To Get to the Other Side: A Journey through Europe and its Anarchist Movements

By Peter Gelderloos

Revolt Library Anarchism To Get to the Other Side

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(1981 - )
In 2002, Gelderloos was arrested with several others for trespass in protest of the American military training facility School of the Americas, which trains Latin American military and police. He was sentenced to six months in prison. Gelderloos was a member of a copwatch program in Harrisonburg. In April 2007, Gelderloos was arrested in Spain and charged with disorderly conduct and illegal demonstration during a squatters' protest. He faced up to six years in prison. Gelderloos claimed that he was targeted for his political beliefs. He was acquitted in 2009. (From :


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Credits Put me in your suitcase, let me help you pack cause you’re never coming back, no you’re never coming back — Devandra Banhart Dedicated to Lisanne, for being brave and crazy enough. We’ll always have Gulyaipolye. Special thanks to all the people who opened their doors to me, all the people who brought solidarity alive when the going got rough, and to my family, for supporting me in these fiascos with love and hopefully not too much stress. Thanks to x, for the criticism that made these writings worthy of being a book, to Gabriel and Liza, for proofreading, and to Andrey (, for the beautiful website. Photo Credits John Gelderloos ( Bridge in “Header.” KyivBoardWalk in “My First Contact.” KyivCrane in “Wrapped... (From :

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The Borderland My last night in Denmark I sleep on a park bench in the borderland between anarchy and the state. There is no clear boundary line. A few dozen meters one way shoppers and commuters drive home and cops ticket people for crossing on red. A dozen meters the other way people organize their own lives and property relationships hold little sway. And there in the middle, in the falling darkness, my dreams pull the world into a black hole of such gravity the very particles of existence fly apart and reassemble themselves in impossible arrangements. Time curls up on itself, the past marches back before my eyes and the future turns around and presents itself in hindsight, the possible and the definite trade masks and mannerisms. Choices and their consequences mingle with lucid omens, impossible desires, and suppressed regrets. Drops of moisture fall on my cheek. I open my eyes. It’s raining. The park bench is hard, but... (From :

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Berlin The 4th of July was a hell of a day to get out of the States. I’d originally planned my trip to last from May Day 2006 in Berlin to May Day 2007 in Barcelona, but I left late, and so it was another sort of holiday that marked my arrival. My older brother met me at the airport. Carl had been living in Berlin for two years, teaching English. At the end of the month he would leave to go to Palestine as a volunteer teacher, around the time Israel was bombing Lebanon. In the meantime I could stay with him in his little apartment in Moabit. The neighborhood shares the name with the huge prison that still holds some members of the Rote Armee Fraktion (RAF: Red Army Fraction), an urban guerrilla group that attacked German capitalism throughout the 70s and 80s, placing itself politically somewhere between the autonomous movement and the Stasi. For this yearlong trip, I had only saved up enough money for the airplane ticket and some food —... (From :

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Ungdomshuset In December 2006, a few months after I had left København, Denmark’s capital experienced the largest public disturbances the country had seen since World War II. And it all revolved around an anarchist social center, Ungdomshuset — literally, “youth house.” Denmark is a relatively prosperous country, most people aren’t afraid of going hungry or homeless, yet when the city government moved ahead with plans to evict and demolish the building, thousands of people put their lives on the line to fight back. For many of them, it was the only noncommercial cultural space they had — the only space where they were truly free. Perhaps they had gone to their first punk concert here years ago, maybe they were able to stay here a while after running away from an abusive home. Maybe they had never even come here but were glad that such a place existed. Ungdomshuset was first and foremost a... (From :

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Leaving Christiania By the time I packed up my bike, the clouds covering the sky over København were promising a storm. I was sad to be leaving after just a few days, but to really be able to participate meaningfully, I would have to stay months longer. For some reason I felt compelled to move on, and wasn’t too comfortable with the people who were putting me up. They were real friendly and welcoming, but all they did was smoke and party every day and every night. It seems to be a common problem of the autonomist strategy that once you occupy a place and set up a bubble of freedom, some people are going to be content just living free, acting like they have already won. I could sympathize. It was impressive, Christiania. An entire quarter of a city, living in anarchy, a self-made hodgepodge of gentle streets, unique buildings, lazy parks, and lively workshops. By the 80s the government was forced to recognize that Christiania was auto... (From :

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Adrienne Gernhäuser Perhaps because American society suffers from such a strong case of amnesia, I find histories of resistance so intriguing. The Red Scare destroyed anticapitalist movements in the US, erasing them to a degree unparalleled in Europe, and creating a disconnect between present and past resistance, a lack of continuity and perseverance. Furthermore, the social fabric is made of such thin stuff, the real estate itself so impermanent, that physical and social markers of past rebellions do not remain. Looking at the morass of shabby duplexes in the town where I was born reveals no hint of the fact that it was a hotbed of immigrant Italian anarchists a century earlier. The industrial farms draped over the rolling hills around Harrisonburg emit not a whisper of the people who lived there before, who gave the Shenandoah Valley its name, nor of their brutal expulsion. While traveling in Europe, I discovered a whole web of rebel stories... (From :

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Arriving in Hamburg The storm I left behind yesterday in Denmark finally caught up with me in beautiful Lübeck. I was exploring the city center when the clouds unleashed a heavy, furious rain that soaked me and all my things before I could run back to the place I had locked my bike, along a canal west of the Innenstadt. Couldn’t find anywhere to stay in Lübeck, or in the suburbs, so I kept biking along until I was drowned in darkness and the city was lost behind me. A roadside map indicated an autobahn overpass ahead. I thought I might sleep under the bridge in case it rained again, but when I arrived it proved impossible to climb down there with my bike. I finally settled on a little bus shelter surrounded by farm fields and laid down in my wet sleeping bag on the concrete floor, with nothing to warm me but the bottle of wine the folks at the tourist information center had been kind enough to leave unattended. I was cold, wet, uncomfortable, an... (From :

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Affenstrasse My first night in Hamburg, I took the advice of an Italian punk from Köpi and made my way to the St. Pauli neighborhood and its bevy of sex shops, bars, and falafel huts, all plastered with the skull-and-crossbones stickers of the local soccer team with the famous anti-fascist fan club. At the epicenter of peeling layers of graffiti and wheatpasted posters, the bulk of them punk and antifascist, stood Hafenstraße, where I was told to look for a place to stay. Initially, led astray by the Italian’s accent, I was searching fruitlessly for “Affenstraße,” Monkey Street, which sadly does not exist. In half an hour at a punk bar surrounded by former squats I scored myself a room, for the remainder of the week no less, with some cheery Polish anarchists and their endearingly swine-like dog. That Monday morning was my first shower since I’d left Berlin 840 km earlier. Delicious. I really wish that before... (From :

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Four Stories of High Culture A Declaration of the Rote Flora to the Commercial Culture in the Schanzen District Translation of an article that appeared in Zeck, the magazine of Rote Flora, no.133 July/August 2006 pp.5–6. Thanks to Filip for helping with some difficult words and inside references that only a Hamburger would know. I. What the Schanze Has Lacked until Today Is Obvious, According to the Press: Culture Reading the future in the grounds left at the bottom of overpriced Macciatos hardly reveals a cultural milestone in this desolate wasteland between Altona, St. Pauli, and Eimsbüttel, which now receives that which was so long missed. Now everything will finally be different, now the Schanze too gets neat dance-cafés for seniors, sewing courses, family brunches with live music, and, we mustn’t forget, the long pined for meditation classes. Naturally we’re talking about the... (From :

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Between the Weser and the Ems Lonely days of biking past stubbly fields, rivers and canals, land stretched flat and low towards the elusive sea, which suggests itself in the salty air and drunken earth though it hides far beyond the horizon. I navigate from one village to the next with a compass and list of waypoints copied out the night before. Bike all morning in a serene trance digesting dreams and birdsongs, roadside visions, tender thoughts of friends; stop around noon to fill up on bread and apples and cheese. I cycle through the afternoon heat with angry strokes, pushing past the fatigue and soreness, cursing cars that cut me off or fill my lungs with smoke, reviewing all the failures, all the disappointments of the year gone by, and finally by evening fall into a sort of peace that floats through the last twenty kilometers and does not transcend the pain and weariness but forgives them, knowing they’ll be back There’s something t... (From :

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“Weet je waar een kraakpand is?” Maandag, 7 Augustus Yesterday afternoon I arrived in Groningen, where I had some faint notion to spend a month, gain some appreciation of the anarchist movement in the country, and try to learn Nederlands (the word “Dutch” is actually a bastardization of “Deutsch,” which means German, whom some time ago the English evidently mistook for Nederlanders). Right as I was biking into the city I suddenly began to wonder why exactly I thought Groningen was the city to find anarchists in. I didn’t know anyone there and had never heard the place being mentioned in connection with radical activity. All around me I saw a thoroughly mediocre city startlingly devoid of radical graffiti and plastered propaganda. Hold on a second, why the hell did I come here? Even a solitary spraypainted circle-A would have flooded my heart with joy, and in fact my first glimmer of hope, the first goo... (From :

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Noorderhaven Canal Sunset over Noorderhaven canal. Orange fire fights to find gaps in the algae-green carpet lying atop the water. Weather-worn houseboats moored on both sides have been there since before the first photograph, some of these same boats since before the first television commercial, and they will be there still after we’ve torn all the advertisements down, or they’ll be turned into floating billboards by some wallflower of a man regarded as a genius in his field. (From :

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She Shows Me She shows me the piece of metal on the string around her neck. It’s the inside of a lock she broke open on one of her many squat actions. Her nose crinkles as she tells me how she got it. “Look, here, and here,” she points out the marks a crowbar left on the door frame two years earlier. And on the wall, stenciled spraypaint demanding: “Make Capitalism History.” This too has a story. : when Bono inserted himself at the head of the antiglobalization movement under the slogan “Make Poverty History,” local anarchists went out into the night to cover the walls with their response. We’re taking a tour of Groningen’s former squats, a dozen of which my new friend helped to occupy. Her forest-colored eyes flare as she talks of battles with goons sent by an owner to clear the squatters out, in more militant days removed by only an intractable year or two, a glass wall of history for me to... (From :

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Action Tour Against the Squatting Ban Begins with a Squat in Leiden Translated from an article on Netherlands Indymedia, with invaluable idiomatic assistance from L Activists have just occupied the office building on the corner of Stationsplein and Schuttersveld in Leiden. The building, which is located right near the infamous hole of the speculator Van de Putte, is on a long lease with Bonavella Holding B.V. from the same speculator. The squat-action, which also signals the start of an action tour through the whole of Nederland, addresses the role speculators like Van de Putte play, and also the planned squatting ban of the Balkenende II cabinet. The activists intend to continue holding actions during the rest of the week, and in one week’s time to turn the dilapidated building into a social center or free space in which the Multipleks, among others, can have a new space for all its current projects. The Action Tour in D... (From :

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The Martini Tower The church tower is the tallest building in this flat city. They used to let people to the top and charge them for the view until one pragmatic local threw himself off and hit the cobblestones in front of the German tourists drinking in their cafés on the market square. (From :

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Citizens Afraid, Government Happy Translation of an article in the Dutch anarchist magazine Buiten de Orde, no.19 issue 2. Present day Dutch politics is ruled by the codeword “Muslim terrorism.” Laws are changed, civil rights are trampled, and prohibitions are applied. But we’re not familiar with any Muslim terrorism in Nederland. A brief examination of the how and why of the existing Muslim policy. The Beginning of “Muslim Terrorism.” Since 11 September 2001, Muslim terrorists have been talked about in politics and in public space. From that date a discourse has developed in which citizens are deluded with the frightening prospect of Muslims taking power. “Western democracy” is said to be in danger. As an answer to the attacks America invaded Afghanistan at the end of 2001. In 2003 Iraq followed. Both wars were and are supported by the Dutch g... (From :

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Leaving Marks in a City of Glass Groningen was a solidly bourgeois city, though the surrounding province is the poorest in Nederland and constitutes the country’s socialist belt. Nonetheless, one noticed little sense of conflict, which was typical for a society that prided itself on compromise. The city center was a well organized ballet of bicycles and busses, open air markets and cute little stores, student fraternities and restaurants. The few cars in circulation unfailingly came to a stop by the time a pedestrian put her foot down on the crosswalk. Serene canals spiraled around the center, remnants of the city’s defense system from centuries before. Groningen’s current defenses were less obvious, though they ruthlessly blocked the paths to insurrection and, like the ring of moats once had, shaped the city itself. At the middle of everything were the shops. The city guards were the advertisements, babbling to us incessantly from every wall... (From :

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Storming the Ghetto While many anarchists are trying to leave the ghetto, the wealthy are always trying to recolonize it. They have the Midas Touch, and everything they possess becomes a dead thing. But the ghettos to which they expel the outcasts and rebels stew and bubble with life. Innovative, rejuvenating, they give birth to new cultures and feed resistance eternal. Then the artists and hipsters move in, trying to capture that vitality, and then the investors, trying to profit from it, and they bring the police with them, and development, and death. It happened to Hamburg’s Schanze and is advancing on St. Pauli; Berlin’s Kreuzberg was lost this way; and in Groningen the process is so far advanced that it has devoured its own history, leaving no sign that things were different once. In the US all the major cities have their own stories of vibrant ghettos lost to gentrification, with the added racial dimension of ongoing colonialism. (From :

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Emergency Call-out for Mobilization and Declaration of Solidarity translated from Nederlands Protest on the initiative of refugees in the deportation center at Ter Apel. 5 June, 2005, 13:30, Ter Apelervenen The refugees being held right now in the deportation center (DC) Ter Apel want to SELF-organize a demonstration on Sunday, 5 June at 13:30 at the deportation center on Ter Apelervenen, against the injustice they have been subjected to as hostages in a years-long asylum process. There is a petition in their name filed by GreenLeft and the Socialist Party (SP) Ter Apel/Vlagtwedde to seek the protection of the refugees and permission for the protest. The first contacts between the refugees and people in solidarity were made on Saturday, 14 May, after a spontaneous solidarity action from the Pinksterlanddagen (anarchist camp) in Appelscha. In the meantime many more people and organizations have affiliated to sup... (From :

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Domela Nieuwenhuis and Appelscha In Friesland, a northern province with its own language, there is a small village outside the city of Drachten called Ureterp. L told me how way back in the day there was an anarchist group in tiny little Ureterp, and between them all they managed to get a pistol, which they took turns religiously guarding and cleaning. One day, while a member of the group was cleaning the gun he shot himself and died, after which the whole group was discovered. We wanted to visit the cemetery where he was buried in a sort of pilgrimage to tragicomedy, but couldn’t find his name. A more famous anarchist in Friesland was Ferdinand Domela Nieuwenhuis, a contemporary of Pyotr Kropotkin and Emma Goldman. Instead of going to Ureterp, we visited his museum in Heereveen. Although he was not much of a direct actionist, for such a peaceful, compromising society he was considered a rabble rouser, an ex-priest who put his writing and sp... (From :

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To Get to the Other Side (part 1) On Dinsdag, 5 September, I packed my bags once again, saddled up my trusty bicycle, and left the little home I’d found in Groningen. Saying goodbye was difficult. Joop had become a good friend, and then there was L. I had only just met her a couple weeks earlier, as we cooked together for Gratis Eten, and I was pretty sure I was falling in love. But she had her own life, and I had to leave town. My path led southeast, through Stadskanal, and to the border at Ter Apel. There wasn’t even a control point, just a sign — EU deregulation at its best. Passing over the unfenced frontier, I was flooded with a feeling of nostalgia, and an irrational and sudden fear of Germans. I slept in a bus shelter in the open countryside somewhere between Haselünne and Fürstenau, 140km away. The next day I skirted north of Osnabrück, on the way to Minden on the Weser. With each cycle of the pedals, the loom of my... (From :

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Pawel Lew Marek (text adapted from two articles in issue #29 of Abolishing the Borders from Below, May 2007). Recently, Polish anarchist Michal Przyborowski put out a book on the life of Pawel Lew Marek, illuminating the anarchist movement in Poland before World War II and the crucial participation of anarchists in both the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising of 1943 and the Warsaw Uprising of 1944. Pawel Lew Marek was born on the 16th of August, 1902, near Przemysl in southeastern Poland. As a youth he threw himself into union organizing and labor unrest. These were years of instability and tension. The Soviet Union was trying to cement its control over communist movements around the globe, but in Poland, which had just fought a war for its independence from Germany and Russia, nationalist and anti-communist sentiments were in full bloom. Much of Europe suffered economic depression after World War I, and the depression would soon become a... (From :

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To Get to the Other Side (part 2) The clouds that hid the morning threatened rain, and the forecasts promised it. But just before I got to Ukraina that day, the 29th of September, with little more than mist to impede my passage, the weather broke and I was rewarded with the Ukrainian colors in the sky: blue and gold. Then the real bearers of that flag informed me I couldn’t cross into their country on a bicycle, because of regulations. So I had to wait for someone with a van to agree to ferry me across and let me out on the other side of all the gates and soldiers. Apparently there was this important line that they were all protecting. I looked really hard but I couldn’t see any line, except for the one we had to wait in, but everyone else insisted it was there, so I must be either blind or insane. After an obnoxious customs interrogation, I was back on the bike and pedaling again — only this time dodging potholes and d... (From :

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My First Contact I arrived in Kyiv at the beginning of October, and started looking for local anarchists. I had few good ideas on where to start. The city was huge, and it wasn’t the place you’d expect to find a radical social center. Even the tradition of having social movements, however pathetic they may be, had been pretty well mauled by the Soviets. So, I opened up the magazine some stranger had pressed into my reluctant hands way back at the Köpi. Abolishing the Borders from Below, a magazine by and about the anarchist movements of Eastern Europe, written in admittedly bad English, and published in exile in Berlin. I found it to be a treasure trove of interesting articles, written in an earnest, non-dogmatic style. More important to my present purpose, it contained a lengthy contact page at the back. The section on Ukraina was worryingly thin. I sent out an email, and tried not to think what the winter would be like if no one w... (From :

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Gulyaipolye It’s Sunday, the 22nd of October, we’re on the night train out of Kyiv, and we have the whole coupe to ourselves. We never would have guessed we’d be here when we met two months earlier at an old squat smelling of dog piss, where we cooked together for Gratis Eten. L has come out from Nederland to visit me for a week. A strange adventure, considering we’ve only known each other for two weeks and then two months of letter-writing. It’s all the better for its strangeness. In such a lonely world it’s delightful to discover someone who is moved and angered, who dreams of the same things you do. Presently, it’s nice that she’s as much of a history nerd as I am. Our first destination on this trip is Gulyaipolye, the town in southern Ukraina that was the birthplace of anarchist Nestor Makhno and the center of a stateless society of seven million people who fought for freedom from the Ger... (From :

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Snowing Again Вторник, 7 Ноябрь, Київ In Kyiv, it’s snowing again, just a week into November. I love it. But it’s easier to become house-bound in such cold. Read books, write, study Russian, compose a letter to a friend. Pet the cats. Nothing to draw me outside but more sightseeing. I’ve only met two anarchists in a month. This is the drawback of not having to rely on the generosity of strangers for housing: you don’t have to leave your bubble. But it’s just as well because my two new friends live with their parents and couldn’t put me up. Right now, they’re both traveling. Actually, one’s in Berlin staying at the Köpi. Not too many anarchists in Ukraina. But there are plenty of fascists. This past weekend, they fought each other in Bessarabski Square. The Russian nationalists... (From :

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Wrapped in Fog Voskrisenya, 17 Dekabr’ Uniformed Soviet-style, the woman behind the glass at the train station rolls her eyes when she hears I am a foreigner. No helpful hand gestures, no speaking slowly, no writing numbers down on paper. The people in line behind me start crowding, elbowing, edging in past me, even though the previous person negotiating three tickets to Almaty took twice as long. Outside, too, the city is aggro, a jackhammer heartbeat clashing with its candy coating, ostentatious and metallic as a cellphone ringtone playing “Ode to Joy.” The chatter of machines and mouths fills the air. Russian, Ukrainian, Surzhik — the local dialect combining the two. The languages are delicious in the mouth, plagued by an enfuriating grammar, and make every conversation between native speakers sound like an argument. Bourgeois shops and peasant street vendors mingle on Chernovo-Armeiska — Red A... (From :

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New Fascist Attack in St. Peterburg 15-1-2007. A collective translation from an anonymous article in Russian put up on Indymedia. On the 14th of January in St. Peterburg, after the traditional action “Food Not Bombs” (FNB, serving a free meal for everybody who needs it), a group of 10 neonazis armed with knives attacked one of the activists. He was taken to the district hospital with 21 knife wounds. It should be noted that during the action there were already about 7 nazis watching from nearby. The victim is in critical condition. He lost much blood, and has taken damage to vital organs. He was operated on yesterday and today he needs a blood transfusion. Police instituted a criminal investigation under clauses 30 and 105 (murderous assault) of the criminal code of Russia. It is no wonder that in a situation of legal apathy young people start to act by themselves in reply to the fascist terror in many Russian tow... (From :

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Olga Taratuta and Alex Grossman Abram Solomonovich Grossman, also known as Aleksandr, was a Jewish Ukrainian anarchist who joined with Italian Errico Malatesta in opposing the syndicalist currents in the movement. “The essence of revolution is not a strike, but mass expropriation,” he wrote. One of the chernoznamets, a group of anarchist-communists who favored violent direct action, he spent two years in prison before the 1905 revolution, went to Paris and wrote for the anarchist journal Burevestnik for a while, then returned in 1907 to lead the Ekaterinoslav battle detachment. In February 1908, he was cornered in the Kyiv train station and shot to death while resisting arrest. Olga Taratuta was imprisoned as a young woman after participating in the 1905 bombing of the Libman café in Odessa, one of many actions targeting the bourgeoisie as a whole carried out by parts of the anarchist movement during the 1905 rev... (From :

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Ideas about Sex at the Illegal Festival “Gender Paths 2” An article written by my friend Vlasta, which I translated from Russian for Abolishing the Borders from Below #28. “Gender Paths,” occurring once a year, is an attempt to bring together all people interested in gender — primarily from Belarus, Russia, and Ukraina — in one place; this time in the city of Minsk, from 8–10 December, 2006. I would name its distinguishing features as illegality, a full schedule, the diversity of visitors and participants, and the absence of censorship on the part of the organizers. Here it felt wonderfully like studying with artists, as well as punks, anarchists, and other subcultural elements. The organizers made sure to balance the discussions and artistic parts of the festival. The illegality of the festival becomes clear with the political situation in Belarus: dictatorship, no free press, certainly no gender... (From :

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Snowballs Voskresenye, 28 Yanvar’ 2007 The entrance hall to the little apartment that secretly houses Kyiv’s infoshop is full of shoes, and each shoe releases a puddle of black water as the muddy snow filling its treads begins to melt. The people who have come to the presentation depart in groups back into that snowy world, and the shoes disappear, but the puddles grow and conjoin. I fill a bucket with water and push a mop side to side. The featherweight kitten they’ve adopted attacks the mop with zeal. Yeva, the demanding two-year-old daughter of Vlasta, who has also stayed to clean up, insists on taking over, and of course she does it all wrong, from the perspective of one who wants to clean the floor in a reasonable amount of time. And before her, I was doing it all wrong, from the perspective of one who has no time for boring repetition and needs to see what interesting forms this mess of mud and water can take. I do my best... (From :

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Of War and Mountains Τεταρτη14 Μαρτιου The people on the television here in Athena are saying it’s a war, which most everyone I’m talking to has met with giggles. And the weather, first it was too gloriously warm and balmy for there really to be a war, and now it’s too cold and gray. Still, there’s a strange feeling in the city — the riot cops standing in large squads on random corners, police with submachine guns guarding all the government buildings... It’s been just a few weeks but such a great distance in getting here. On Sunday night, 18 February, I left Kyiv. My dear bicycle I entrusted to my younger brother, and we said our goodbyes on a train platform in the freezing cold, our bodies casting deep shadows in the shallow yellow lamplight. On creaking joints the train clanked and strained and pulled itself south on electric... (From :

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Bandits and Arsonists After World War II, Greece was gripped by a civil war that pitted the communists against the conservatives. With help from the CIA, a constitutional monarchy triumphed in 1949, outlawing the Communist Party, and preserving the Cold War spheres of influence. With US complicity, the military and intelligence services of Greece did away with the pretense of democracy and installed a dictatorship that lasted until 1974, when student insurrections forced a change of government. The anarchist movement grew in Greece througout the 80s, nourished by an anti-authoritarian culture that had fostered anticapitalist bandits and bankrobbers for over a century. In the middle of the decade, the Anarchist Attack Groups formed in Athena, one of many groups to specialize in petrol-bombing police cars on a massive scale. Other groups robbed banks and attacked representatives of the state. The Anti-State Struggle group shot dead the Public Prosecutor of Athena... (From :

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A Conversation on Exarchia Square Somehow it came to pass that over a year later I was sitting in Exarchia Square with Petros, enjoying a beer and taking in the warm evening air. Even in the little time that had passed I noticed that Exarchia was being gentrified. There were more alternative fashion stores, more nice bars and restaurants for young urban professionals. First come the hipsters, then the investments, then the police. Petros tried describing to me what it was like ten years ago. “But, there’s nothing you can do. It always happens this way.” “I disagree.” His voice was tired when he responded. “Yes, you can go and smash up the nice shops, we’ve already tried that. But what does that do? You can’t have everyone as your enemy. And this bar, for example, the owner’s a good guy, he’s friends with my friends.” “No, no, I&rsq... (From :

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A Good Day (part 1) Παρασκευη 16 Μαρτιου My last night in Athena, Yiannis, Yiorgos, Heleni, and I watched The Fountain, Darren Aronofsky’s haunting movie that had just come out in the theaters. The next morning I was up and off before anyone else had awoken, on a train to Peleponnesus. The boat leaving from Patras, Ikarus Palace, sat in a bay surrounded by steep mountains. The water was a pool of melted turquoise crystals lapping up the sunlight. I spread my sleeping bag on the floor of the almost empty steerage deck, draped wet clothes across the backs of seats to dry, and unrolled my sleeping bag. Land disappeared, the sun set, a star too bright to be a star, a planet or the space station, hung in the west, then it too fell below the edge of the earth. In the night we passed by strange cliffs hidden in the darkness, and... (From :

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Berlusconi and the New Fascism Strange things were afoot in Italy. What had been known from afar as a powerful movement seemed to have disappeared from the map. In the decades of the Cold War, Italy was a hotspot for anticapitalist struggle. Inheriting the legacy of communist resistance that fought against fascism during World War II, the next generation carried on the fight against the next totalitarianism: NATO backed capitalism. From the 70s and 80s, anarchists formed an increasingly visible part of these struggles. They also had a global impact, formulating some of the more effective antiauthoritarian critiques of the Left to emerge in this era. From the 90s, Italian anarchists and Left organizations like Tute Bianchi played an influential role in the antiglobalization movement, and some of the earlier and more militant actions against the anti-immigration policies of Fortress Europe also occurred in Italy. When the G8 met in Genova i... (From :

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A Good Day (part 2) Lunedi, 19 Marzo Ca Favale was a little village in the mountains east of Genova. It was abandoned thirty years ago, and now going on five years a group of anarchists lived here, restoring the crumbling buildings of stacked stone. The village sat on about fifteen acres of land. There was a quartet of chickens, two beehives, dogs, a wriggling pile of newborn puppies, a hillside of olive trees, grapevines, a couple orange and lemon trees built into a microclimate on the south side of a stone wall, terraced gardens, and about eight residents; though the number climbs as high as twenty in the summer. Most of them are Italians and German-speaking Swiss in their twenties or fifties. One of the older people there had been in the struggle for decades. At the end of the ’70s, early ’80s, her partner was locked up for belonging to an armed anarchist group. He died in prison, when their son was four. There were an inde... (From :

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The Banlieues Are Burning On 27 October, 2005, two teenagers of North African descent died while trying to escape from the police in a neighborhood outside Paris. A group of them coming home from playing football ran from a police patrol to avoid yet another of the lengthy interrogations to which police in the neighborhood frequently subjected youth of color. Several of them climbed over a wall to hide in a power substation, and two of them, Zyed Benna and Bouna Traoré, were electrocuted to death. It was just another police action in the banlieue — the ghetto suburb that exists on the outskirts of many French cities; impoverished, crowded with second generation immigrants who are alternately exploited and excluded in the informalized, deregulated economies. It was just another couple of marginalized young people of color whose deaths were certain to go unanswered. Except that their friends, their families, neighbors, people who didn’t know th... (From :

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Nathalie Ménigon In August 2007, Nathalie Ménigon was released on parole after 20 years in prison. In 1978 she founded the urban guerrilla group Action Directe, along with Jean-Marc Rouillan. The group was libertarian communist in orientation, viewing itself as a political-military coordination for the large autonomous movement struggling in France at the time. They had commonalities with anarchist segments of the movement, and Rouillan had fought with the anarchist group MIL against the Franco regime in Spain. Action Directe also served as an inspiration for the clandestine anarchist group Direct Action in Canada. Action Directe carried out a number of bombings, expropriations, and machine gun attacks against French military and government buildings, employers’ and property management groups, Israeli government concerns, the nuclear industry, and others, as part of a general struggle against capitalism and imperialism. She and... (From :

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A Good Day (part 3) Mercedi, Mercredi, Miercoles, Dimecres, 28 Marzo, Mars, Marzo, Març Within a minute we were in France. The sun came up over the sea, blood red, as we drove the mountain highway over Monaco, looking down on those rich bastards and their gorgeous beach. The Frenchman drove carelessly, when one hard turn would send us tumbling off a viaduc fifty meters down onto some village. Nonetheless I slept, and when I awoke there was a mountain like carefully folded sand sunburned the color of a light mousse. On the left, mustard-yellow villages. The truckdriver answered my dreams by promising to take me all the way to Spain. He could drop me off an hour from Barcelona. First he just had to take care of some business at home, in Nîmes, so he left me waiting at the toll gates at the entrance of town. I never saw him again. By one of those strange coincidences this trip had been full of, Nîmes was the closest large city to La Vie... (From :

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25J A flier translated from Spanish 22 May 2007 — Trial for the 25J Detainees in Barcelona On 25 June, 2005, there was a protest in Barcelona in solidarity with the Italian anarchists being repressed that summer, during which 180 houses were searched and 25 people were arrested, as part of a wave of repression. That day, the demonstration passed with a strong police pressure, beginning with the searching of all who approached the rally point, and ending with the demo surrounded by riot police, who charged indiscriminately at the protesters. They arrested seven people and took them to La Verneda. Two were minors and were released hours later. Against the other five detainees they opened a deportation process and, contradictingly, a penal process, with the request for preventive detention. After two days in the commissary, two received provisional liberty, though the authorities prohibited them from leaving Spain, confiscated the... (From :

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La Confederación Nacional de Trabajo In the first three decades of the 20th century, Spanish workers and peasants struggled against a succession of governments — monarchy, dictatorship, and republic. On the cusp of modernization, Spain suffered the combined depravations of an entrenched feudalism and an emerging capitalism. A growing anarchist movement spread critiques of the current society, published newspapers, opened social centers, carried out assassinations, expropriations, and bombings of bourgeois targets, created libertarian communes in a few villages during short-lived insurrections, and launched massive strikes. The dominant forces in society — the church, the landowners, the royalists, the bourgeoisie, various nationalist parites — fought among themselves, though they often unified to wage bloody war against the anticapitalists. Amid this turmoil, the anarcho-syndicalist confederation of labor unions, the CNT, expa... (From :

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Alex, Rodrigo, y Juan On 4 February, 2006, nine young people were arrested by the Guardia Urbana in Barcelona — the prisoners of 4F. Two of them were charged with attempted homicide, one with inciting attempted homicide, and the other six with lesser charges. Early Saturday morning, three squatters — Alex, Rodrigo, and Juan — had left a friend’s house after a party. On the way home, they had to pass El Teatro de Anarko Penya Cultural, described as “an illegal disco disguised as a squatted social center, with very little connection to the community of squatted political spaces in Barcelona.” El Teatro had an eviction order for months, but the police had protected it. The house had a reputation as a place to buy drugs, and several suspected police informants lived there. It is probably no coincidence that El Teatro, which stands just at the top of El Forat, was squatted right around the time that resistance in the occupied com... (From :

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Desórdenes Publicos Lunes, 23 Abril, 2007, was a beautiful day. I was hanging out with Georgi from Bulgaria. It was the festival of St. Jordi, though all that meant to me was that people were setting up tables everywhere to sell books and flowers. We passed some time looking at books, sitting in the sun, shooting the shit. Later, I finished up a stencil I had been working on that protested the growing police state. It said “Yo No [heart] Karcelona,” a play on the “Yo [heart] BCN” design mass-produced for the tourists here, which in turn was stolen from the quintessential NY merchandise. Karcel, or cárcel, means jail. Karcelona was a common nickname given to the city by radicals. In the afternoon, the Assemblea d’Okupes — squatters’ assembly — organized a little protest, carrying a balloon-laden banner up Las Ramblas and passing out fliers explaining the problem of gentrification and the rea... (From :

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¿Anarquisme i Nació? Three articles on the question “Anarchism and Nationalism?” from Antisistema no.6, September 2007. The first two are translated from Spanish, the third from Catalan with much appreciated assistance from Maduixa. Anarchists in National Liberation Struggles Dr. Koyac I’m not going to speak about the philosophical or theoretical implications of the relation between anarchism and nationalism. I want to go to the practical history. Here is a brief review of the connections anarchists have had with diverse national liberation struggles in the last two centuries. Since the commencement of libertarian socialist ideas, a part of us have cried out for help for the weaker nations. It is symptomatic that Bakunin was implicated in the attempt to create a Pan-Slavic commonwealth, uniting all the Slavic nations as one. The affair came to naught due to the author... (From :

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Libertad Provisional I still don’t know how this will turn out. I’m making the most of this bizarre Iberian exile, navigating the psychotic labyrinth of the legal system, riding the fickle waves of revolution that wash away the best laid plans like castles of sand and throw our lives tempestuously about, pulling some of us down into the deep and tossing others soundly onto the shore. In the days after Modelo abruptly opened its baneful mouth to spit me out, I began to piece together what had happened and what was to come. Late Monday night the people who had organized the protest found out I had been arrested along with Xavi, and from then on they were working constantly, figuring out a strategy to support us, looking for lawyers, and also coming to terms with how the action had gone so poorly — why the petardo was much stronger than anticipated and not everyone had even been informed about it. They had no idea how we were coping, considering w... (From :

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Lucia Sanchez Saornil One day I became disillusioned and upset when I found out that members of a squat I respected had denied the request of an anarcha-feminist group to host their self-defense class at that squat. The squatters said that because the group was for women only, it was sexist. One of them even said feminists hated men and just wanted power for themselves. I was shocked to hear from the mouths of anarchists arguments that in the US I had associated exclusively with right wing radio hacks, but with my poor Spanish I couldn’t express myself strongly enough. It didn’t help that one of the squatters kept interrupting me, though in this case it was hard to say if his behavior was typically masculine or typically Mediterranean. Later, after thinking it out a lot I was able to share my feelings with one of these squatters. In my opinion, just because radical men suddenly realized that patriarchy was wrong and binary gender needed to be aboli... (From :

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Between Borders Immigration is one of the major points of conflict in the new global economy. Because of the deportation process brought against me by the national police, I experienced the precarity that marks the life of a non-citizen: prohibited from working legally or receiving medical care, threatened with the possibility of being stopped and sequestered every time I crossed a border within Europe, denied freedom of movement, exposed to a greater vulnerability and graver consequences if I were arrested. But unlike the vast majority of the millions of people in Europe and North America who are denied the privileges of citizenship, I had white privilege. This meant that the police were much less likely to stop and search me on the streets, and if arrested — though I would be sent back to prison because of the criminal case — I would probably not disappear into one of the immigrant concentration camps where torture and abuse are commonplace. One ni... (From :

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The Neighborhood Tour Every neighborhood in Barcelona seemed to have at least one resident historian, an old militant who collected newspaper articles and stories, fliers and posters from protests, to add to old archival materials and the memoirs of earlier generations. The veterans of the revolution and the long resistance against Franco were dying off, the gentrification of the city left no reminders of past struggles even as the new urban architecture facilitated greater social control. The surveillance cameras, the wider streets, the buildings without balconies, the enclosed parks, the dumpsters without wheels — these were all direct responses to us anarchists and rebels and our history of riots and sabotage, yet each change erased both the memory and the possibility of fighting. In Spain the isolation of the present was even more marked than in other democracies, because for the government to have legitimacy everyone had to accept the alibi of a disconnec... (From :

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Surviving Lutxo lived in the room next to the computer where I did my writing. Out on the balcony, over which I always looked when thinking of what to say, thoughts trailing off into the deep blue sky... on this balcony he kept a modest plant in a pot. “De El Forat,” he told me. Lutxo used to live near that occupied community garden, and the plant had lived in it. This was a squatter plant; it had enjoyed a brief life in the free soil of El Forat, and Lutxo had rescued it just before the bulldozers came. Shallow roots but deep relationships I think we survive repression with the relationships we make — with the friends who help us endure our many evictions, our many transplantings, and the neighbors who shelter us. As I got to know the people of RuinAmalia better and found new friends, I realized I wouldn’t want to go back to the 23rd of April to change a few trivial choices that would have kept me out of the way... (From :

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A Walk in the Graveyard Diumenge, 26 Agost L was back in Barcelona, this time to stay. Love, like all things in life, is harder with a prison sentence hanging over your head, but my days were so much richer when I could share them with her. Finally, we had more than just a week at a time to get to know each other. One Sunday we decided to further our tradition of geeky anarchist history tourism, and try to find Durruti’s grave up on Montjuic. It’s a long, hot walk up the mountain. There’s hundreds of tourists, most of them packed two high in busses, or riding the cable car. Seems we’re the only ones walking. Past the fortress of Montjuic, the traffic dies down and the tourists disappear. There’s only a few old men, along one bend of the road, who have parked their lawn chairs in the shade, to lounge the day away. The hideous Olympic stadium sprawls out below us. I wonder what used to be there, what got torn down so hu... (From :

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Homage to Barcelona Sometimes it seems like all Europe is heating up this summer. After Sarkozy won the elections in France, another tide of protests and riots swept across that country, at times uniting the youth in the banlieues who had rioted in 2005 with the anarchists, students, and workers who had rioted against the CPE, the labor deregulation, in 2006. There were more major riots in Denmark, with blockades erected once more in the streets of København, after authorities made moves to demolish an old building on the outskirts of Christiania, clearly a practice move in preparation for the real thing, their plan to evict the “free state” of Christiania itself. The Love Kills group from Craiova put on a feminist festival, and they and other anarchists from Romania organized a black bloc to attack the fascists who were protesting the Gay Pride parade in Bucureşti. A number of groups in Ukraina and Russia, including my friends in Kyiv,... (From :

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The Rote Flora is Hamburg’s main squatted social center and autonomous space. It is located in the Schanzen district of Hamburg, at 71 Schulterblatt St. The “Culture House” next door is four stories tall. The two largest newspapers in Hamburg, liberal and conservative, respectively, and the latter owned by Springer, the major German media baron. Later in the article the former is referred to ironically as the Mopo. A commercial project for the development of the plaza — or piazza — just next to Schulterblatt street. Hamburg’s urban development bureau, like HUD in the US. An institution for junkies to shoot up in a safe environment. An abandoned water tower in a park that was converted into a 4 star hotel. Asta is the official student union. A student-oriented movie theater. (From :


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