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Pandemic War diaries – First of May Edition

Sebastian Lotzer

“The disaster is that there really is absolutely no left… There’s just emptiness… There’s nothing, nothing at all.”

Nanni Balestrini

Berlin. Let’s start with what is the only thing that makes any sense at all, because everything beyond, all the fizzled out affects, all the powerless rage, grief, all the overwhelming fear dissolves as if in an experimental arrangement in the complete agony of isolation and separation, as if it had not existed. So let us start with the hope, which is said elsewhere, that a person can survive a month without food, a week without drinking, but not four seconds without them. So let’s talk about hope.

Submitted to Enough 14. Written by Sebastian Lotzer. Translated by Enough 14.

Let’s talk about the cops that were hanging around everywhere, eyeballing us and talking to us as if we were little children to remind us of distance regulations that they themselves didn’t give a shit about. Let’s talk about the contempt that was directed at them. So let’s talk about that wonderful evening at the beginning of May, that hour when the evening sun shining on Oranienstraße giving it a very special light. Let us talk about the air that was so wonderfully fresh, let us talk about all that seemed possible for a few moments.

Let’s talk about the fact that we were able to listen to our own words, because not every corner was booming with basses, dull party mobs were blowing their brains out, let’s talk about the fact that there were more banners to be seen than there have been for many years. Let’s talk about the fact that we were able to establish a balance of power in which our opponent refrained from chasing us apart. Let us talk about the fact that there were thousands of us, let us talk about the fact that it was the first time since we had been imprisoned and deprived of our rights. Let’s talk about how every beginning has a magic within it.

Let’s talk about the fact that we were less than our opponents, but we can still be smarter and more victorious. Let’s talk about how this day really means something to us, something that seemed lost in all those years when we were like a flock of sheep, self-proclaimed leaders and trotting behind their trucks. Let’s talk about the fact that we didn’t have to listen to all those stupid speeches, the eternally same phrases. Let’s talk about how we could have made history. Let’s talk about how we missed that opportunity. Let’s talk about why this happened.

“Keep moving forward in difficult terrain”

The Art of War – Sun Tzu

No marching up, no fixed formation, no form that can be controlled, no crowd that can be contained. No direction that is predetermined, being able to turn at any time, creating moments of surprise. This is how we started, this is how it could have continued. You could feel the insecurity of the cops, their difficulties to adapt to our tactics in the early stages. Then the hesitation began, the waiting, instructions were given in the background, blindly followed. Our first mistake. Our opponent now knew where to expect us, where to meet us. Relocated his troops, blocked roads, began to disperse and chase us. We could now have started to block them, construction sites could have found their way onto the road, we could have scattered in different directions, made opposite movements. But we are just rushing from one predetermined point to the next. Satisfied with being there at all, instead of confidently appropriating parts of the terrain. Still, the situation was not lost.

At Kottbusser bridge sudden dynamics, the cops could only pant behind. At Wassertorplatz the van of the operation command (it stands there every year) without protection, one or two bottles, then the leaders of our opponents could already breathe again. From now on it became more difficult for us with every crossroad. From the provision rooms riot squads flooded the neighborhood, the cops from the PMS got new courage, put on their vests and simply walked along the edge with three of them. Another cop car, with only the driver inside, stood crosswise, was flowed around, not a scratch was to be seen afterwards. Now our opponent realized that we were limiting ourselves, that we had only come to be here at all. The rest is quickly told and well known. Everything flowed to the already sealed off Mariannenplatz, there again static, powerlessness, beatings and arrests. A few stones and paint bags in the Manteuffel and then we had our familiar First of May back. Every further offensive option was history.

“The greatest vulnerability is ignorance”

The Art of War – Sun Tzu

There is no doubt that we are living in difficult times. We live in times of increased risk, but also of increased opportunity. Everything is fragile and permeable, any narrative could be a thing of the past tomorrow. We are imprisoned and disenfranchised, the elderly, the disabled, the mentally ill, the homeless, the refugees, the women who are beaten at home, the low-class family, now five of them sitting every evening in their too-small flat, are even worse off. Beyond our world of prosperity, hundreds of millions of people are losing their livelihoods. Since the first days of the worldwide lockdowns there has been resistance because for many it is about everything. In Africa, in South America they are plundering supermarkets, in many places the streets and squares are reviving in spite of the real health risks with people who are willing to fight, because further waiting is unbearable if you have nothing to eat and only look into the abyss of poverty. In Lebanon the banks are burning day after day and the whole world is watching carefully.

A large part of the left has given in to the blackmail of the elites, does not question the narrative of the absence of alternatives. As if we needed someone to tell us what we have to do to protect ourselves and our neighbours, friends, the people around us. We act out of love for people, which is what distinguishes us from our mortal enemies, who suddenly pretend to care for the old and weak, who otherwise let them vegetate and die. If we were in Kreuzberg on May 1st, “to practice democratic protest” (Statement 1st May Alliance), then we were there for nothing. It’s not about protesting, it’s also not about “making ourselves heard in the coming distribution struggles” (Taz), a large part of the left got lost in this dead end street a long time ago.

Many people in the world looked closely at Kreuzberg on the first of May. For the first time in many years. The actions in SO 36 were among the first mass actions in Europe since the declaration of the state of emergency on almost the entire continent. For many, a day that would have ended with a (temporary) loss of control of the Empire would have been a sign of encouragement. In recent weeks there have been many calls from Italy, Spain, France, to fight their way out of the state of shock, to familiarise themselves with the new terrain on which we now are forced to move. We will have to learn to breathe, to walk, to talk, to love each other again. Too many things have broken among people in the last few weeks. Will be broken in the coming months. It is to be feared that in the coming weeks we will not be as numerous again as on the first of May. That we will meet a well-positioned opponent.

“I have already tried to describe the form of despotism that we can expect and from which we must tirelessly protect ourselves”

Giorgio Agamben

If the resistance in Europe against the new regime that is about to unfold is not to be limited to the revolts of the abandoned youth in France, Belgium, …, we will no longer be able to afford tactical errors such as those made on the First of May, because this already prevents any option to a strategic search for a movement in this country. There is a fundamental need for a world beyond fear and regulation. This was also demonstrated by the strong participation in the anti-authoritarian demonstration on May 1st in Athens, in which around 5,000 people took part despite a curfew in force until May 4th. The emergency regime believes itself to be at the height of its power, apparently so unresistingly it has been able to prevail. But that is precisely where its fragility is to be found, because it has nothing to offer but a prolonged desolation that is only fed by the promise of care and paternalism. On the streets we write history. Dystopia or freedom.

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