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(en) PGA*-inspired newsletter, #3 - WE DO NOT NEGOTIATE ABOUT RIGHTS! RIGHTS ARE FIGHT FOR, NOT GIVEN! Autonomous tribune Ljubljana 30.10. 2007

Date Tue, 11 Dec 2007 14:01:48 +0200



"Autonomous tribune" as an event in the Slovenian student struggle A story of
autonomous student movement begins in late May in 2007. It definitely did not
start very ambitiously; quite on the contrary, it started as yet another
discussion about the student conditions in Slovenia, why students are so
passive, event though the situation is getting much more difficult with every
generation. The attendance of this discussion in Metelkova (autonomous centre in
Ljubljana) was surprisingly big ­ more than 50 people attended. What was even
more surprising ­ something happened. The reflections were suddenly translated
into actions. It was one of those rare moments when words pass from the symbolic
to the real dimension: someone suggested "Are we going to squat the Faculty of
arts next week?" - and all students willingly embraced this suggestion. It was a
political promise, promise of what was to become alternative politics to the
governmental program of privatization of the Slovenian high education system
(introduction of tuition fees, privileged position of private schools,
introduction of governmental control of professors etc.).

The day of the occupation of the Faculty of Arts came and with it the first
general and constitutive meeting of Autonomous Tribune (AT). First statement was
written (see appendix), couple of hundreds students attended the meeting. The
main target of critique was the general process of privatization and exclusive
democratic practices. However, Autonomous Tribune was successful in radicalizing
"student" demands that depart from the narrow student agenda that just wants to
preserve actual rights... so, even the first statement already addressed
antimilitaristic issues and the social circumstances in general. AT stressed the
fact that all across Europe students are fighting for the same cause, against
neo-liberal agenda and privatization of all public sectors etc.

After this meeting ­ the movement arose ­ it was like a snowball effect. It
gained quite a big recognition in media and started spreading to other
faculties, where similar meetings and autonomous groups were formed. Autonomous
tribune started to hold regular meetings and what is even more important, is a
fact that it gained autonomous spaces within faculties. Its form of organization
is directly democratic, horizontal and inclusive. It is autonomous of all other
student organization and political parties (the intention to
influence/discipline AT was
not negligible).

It started to intervene into public spaces, with smaller (graffiti etc) direct
actions and bigger
actions: street theater, performances on the convention of right-wing civil
society initiatives
(see also http://avtonomnatribuna.blogspot.com/). In the beginning it was met
with strong
repressive measures from police that started to criminalize its actors and its
actions. One of the
official reports stated that participants of the actions carried
"anti-governmental" slogans and
would be persecuted due to this fact. The discursive articulation reminded on
older Stalinist and
also contemporary anti-terrorist measures that we are facing today.
Even the official student organization started radicalizing itself and
organizing smaller actions
against the official governmental agenda. Student movement was successful in
postponing the
privatization agenda ­ the main actor, the Minister of Higher Education was
deposed due to his
"incompetence", but largely this can be attributed to the demand of the movement
who had
already deposed him in one of the first actions in front of the Slovene Government.
Even though it seems that everything is normal today, a new Minister will of
course just carry
on with business as usual. That means no rest for AT activists! After a long
summer, a period of
exams, one has to admit that AT has lost its momentum. However, new alternative
agenda is
being set: AT is at the moment organizing a public forum with trade-unionist
groups against
privatization. In the middle of November (17.11.) there will be a mass
demonstration against
neoliberal tendencies and student movement will take part in this initiative.
Vision of a practical solidarity network between squats and other autonomous
zones
And a critic of this one-year-old text
goals
giving personal motivation and inspiration to 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 special facilities and ways of life to
be experienced at a
special 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 the new wave of repression hits the european squatting scene, it
becomes more and
more important to know each other's struggles, get familiar with the
people and spaces
that could be attacked by the state or the owners.
this is all true, but it's necessary to add some more: the network of
autonomous
spaces is important not just because the possible attacks of the
authorities
(political, economical, whatever else), but because these places can
become more
and more autonomous only if they don't cut themselves off from each
other, but
cooperate, share information, skills, and everything else that must
be shared,
without too much transportation (for economical and ecological reasons).
another goal is that this network, based on solidarity, mustn't be a
closed circle,
but open to new initiations, new groups, and help them to establish
their own
local autonomous zones, no matter if it's for living, for a local
community or for
the big, anonymous public or more of these, no matter if they are
temporary,
permanently, or... permanently temporary :) autonomous.
this last thing is more important than one would think: if you already
have an
autonomous space, you have more possibility to make people join you,
you can
show them practically, what are they joining to, so that you can have more
people to resist when there is the threat and you have to struggle to
keep it. but
when you're one step before the beginning, it"s hard to keep even the
hard core
together: there is no place where you could surely meet, you always
have to
search for meeting places one or two days before it, there is no
stable base
physically - in space and time, and in people - and mentally. this
makes a lot of
people traveling or sometimes even moving out from these cities and
countries to
those places that already have more tradition in the movement, more
squats etc.
and the leftover people are angry on these emigrants as long as they
are so much
fucked up that they also move out from the original starting point.
and then
comes the next generation... (this can explain a bit our personal
motivation...)
means
autonomous zone projects (squats,
social centers, community farms,
etc.) assist to people who want to
spend a longer time (possibly a few
months) at other projects in order to
learn about the local struggles, to
help with whatever actual project that
autonomous zone has in focus at the
agreed time, and to get familiar with
a way of life 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 host people
due to their needs and capacities.
people are only sent to another
project when they bear trust from the
sending side ­ still this is no warranty but a kind of recommendation.
agreement
between the guests and the hosts includes some assistance by the
sender project: this
means, with this recommendation the hosts can have more trust in the
guest, and be
better prepared to host someone who is actually interested in the
issues they work on.
(it often happens that no real connection can be born because the
hosts are somehow
overwhelmed by random visitors, so it all remains on the level of
squat tourism.)
for all this to be made real, 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 multiplying the
efforts. it would be
also nice to see how these already existing networks could be
interconnected and to
strive for a better coordination.
and strictly practical...

there is a database to be born about european squats and autonomous zones, it
should
be accessible under 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 capacities of hosting people (how many, for how long time, when).
there will be a question form that the ones who want to be guests should fill.
there
could be a proposed 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 transform it). it can include skills to be offered,
description of
motivation, expectations, etc.
no travel costs are covered by any side. try to hitch hike.
participation in the local activities is required. guests can take their share
of the goods
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,
can be just
sent back (or wherever). in this case, the sending side should be contacted
for their
information. (sometimes it happens that someone is driven out from one place and
starts to spread rumors 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 (guests to the senders) even during the time of
being
there. this can be a motivating factor for guests who will return to their
home and work
on projects inspired by their experiences.
very nice, but... this idea builds the trust upon institutional means which
mechanisms doesn't really make a difference from the Bolshevik state or for
example from the EVS (European Voluntary Service)
according to the description, you must have a sending side, so an already existing
group or space, that accept you. this means that you can only join the network if
you already joined.
the database of the already existing autonomous places hasn't appeared yet. I've
seen parts of it, decentralized notes. the database involves the problem of
conspiracy: if we collect all the addresses of the movement and update it
regularly, we give a really big help for the secret police! just to put this
problem
out as a question mark...
the note about the squat-tourism is totally true and relevant: when a group have
to deal with a lot of unexpected guest, after a while they don't want to spend
time
even with those who contact them before and have more motivation to meet than
just having a sleeping place for free and drinking beer for free or for less money
than in the tourist zone.
therefore the network that I imagined is based on more personal communication.
we don't give away our addresses (just if somebody really want to), just give
email
contacts and the city it refers to, if we are on the inviter's side. and the
network
helps both the already existing places in any case of necessary, but the other big
goal has to be to help those groups that are the beginning: something like a
squatters caravan. for example if there is a city, like Budapest, we are only
5 to 15
people who really want to squat, we already did some squatting actions but
without any long lasting results. (the only long lasting result was our
anger.) so we
look around and see 10 cities that are close enough to Budapest to travel to us in
one day by hitchhiking, so invite all the people, individuals and collectives
to come
to and support with practical resistance, in the house or in front of it.
hoping that
in a few weeks we can get in a more stable position (for that, the local group
have
to look for a building that seems good for that), later on we go to
those cities that
are close enough and need some similar help.
if in a greater region there is the need for more people for a certain
amount of
time (maybe around a month or so) it could be a whole year's squatters
caravan:
the group goes each month to a new city, take a place and those stay
there who
have chosen the building so that they can and want to keep it
afterwards. so the
people are rotating, new people are coming, and those who quit from
the tour
can make solidarity actions in there own space and spread all the
information
which they have - but not through institutionalized means but from
people they
already know personally!
personal motivation for pushing this idea...
we are from eastern europe, hungary, which is no fertile ground yet for any
alternative ideas. though some people try to live their lives in kind
of an alternative
manner, it's not organized, 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 the exchange puts some
responsibility on the persons not to keep it for themselves but try to
expand it and
help their fellows to build up local solidarity networks that are hard
to imagine in
such a hostile environment without seeing that it can really work or
at least having
someone who got some experience already in it. 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
experiments
and/or courage are needed to establish something.
... or some of them goes abroad as I told before. the guy who were writing
this
text last year is thinking about moving out from hungary. we were part
of the
same collective 'til the end of august, and we all ended up not as a
collective but
as a 'separative' and everyone of us is thinking about either leaving
hungary or
becoming passivist. this is a problem not because of our loved home or
nation
but because if everyone who is thinking different from this mainstream
capitalist
life, leaves to those places where there are already a lot of
comrades, then there
will be islands without getting informed about the struggle, and there the
movement will be killed before its birth.
maybe those from eastern and southern europe already understand this a bit:
our first squatting actions were inspired by some travelers
western-european
experiences, and the whole hungarian movement is a copy-paste process,
even
the NGOs (pasted by first of all Soros foundation), and all the grass
roots
movement (okay, some workers movement is not western copy, but russian and
so on). the problem is not copying itself, but the blindness of it:
don't thinking
about the local circumstances for a second, just making the same
functions in the
squat that we saw somewhere else.
what we expect
even if people are not interested in making this idea a european-wide effort, we
will try to
build partnerships with autonomous projects continent- and possibly worldwide.
anyone who
would be interested in developing a partnership please get in touch.

===========================================
* An antiauthoritarian anticapitalist international direct action network

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