If you’re not strong – be smart –Sun Tzu ; The Art of War
A schoolyard in France, mid-May 2020, a group of pre-school children in the schoolyard, each one squatting in a rectangle marked with chalk, carefully separated from the others. They have been told that they are not allowed to leave the rectangle under any circumstances, “otherwise their grandmothers would die”. We remember the strategy paper of the Federal Ministry of the Interior on how to deal with COVID 19.
“In order to achieve the desired shock effect, the concrete effects of an holoendemic on human society must be made clear: ‘Children will hardly suffer from the epidemic’: Wrong. Children will easily get infected, even if there are exit restrictions, e.g. with the neighbour children. If they then infect their parents, and one of them dies at home in agony, and they feel that they are to blame, for example because they forgot to wash their hands after playing, it is the most terrible thing a child can ever experience”.
A villa in the Zehlendorf district in Berlin in mid-May 1970: Andreas Baader, who is in prison, is freed by an armed commando during a visit accompanied by prison officials to the German Central Institute for Social Issues. An armed struggle in one of the leading economic powers develops out of a discussion among thousands about “what next” after the break-up of 68. In addition to the RAF, the June 2 Movement is born, and the origin of the Revolutionary Cells is also located in this historical context. A few decades later, this antagonistic awakening is history. Dozens of comrades are dead, liquidated in the streets by the so-called “kill manhunt”, died in prison under circumstances that are still not clear today, or died on hunger strike in the struggle against the murderous conditions in prison, the white torture.
A few weeks ago, an old comrade from the Italian Autonomia wrote to ask if it was possible to imagine that the state of emergency that is currently being imposed in almost all European states in connection with the Corona pandemic could have been imposed a few decades ago without significant social resistance. One recalls that the Italy of the 70’s, the various autonomous and communist groups counted hundreds of thousands of supporters, some of whom were armed and who fought for days in street battles with the cops in the city centres. The Red Brigades consisted of hundreds of cadres and closest supporters. Millions of people sympathise with a radical left. No, it would have been unimaginable. Regardless of the fact that an equally harmful virus infection would have struck Europe. The state would not have been able to order or enforce a compulsory quarantine for all people for weeks. There would have been hundreds of left-wing doctors and scientists who would have asked critical questions and carried out their own investigations. The system would only have had the choice between civil war and a social dialogue in which the best measures to deal with the virus would have been negotiated.
Still, people would have died. Just as people are dying now despite all the measures taken. Who also die because the ownership situation generates an inadequate health care system, who die because the administrations have neglected essential examination methods that would have provided early information about the fact that many people die of thromboses, that the mere supply of ventilators is in many cases even counterproductive, but that the use of diagnostic tools such as MRT and timely treatment of these thromboses in an inpatient context can save many people. Perhaps under these circumstances fewer people would have died in the 70s. Or maybe not. But what would not have happened is that the process of social cannibalism that has been eating its way through Empire societies for years is now spreading unchecked and more furiously than the current virus.
While everywhere there is talk of solidarity and “We”, even mystically transfigured, fear eats through the collective subconscious. We must not delude ourselves that this process, deliberately fueled by state authorities and the media, will not poison human relations for years to come. Where the other person I meet can always be a potential carrier (some government representatives even used the term “endangerer”, a terminology from the “anti-terrorist struggle”), little will be left of solidarity and compassion, or this will be delegated to the charity of professional helpers. As a result of the social consequences of the current measures, we will experience a hardness of distribution struggles, in which the demands of some leftists for “the rich should pay the bill” will change as much as the initial allocation of antipyretic agents to people presumably suffering from COVID 19.
And now, as the general panic in parts of the population starts to subside, we are witnessing one of the saddest chapters of the whole drama. Actually healthy affective reactions of rage and indignation, the urge to rebel against the prevailing narrative of the lack of alternatives to the state measures taken are fished out by far-right and conspiracy theory groups and factions. Quite a few comrades know of friends and acquaintances who, DESPITE the presence of fascists, hang around on the so-called hygiene demos (also such an unword creation), which are growing from week to week. That this also has something to do with the subjugation of the radical left to the dictates of the state and the voluntary renunciation of the street opposition is a truism. Nazis were always strong where there was nothing else or only very weak. Anyone who experienced the “baseball bat years” in the 90s, especially in East Germany, knows all too well about this connection.
So when we talk about the here and now, about the fact that Winter Is Coming was not just an empty, bold prophecy, but that this is happening right now, even though nobody could have guessed that this would happen in the context of a rampant virus infection, we have to take account of the situation and clarify the fronts without mercy. To refer to a so-called anti-fascist left, which throws itself at the state and demands more state repression, makes no sense at all. Not to mention the fact that significant parts of it are only interested in symbolic politics and lifestyle and are completely detached from the real social conditions. At the latest this should have become clear after Halle and Hanau, if one disregards the few structures that repeatedly targetted the direct fascist infrastructure.
Or to build a bridge, it is about asking the question what remains of the antagonistic narrative of the last 50 years. What we can take with us for the current escalation. Perhaps the experience of daring to risk the rupture even in difficult times. Karl Heinz Dellwo has just published what is actually a sad, but also classifiable narrative on the history of the RAF, which he will further deepen in his anthology to be published in June. But what Karl Heinz does not talk about, and perhaps cannot talk about at all, is the pull-effect the RAF had on those who were neither at the centre nor on the periphery of the project. I have rarely experienced so much tenderness among comrades as it expressed itself in relation to the prisoners from this armed break. The rage with which the Kurfürstendamm was shattered after the news had spread that Sigurd Debus had died in a hunger strike by political prisoners. By people who, for the most part, had not read a single text of the RAF before. And in how many groups who lived in shared apartments in Berlin and structures there were serious plans in the 80s to free the RAF prisoners…
To put it differently, the current situation requires the courage to jump, the need to get out of the paralysis of the last few years into a real relation to the conditions. Because it cannot be done with less. Because the alternative will be the role of a spectator, while this society is tearing itself apart and we will see a battle of the undead of the “Hygiene” movement against the zombies of the Empire.
So when we talk about the need to jump, it might not take that much. We only have to look at the images of the schoolyard in France, to feel the shadows of the traumas that these conditions will cast in the souls of the children. Feel our emerging anger, the willingness not to turn it against ourselves this time, to drown it in drugs or alcohol or cynicism. To think of wise ways to create moments in which we, numerically weak, can also BE VISIBLE AND CONNECTABLE TO OTHERS. This year’s 1st May in Berlin has shown that it doesn’t really take that much to find oneself beyond powerlessness. Also the fast overstraining of the cops on May 1st as well as during the so-called hygiene demos shows that other tactical rules apply at the moment, we have more leeway than usual, even if this is a contradiction at first sight. It is much more possible these days than it seems, if you stand with your back to the wall this is often exactly the point where you start to fight back.
Or to say it with Nanni Balestrini: “Because there are no two ways to do it, that is the only way and that is the way it has always been I have learned from all my experiences in all these fights I have fought in my life over the years because they will hardly give back everything they have stolen from us day by day for so long they will hardly be willing to give us everything back because we have such a nice smile and there is no way to find a pragmatic way here it’s one thing us or them and it’s about who wins or who loses it’s like in all wars the side that wins is the side that fights the hardest that fights to the end that uses everything it has we have lost many fights and we will lose others as well but we have won some already and we will keep on fighting continuously and always because it’s us who have to win in the end. ”
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