communists in situ

leberwurst proletariat

Month: November, 2017

Autonomous Antifa: From the Autonomen to Post-Antifa in Germany


AA/BO: Bloc of the “Antifaschistische Aktion – Bundesweite Organisation“. Northeim, June 4, 1994. (The organization AA/BO was founded in 1992 and disbanded in 2001.)

An Interview with Bender, a German Comrade 
by Paul O’Banion

Bender has been involved in the autonomous movement in Germany since the 1980s, and talks here about his experiences and observations from thirty years of organizing. He addresses the beginnings of the autonomen – the autonomous movement – how Antifa developed out of that in the late 80s and 90s, and has developed since.  He discusses where things are now, in a post-autonomous, post-antifa, German radical Left environment. He is familiar with the situation in the US, and offers lessons for organizing against fascism and all forms of domination. This interview was conducted via email, and Bender’s answers have been edited for clarity.

-Paul O’Banion

Talk about the autonomen: who you are, what political traditions and perspectives are you building on, and what has been your practical and theoretical activity.

Bender: When we talk about “the autonomen,” we speak of the 80s in Germany where the autonomen first appeared and had the character of a movement. It is one outcome of the dynamics of the so-called New Social Movements or, as you call it in the US, the New Left.

As in many other countries, the beginnings of the New Social Movements, from which the autonomous movement of the 80s was one result, was “the long year of ’68,” which in Germany is perhaps best characterised as an “anti-authoritarian revolt.” We have to remember, that the year ‘68 politically lasted much longer than one year.  The movement after ‘68 reached a kind of exhaustion, in which people asked themselves how to go on, which means: how to organize a movement in decline.

After ‘68 was the “moment of the movement,” then the 70s developed along the more Party-orientated trajectory. The 70s were the decade of the so-called “K-groups.” The K-Groups were various communist groups with, in some cases, a lot of members, and in all cases – no matter how big they actually were – the aim to become a mass party. It was like the last episode of the history of Communist Parties. But whereas the first episode ended in the tragedy of the Soviet Party-State, this time it ended as the farce of communist groups run by students with nearly no impact on the working-class. But what they did have was much influence on new forms of politics and new political issues, not only those based around labor and the working-class.

But just as the student movement in the end of the 60s went into crisis and transformed itself in the decade of the communist groups, these K-groups in the end of the 70s also went into crisis. This situation split into two different ways of organizing (even if at the beginning both methods walked a short time together): the Green Party on the one hand, the autonomous movement on the other.

We see with the Green Party and the autonomous movement again the two poles, Party on one side; self-organizing, networking and an explicit politics against all kinds of state-apparatus and state-institutions on the other.

The autonomous movement of the 80s in Germany, like the radical and anarchist Left in the US, was organized around squatted houses, autonomous and self-organized youth-centers and an independent, non-commercial infrastructure with info-shops, leftist books-stores, sub-cultural spaces and so on. The model of politics was more the general assembly plenum and consensus decision-making, than decision by voting and by majority rule. Politics functioned more by events and campaigns than by following a program or a theory. The movement was more interested in practical action than in theoretical debates, and it was in general more a kind of life-style than an organized and well-reflected intervention in the political discourse like happens nowadays.

The autonomous style of politics was not only on the level of organisation the pioneer of what is today popular non-hierarchical, non-dogmatic and project-based networking (maybe we must call these kind of organisation post-Fordist or even neo-liberal?), but also the themes and issues of struggle were somewhat decentralized and widespread: anti-war, anti-nuclear, squatting, and the struggle for autonomous free-spaces, punk-music and independent labels, anti-imperialism and solidarity work for the political prisoners and so on. During the 80s, there was still something like a Left hegemony amongst youth (since the autonomous movement was mostly a youth-movement and had a lot to do with subculture and an alternative lifestyle).

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Climate Change: What is to be Done?

Capitalism: Concept & Idea (audio)

The Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy (CRMEP) presents:

Capitalism: Concept & Idea

150 Years of Marx’s Capital: The Philosophy and Politics of Capital today

As a counterpoint to the retreat of the concept of communism from history to ‘idea’, this conference will mark the 150th anniversary of the first volume of Karl Marx’s Capital: A Critique of Political Economy by asking the question of the meanings of ‘capital’ and ‘capitalism’ today as at once (explanatory structural-historical) concepts and (political) ideas.

In particular: What is the current standing of the different philosophical interpretations of Marx’s Capital? What light do they thrown on capitalism today? How have historical developments since Marx’s day changed the concept of capitalism? Has ‘neo-liberal’ capitalism rendered the concept of crisis redundant, for example? Is capitalism governable? Or is capital itself now the main form of governmentality? What is the precise character of Capital as a text – in terms of theory and in terms of literature? What does it mean to be ‘against capitalism’ today?

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Angry Optimism in a Drowned World: A Conversation with Kim Stanley Robinson

by José Luis de Vicente

Reflections from a science-fiction angle on the scenarios posed by climate change and the defence of the imagination to help find real solutions.

Kim Stanley Robinson is one of the world’s most highly reputed science-fiction authors and one of the key exponents of climate fiction. His work, set in the near future, brings us face-to-face with concepts such as the Anthropocene, terraforming and post-capitalism. With him we analyse the link between the ecological crisis and the economic one, placing the emphasis on the need for new political economics. We also explore the role of art and literature when formulating possible futures, the importance of the imagination for finding solutions and the defence of optimism and humour as we deal with the scenario confronting us. This interview, conducted by José Luis de Vicente, forms part of the catalogue for the exhibition After the End of the World, in which the writer is participating with an audiovisual prologue.

It is said that your Mars Trilogy of novels (Red Mars, Green Mars and Blue Mars, 1992-1996) is perhaps the most successful example in science fiction of the use of the notion of “terraforming”: the idea that man can transform a whole planet to make it habitable and reproduce Earth-like conditions. The Mars trilogy explores the idea that any terraforming project would necessarily be not only technical, but also political. As McKenzie Wark writes in Molecular Red: A Theory of the Anthropocenein your version of Mars, “questions of nature and culture, economics and politics, can never be treated in isolation, as all levels have to be organized together.

What is terraforming in the Mars trilogy as a political project, and what was it telling us about the transformation of Earth itself by the hand of man? 

About 20 years ago, I began to read in the technical literature of the planetary science community that Mars is unusual. It is on the outside of the sun’s habitable zone, and because it has water and other frozen volatile gases that we need for life on Earth, it might be possible to heat up Mars and release those gases to essentially recreate an atmosphere, and then introduce Earth’s genetic heritage, life forms and biosphere into the Martian context. In combination, you might get something new that would be like the High Arctic or Siberia; a human space that would be habitable without wearing space suits. Carl Sagan was actually the astronomer who was really important in pointing this out. It’s essentially a kind of science-fiction idea that was achievable in the real world.

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Platform capitalism and value form


By Matthew Cole

According to the speculations of techno-futurologists, left and right, the machines are here to liberate us. Most of the discourse is dominated by the neoliberal right such as Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee and Andrew Haldane, chief economist of the Bank of England. Their arguments, avoiding questions of exploitation, are naturally popular with the establishment. McAfee’s best-selling book The Second Machine Age has been lauded by leaders at the World Economic Forum.

On the left, however, Paul Mason welcomes our new robotic overlords, in an intellectual synthesis that spans Marx’s 1858 ‘Fragment on Machines’ (treated by Mason as a prophecy), Bogdanov’s 1909 novel Red Star and Martin Ford’s 2015 Rise of the Robots, not to mention Andre Gorz. Nick Srnicek and Alex Williams offer a more qualified welcome to the possibility of full automation and a workless future. But even the best of these analyses, and even the most alluring visions of networked insurrection and high-tech communist utopia, have to face up to how these technologies have been used, historically, to deepen exploitation rather than overcome it. It is far more likely, in short, that new technologies will intensify drudgery and further limit human freedom. And it on this basis that we have to evaluate the impacts of platform technologies on the capitalist mode of production.

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Explosons les codes sexuels! Une ancienne du “Front homosexuel d’action révolutionnaire” (FHAR) parle

Née en 1947, Lola Miesseroff a pris dès sa jeunesse une part active à la critique et aux luttes sociales. Elle raconte ici son engagement dans le Front homosexuel d’action révolutionnaire (FHAR) au début des années soixante-dix, et bien d’autres choses encore. Nous avons préféré couper certains passages, détails concernant des personnes, anecdotes ou vives digressions qui auraient triplé le volume de ce texte. En attendant qu’un jour Lola Miesseroff ait l’envie et le loisir d’écrire ses Mémoires, on lira avec intérêt son Voyage en outre-gauche. Paroles de francs-tireurs des années 68, à paraître en 2018 aux éditions Libertalia1. Pour plus de développements sur les tumultueuses années 1970, voir le chapitre 11 de la série « Homo » : « Être ce que nous ne savons pas encore (Stonewall, le FHAR et après) ».

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Zeitschrift für kritische Sozialtheorie und Philosophie: 150 Jahre Das Kapital



Ed. by Elbe, Ingo / Ellmers, Sven / Hesse, Christoph / Schlaudt, Oliver / Schmieder, Falko

Volume 4, Issue 1-2 (Oct 2017)

Schwerpunkt: 150 Jahre Das Kapital – Das Kapital in der Kritik (Tagung an der Carl von Ossietzky Universität Oldenburg)

Schwerpunkt: Marx, Weltsystem und Ökologie

Beitrag außerhalb des Schwerpunkts