From circulation of capital, patriarchy and nationalism
to circuation of struggles, commons and micro communisms
25-27 May 2012
at Fabrica Yfanet squat
Thessaloniki – Greece
call for participation
We helplessly stand and watch our lives sink day by day. Unemployment, weakness to face the boss, new austerity measures, dilemmas, bullying, austerity measures, sacrifices, words like “Now, it’s not time for…”, stricter austerity measures, disappointment, frustration, even more measures. Isn’t this what they call crisis after all? Conventions made by people in time of crisis now seem vacant, deprived of any significant meaning, just words to nag about as things do not seem to take a turn for the better. But before crisis is being presented out of context, they had to give it a different meaning. Over the years, the media worked at full speed to present the crisis as something sudden and inevitable, as something ugly and unexpected that sounds the alarm and puts everybody in great danger. But, no worries, it is presented as a natural phenomenon, like a storm that hits with vengeance for a while before it gives in to yet another bright, sunny day, so the only way to overcome such calamity would be to put aside our unreasonable demands and wear our bodies off working. A nice picture, indeed, but it leaves us in dark about the causes, the consequences and the political exploitation of the crisis. And much more, it tells us nothing about what is ultimately in crisis today. Against naturalization and misleading simplifications regarding crisis, we believe that it exists, it is amplified and reflected in everyday social and class antagonisms. Speaking of crisis, one must surely have in mind that it is the difficulty the capital faces to form relations in its own terms. What is being debated here, is the ability of the capital (as relation and as value- in motion) to reproduce along with the social relations and anthropological types that it bears and formulates. Although crisis refers to the state, to bosses, to others, it also includes us, as we too are being exploited in the realm of capital-relationships.
Simultaneously however, but fortunately for us, crisis is an open-ended critical category, which does not only mean catastrophe, but also possibilities. Today, more intensely than ever, this slippery ground is the place where the circulation of capital, patriarchy and nationalism is tested and matched against the circulation of struggles, commons and microcommunisms. Two worlds face to face with each other, or better, a world facing its negation. One that is trying to restore and uphold the existing order by facing the actual movement that seeks to abolish it.
We think that the most suitable name for this world is capitalism. We see it today as it asserts itself through accelerated restructuring and overly intensive processes of primitive accumulation, while being consolidated with the intensification of gender oppression, homophobia and masculinity. We experience first hand the restoration of order via a status of emergency, a shock doctrine and the manu militari management of social movements. Realities, such as widespread precarity, terrorizing labour conditions and unemployment is how this world manifests in our lives. More particularly, we witness this in gentrified metropolitan centers, in fortified suburbs, at the gold mines of Chalkidiki, at new witch hunts of immigrants. We also see it in the transformation of european countris into a vast concentration camp, a Dachau for immigrants, who have to surmount towering border fences, while at the same time, trafficking and ovary trade pass through border controls with ease. Let us not forget that this world also lies under the mask we wear to perform our gender and racial roles, under the phantasmatic objectivity of value that rests in our lives for some self-valorization. It is embodied in claims for intellectual property, in efforts to enclose freedom of the internet and it lives off deterministic pseudo-dilemmas whether one is for of against the memorandum (in Greece), sides with left or right patriotism, chooses between staying with the euro or embracing chaos. All these are before us and they never fail to remind us of the grim outcome that is in store for us if we don’t stand our ground, if we don’t try to build collective disengagement routes.
On the other hand, we listen attentively for the echo of riots and uprisings around the globe to reach us, as their rough or sweet melodies are transmitted from one social place to the other. This sad world falls into doubt when we block its restructuring and deny to live a life in poverty. When we refuse to become more productive, to wake up early for work, to discipline our choices to “highly esteemed degrees”, to be accredited merely by our work and how much time we spend doing it. Capitalism is judged when workers take over factories and their strike is above any kind of mediation mechanism. When schools are no longer places where capitalism can peacefully reproduce, as students take over them to miss class and therefore hinder the intensification of their lives. In times when class forms through collective struggle and in times when that class doubts its existence. When a square is under occupation, when people march in solidarity, work together in neighborhood collectives, furthemore in immigrants’ struggle for survival and dignity and when people comradely look at each other. Moreover, when people don’t pay the bus fare, when they refuse to pay the “charatsi” (special tax imposed on greek home owners via the electricity bill), when neighbors lock their electricity power boxes to prevent the electric company from cutting power off, and when they meet again to block hospital cashier desks. When we throw stones at a demonstration, when we take the initiative to reduce supermarket prices, when we block the circulation of commodities. When our bodies are meaningful, when we question our gender oriented roles and our sexuality, when we stop idolizing ourselves, when we smash the mirrors of normality and break out to live the life that was given to us. It is then when we make the world turn upside down and bring back home our firm belief that history does not write itself, but it is written by people. The issue then is to sort out those historical moments from which we can draw strength. Strength for refusing, strength for being creative. Alongside all these, there is also the patient building of a different way of doing things, the creation of different forms of social organization and collective struggle. Cooking and eating together, sharing metropolitan parks, places to meet and squats, vegetable gardens at former military camps, independently organized radio stations, organizing self study sessions and lessons, setting up printing facilities, educating through parity and solidarity procedures, living together in occupied buildings, sharing a network and a mutual support fund.
Starting from all these moves, some bigger or more apparent than others but all equally significant, we accept that they do not compromise capitalism as a whole. We nevertheless aim to find their common connections and their continuity among them, to detect those features that point to an eminent destruction of capitalism. What is precious are the communities we create for our struggle, the communist gestures, the attack at the capitalist reasoning. They are glimpses of what is yet to come. The total denial of what means to steal our lives, the demolition of a world that writhes in crisis. Some have named this communism. For us it is important to start uttering this word.
Aims, organization and content of Communismos 2.0
In the above context we believe that it is important in critical times like these to articulate our theoretical tools gained from our experience as political subjects in a number of people’s movements and from our knowledge of setting up multiple ventures. The proposed conference-festival Communismos 2.0 seeks to help towards that direction. Certainly our intention is far from considering Communismos to be a semi-institutionalized organ of struggling communities, of people who are in struggle, of commons, of insurgents everywhere. However, we share the agony for the need to collectively discuss on forms and contents of struggle, to meet as political subjects having possibly the opportunity to collectively negotiate as a movement our fighting ground. Picking up the thread from last year’s festival, we believe it is essential to continue this legacy of talking about movements, depositing views and contents. So, this year we take again the initiative to organize Communismos 2.0 in Thessaloniki (Greece) at Fabrica Yfanet squat, however we wish for collectives in other cities to take their own initiative to organize such a conference themselves.
At this point, before we unveil the proposed schedule of this year’s Communismos we find it imperative to present a brief review and critical evaluation of last year’s conference. Those three days last May (27-29/5/2011) had been full and enjoyable. Three days during which participants had the opportunity to meet, share experiences, exchange viewpoints and deposit their thoughts. Three days that helped the circulation and critical analysis of struggles, three days that contributed to people getting acquainted with new ventures and participating in a process, surely fragmental but also pleasant and useful, where they were given the chance to map the reasons for our movements and arm themselves with theoretical and analytical tools. We state here, that we are committed to distribute to this year’s participates full reports of last year’s talks and procedures.
Nevertheless, at this point we would like to mention some weaknesses or negligences that we would like to amend this year.
-The general concept of last year’s themes and introductions to talks, as they were instructed by our first call for participation. It is our great concern to finely define this year’s issues so that discussions become more specific, more usable and fruitful.
-At set discussions, the presentation of different ventures frequently included just a simple presentation of their basic lines. We would like this year’s discussions to be enriched beyond the requirements of a plain presentation of ones aims, and make an effort to take stock of our actions, track down the things that help us move forward as well as our inhibitions that take us back. In this way we can draw informed conclusions about the future.
-The way we organized our talks following a pattern of centralized events which included densely written, lengthy presentations has proven difficult to follow by many participants and therefore prevented people from more actively taking part in the discussions. So, this year we propose decentralized discussions in the form of parallel thematic “workshops”. The proposed format will encourage a more familiar and friendly, collective atmosphere that was hindered last year by lengthy and impersonal viewpoints.
-Last year’s “loose” planning with long delays preceding discussions and the rush at the end of them makes us accountable and responsible to keep this year a tighter time schedule, requiring early attendance and fixed closing times.
-Lastly, we will make sure we improve parallel, supporting structures, such as accommodation, collective cooking and dining, as well as more creative ways to enhance our child-care facilities.
According to everything said here, we invite political groups, collectives, base unions, neighborhood collectives, students’ groups to take part at Communismos 2.0 on 25th-27th May 2012 in Thessaloniki (Greece), at Fabrica Yfanet squat.
Schedule and Structure
By structuring this year’s conference we seek to make it as flexible as possible, more specific and more participatory. For this reason this festival is spread in three days. The focus of the first two days is on movements relating to production and reproduction and what surrounds them. At the last day the focus shifts to more theoretical issues, with the intention to reflect on what has been done, but maintaining the relative autonomy that theory must have. We propose to collectives that wish to take part to choose one or more of the scheduled theme discussions-workshops and prepare up to 15′ minutes talks so that there is plenty of time left for discussion. Furthermore, we urge participants to have their contributions in print so that delegates would be able to consult them during the discussion at any time. The suggested topics that follow are indicative and in no case final. Our intention for the schedule is to make it more specific as applications for participation and proposals by collectives start coming in.
Friday 25th May
The battle in-out of-and beyond employment
-Labour precarity – forms of action (strike, general strike, interventions, blockages, direct action, institutionalized negotiations and beyond them)
-The condition of unemployment, forms of organization and action
-Student and labour struggle at the university
-Labour and gender
immigration and aspects of the immigrant movement
potential meeting points of struggle for immigrants and locals
-Cooperative forms of labour in a time of crisis (a critical approach)
Saturday 26th May
Local movements, neighborhood collectives
-The possibilities and limitations of movements about the environment (landfills, mines, wind farms, dams and water projects fencing, biotechnology, etc.)
-Neighborhood collectives in struggle about health issues, electricity, municipal taxes, etc.
-The square occupation movement, “indignados”, an evaluation
-Structures of social solidarity and reproduction: their relation to resisting movements, their limits, contradictions and perspectives (collective kitchens, give-away bazaars, self-studying and social tutoring, barter structures, etc.)
Sunday 27th May
The meaning of communism
-Considering patriotism and national communities as a response to crisis
-Riots and uprisings as expressions of social unrest: their boundaries and the possibilities to overcome them
-Approaches to communism and its current strategies. Does communism lie in relationships based on sharing, in forming and defending what we have in common, in times of defetishisation or in the borderlines of today’s movements? Is it relevant today or a remnant of the past?
-Political and Social: limits and possibilities of political collectives and their relationship to social movements
-Estimates of restructuring: whether capital adopts as an immediate strategy the devaluation of labour, what are the long-term trends? (new technologies, new forms of exploiting social cooperation)
we look forward to your proposals by the 7th May 2012
contact e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
let us not forget
«to spread anarchy – to live in communism».