also a way to find other ways to relate to sexuality, but I think things are much more complex than that. And I don't think that there are on the one hand“liberated” people and on the other “blocked” people who just need to relax a little.So there are moments where I tell myself that maybe I, a survivor, with a sexuality that isn't so spectacular and with a whole bunch of things that I really don't find easy, maybe I am actually closer to a self-determined and un-normed sexuality, one that makes me feel good and takes care about others, than some of those who live out their sexualities in an extravagant and spectacular way...?
Just a short remark to finish: my intention is not to contribute yet more to the confinement of people inside categories, and I'm also conscious of the fact that I don't know the people who participated in the debate very well, so please don't see only the expression of my anger and of my subjective impressions that maybe are wrong. Take this text instead as an invitation to debate more sincerely, to give ourselves the means to treat these topics with the finesse which is is necessary for everybody to feel comfortable.
1)As a kind of answer, I want to give you a little something to contemplate: maybe your grandparents have the sort of sex life that you could not even begin to imagine... 2)And what does it mean, the word “sexy”? To leave behind the norms we could also reflect on what we eroticise and what that reproduces...
Racism class issues in the anti-authoritarian activist scenes
This is the report of the first workshop concerning racism that has taken place in the decentralized part of the PGA in Lyon. The goal was to understand why the people concerned by racism, migrants, often of working class and precarious, who have not had or had little access to education and to information are minoritarian in the anti-authoritarian movement. The people of color were yet a minority; as much as in this workshop as well as in the general gathering in Lyon. About 25 people participated in this workshop. After discussions in smaller groups (3 groups), the ideas that came out of each group were shared with everybody. In the first place; people were asked to discuss between them about their links with groups or movements directly concerned with racism or migration. This part will not be treated here. Each group being composed by people of different backgrounds, they resulted in different sensibilities towards issues on colonial history; of classe; etc. and some issues were country specific. But some impressions still seemed to converge on a few points (ex.. closedness of the activist scenes of white and Western majority).
Question 1: Why are the people concerned by racism under-represented in the circles of the anti-authoritarian movements when instead they are the majority in the ghettos and that they lead the global anticapitalist struggles?
Groupe 1 *two women of algerien origin were present in this group Algeria, Germany, France...
In certain scenes and in the culture of feminist literature, there is not enough questioning of the representations on sexism in the countries that have been colonised.
Certain attitudes of latent racism that hurt a lot.
Historical reason – ex. while feminism wzs emerging (70's – 80's), the immigrant women had other crucial preoccupations and feminism had not arrived all the way to the bidonvilles and in the HLM neighborhoods (lowcost social housing).
The feminism in France also has a rather intellectual and bourgeois history; thus certain women did not feel concerned or welcome
The community is closed apon itself.
The question in itself was put to question : Why “represent”?!
- The notion of “representation” was put to question by people who originally came from the former French colonies...
In the same manner, it was criticized that it was necessary to define what racism is.
Culture of silence : the oppressed and their descendants have learnt to stay silent --> dificulty to speak out and difficulty to listen to this voice.
Groupe 2 *one persone of color (woman) Switzerland, Sweden, France, Ukraina, Germany...
Migrants have prioritary problems that are different.
Possible difficulties : language differences different cultural backgrounds different class of origin different ways of organizing
Power relations make it difficult to develope friendship.
Complexity : intersection of different types of oppressions (ex. racism, sexism, heterosexism, class oppression, etc...) in the relationships.
There's a tendency to selfcensorship in the people who are targeted by racism.
--> it is also necessary to create spaces on our own and not to wait for others to make them.
Logic of time and urgency make it difficult to cover these issues in an explicit manner.
There's the tendency to exoticise the “Other” and to trap her/him in stereotypes (positive or negative).
Often a paternalistic attitude is adopted towards people as if we knew “better than them” (education) yet at the same time, people who have less means of power tend to count on those who have more means of action...
Lack of desire/effort to confront these issues (ex. whiteness) in the activist scenes.
People don't mix – ex. we may invite people to meetings but we do not become friends with them
- The affinity based logic can be excluding
Not enough space is given to discuss about these issues
Too local perspective – ethnnocentrism (activist culture)
We stay in a logic of give in take – hierarchy, lack of objective equality and power relations (of which we do not become conscious).
Ignorance on the situation of the other – the action of a person is very limited according to his/her conditions and position/status.
Lack of presence/visibility of people with similar conditions – dissuasif/discouraging
Selfcensorship on one hand and reluctance to talk about one's own history and that of one's family and/or country and its implication in the past/present politics (not to position oneself – and we tend to ask the others to position themselves).
Groupe 3 dtwo people of color (women) Bulgaria, Australia, France, England...
- Situation in Bulgaria where there are many Roms in communities that are quite closed and not conscious enough of the modes of anti-authoritarian self-organisation. The Turkish community distrusts the Bulgarians because of racist discriminations. No trust, difficult to make connections. Segregation of the Turkish population. not much mixing, difficulties to make exchanges. The fact that there be so much racism doesn't give the desire to create ties with individuals who are difficult to distinguish from the oppressors.
In Australia, the Chines immigrants, Koreans, Vietnamese do not ivest themselves in anticapitalist groups. In the activist circles, difficult to create ties with youth of Asian origin who are the object of discrimination.
In France, the same kind of patterns when you arrive in a place where you are discriminated they tell you to scram. Mentality integrated in the first generation. But there are many people of color since a long time so this doesn't explain anything.
When one is non-white, culturally poor; it is very difficult to integrate oneself culturally; it's very difficult to integrate oneself to the anarchist, feminist and left scenes. 3 things are recognized : to be white, to be rich, to be educated (know how to speak well...). Otherwise you are not accepted. One must proove oneself; be in the same identity codes.
A peroson concerned by racisme explained that when she went to the G8 for the first time it reminde her of the first time she went to a lesbian club, where at the entrance she was told “this is a gay club” and refused to let her in. The same sensation at the G8 where she seemed to read in the eyes of the people “what the hell are you doing here?” When we organise direct actions it is necessary to feel at ease. How to arrive to this level of self-confidence if the white group is closed; that we feel that the people are scared of foreigners, of the people they do not know? How to change the world if we cannot change these local problems?
The words change:we say minority for people who are the majority. What changes :there will be people who have power, money outside of white people. The actions, anti-white movements change the situation and the way these issues are seen. To return the oppression. We speak of anti-white racisme, white people are scared. Before the people of color sent back the violence to their communities, now return to the white oppressor.
If your parents give you money, you're not obliged to work, it's easier to invest yourself in the anarchist scene as opposed to if you work or if you have family in your charges.
Cultural obstacles: It's a long time that this is questioned but it isn't working. Class problems: it's difficult to say that we don't understand the books on theory, elitism. The language used is academic, tough. If you grew up in a proletarian context and you're not an activist, you don't have the political culture that is needed, and that you don't understand, when you don't understand it is made understood that you are stupid. In the white middle class one can be sexist, homophobic, without political reflection but you have access to certain means that when you come from working classes, and you or/and your family doesn't speak the local language; or that you don't have these bases, nor encouagement to reading...
There's also from the exterior, there are perceptions of anarchists as people who are “lazy” and who do not contribute to a more larger community.
The people who are implied in the daily struggles don't have the “privilege” of the anarchist lifestyle
The problem of anarchist “culture”
Question 2: Whose responsiblility is it to increase the participation of the people concerned directly by racism in these scenes? (which means?)
- Cultural hegemony: the experience to have lived as a foreigner and unwelcome allows to understand a few things.
Deconstruct on different levels personal historical interpersonal (speak and share)
Facilitate the creation of network, make information circulate outside of the closed circles and vice-versa.
A practical example to sensibilise people on these issues : distribute things like brochures-questionaries (that exist) to measure one's own internalized racism, homophobia, sexism, heterosexism
Meet and speak directly with the people who are concerned
Make explicite and visibilise the implicite rules and structures; organisation/how things work in the scenes
Include and welcome specific groups (ex. write in the flyer that people without papers are very welcome)
Tto become conscious of /realize about power dynamics
Link with local struggles – not to wait for people of color to “come towards us”
The activists should be conscious of their “safety” strategies of the group de comment leur stratégies de “protection” du groupe (ex. not working with people we don't know when planning direct action).
Allow people to learn in their own time/rhythm.
The intellectual/academic understanding fo the théorie seems to be valued more than anything which excludes for example the working class
A few notes :
One of the difficulties of these discussions is that the people who intervened did not have the same relationship to this and oppression and that this is not made explicite.
Maybe we didn't underline enough the qtiestion concerning the confrontation to one's own internalized racism de se confronter.
Affinity-based networks are problematical.
Lack of connection with other movements.
Meeting of Evaluation
The general evaluation of the pga meeting in Lyon has been prepared and we discused in three little groups of between five and eight persons during one hour and a half. It was super interesting, much more than this feedback!
Three axes has been defined, with three underpoints for each: * What do you think about the organisation of the meeting?
- -the repartition of the tasks? -the assemblees of the morning? -decisions making?
* What do you think about thematics workshops?
- - to which workshops did you participate? - did you organize some workshops? - are they one or more topics/activities that we didn't discuss/do and that you would like to discuss/do?
* What do you think about relations between people?
- - did you met "new" people? -what do you think about the athmosphere? - what do you think about the place?
And some other questions: * Were you interested by the pga? * What did you think about the role of the organisers?
The organisers of the discussion precised that all contradictions are wellcome, and no consensus expected.
Note : = means proposition
FIRST POINT : ORGANISATION - good quality of self-management - it's a pity for the lateness:
- = put clocks in all rooms = being more punctual for the meals = improve plannings and plans of the place = shorter workshops with more pauses (also for more informal moments between the workshops) = workshops of two hours are too short (that's why we always finish in late) = difficulties of conviviality (because of the big size) = better than usually but not enough collective = reexamine the link meal/washing dishes = reexamine the length of reception permanence (4 hours is too long) = plan more persons for the meal (1 person for 10)
- -very cool and kindly for ill persons
- - very very very good preparation of the place - convivial place despite the big size of the place -cool organisation in the middle of the 10 days ( little complex to put in place at the beginning, wavering in the end)
- difficulties for the people to get out their usual context (either for the visitors than for the organisers) -less of spontaneity for the visitors to take tasks in charge - collective tasks not enough turning -problems with translation
- = organise a translation team
- problem with the buffet - lack of realism in the planning -problem of different rhythms of life : proposition of a permanent buffet
SECOND POINT : THE WORKSHOPS
- Too much topics (less than 4), dispersion, difficulty of organisation -lack of cool working - lack of answers, solutions and actions (x3) - rhythm that was too dense/too short time periods
- = one theme/day, first gather in smaller groups and then getting together at the end of the day
- getting out of the place wasn't obvious - French-speaking domination (hard time at the end of the workshops for translations) - the question of passing to a mixed group (of gender) after a mixed group (because of lack of time and different experiences lived) - non-mixed infopoint/clarification of basic terms concerning feminist issues
- = proposition of a meeting in Lyon by a friend from Strasbourg for this
- stigmatisation / hetero-bi men /women, gay, lesbian, trans, bi (but in general things were really cool x2) = make an infopoint for Dijon, a pannel and make a feministo'queer meeting Wednesday night in Dijon (in order to exchange impressions) -satisfactions and unsatisfactions / workshops (deceptions and enthusiasm) - small groups worked better (anti-racism and lesbian sexuality) / people were more at ease to speak -isolation / lack of trans and gay visibility (communication) - workshops concerning the information society and control were very few (connected to the number of people, lapse of time, communication + everything being spread out with the decentralisation, the theme was also too large) - the link between issues on gender/sexism and "race"/racism seemed to be clearer - in general people thought to have had positive and enriching exchanges and ressourcing - lack of visibility of the PGA to the exterior, demonstrations - some positive feedback from concerning the workshops on "men against patriarchy'/masculine construction " -very good exchange concerning practical knowledge (samba, welding, massage, silk screening...) - concerning the contents of the workshops :
- too much division between intellectual/practical/organisational tasks positive atmosphere in workshops with practical activities / attention towards others
- propositions of more workshops concerning the body in the morning
anti-racism and migration politics focus
- - dissatisfaction / form of workshops (problems concerning moderation, translation, linked to diversity of opinion) - dissatisfaction and regret because the first workshops on "internalised" racism gathered only few people, and especially very few men, which speaks of a certain lack of interest for this theme and of an unwillingness to reflect on it - the final dynamic was positive and managed to make up for the chaotic and badly followed beginning for the people directly concerned by racism finally could get together and create a space for speech and exchange of impressions - this will to become conscious of "internalised racism" (involuntary and unconscious) is making its way - a project is in process, with a first meeting, which is the starting point of a longer and wider process of reflections on racism, and particularly integrated racism (others meetings more open and with more kind of activities are to build)
- -this first step will happen in november in little groups and if possible, with a majority of people who are directly targeted by racism, with "non mixed" workshops of "racialized" people ( characterised by migration and colonial heritage "marks").
- -we'll work in "non mixed" groups and, then, in mixed groups to understand better the mechanisms of racism, also amongst our militant network.
- -this first step will happen in november in little groups and if possible, with a majority of people who are directly targeted by racism, with "non mixed" workshops of "racialized" people ( characterised by migration and colonial heritage "marks").
Out of these discussions, we could also plan to write a leaflet with useful texts for awareness-raising and collecting strategies to face racism in everyday life.
- THIRD POINT: MEETINGS AND RELATIONSHIPS
Globally, these meetings have been warm, nice and even great! The few conflicts have been considered, on one hand as a sign of intense and successful meeting and on the other hand as a way to pacify superficially the relations( difficulties to make the conflicts emerge, bearers of communication and enhancer of domination's relations) - Nuances in "no conflicts" : some people noticed a competition for radicality or purism. -The workshops have been places for warm meetings and especially the practical workshops (self defence for the demonstrations...) -Some regrets for the lack of informal moments (to have some rest, or to be available to the others...) between the workshops. Informal discussions on LGBT, racism and migration policies were really interesting.
"Ethnorootscentrism" atmosphere, validism: -Some people left because the place reminded them of experienced situation of extreme precarity. -Other left for medical reasons, individual malaise. -We notice also the quasi absence of elder people (most of the people were between 25 and 35),some felt a bit lonely. -We regret also the absence of visibility of possibilities to be hosted in a flat , more confortable places... -There were also really few people who are targeted by racism or from suburbs( racism of militant networks?) -Difficulties to connect people from PGA and people from La Friche ( due to a lack of common information, communication or lack of time?): just a few discussions and also interjections about non-mixity... Someone also pointed at the sexism of some inhabitants of La Friche. -The feminist/gender/queer topic seems to provoke a change in the atmosphere: less sexism than usual, a better sharing of tasks (The collective life is better organised than usual)
-The STAMP team: -Some people regreted a lack of time and energy to participate to more workshops ( Importance of logistic and material questions) or to have some rest. Globally they find it normal according to their organisers status but it was a lot of work anyway! -Some visitors regreted the lack of visibility of the whole process. Desire for more visibility of the Stamp and pga process in Dijon,
Big thanks to the organisers for the installation and preparation of the place, and for organising the workshops and the meetings...!
Digital Struggles Theme
text: Author: nadir.org
RFID: identification technology for single objects and how-to build means of protection against it
RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) is being massively rolled out with big money involved. All the big players in the IT market are involved, e.g. Thales, Siemens, IBM. The biggest customers so far are the U.S. Army, Nation States (with their e-pass), Logistics, Clothing (Levy's) and Retail (e.g. Wal Mart and Metro). Public Transport Systems are more and more into it, e.g. in London (Oyster Card) and Delhi (Thales).
What is it?
RFID systems are minimally build up with a reader and tags that are read. Most often, some middleware or database is hooked onto the reader, or at least some networking connection to some database.
The Tag consists of a chip with an antenna. The chip contains an unique number in its minimal version, often it has some rewritable memory and even cryptograpic capacities. Tags come in two version: passive and active. Passive tags get their energy from the reader, while active ones have their own power supply per battery.
The Reader is emmitting an electromagnetic field, that "wakes up" the tag. The tags responds by sending its unique number plus possibly more data. The data transmission range varies a lot, depending on a lot of parameters, between a few millimeters and hundreds of meters with active tags. Different Frequencies are used for different applications. 13.56 Mhz is very common with passive tags, 2.4 Ghz with active ones. The relation of reader and tag is master and slave.
What is bad about it?
It is used for identification purposes in any imaginable field. RFID includes basically two upgrades for identication technologies: in difference to the common bar code, that you find on any good, it is not only a serial number, but also a unique number that is on the tag. This means that any single object is identifyable: to trace its history, its usage... Second, data transmission is not feasible or to recognise by any human sense: via waves, there is nothing to see (opposed to the optical transmission with barcodes), and radio waves can pass through walls. Readers may be hidden anywhere, reading out passing tags, without notice. The tags can also easily be hidden, e.g. in the sole of shoes. Some tags are textile tags: mashine washable and woven into the fabric. Others are just as small as a sandgrain, made for banknotes and documents. What makes RFID so spooky: it is a machine to machine communication, that operates without the knowledge of those you carry tags.
What can I do against it?
Tags that are covered with aluminium foil (or any other metal) are not readable. The metal stops the waves. To put some foil in your electronic passport makes it impossible to read out the data without your knowledge as the foil has to be removed.
Tags are easily destroyed: once you notice some strange tag somewhere, you can put it into a microwave. But be careful: it burns faster than you think.
Best way we know so far: The RFID Zapper - a reengineered snap shot camera. Using the capacitor of its flash, a huge amount of enery is being emitted into the environment in a very short moment, silencing the tag forever. It is smart, as it leaves no traces of destruction. It is low-cost: all in all maximum 7 Euros. It takes around 3 hours to build, depending on the cameramodel. It may be build by anyone. Little soldering is needed, don't worry: this can be done by anyone.
Documentation and How-To of RFID-Zapper: 23b.nadir.org/rfidzapper English translations soon to come! Please send us photos, drawings, translations into french, spanish etc, scripts and any experiences concerning the RFID Zapper: firstname.lastname@example.org
Credits for the Zapper go to three young it students from Berlin, who invented it, but whose names we don't know and would not publish anyway.
URLs concerning RFID: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RFID http://www.rfidvirus.org/index.html http://www.spychips.com/ http://www.we-make-money-not-art.com/archives/cat_rfid.php http://www.nearfield.org
How to build your own RFID Zapper.
Parts you will need: - single use camera (for example "Fuji Quicksnap") - 1 meter of painted (or insulated) copper wire - button (to replace the trigger)
Tools you will need: - a soldering iron - solder - wire cutters - a small knife
And here is the recipe...
1. Unpack the camera and open it. Be careful with the paper cover. Try to avoid breaking it so it can be put back on afterward.
2. Remove the battery and the film. If you are careful enough you might still be able to use the film.
3. Remove the optical parts of the camera including the "view finder". Then remove the inner contents of the camera, leaving the back plate in order to have a flat surface. Try to keep the electronic part with the capacitor and the flash undamaged.
4. Unload the capacitor (otherwise you might be hurt by an electric shock afterward)
5. Cut or break a hole where the old trigger used to be.
6. Cut a broad slit from the inner wall of the space for the film to the middle part of the camera.
7. Cut a short piece of the copper wire that will lead from the trigger to the capacitor.
8. Form a coil out of the copper wire by winding it around an (imaginary) credit card (approx. 5 x 8.5 cm). Leave a few centimeters untouched at both ends.
9. Insert the coil into the camera so it rests upon the rear wall.
10. Remove the insulation from all four wire ends by scratching it off or burning it with a lighter.
11. Solder one end of the coil to the capacitor and the other end to the button. With the short wire, connect the other side of the button to the other side of the capacitor.
12. Put the battery back into place and test if the electric circuit works. (for a Fuji camera: turn on the "flash" by pulling out the plastic switch on the front. You should hear a high sound or have some optical feedback depending on the camera you use.) Wait a little and pull the trigger. If you can hear the capacitor being reloaded afterward it was unloaded and the electric circuit is okay.
13. To seriously test it you can come to the medialab in Berlin or some other space where you can try it upon RFID chips..
14. Depending on your personal taste and needs you can put the camera together again and beautify it.
15. You are done. Have fun.
more information: https://23b.nadir.org/rfidzapper
New digital tools for activists
The world is changing, our struggle is changing, and we need to evolve along with it. Indymedia made waves in 1999 and allowed new levels of international (and local) collaboration. What are the new tools that could help us in the present struggles?
Here in Dijon, we discussed some ideas as street protesters and activist techies came together. Of course technology can never solve all our problems, but sometimes we can use it to organize more effectively. (Imagine putting together this conference without email and websites.) The tools mentioned below are still being designed, so please get in touch with any input, since we want them to reflect real needs of activists, not just be "cool" tech projects.
One idea that came out of the Autonomus Spaces meetings was overhauling squat.net to actually make it a useful tool for squatters again. A number of ideas were proposed for ways this website could help the squatter's movement.
One project was to compile a set of guides on the legal information on squatting and repression in every European country. They would discuss the current laws, as well as possibly some tactics people use to deal with courts. These would be very helpful for legal defenses of our spaces. If you know of a guide for your country or would like to help write one, please contact email@example.com . There were a number of other ideas on how to link together various squats in a network that would enable more solidarity. These include creating a directory of Autonomous Spaces, allowing spaces to post alerts like a pending evicition where they need support, and hosting an intersquat newsletter of sorts to exchange ideas and techniques. There was also an idea that squats could post resources that they need or can share, so squats can find home for the pile of onions in the living room, and borrow a sound system for the big demo (or concert) they're planning. Finally, people mentioned the idea of long-term squat exchanges, where a collective member who has some useful skills (like carpentry, pirate radio, etc.) moves to another squat for a number of months to share skills and also to learn from the people at his or her new home.
All of these techniques could help squats connect with one another and support each other's projects. But the website won't do anything by itself, it needs people to use it and make it useful. If you want to add a space you're involved with to the network, please visit http://squat.pga.taz/, while you're at the tanneries. If you are interested in helping design the website, please contact Maxigas ( firstname.lastname@example.org ) or Dark Veggy ( email@example.com ).
The other project that was presented comes from the riseup collective, and spawned some discussion among activists at the meeting. It is codenamed CrabGrass (http://stamp.poivron.org/MeetingNotes/CrabGrass) and is designed to facilitate communication in groups of activists, especially when the members live in different cities (or countries). It consists of a number of online meeting tools, with support for a number of techniques we use in meetings, like straw polls, consensus, smaller discussion sessions, etc. It also has a number of tools to help organize minutes and task lists.
While this could be useful in local organizations, the most exciting possibility is allowing large, distributed networks to coordinate effectively (and democratically) without large, central gatherings. >From Global Days of Action and the Chain Refl-Action idea, to an international tech collective, to a virtual flash mob, this tool could allow us to easily experiment with new forms of actions. It is also being designed to allow for secure online communication, so we can actually discuss actions online without tipping off the cops. The collective is beginning to code it and a basic version should be ready for initial testing in early 2007.
View of Digital Sruggle meeting:
The meeting was very rich, lot's of exchange of knowledge and expériences and also concrete projets. There were people from lot's of countries.
Humains problems also happens, kind of tipical problems of this scene, and what we can focus is that words exchange in workshops of different size and with people from others topics, helped to being aware of those problems. A reflexion is in progress to finds solutions
Indymedia is dead
In the Digital Struggles discussions of the conference we had a chance to evaluate the status of the Indymedia project from a broader historical perspective. In the beginning Indymedia managed to bring something revolutionary to the alternative media scene with the technical feature of _open publishing_ and the social feature of a more _closely-knit global network_ of alternative media producers, advocators, distributors and techies. In terms of content, it was built around the concept of carrying news by activists, for activists, about activists. Basically it managed to overwrite mainstream media for most activists. With time it became very popular and has evolved into the strongest _brand name_ in the radical movement. By now it is a grassroots success story. Indymedia activists are writing its history. In fact, it is history, it just lives on in an animated state as projects tend to do in our postmodern/postmortem world.
However, a collaborative weblog was progressive and effective in 1999 but lost its novelty with the rise of the globoshpere and the invention of tools like tagging, RSS feeds and social networking services. The focus on repression reports and action news that is central to the Indymedia vision is still vital for the internal and external communication of the movement, but became boring to a lot of readers and media makers. The concept of Indymedia as a service to the movement also has its downsides. On the one hand, sometimes the specialisation of Indymedia activists is problematic when they only show up to document an action and disappear afterwards in the same way as the journalists of mainstream media. On the other hand, sometimes the specialisation of Indymedia activists is problematic when contributors treat them as a service in the capitalist sense of the word, publishing articles knowing that there is an editorial team to deal with the moderation of comments and the correction of typos and the organisation of information. During great events like anti-G8 summits Indymedia activists are glad to work together with the organisers, often in dangerous situations, to cover the event. During the CPE movement in the Spring in France they were glad to lose sleep and edit the hastily updated newswire items. However, during normal operation they are somewhat tired of "cleaning up after people".
All in all, there was some general understanding about Indymedia not being the progressive and interesting project that it once was. However, there was a sense of having to sustain the network because it is still an infrastructure of vital importance for the movement. Moreover, new directions have been suggested by various parties. In general, there are two areas to discover. Once, the next wave that changed the Internet after the advent of blogs has been social networking software, which makes a lot of sense for activist. Actually, it makes more sense to activists: they don't just talk, but they want to organise and act in the real world as well. A social networking tool that appreciates the fact that activists organise in collectives and affinity groups could greatly empower the movement.
Twice, while the end of the twentieth century was about the freedom of information which Indymedia translated to open publishing and public website, the beginning of the twenty first century is about control and cryptography. With the recent wave of server seizures which went hand-in-hand with crackdowns on squats radical activists began to appreciate privacy. Collecting the list of autonomous spaces taught me that there is a great deal of content which anarchist organisers would like to access but wouldn't like to publish. In this light an information infrastructure which serves content only to trusted peers definitely makes sense. Laws are changing rapidly, especially in Europe, so that providing cryptographic communication channels is slowly becoming illegal. Therefore, we need more sophisticated tools to route around the surveillance techniques of the authorities and the data retention laws of goverments. At the end, we might even need to resort to dropping the concept of servers and use peer-to-peer data sharing platforms.
What Indymedia activists can do to escape the zombie state of their project and once again provide useful and innovative services to the movement? On the one hand, it is certain that Indymedia should not be a series of websites, but rather an electronic platform where people can create whole information structures with websites, mailing lists and chat channels instead of mere articles. On the other hand, it has to provide an easy-to-use but exceptionally secure communication channel, possibly outside of the World Wide Web, but still inside the Internet. It will not be an alternative media network any more. It will be a darknet of a new subculture.
So what to do with the Indymedia assets? In the final analysis, the most valuable part of the project turns out to be the social network behind it. These people can once again write history by teaching each other the revolutionary tech tools of the next generation and acting as arbitrators of the know-how. We can sell the domain names to fund the next underground inforgent network.
disclaimer: the article is a subjective reflection on the conference and does not necessarily reflect broader indymedia views.
The author is the member of the Horizon Research Institute
maxigas Horizont Kutató Intézet / Horizon Research Institute / hi.zpok.hu indymedia.hu ak57
Crossover: Digital Struggles as seen by the participants involved in other themes
An overview based on 4 interviews and and brief notes of the various points of views gleaned during the discussion.
"Who? What? What for? Why?"
- H, London - Autonomous Spaces - alternatives to the system (not neccessarily just strictly activist based )
- F, Montpellier - CPE - squats, collective cafes, infoshops.
- H, Rouen - CPE - various, squats, infoshops, guerilla gardens and community gardens(for growing food).
- F, Dijon, - Autonomous Spaces - similiar networks, pga, antifascist, feminist, political ecology.
(editorial note - CPE stands for contract of first employment, a draconian job scheme for school leavers proposed by the french government earlier this year, and the focus of many of the protests in march2006 )
Perceptions of digital struggles, tools and the people involved :
- Everything that is linked to computer use that is free and non proprietary - using linux rather than windows, mozilla rather than internet explorer, email service providers such as no-log (respecting personal privacy, anonimity)
- alternative software: tools (ex: free/opensource software) which are created in an autonomous, collective manner, to free ourselves from dependance on big commercial companies and the monoploy of microsoft
- alternative servers = virtual autonomous spaces
- autonomous computers - energy usage, connectivity, administrators, systems, users, moderators
- freedom and autonomy from commercial companies.
- freedom and privacy: permits anonimity; financially accessible.
- basic tools to inform ourselves, co-ordinate and organise.
- open access for everyone to communication tools, to reduce the power of hierarchies.
- fast, interactive, horizontal, integrated.
- weapon for activist anti capitalist struggles and other movements,tool for creating other alternatives
- facilitating struggles allows a critique of the system, to do research and inform people about the dysfunctionality of the system, problem of internet censorship in China
- a method of denouncing and alerting people to serious threats to digital freedoms and digital struggles( the seizure of the indymedia server, legislation in France)
- lack of training, a need for training: a need for training/education on open source software in schools and colleges ( there are only courses offered in proprietary software, and proprietary software is used everywhere in these institutions)
- problems with specialisation - too esoteric: difficulty communicating in plain language to share knowledge/information.
- lack of openess: groups need to be more open/ welcoming to beginners in opensource and also to spread knowledge beyond just activist circles.
- language problems, discussions are often just in english, (and a geeky english that is scary!)
- virtual life, risks of isolation, being scattered, dependancy etc etc ,
software tools that we use':
ordi, firefox (internet), no-log (mail), photoshop, the gimp, publisher (texts), word, but now we're using openoffice and other free software with Ubuntu (alternative linux operating system), indymedia project in Montpellier. Ah? there are some texts of 'group discussions' of "digital struggles"
buried in their 'thing' (geek), difficult for others to join in and get involved/interested
- good feedback from the skillshare workshop,made people want to know more and participate in opensoftware training in the autonomous spaces where they live
- would have been good to have someone able to teach the basics that you need to know: a sense of embarrassment/disempowerment from not knowing more.
- had met some people from the group DS (digital struggles) who had helped install Ubuntu.
- found it normal that people got together amongst themselves to get things done/ take things forward
- understood the desire of those who are passionate about opensource to work amongst themselves, but that it can be exclusionary/ a problems for new people. We need also to be careful that holding all this knowledge doesn't become a power control problem
- hopes that the geek community can become less closed ( male dominated and 'experts') but they have to take this on board ( be conscious of this) amongst themselves as well
autonomous spaces and digital struggles crossover
"who are all that people with laptops writing strange things that we can't understand? They seem to be strange, but i think they are this people who do the internet connection work in the social centre."
"why do this people who are suposed to be activists keep on using strange software like "windows"? It seems that they think free software is too complicated for them."
So it seems to be quite clear for everybody that there is some kind of gap or separation going on many times between the so called "techies" and the rest of the activist comunities. Also for those like me who recently started to use free software (and are really happy and proud of it) and understood why it is so crappy to have an email account in yahoo, it is really difficult to understand what is to administrate a server or how to create those email lists that fill our mailboxes.
As i said I started recently to be aware of all that work behind any digital resources that I was actually using, like activist info webpages or email accounts. So i opened my eyes and started asking questions as I always do. I realized that many of the people who was actually working on that resorces felt too much as "service providers" for a community they belong to. And that was not nice for them. I also realized that most of the time communication about these issues was difficult because I was not able to understand everything I was told, and many times my partners were not able to speak using a "normal" language. That made me think that any kind of encounter between these two worlds would be really useful. I think this crossover meeting we made in the PGA conference between the "digital struggles" group and the "defense of autonomous spaces" group was kind of useful. At least for me.
I could do a summary of the things that were said in the meeting, but this can be found here . So I felt free to just make my own conclusions as i prefer to write some personal article rather than a report. So, please take it as it is, some personal opinions helped by the way i understood peoples reflections on that very issue.
For shure one of my conclusions should be that there are many different levels of specialization going on in this issue. To set an example, let's say that i would be a complete beginner for the group of people involved in digital struggles, but when i come back to my town i'm the only one who knows a little bit about free software, for exemple. Of course if i could get some technical skills about free software and other stuff around it, everyone can. Of course i would need years of work to learn how to administrate a server, and i'm not really ready for that. I still spend most of my time with human beings, and maybe I prefer to learn other things related to technology. But, c'mon, i believe that i have to learn a little bit about anything that i use, from my computer to a train, from a guitar to a piece of bread. I think that if i am intelligent enough to eat, i'm also intelligent to understand how my stomach works.
Anyway, there was something really interesting that was said in the meeting, about the importance of making people understand what's behind autonomous uses of technology. I guess that if i learned something in those last times, it was probably because i had some great people to learn from, but also because i understood the importance of this issues.
In the other hand it seems to me (since i have my eyes opened to that) that maybe we don't realize so much the work that is being done by some people about administrating servers, updating pages, creating and moderating email lists... As somebody said in the meeting, this happens usually with many many works that are not visible for most of the people involved in activism, like cooking in a gathering, or cleaning a social centre, or taking care of your "comrades" (sorry for this bit of communism, i don't know where it came from) and how they feel in their very hearts. And of course this is related to gender most of the times (and also to other "factors"). And HAS TO BE spoken as something political, to be assumed by anyone in our communities. So the problem seems to be more complicated than "geeks/non geeks". So, as far as i understood, the keys can be to think about technical issues as something political and try to solve them as such, with all the complications this implies. And of course, to make personal and collective efforts in "both sides" in order to come closer and empathize.
So, yes, i think that crossover is a great word, that refers not only to hardcore bands playing a little bit of metal.
Autonomous spaces theme
Presentation of the "squat from a to z", a french legal and practical support book and team
We made a presentation of the french practical and legal guide (le squat de A à Z). This guide was born at the end of the 90's in the Parisian autonomous squat scene, and over the years since then has been revised and updated. What it is is a small photocopyable booklet which gives basic advice. From now on it will be available and downloadable from the site squat.net/fr, and soon will be translated into English as part of the project of collecting legal information from different European countries. A new version will be brought out this October, after a work weekend in Les Tanneries. In addition to making clear certain legal changes, and including some new practical tips, there is also the desire to have a tone that is less markedly directed at "autonomous squats", and more open to other types of squatting that happen for reasons of precarity.
The people who are working on "le squat de A à Z" from a variety of French squats are also trying to gather together legal papers from the court cases of various French squats, analyses of the situation in various towns and also contacts of lawyers in order to be able to pass them on from one place to another. There is also a working list which you can contact if you want legal and practical advice during your various squatter wanderings: firstname.lastname@example.org . The working group is open and you are warmly invited to share your experiences and join the sweet universe of intersquatter solidarity. Court judgements and legal papers can be sent to squat a-z c/o Les Tanneries, 17 boulevard de chicago - 21000 Dijon
We later came across similar structures of solidarity between squats throughout Europe: Weekly collective squat opening in Amsterdam, local and national squatter meetings, emergency lists for solidarity between squats of the area in Barcelona.
We have also considered the possibility of gathering people from different places to help open squats in towns where the squatter scene is less active or the repression is stronger.
If you want to know the law, ask an anarchist!..
Squat.net international Legal Guide
Squat.net is an international resource for squatted projects, self organised spaces and temporary autonomous zones. As part of a planned re-launch being worked on for the site, we are producing an international legal resource to provide basic information for people travelling between projects and actions so they can get informed before they go, and to provide an international overview of the contexts we are all acting in.
We have made a basic list of questions that we want to answer for as many countries as possible and put together as an international resource, focussing on what the laws are, and, more importantly, on what tends to happen in practice:
It would be really helpful if you could send us basic answers to these questions, based on the experiences in your country, as well as copies of any existing legal guides and resources for your country in digital format, in as many languages as possible to:
legal [at] squat.net
* What is the legal and practical status of squatting in your country?
* What happens when you are arrested? What is the process How long they can hold you for What are your rights What you should and should not do
* What to do if someone you know is arrested?
* What happens if you are stopped by police in the street? do you have to give ID, passport? Personal searches? What are your rights?
* What is the situation for foreigners? (different treatment for EC/non EC citizens? Deportations, Special prisons, what are your rights? How useful are the Embassies? Etc.)
* House searches What to do? What are your rights?
* On the Streets special legal or practical information for demos and actions
* Anything else you think is particularly important in your country (e.g. use of anti-terrorist laws, hitch hiking)
* General information about the police (different police forces, common police tactics etc.)
* Contacts for legal support groups, links to local legal resources
As part of the international legal guide we are putting together for squat.net, we would also like to develop some kind of international overview of the attacks and erosion of our political space over the past decade. We are therefore looking for analyses of legal changes and strategies of repression of grassroots activism in your city or country over the past five or ten years. We would like to know:
* Has repression and social control increased in your country over the past five to ten years? How?
* What new laws have been introduced? e.g. Anti-terrorist legislation, Civil Laws (housing, labour etc), Public Order legislation/freedom of assembly (such as the Crinimal Justice Act in the UK, or the Codigo Penal in Spain)
*How have those laws been applied?
*How has the practice of social control changed?
*How are they using surveillance? e.g.Patiot Act in US, CCTV, Phone tapping, ID cards and controls etc.
* Who are the main targets of this repression?
* What impact has this had on grassroots political activity and on society in general?
*Is there anything else you think it is important to know about the situation in your city/country?
We are also very interested to receive more in depth analyses of specific aspects of repression in different places. ( e.g. CCTV and ID cards in the UK // Phone tapping in Holland // repressive cooperation between different states, such as the ³Operacion Cervantes² targeting anarchists in Italy, Spain and Greece). And also international instruments of social control such as Europol and biometric passport systems.
If you are interested in collaborating in any part of this project, please contact:
legal [at] squat.net
"The toboggan", squat opening in Dijon...
A banner, Barcelona-style "an empty house is a waste of space" hung over the Rue Charles Dumont, as people from various European countries gathered on the pavement, in front of the barricaded doors and around a breakfast table, waiting for an eventual visit from the police. Several genial old ladies opened their windows to us, donating a bag of crisps or some rain clothes, and cheering the news of a new squat. Being between two conferences, PGAers in Dijon went to support the opening of a new squat in Dijon, "le toboggan" (the slide) It comprises two disused bars and the flats above them, with a garden, near to the city centre. The living collective wishes to put in place various activities open to all in the area where they feel, at the moment, very welcome. Until now, the squat seems to have the feeling that it will stay and that there are things that need to be done and then continued...
Movie project about squatting in Europe
During the week of debates about the autonomous spaces in Dijon, we decided to realize à short documentary movie about squatsaround europe. The movie offers you 10 short interviews of squatters living in various european countries. They all tell a few words about their local legal/practical situation, about the state of their local squat scene and give intimate accounts of great stories of resistance. Part of the movie should be presented during the centralised gathering. Copies of the movie should be available by writing at email@example.com
When « when the streets are burning » gather in the garden... it is good there
At the end of august, at Les Tanneries, there was going to be a meeting about the french movement of spring 2006 at the PGA conference. About ten people arrived in Dijon finally realising their hope of meeting other participants of the struggle. People from Dijon, Grenoble, Lyon, Paris, Rouen, Nancy, Montpellier and elsewhere crossed the street, went down the garden path and met them under the fruit trees that would become their meeting point for the next week. One workshop was born through the collective questioning of each others local experiences. The principal themes discussed were general assemblies and occupations, demonstrations and actions, networks, the sudden ending of the movement and what has come out of the movement. At first, we talked about our experiences sharing anecdotes and details that people were unaware of and glad to hear about. As the days passed, we moved from telling stories to analysing, using the opportunity of meeting different people to move beyond just the facts and the particuliar experiences. We discussed our lives during the struggle remembering our defeats and (numerous) successes during our actions, on the streets and in the places we were occupying: occupations of premisees, experiments of autonomous living in the universities, unauthorized demonstrations, economic blockades and other radical actions. The discussions were about the analysis of these defeats and successes to learn how not to make the same mistakes next time. In particular we talked about how to take part in the general assemblies, the different actions to take when confronted by police, the different types of occupation, how to make the actions more visible and effective and how to self-organise in occupied places. We also discussed the reasons for the abrupt end of the movement, the means to have the movement go on, how to broaden the demands from just the changing of one law or institution and how to build a more diverse movement. Through the analysis some questions appeared that we didn't have sufficient time to talk about, questions of how to break out of the radical ghetto, the possibilities of creating permanent links between activists and people from the suburbs (especially after the riots of november 2005) and about tactics for de-arresting and prisoner solidarity. We will have future meetings that we hope to be even more succesfull and productive than the last week has been because we have discovered that both our politics and lifestyles are very similar. The outcome of the meetings is three different projects : a book containing flyers and texts from the movement, a book about different experiences in different towns and cities and a book analysing the movement based on the discussions we had, including a short guide to the practical experiments this spring. These are ambitious projects but it reflects our will to continue this collective reflection and establish links that we can use in the future.
- Psycotic Gardening Acquaintences
Some links about anti-CPE uprising:
The CPE, a drop in a lake of rage (Grenoble): http://infokiosques.net/IMG/pdf/2006_CPE_lake_of_rage_A4-A5_ENG.pdf http://winnipeg.indymedia.org/item.php?3130S Documents from the Anti-CPE Uprising in France http://www.bopsecrets.org/recent/france2006.documents.htm Reflections on the Uprising in France http://www.bopsecrets.org/recent/france2006.htm Graffiti from the Anti-CPE http://www.bopsecrets.org/recent/france2006.graffiti.htm
Autonome: Movement and repression
This are extracts from a series of interviews done during the first week of meetings at the PGA decentralised conference at The Tanneries in Dijon. To read the whole article go to:
There have been some strong uprisings in Greece. On the 17th of November 1974 students occupied the Politechnical School of Athens and made a call to people to rise up against the dictatorship. The left was divided into different groups; Trotskyites, Maoists and Leninists. The anarchist movement did not exist. Most people in Greece supported the revolts against the dictatorship except members of the government and a few people who supported the dictatorship.
According to official figures, 70 to 80 students were killed when a military tank entered the Politecnic School in Athens and drove over some of the students that were occupying it. The students' uprising was an important factor in the falling of the dictatorship. Since the events of 1975 every year on the 17th November students all over Greece take over the streets doing different direct actions and demonstrations.
In May 2006 the students rose up against the privatisation of education and against a new law that prohibits free assemblies in universities. Ninety-five percent of the universities were then taken over by the students. In Greece student assemblies have been running for many years and are an official right. The uprising this year was supported by students' parents, workers and many other organisations.
In the nineties the anti-nuclear movement in Germany was very strong and organised. It was an inspiration to new activists. There were huge and very effective anti-nuclear demonstrations throughout Germany.
The protest against transporting nuclear waste uranium in 2001 through Northern Germany was the biggest of the decade. It was like the Seattle of Germany.
It was 100km South East of Hamburg, four or five villages were involved. There were many peace camps and every camp had an IMC station. It was one of the biggest clashes between police and protesters. There were 10,000 protesters and around 30,000 police officers. It was the first time that people were writing articles and reporting on the internet. It was the first time we reconstructed history. Before that the movement was scattered. It felt wonderful that IMC was there. I got involved with IMC after that. It lasted for one week, five hundred activists were arrested, almost everybody from the autonomous movement.
The law on squatting in Holland is that if a house is empty for one year it is legal to squat it. Officially breaking a door or a window is a crime in Holland but it is a law that is never enforced. There is a new law in Holland that people have to give their identity when police ask.
Squatters refuse to show their identity to police as a form of protest. Depending on how many squatters are together police can charge them. There are also new laws in the making that prevent people from occupying empty properties. There is a group of people touring Holland at the moment protesting against these laws as well as several squat-related actions. So far there have been many successful actions. In Utrecht, the caravan was evicted after a few days but the one in Leiden has been there almost a month. More centralised actions will follow and decentralised actions are being done evey week.
At the moment, in Barcelona, the autonomous spaces movement is diverse. Squatted buildings are divided into living spaces, squatted buildings for parties and the autonomous spaces centered around socio-political issues. There are also autonomous spaces created in rented buildings. The autonomous spaces are used to coordinate actions, to create and publish pamphlets, newspapers and news letters, and to provide free internet for people in general.
At the moment in the southern suburbs of Stockolm there is an autonomous space being built in a junk yard with metal containers. Autonomos groups have been fighting for many years to have a physical space and the government has not yet been able to offer them a building.
In 2001 during the EU summit George Bush was in Sweden, 25,OOO people were protesting in the streets. Several ways of protesting were used, such as street parties and riots. Several hundred people were arrested, 50 to 60 were sentenced to 2 or 3 years in prison.
The Centrum is a mixed group of students, squatters, punks and anarchists but not everybody in the group squats for political reasons. The hard core organising members of the group are part of another group that is openly political and anarchist. One of their survival strategies is to make good use of the media. In Hungary squatting is new so people don't have much knowledge of squatting. They are trying to present a good image of it to get people's support in case of police repression.
When they do a squat action, they get on the TV evening news, talk shows, news papers and radio programmes. When they occupy a house they make sure it is a big house in an important neighbourhood. They make a big ceremony and because in Hungary nobody occupies houses, this is big news. In Hungary there is not a big anarchist scene. There are not big actions, only official NGOs, and therefore any illegal action catches the media's attention.
The Collective Everything 4 Everyone, exists in an autonomous space created in a house next to an old theatre in an area marked for demolition. The aim of the collective running the space is to take a stand against capitalism. The space was opened in february 2006. In the six months they have been in this space they have gone through strong experiences that have served to create bonds of friendship and organisational structures for the anticapitalist movement.
At the beginning the struggle was to protect the space against eviction. They barricaded themselves inside the place and didn't leave the space alone for a moment. In April they found out that the eviction have been postponed because of coming elections. They left the siege and started living in the space and working to make it into a social centre.
vision of a practical solidarity network between squats and other autonomous zones
[the lack of upper-case letters is intended]
motivating and inspiring people to participate in autonomous space activities, by making them more familiar and (kind of) attached to one (or more) such project(s). this includes considering the particular facilities, characteristics and ways of life to be experienced in any given place and of course the cultural context (especially important in relation of eastern & western europe).
sharing skills and mutual learning by both guests and hosts.
as a new wave of repression hits the european squatting scene, it becomes more and more important to be familiar with each other's struggles,and get to know the people and spaces that could be attacked by the state or landlords.
autonomous zone projects (squats, social centres, community farms, etc.): facilitating a trusted network for people who want to spend a longer time (possibly a few months) at other projects in order to learn about each others' local struggles; to help with whatever actual project that autonomous zone is focusing on, in any given period, and to become familiar with surroundings that the guest is probably not used to.
each participating project becomes a starting point for people who want to travel to another region to visit another project. participating projects are also encouraged to offer to host people according to their needs and capacities.
people are only sent to another project when they bear the trust from the sending side – still this is no guarantee but a kind of recommendation. agreement between the guests and the hosts includes some assistance from the sender project: this means, with this recommendation the hosts can have more confidence in the guest, and be better prepared to welcome someone who is actually interested in the issues they work on. (it often happens that no real connection can be forged because the hosts are overwhelmed by random visitors, so it all remains on the level of squat tourism.)
for all this to become reality, it would be useful to use one or more of the already existing solidarity networks between autonomous spaces (squat.net, conaction.tk, tsolife.org, intersquat france, and more), to avoid duplicating our efforts. it would be also nice to see how already existing networks could be interconnected and to strive for a better coordination.
and on a strictly practical level...
there is a database being created about european squats and autonomous zones, it should be accessible on squat.net soon. it will contain information about the a.z.'s themselves, about their needs for skills, their facilities (i.e. what can be done there) and their capacity as hosts (how many people, for how long time, when).
there will be a questionnaire that potential guests should fill in. this could be a flexible 'who are you and wish list' form which can be changed by each local project, for their own needs (= if you want to ask extra questions or think that some are not important for you as a host to know, just change the questions). it could include skills to be offered, description of motivation, expectations, etc. guests no travel costs would be covered by either side. try to hitch hike.
participation in the activities of a project is a prerequisite. guests partake in the shared resources of the project they are hosted at (to be agreed, but basically it's about covering their needs: food, shelter, possibly clothing). if someone refuses to participate, they can be just sent away ( wherever). in this case, the sending side (where they came from)should be contacted for their feedback. (sometimes it happens that someone is driven out from one place and starts to spread rumours that help conflicts to arise. it is always better to talk about problems overtly than just leaving them.)
it's nice to get some feedback ( in both directions) even during the stay. this can be a motivating factor for guests who will return to their home and work on projects inspired by their experiences.
personal motivation for pushing this idea...
we are from eastern europe, hungary, which is not fertile ground (yet) for alternative ideas. though some people try to live their lives in a kind of an alternative manner, it's not organized or networked, and such attempts remain isolated. many of them can't stand this isolation any longer and just give up or get “normal” again. seeing examples of how it works in other regions can inspire people to take the experience back home, and setting up an organized way for this exchange puts some responsibility on people not to keep it just for themselves but try to expand it and help others to build up local solidarity networks (which are hard to imagine in such a hostile environment without seeing that it can really work or at least having some contact with those who have already got some experience of alternatives).
and for westerners, it could be an interesting experience to see what can be done when there is no movement background for such activities, when there is no tradition for it and creative experiments and/or courage are needed to establish something.
what we expect
even if people are not interested in making this idea a europe-wide effort, we will try to build partnerships with autonomous projects continent- and possibly world-wide. anyone who is interested in developing a partnership please get in touch.
ak57 d.i.y. khommunity khlub 1074 budapest, dohàny u. 57. (ring 128 at the doorbell, then find the basement on the right of the courtyard) http://ak57.zpok.hu firstname.lastname@example.org sms +36 20 488 8629 (if you come for a visit, please write us 2 weeks before you arrive. thanks.)
autonomous spaces reportback and concrete proposals
one of the topics in our group was the question on how to strengthen the political impact of our movement through better networking. there were several ideas on how to improve mutual exchange between autonomous spaces. below you will find short paragraphs describing each of the ideas that have been worked out further.
* squat.net redesign
squat.net is due to be redesigned and is collecting ideas on how to be of more use for the movement. one of these ideas is it can function as a database for finding autonomous spaces throughout europe/the world. in practice this will probably take shape in the form of a map on the website, where you can see which autonomous spaces are where. everyone is welcome to send information about the spaces they are involved in to email@example.com (also hints on programming these type of applications is welcome )
another useful function of the database could be simplifying practical solidarity between spaces. if everyone publishes what they are looking for or can offer (be it printers, wood, onions or tools), we can all make better use of our collective resources.
* emergency calls
some people expressed the need of a centralized point for public calls for action linked with autonomous spaces on an europewide level. still there is the need for more discussion how to organize it. current projects are the german based wiki website conaction.tk and the idea to create an emergency section on squat.net with calls whem people are needed somewhere for evictions, squat opening, actions, international solidarity campaigns, money solidarity . the most practical thing to do could be to link both. the discussion will go on during the centralized meeting in a workshop.
* long term exchange projects
for strengthening personal motivations to practice solidarity in emergency, some of us raised the idea of an exchange project between autonomous spaces (see the article about it), for long term cooperation. this could also be integrated into the already existing networks in order to avoid multiple work on connected issues. ideas for this include a database under squat.net, which could even be an advanced version of anarchist yellow pages (ayp.subvert.info). however, this again should be further discussed during the centralized meeting and further on in working groups.
* legal information project
to support the international movement around autonomous spaces, a group of people decided to start collecting legal information on squatting and everything involving a "squatter lifestyle" on a centralised point. this should offcourse include information about the laws concerning squatting, but also more general and practical information regarding issues you might run into on your travels through europe. (for instance whether it's legal to hitchhike, etc.). you can find the call for contributions elsewhere in this newspaper. hopefully the results will soon be findable on http://legal.squat.net
* book project
to continue with the reflection and analysis of our movement some people initiated a collective-written book project. it should contain historical aspects as well as present struggles. it's supposed to be something that brings together the common attitude based on the common history that binds together squatters all over the world. why we often feel more related to another squat a thousand kilometers from our own homes then to our own neighbours. rendering a picture of the invisible, portraying the untouchable unity for diversity. so if you have already or like to write nice texts or interviews to get published send them to firstname.lastname@example.org
* european squatters video interviews
a little movie project started out of the decentralized meeting in dijon. the simple idea was to give voice to squatters from different countries to talk briefly about the legal situation in the country they are squatting. squatters also give an overview about the squatter scene in their place and do a bit of story telling about examples of resistance. hopefully we can present a raw cut at the end of the centralized conference. radio activists who might be interested to get voice records from the interviews, send a mail to email@example.com .
* selforganization & internal problems of autonomous collectives
When autonomous projects fail it is often not because of repression from the state, but caused by internal problems. Thats only one reason to occupy with the theme mentioned above. The other is: if we want to create another society we should start within our collectives. In some countries exist handbooks dealing with discussion methods, ideas how to deal with conflicts, organizing strategies. In others not.
The idea is to make a list of those handbooks and make it available on the new squat.net, so it is easier to find those texts. If you know an activist handbook, collection of group methods or anything similiar in whatever language, you are invited to add it to: http://stamp.poivron.org/InternalProblemsInAutonomousSpaces
There is also a plan to edit a comprehensive brochure including the methods used by collectives, in the following working fields: economy and allday life, internal communication and decision-making, spreading info to the "outside", networking, and issues specialized to urban (squats and social centers) and rural (communes, community farms) surroundings -- all linked together in order to create a useful reader for non-linear minds. Working title is "Feed the Fire", and of course we want to steal a lot from the guides collected (see above). If you are strongly motivated to work on this project, please contact public secret agent johnny crash via riot.boogie(at)gmail.com.
Social Struggles CPE and Greece
Listening to stories of struggles in France...
Lets begin with two that I found emblematic: The guy from a provincial town who goes to Paris to do some "riot tourism", then changes his mind and goes back home to commit slightly less spectacular crimes, but with a bunch of people he didn't know before at all. Or that other rather too peaceful town, but where the students do actually have the brilliant idea of the "Personalise your cops!" contest - each faculty using eggs filled with a different color of paint.
I have the impression that the movement made a step forward with regard to the different levels of illegality or "violence", which seems to have at last been approached without complexes: neither taboo nor fetishised.
In different cities, the forms of struggle varied greatly, from occupations and blockades to "house-moving" unemployment offices and pitched battles. There was also not so much "specialisation" of actors (blakblok or not blakblok, etc.). With the result that the kinds of actions seem to have been more frequently than usual spontaneously adapted and accorded to the spirit of the bulk of the demonstrators. Consequently, they were often accepted in a powerful diversity of tactics (as in the best moments of the anti-globalisation struggles), instead of becoming a factor of division and an excuse for repression.
If "violence" isn't fetishised, it isn't the number of things broken that is important (actually breaking things is kind of stupid i
Social Movements and the Uprising in Greek Universitie
One of the subjects that were discussed during the decentralised conference in Dijon:was about the social movements that shattered Europe during the last year. We organised a discussion so as to inform people about the student movement that emerged in Greece on May-June 2006,to share experiences and views and to discuss about the possibility of building links between the different struggles in France,Greece and other countries.
The uprising in the Greek universities was the largest student movement of the last 16 years in Greece.It started as a reaction to a law, the right wing government wanted to pass,which would made studies more intense ,allowing expellation of students that would not pass a number of lessons,or would not finish their studies in a scheduled time, a law that would radically reform university studies , making them more "Market-Friendly".
The occupation of universities,first initiated in Athens and Patras,Quickly spread and in two weeks 440 out of 450 faculties were occupied by their students.Besides occupations, students engaged in other actions like street blockading,disturbance of shopping centers,or street theater.Huge demonstrations were held that met a strong repression from the state and many times ended up with big confrontations in the streets between demonstrators and police forces.
In the occupied universities assemblies were held that were organised in an horizontal way.The Communist Party (which at first was against occupations) and other smaller leftist parties made themselves appear as leaders of the movement and repeatedly tried to impose their line on the general assemblies. In many cases the lack of a different,radical view was obvious since a big part of the anarchist scene refused to take part in such assemblies, practically abandoning the field to the reformists.
During the mobilisations many students were radicalised and in many cases the demands raised went beyond student issues adressing deeper social problems. The government in the fear of a bigger social explosion decided to withdraw the law at least until October and the elections for municipal councils.
The uprising in France which started as a reaction to the CPE law was of a very big influence among Greek students. We can mention that one of the slogans that was shouted during the demonstrations was "France shows us the way".Furthermore it starts to become clear to more and more people that attempts to reform education, flexibilise labour markets,attack social security systems are policies that regional governments would like and will try to impose on the whole region that is called European Union.It is therefore important to build links between our movements and work on forming a common resistance platform,a common resistance consciousness.In their attempt to attack our lives they should remember that they will find us in their way.
For further communication contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Others workshops and reflexions
My experience of one week at the decentralised PGA conference in Dijon
by Teresa Teran
I participated in a screaming workshop for females only. It was organised by Lotte a girl from Germany. When Lotte told me about the workshop I understood it was a streaming workshop. I thought cool, a streaming video workshop for women only, we are probably trying to create techy solidarity between women. We agreed to meet at the information point the next day at 3pm. Next day while waiting in the spacious corridor of the Tanneries some of us lay on the floor taking advantage of the warm light of the sunshine.
When Lotte arrived and directed us to the open field opposite the Tanneries squat, I thought a streaming video workshop in the open field would be interesting. After a while I realised that it was about screaming. We passed by a group meeting and walked further so as not to disturb them but soon we reached the borders of the open field and the houses started to appear.
When we found a spot that felt comfortable we made a circle and started to discuss the workshop. Lotte introduced her idea, screaming is related to women and to hysteria. Hysteria is an illness invented by a man called Freud, therefore it could be said to have been invented by men.
For me there is a deep feeling of breaking the accepted social behaviour when screaming. That makes me very scared of being allienated through percieved madness. One of Lotte's proposal was to scream in a crowded room or in the middle of a meeting. If one of us felt opressed in a meeting she could start screaming and the others would follow.
After screaming in the field I felt a wonderful sense of release. I spoke with Ana a spanish girl participating and she said 'yes your face has changed, your expression is really relaxed'. I noticed the faces of some of the other girls had changed too, Jessica an American girl who normally has a sweet but unexpressive face had a tint of wilderness in her eyes.
I felt that some of the ego barriers I had constructed within myself as a result of social formalities relaxed. I saw the other women in a different way.
I have learnt a lot in this week through sharing a common living with many different people from different places and countries. It has made me think about behavioural patterns ingrained in myself that sometimes makes communication with others very difficult.
This is a community of people that nurtures the human spirit over social formalities. During this week we have been having many meetings every day to discuss the different topics all of us care about. Social injustice, the environment. We have disscused how to connect the different struggles and networks to make the movement stronger.
The worries are that the movement is scattered. In all these years of international gatherings, talking meetings, protests and direct actions we haven't been able to construct a solid block to stop the ravages that radical capitalism imposes on our lives and the environment.
One thing I personally learnt in this PGA meeting, my first international gathering, is that there are a lot of us and that our will to convert the actual system into a more human one is a strong one. Although our aims manifest into many different wishes and dreams we have a lot in common. There is a strong desire to re-connect with the human essence of the world.
Debate on Access to the land
In Toulouse we occupied a field during a week, trying to interact with a neighbourhood that is threatened by speculative urban development, organising autonomous building workshops, creating a garden... Then we went to Baluet, a place occupied by a collective trying to develop autonomy in the countryside, that has to deal with with land ownership issues. In these two places we had debates about the issue of access to the land, with alternative farmers or "neo-rural" people.
How can we strengthen the numerous attempts made to appropriate land, in a collective way, fighting against speculation on land, capitalism and patriarchy, knowing that many groups have split, and that private property can quickly take over ?
The difficulties are huge: Under the reign of capitalism, we changed from a farming system that produced its own food and only sold its excess production, to agricultural companies and farmers that buy their food in the supermarket and basically have the same lifestyle as residents of the city. Speculation on land is rising, in some regions rich people's secondary residences from the north occupy the market, the "cool" opportunities to get land are sometimes just don't exist.
Which alternatives will really be able to fulfil people's basic needs (food, habitat...) on a collective or even global scale? This question will become crucial with the oil peak. How is it possible to gain autonomy in the unlivable metropolis created by capitalism? Cuban and irish experiences suggest that urban community garden are an important issue: creating poaches of food autonomy allows to make cities partly sustainable , to create community bonds, to make a first step towards global issues for many people.
In the countryside, more and more groups are developing and face constant problems, like the power of some institutions. These groups practice different struggles and compromises to keep the land in the long run. Occupations often lead to buying part of the land and buildings (like in Baluet), for which different legal tools are used.
Which compromises are most accurate when we set technical tools to prevent speculation ? The groups willing to buy land in a collective way in France gather as a GFA (agricultural land ownership group) or a SCI (real estate civil society) to buy land that they rent to one or more farmers. GFA has basically a capitalist structure with speculative aims, but these groups, that need a legal status, try to use this tool in an egalitarian way but on the long run (mortgages...) many become speculative again. It seems a SCI allows to build associative structures that one can define more freely.
To build that kind of project is, according to the concerned people that were there, a compromise taking account of the fact that an agrarian revolution is unlikely to happen soon, while trying to create collective dynamics that differ from private property, to practice agriculture and keep a few pieces of land out of speculation. Nevertheless, this won't be enough to stop speculation: Are we not limited with this kind of approach, to "cool" opportunities in the margins of the system? That's when we come to the issue of building up strength to struggle.
All kinds of questions arise: How to develop solidarity networks, be they "town-countryside" or "countryside-countryside"? Such networks exist in a few regions, like between urban squats (out of which many "neo-rurals" come) and rural communities , giving place to exchanges and helping each other. Between different alternative rural places, some pf them existing for more than one generation, experiences should be shared more systematically, although it is sometimes already done through meetings, workshops, independent media...
It's important to have in mind that some relationships developed in the local villages can be crucial sometimes to prevent eviction or destruction. Relationships can also be created through AMAPs (associations to maintain proximity agriculture) or "vegetable deliveries" systems, if non-monetary trades are possible, otherwise the price select people on their income, making no connections with poorer people.
Buying land is unimaginable for urban poor people. How can we break the limits of small affinity groups? How can we make bridges with other worlds, in which different codes and norms are used? It demands much work of deconstruction of our norms, and also much perseverance in approaching other environments. How to invite and welcome people that land in places whose ways to function are unfamiliar? A meal or working together to know each other, discussions to identify expectations and talk about projects... A whole work that demands much attention, that we're often not ready to give.
De facto we are now in a paradoxical situation : on the one hand many people are looking for places, on the other hand many places lack people, or have even been abandoned. So it's really important not only to make sure we keep the land, but also the group and the will to live together.
How can we dismantle domination situations inside our groups? Building strength against state institutions seems possible only if we consolidate our groups, deconstructing the kind of relationships coming from patriarchy that recreate oppression among ourselves and caused so many groups to split up. Various tools exist: task sharing, regular assemblies, speech appropriation groups, to make our feelings visible and analyse our mechanisms, role playing, external mediation, sharing experiences between different generations...
We should also think about how much of our time do we want to spend for survival, how much for political action, how much for human relationships, how much for playing and creativity... Not to fall in a dynamic of work separated from life! If the system's constraints let us the choice...
Finally one can't separate all these issues from the global context of capitalism, its globalisation, the dispossession we all know. In the struggles for access to the land, one one gets to oppose to many institutions, so the pressure we can create on them with our actions is also necessary. Which brings us back to the interest of structures such as PGA to help to coordinate struggles.
To keep going on about these issues we've opened up, an help to organise la solidarity between the places, we've established a contact list (mainly in the south-west of France, but not only thanks to PGA), and we hope it's going to be used, depending on everyone's initiatives.
Returning to the discussions on the suburbs and how to deconstruct the normative discourses that govern us
This year, there's been a lot of actions at the Reynerie. How to continue these actions and motivate more people ? A lot of associations demands like Reflets following the national music fest organised at the Reynerie.
Work has first to be done on the theme « we're not going to carry them the good word ». It's a matter of deconstructing a premade discourse. Not wait also that the events to fire up to act. Some discussions have taken place at Sans-Titres after the riots. The main observationwas to say that it was useless to to act in precipitation. The question is rather to create long term connexions. One has to remind the history of the relations between town and suburbs.
The question to ask ourselves first so is a bit like « what makes that we're driven to prejugements, with premade discourses ? » We have to express our fears, in relation to the lack of respect for our intimate space. This fear can be managed notably with the help of discussion groups.
The malaise of a first confrontation comes from both sides, cause by the use to different modes of expression. Talking about the prejugements can also have the opposite effect by creating new psychological barriers. We mustn't forget also the collective subconscious about the suburbs, created within an educational and mediated contexte.
The door to door is a efficient way to meet and has allowed to rapidly create connections. The listening was big on the part of the inhabitants, breaking the prejugements, breaking notably the usual veiled understanding, of the youngster with sport shoes, that the mass medias convey.
The submission of women is an understanding coming out of the (still too much) present social context. At the example of this group of veiled women of the Reynerie, who intervened by taking the guns of the anti-criminal police, during the national music fest. The mass medias in fact constructs social closure.
The malaise also exists in a strong manner for the people of the suburbs who come downtown by the fact they use other modes of expression. It is indispensable to pass by a phase of deconstruction of the cultural baggages. The cultural baggage draws its origin in our « roots ». We should accept them, and not pacify them with a « french way » integration. The majority of the young rioters spoke in the mainly about their roots.
The greatest danger is to talk of an egalitarian « we », and not taking in account of the differences to better admit them. Fighting against uniformity is essential.
The dry toilets of Bellevue
I love to go to the toilets; Yes it's a big thing in my life. And my arrival on the plateau of the 1000 cows is not without consequences on the acceleration of that pleasure : I've to tell you about the dry toilets of Bellevue. First of all obviously, it's an alternative to the massive possibly damaging use of a precious resource – water. Secondly, it properly values organic waste, political stance of transformation ( fertilizer for example) Also it provides a new way of thinking about cleanliness, the non-odor attitude... [The “body-without-organs” ?, look for Antonin Artaud] in relation to one's own life. And then, here the toilets are build in such a way that they have become a real place of contemplation, of meditation, of silence ( which doesn't necessarily means lack of noises, as peace wouldn't be total absence of of war...), hum. These toilets are raised up with stunning view of the plateau, the forest, plant life, greenery, vitality...
Hmm, it makes me so happy, it's almost too much... The abuse of sigh, of this solitary and life-giving breath offered by the toilets of Bellevue.
Birth/ pregnancy theme
Report of the “Pregnancy/Birth” workshop, animated by Isabelle and Carole. Sunday morning; on the August 20th Bellevue
We are welcome in the hut by Isabelle and Carole, two persons close from the DOULAS movements (“°servant°” ancient greek) and Ama (“°mother°”). The DOULAS are medical belongings, unlike mid-wives. We rather are girls, a boy among us.
They are introducing the morning with these strong topics: OVER MEDICALISATION pregnancy and birth OVER TAKING CARE of the role of the future mother, then the child Question of the patient RIGHT (The autonomy of the patient related to health, neglected or badly informed medical profession...) As an example: Neither ultrasound or blood tests are compulsory women can also refuse vaginal touch, systematic and often intrusive Pregnancy declaration is not compulsory, it is only a formality to obtain, for example child benefits. The seven compulsory visits can be made by the mid-wives.
THE CHOICE OF GIVING BIRTH AT HOME:
+Often, the social and medical pressure related to this desire seems to discourage the parents for their first pregnancy. A pressure that the radicalism of the choice help to overtake: listen to our desire, trust oneself. +Allows the non OVERPROTECTION used in hospitals and clinics: To do not eat, do not go to the toilet... +Allows to ask oneself the question of the POSITION; the lying down position (used in clinics and hospitals) is called into question: The sit down position is by far more natural for the coming out of the baby, as well as the mother's work. Furthermore, it allows the companion to accompany the mother's body, to carry it, to touch it... This position cancels all the 'manipulator' behavior from doctors during classical child birth. +Allows to be at home, in the middle of its odors, colors... To sleep together, all three, the mother, the father,the baby...without nay brutal and useless separation with the entourage and the birth. To be in private. +Allows to regain the own taking care of the pregnancy.
THE CHOICE OF GIVING BIRTH AT HOME ENTERS WITHIN AN APPROACH OF SHARING AND MEETING WITH ONESELF:
+To take in mind that a child tells us things about our pregnancy +To inform oneself about the different approach at three, through 'haptonomie' (?) for example: +To take into consideration the “child birth” of the placenta. +To take the time for talks, to tell about its fears, its hopes with the accompanist of this adventure, but also between her and her companion.
During the morning, two questions are opening toward new thoughts, such as:
+The accompaniment during “non assisted birth”, that is to say that parents are alone during the child-birth. This practical experience is legal but complicates sometimes the following. As an example, once, for a birth declaration, the police have been contacted to pick up the whole family to make sure that everything was alright.
- +The accompaniment of a pregnancy which would not end up (here, the abortion is the starting point of the talk):
- o It is counting for nothing! Neither as an essential time which exists for the woman and man bodies' or as a moment which sometimes shifts...: o During the abortion, the companion does not have the right to be present. o During 'datation' ultrasound, we do ask suggest to explain what has been seen. This approach of non information is present during the whole preparation of the abortion. o The anesthetist encourages to a global anesthesia during the intervention: This way, you won't have any memory of it. o During all these meetings, you are considered as a patient who has a disease to resolve, and to resolve quickly. It is all about technicality. o Abortion at home is forbidden o In a social way, we are lost around this act. The woman and the man cannot consider what they are going through only if they are already into an approach of consciousness of the present time. Only if him and her wish to live entirely what this fertility evokes to them. It is like if the pregnancy interruption was not though with a project, a project which modify often where we are. A pregnancy, even stopped, have to find her place in her existence, whatever can this existence last: To keep in mind what is going on, what is here, to tell us what is not.
General Situation and Evolution
« oh, it 'S raining, take cover », « no, in the end the sun's come out, let's go to the lake », « should we make the party outside? », « no, don't worry, we'll organise to leave for the room in Villard »... there you go, that was the weather.
But, apart from that, we are a good forty or so people living and sleeping here, a few more maybe when neighbours come by to eat or attend a workshop, a lot more during the party or in the projection of the film « Alerte à Babylone ». The official language is French, not one non-french speaking person has turned up, telling us in advance or not. This was not such a big problem, as the waiting list was long. And it didn't reduce the diversity of participants, who came from the countryside and the city, those with an in depth knowledge of the PGA or those totally ignorant of this political space, fans of marathon discussions or those looking more for practical workshops...
Finally, the autonomy found it's place just as much in the discussion of a text from Foucault on the role of medical power to control populations, as in the things done for the first time: starting up a chainsaw, making 50 kilos of bread, making your own toothpaste, recognising plants. And in the self examination of your genitals, or the sharing of experiences of being confronted with psychological suffering. Autonomy is also found in everything that gave ideas or examples, such as the Zapatista system of healthcare or the material organisation of Longo Maî.
This doesn't happen without taking into consideration our limits: the absence of an alternative to mental hospitals for crisis situations, the absurdity of looking for autonomy (self production of food or energy...) when nuclear, genetic or climatic threats are so clear. So we exchanged some stuff, we improvised, we spoke about a critical accompanying delegation to the mental hospital, of the necessity of joining political protests with the construction of alternatives.
There were also some points which raised a little debate, such as the ways that workshops were facilitated, or the feminisation of the spoken language, or also the question of whether we have to send our children to school. Another question was the usefulness and relevance of taking minutes, making films, taking photos. Is the important point not to live in the present, be in the place that you are, without always having to think about what will come out of it, what traces you are going to leave behind? And what lies behind this anxiety of not knowing everything that was said in the other workshops or the other places? Is the essence of a workshop really recorded in the minutes?
Collective autonomy is also formed by mutual protection, through ways to communicate non-violently and attention to our bodies (massages, waking up and falling asleep sweetly, vocal improvisation).
In the end, everyone spent the week gathering here a piece of information, there a piece of knowledge. The last thing to do is decide what could emerge at a collective level. Two perspectives were drawn out, which were promising as much as they were fragile. Of building things up locally on one hand, as the participation of local people in the workshops will encourage us to talk with each other, constructing projects based on shared political references and feelings, be they positive or negative. On the other hand, increasingly concrete discussions were happening around questions of material production, of collectives both rural and urban, etc. What will come out of it all? Let's see at the end of the week... or in ten years.
The political issues of psychological suffering
Global People Action Conference, August 2006, Bellevue, Limousin, France Psychological suffering workshops Non exhaustive Report
Psychological suffering workshops were animated by Alain Riesen, ergotherapist working at the moment in Geneva in an alternative structure of care psychologically suffering (Arcade 84). This is a living place, of care and activity opened on the city and its inhabitant-e-s, proposing restaurant, photography studio, computer lab, writing lab, etc. Alain Riesen possesses an experience in hospital milieux and psychiatric outpatients facilities.
We approached a number of themes during those workshops, notably sharing our experiences. This report is far from being exhaustive, but it presents a certain number of courses to better approach psychological suffering.
I Presentation by Alain Riesen
- 1/ A few references on the political context in Switzerland 2/ Clinical and mental health politics 3/ Resistances and struggles of patient-e-s
- 1/ Efficiency of antipsychiatric alternatives 2/ Secondary effects of neuroleptics 3/ Why therapeutic communities are not developed 4/ Understanding psychiatric crisis 5/ Pathways to « healing » 6/ prEvention 7/ Environement 8/ Relationship to addiction
III A few bibliographic references
- 1/ On the critique of psychiatric 2/ On antipsychiatry 3/ On the struggles of patients 4/ On the critique of work/ health relationships 5/ On the structures of which Alain Riesen participates
I PRESENTATION BY ALAIN RIESEN
1/ A few references on the context in Switzerland
Two ideological tendencies are more and more dominant in Switzerland and influencing the politics of public health : populism and neoliberalism. Populism designates a political force similar to the national front in France. It represent 15 to 20 % of the electorat and colors national politics.One of its technics of seizing power consists in stigmatising certain categories of the population. Strangers and disenfranchised populations are the examples denounced as sonstituing the causes of swiss problems. Since last years, people living with psychiatric disorders are also being stigmatised, considered as « responsible » for budget crisis and social crisis factors. All the social, political, human dimension of psychological suffering is born. Simultaniously, neoliberalism puts into question the social politic of the state. It's a matter of conditions/ frame of work, notably social security means and the protection of workers. Those rights, acquired by social struggles, are considered by Capital as an obstacle to profit and competition. So the tendency is for lower taxes and an extension of the market: The Privatisation of social services and the diminishment of health and education budgets.
2/ Clinical and mental health politics
In the 18th Century there was a profound transformation of the perception of mental health. We can consider the French revolution of 1789 as a key turning point in this evolution. Before that people presenting psychological troubles were considered to be « posessed by demons ». They were generally confined, for the evil to be excorcised. From 1789 a tentative explanation was developed to understand psychological troubles in a more rational medical way. The « posessed » became patients. Hospitals for the alienated were created.
- However patients were generally considered as incurable, irresponsable, or even dangerous. Interventionist techniques were : confined, restraint jackets, and slowly progressing to medicative techniques. The discovery of antidepressants and neuroleptics int he 20th Century introduced a change of the institutional mechanism. Letting more efficient psycological crisis management. Little by little, hospitals opened themselves to teh outside (for example, bars were removed from room windows.) But a lot of people spent decades, or even their whole lives in hospital; a totalitarian institution in the way it doesnt only take charge of the psychological aspects of a person, but his whole life.
Concerning the classification of psychological troubles the dominant model which has become prevalent throughout the West is the model called Bio-psycho-social. It classifies the psychological troubles into three groups :
The troubles of thought (schtzophrenia, psychosis...). Those are the most grave ailments, which affects ones capacity to think freely, with a certain logic. They modify a person's identity sometimes brutally. They're generally accompanied by visual hallucinations, smells, sounds, experienced as the person's reality, but not percieved by those around them. This can go until delirium, like persection delirium, omnipotent delirium, etc.Those are extremely intense interior experiences. Unimaginable to the common sense. Those effects are near to those of LSD and other psychotropics.
The troubles of mood (depression, bi-polar...). Those are longterm modifications of mood (loss of desire, appetite, sadness...). Those depressions can be reactional (after a death or an accident...) or endogeonous (persistant depression, impossible to find its cause). The troubles of emotion (nervosis, phobias, obsessive compulsive troubles...). Those are uncontrolled reactions of fear or anger when facing a certain situation. We are all subjects of nervosis to some degree.
The causes of the troubles are extremely difficult to establish. The diagnostic is very complex and lengthy. One advice: avoid hasty judgement on persons experiencing psychological troubles, most of the time we are mistaken! In the case of thought troubles we dont always know scientifically why a certain percentage of the population in all civilisations seems to develop these types of trouble (approximately 1% of the population). We only have hypothesis like:
Genetics : we would have according to our genes the predispositions for troubles of thought. It's a well funded major direction of neuroscience research. Environtmental context: Familial, professional, or social conditions can play a rôle as « stresser », catalysing the troubles. For instance for young adults psychotropics, or faraway travels (loàss of references, intense experiences) can play the rôle of catalyser.
But we must insist on the fact that those are only hypotheses, there is no scientific certitude So beware of prejudgments!
Corncering the contemporary classical institutional mechanism; without going into too much detail the mental heath services are organized by geographical sectors, regrouping sector a certain quantity of population (100 000 persons for instance). Each sector regroups a dispostive emergeny room, day center, therapy center, short-term hospitalisation, and general practice, etc...
Concerning intervention techniques, there also, without going in the details, we must note that they are plural : medication ( for instance neuroleptiques cut the delirium acting on the nervous system, but do not resolve the causes or the delirium), the psychotherapeutic approach (improving the comprehension and the psychic functionning), the cognitivo-comportemental approach (modifying the comportement of the patient to act on the trouble), the psycho-educative approach ( for example helping the patient to identify what catalyses the psychological troubles, in order to prevent the crisis).
3/ Patients resistances and struggles
The year 1968 gave place to a radical critique of psychiatric institutions which has notably been fed by the work of Michel Foucault, Erwing Goffman or Robert Castel (see the bibliography below). This contestion had an eminamently political character, because it assimilated psychiatric care to social repression, the asylum and carceral dimensions.
- Their critiques were concretised through a collection of the experienced alternatives. For example in France; the institutional psychothérapy (Tosquelles, 1984) tries to promote the developpement of the relational therapies as essential to give back the parole to the patients. The institutional dispositive is thus concieved as a space of care, and no longer as a confinement or control of the patients. In England (Barnes and Berke, 1973), therapeutic communities receive the patients in psychiatric crisis by limiting the use of physical restraint and medication. It's about not bridle the expression of the patients, but create living spaces where the person can live, go through his whole delirium, his own history of insanity, to « recover ». In Switzerland, the therapeutic community (Soteria, Berne) has been created in complementarity of the classical institutional dispositive. Entering in emergency hospital, the person in crisis can choose between a classical internment (confinement, injection, quick exit of the crisis) or a dispositive relationally intensive : therapeutic community without medication, or with little medication, in calm surroundings where the person is alone but protected 24/7 by a nursing personnel. For the person, this dispositve is more difficult, longer, but it lets him/her understand why she/he lives this delirium. This let the patient reappropriate himself the way of managing crisis. In Italy, the closing of the psychiatric hospitals (Basaglia, 1970) to the benefit of the socio-sanitary facilities present on the territory and the general hospital has prefigured the important developement of the intermediary structures in Europe : homes, protected apartments, accompanied individual apartments, care services and assistance at home, social and solidary companies, services for the promotion of the rights of the patients, creation of patients groups, spaces for professional training and for specialised job placement, meeting places and places of artistic creation, leisure organisations and community cultural spaces. All those realisations have a common denominator : the struggle against discrimination and exclusion of people suffering from psychic troubles.
Concerning the patients struggles, we must note in Switzerland the creation of collectives of persons living or having lived with psychic troubles (association « the Experience », association ATB, association of « voice hearers », association « without voice »). Generally acting from within the classical institutions, these associations try to reform the psychiatric dispositives, to make autoritarian practices, physical and symbolical abuse of patients disappear. A lot of demands concern too the identity of the suffering person : exit the representation of the sick/ sane person to recognise the singularity of one's experience, politically participate in decisions concerning them, develop autonomy and mutual support, develop knowledge of their own psychic troubles.
II QUESTIONS / ANSWER
1/ What is the efficiency of the antipsychiatric experiences in relation to the « classical dispositve » ?
Comparative scientific studies don't exist. Epidemiological studies cost very much : one has to study meticulously hundreds of files over a long period of time (at least 10 years). It exists at least one study realised in Lausanne on the « efficiency » of the classical psychiatric disposive concerning schizophrenia ( trouble of th thought). Approximatively; this study shows that, over the long term, a third of the patients recover or clearly improve his situation, a third stabilise his state at a given moment, a third see his troubles getting worst, whichever therapeutic method is persued.
2/ What are the secondary effects of neuroleptics ?
The « first generation » of neuroleptics had strong side effects : shaking ( sometimes uncontrolable), dry mouth. The « second generation » of neuroleptics have a lot less secondary effects. The neuroleptics, to stop psychiatric crisis, intervene on the fantasmatic thought production, on the imaginary. Some patients live very badly this impression of an « emotional no man's land », and ask to stop their treatment for that reason. The neuroleptics have effects on communication and socialisation : slowing down of thought, trouble with concentration, loss of memory, difficulties planning one's life and making choices. It can be important, to observe the progress of the troubles of thought, to create « therapeutic windows ». It concerns the progressive diminuation of the treatment, under medical control, to observe the progress of the patient. Let's remind to beware that treatment modification must be done by a medical crew. The most important is to never stop a treatment abruptly, because of the risks involved. In some cases, the treatment can last all life.
3/ Why aren't the therapeutic community experiences generalised ?
Several hypothesis can be avanced. The ideological difficulties : the primacy, through the health professionals, of classical approaches, oriented notably in direction of neurosciences, at the expense of the relational approaches. The economic difficulties : for a given patient, the therapeutic community costs more than a psychiatric hospital, because it needs a more important medical crew. Social difficulties : the emotional burden is very heavy to carry for the therapeutic crew, it requires deep changes in one's own life, and creates fears, fears of being swallowed up after supporting the patient so long and so closely.
4/ How to get through crisis ?
We have the duty of care toward a person who can commit self-harm under the effect of psychic troubles. This situation is most of the times delicate, because the person in delirium can refuse any treatment as long as she/he is not convinced, deeply, of the reality of her/his delirium. It's however important that the person find her/himself in a protected place. If the person is already followed by a psychiatrist, she/he must be directly contacted. The pick-up charge by a intitution allows to stop the crisis, avoid the point of non-return, calm the situation, and begin a relation with the therapist.
5/ What are the healing paths ?
To develop communication, to break up isolation, to support the suffering person in building a positive self-image . It can occur through physical, artistic expression, writing, etc., but also by the feeling of being useful in a living community, in a social group which happens through work or other activities. It' a a matter of recover a sense to life. It's also important that the person, with the help of a professional, can work on the understanding of their extraordinary circumstances (crisis, troubles...) that she/he live.
6/ What are the possibilities for the prevention of psychological suffering for the person's kin ?
A few paths : gathering information on the psychological troubles, especially via the internet ; researching potential treatment facilities, in order to find a treatment that fits the suffering person, where the person can live with different people than the usual surrounding, make concrete activities, do not stay alone ; talk of the situation with a suffering person ; try to identify the signs that lead to crisis ; search for complementarity between institutions, professionals, and the support of family and friends.
7/ How to improve the relations between the suffering person and their community ?
Often, the community tries to play a rôle. Each person is at the same time family, friend, therapist, assistant, social assistant, cop, attendant, etc. This leads to very difficult situations to live in ! It's important to find own's proper place, thanks to the care of the medical crew. In any case, the support community does not escape from the malaise, from the culpability, from the understanding. One should however feel afraid to express his feelings, to be honest with the suffering person. The worst is when the person feels permanently observed, scrutinised, watched for any signs of their condition worsening. Beware also of the self-fullfilling prophecy of repeating that a person is going to fall again in crisis, or to behave as if, it increases the risk of falling.
8/ The psychological suffering can be accompanied with addictions (alcholism; etc). How to help the person that wishes to stop using drugs.
Very often, the reactions of the community and the society in relation to defeat are negative : reproachment, mockery, fatalism, etc. However, it's the exact opposite. Studies show that it needs several tries, and so several failures, to succeed to come out of addiction. The more the person attempts, the better are the chances of success. Here's why one doesn't have to take responsability, but in contrary congratulate the persons who attempt brake their addiction, because soon or later they'll succeed.
III A FEW BIBLIOGRAPHIC REFERENCES
1/ On the critique of the psychiatric order
- L'ordre psychiatrique, R. Castel, Minuit, 1976 - Les métamorphoses de la question sociale, R. Castel, Fayard, 1995 - Histoire de la folie, M. Foucault, Gallimard, 1977 - Asiles, E. Goffman, Minuit, 1968
2/ On antipsychiatry
- Italian expérience
- L'institution en négation, F. Basaglia, Seuil, 1970 - La majorité déviante, F. Basaglia, 10/18, 1976 French expérience - Guérir la vie, R. Gentis, Maspero, 1971 - Eloge de la psychiatrie, F. Jeanson, Seuil, 1979 - Education et psychothérapie institutionnelle, F. Tosquelles, Matrice, 1984 English expérience - Un voyage à travers la folie, M. Barnes et J. Berke, Fayard, 1973
3/ On the patients struggles
- Plaquette de l'association des personnes atteintes de troubles bi-polaires et de dépression (ATB), Genève, 2004 - Troubles psychiques, carnet d'adresses genevois, brochure du Grepsy, Groupe de réflexion et d'échange en santé psychique, Genève, 2003 (Pro Mente sana, 40 rue des Vollandes, 1207 Genève) - Plaquette d'information de l'association L'expérience, Genève, 2004 - Plaquette de présentation du psy-trialogue, Genève, 2005 (Pro Mente sana...) - Revendication des usagers de la psychiatrie et du réseau d'aide aux personnes en difficultés psychiques, J-D Michel, Genève, 2001 ((Pro Mente sana...) - Plaquette de présentation du Réseau d'entraide des entendeurs de voix, Genève, 2005
4/ On the critique of the relation between work and health
- Souffrance en France, C. Dejours, Seuil, 1998 - Le facteur humain, C. Dejours, PUF, 1995
5/ On the structure with which participates Alain Riesen
- Classeur système qualité, Arcade 84, 2004 - Pour ne pas perdre sa vie à la gagner, brochure du Collectif travail, santé et mondialisation, 2002
- === A foray in search of medicine herbs with Thierry Thévenin ===
Bellevue, PGA, August 2006 www.herbesdevie.com
There are nearly 6000 species of plants in France, of which about 1800 grow in Limousin. Take a guide to local flora with you. A good one on local and wild plants is Pierre Lieutaghi : The book of useful plants, shrubs and trees, Ed Actes Sud. Plants tell the story of the past and the present of a given place. They are a response to the specific needs and limitations of soils and places. The functions they perform for the earth are often very similiar to those that they perform for us as medicines and remedies. They have a long lasting impact, for example, gorse is a sign of a forest or woodland that has been overgrazed, and you can still see this 50 years later.
- Often the botanical names of plants in specialist books are preceded by L. -
this signifies that it was originally identified by Linnaeus (18 th century, Swedish, generally considered the 'father' of botanical classification).
- You don't use any plants all the time, every day. If you think of plants having
a lifecycle, that we can follow in knowing when to use them ( for example, you can make a remedy from birch sap, while the sap is rising, 2-3 weeks, not longer.) A few guidelines and rules for picking and harvesting: pick the part of the plant that contains the most vital energy (flowers when the plant is flowering, fruit and no more of the leaves when it is producing fruit) Be aware of and respect the natural form and shape of a plant (the particular bush forms of lavendar, heather, thyme, savory). Ask permission from, and thank the plant for what you take. Never, ever pick everything ; always leave at least a quarter for reproduction. Go back the next year to see how your harvest affected the plant, and learn from this. Never harvest from the side of the road, or from places near wastewater drainage, where normally you find plants that perform bioremediation, and accumulate toxins. Harvest from places where that type of plant is present in great numbers, don't harvest from a plant on it's own.<<take plants from the place where they are florishing, or they are present in a great number, >> The best quality can be harvested at the beginning of flowering, the most potent energy corresponds to the period when there is always pollen. Never pick a plant unless you need it. Different ways to use and prepare plants: simple remedies: chew the plant, swallow or extract the essence in a tisane: put in cold water and heat just to a simmer or when it begins to boil. Take it off the heat, and leave to infuse for 10 mins, covered. Strain and serve. Don't use a metal pan; enamel, earthenware or glass is better. Don't boil any mucilagenous (very sticky sap, for ex comfrey) plant, as this is destroyed above 80° degrees C. If you make an infusion at a lower temperature, you can leave it to infuse for longer(30mn, 1 hour). A specifc case; Meadowsweet: don't heat above 70°C. To make decoctions, preparations for inhaling, tinctures: maceration of plants in alcohol ( between 70° and 90°) - fill the container with the plant material, cover with alcohol, seal and leave to infuse for one month, shaking every day, then filter and store in a dark place. You can put glass marbles into the jar when making a tincture to avoid oxidisation. In oil, you macerate in sunlight; leave the plants in oil in the sunlight all summer long, without sealing the jar tightly. Filter at the end of the summer, and store sealed in a dark place. For fumigation; burn twigs or branches. Dosage: a pinch(between thumb and first two fingers - the pinch will be more or less generous depending on the age and the size of person. Use more of a fresh plant than a dried one. Be careful not to exceed the dosage, as this often gives the inverse of the desired effect. Quick lexicon: Antiseptic, destroys or halts the development of microbes.Stamen, the part of the flower that carries pollen. Antifebrile/ an aid to lowering a temperature, a fever. Hepatotoxic, damaging to the liver. Hemostatic, stops haemorrhages. Mucilage : viscous substance with a soothing and laxative action : good for inflamations, bronchial problems and constipation.Photosensitivity: a reaction to light. Sepal, parts of the plant that protect the flower bud, which open upon flowering. Vulnerary, that which dresses wounds.
Some person, more or less based in Lyon, really enjoyed announce you the birth of a very young
The samba workshop, animated by people of Rythms of Resistance Paris and Berlin, allow to catalyze the energies to continue the struggles, in Lyon and everywhere !
We hope that this samba will take their first steps during demos, or actions, in a few weeks, or months, if all goes well...
All the menus are calculated for 100 people
Ingredients: Cabbage 7 kg Onions 3 kg Potatoes 2 kg Carrots 7 kg Tomatoes 5 kg Sweet peppers 1 kg Sunflower oil 1 liter Salt, pepper to taste Mild curry 100 g Turmeric 100 g Cumin 100g Coriandre 100 g Apricot jam 2 big pots Garlic 2 bulbs Vinegar ½ glas Ginger 100 g Sesame seeds 100 g Recipe: Chop the onions and fry them, leave aside. Chop the cabbage and fry it, leave aside. Cut the potatoes into cubes and fry them, leave aside. Cut the sweet peppers and carrots into slices and fry them, add the onions then the cabbage and finally the potatoes. Mix all the spices and add them progressively and keep tasting. Add the tomatoes cut into big pieces. Cover with water. Simmer and taste from time to time, add some spices if needed. Serve with pilaw rice. Hot curry sauce: (Put gloves on!) Remove the seeds of the chilis and chop them very finely. Crush the garlic. Mix the two in sunflower oil. Add the rest of the spices or mix some more if needed. Apricot chutney Mix in a pan the apricot jam, the vinegar, the crushed garlic and the ginger. Stir until it boils. Fry sesame seeds without oil until litely brown. Serve the sauces separately with the curry. All the menus are calculated for 100 people Pilaw Rice
Ingredients: Rice 7 kg Onions 0.5 kg Sunflower oil ¼ litre Salt peper to taste Turmeric 50 g
Recipe: Fry the onions on low heat until golden Add the rice after measuring its volume in a big bowl When it's all oily, add twice it's volume in water Add salt, turmeric and pepper to taste When holes appear on the surface of the rice and water is under the level of the rice, put a lid on the pan leave to simmer five more minutes and then turn the gaz off. Serve when the rice has absorbed all the water.