Anna Arthur und all die Anderen (Anna, Arthur and all the others – Anna and Arthur are two fictional character the leftist scene uses, to teach you what you have to do if you get in trouble with cops)
Most people who are politically active and take their protest to the street, have had the same experiences numerous times. People get beaten up by police, they get their faces pepper sprayed or tear-gassed or even get arrested. If you try to protect yourself from their batons, you are charged with resisting a police operation.
Or you are taken into custody and are charged on made up claims based on fictional police statements, who try to protect their own. You fit the picture of the typical leftist and the police has to make arrests in order to legitimize the agrression and brutality they use to oppress leftist’s demonstrations and individuals; to calm the politicians and public after a violent protest. So they use their law-and-order-strategy to show that they are still in charge and know how to react.
Repression can have many faces. It can be a tactical acting before a protest. Or the police reacts with raids and other repercussions after a riot. Thereby they often break the law and act in a legal gray area using the argument of Imminent danger.
The thing is, that these repressive tactics are often aimed against one individual, but the bigger meaning is to frighten everyone who is political active. They try to criminalize whole political movements and demoralize and disillusion people who want to fight for a better future. This tactic can produce a feeling of powerlessness that makes it unable to participate in further actions. The goal is to nip unwanted protests and resistance in the bud.
But as mentioned before it’s individuals who are confronted with the legal consequences of the repression. They have to get a lawyer and go through the struggles and hardships of a trial. And they need a lot of money for the lawyer and for the possible punishment. Worst case is, they lose their freedom and have to go to jail.
That’s the reason why it is so important to support the ones who are affected by the repression. Be there for them, be at the trial, collect money and try to make this very stressful situation a little less stressful for them. And try to support Organizations that help people in jail or help people who struggling with the legal system.
Arbeit macht mir keinen Spaß (Work doesn’t bring fun for me)
This is a cover from the great German Punkband “Kackschlacht”. They never recorded this song. They only played it live at the end of a show, if the audience wanted to see more. But I liked this song so much and I hated them for not recording it, so I thought: Okay DIY – I have to do it myself. And this is the result.
The song is a wonderful refusal of the neoliberal ideology where you have to function within the system. And where the most important thing is your performance and your commitment to your job. You have to sell yourself and your workforce better than anyone else. The result is a society where people not only get exploited for and alienated from their work, but also get isolated with a feeling that they alone can never change anything.
This song shows a way of trying to break out of this cycle by refusing to work and getting paid by unemployment benefit. It’s a German perspective on the topic because you need a good social security structure to live that way.
But for some people this is an option to say “fuck off” to this neoliberal and work-centered ideology and try to life an alternative lifestyle where they work in projects with their passion and not only to sell their capacity of work.
Love Punk, hate Punx!
I’ve been a part of the DIY-Punk and HC-Scene for years now and it’s where I learned about radical left theories and politics. For me the scene was a place outside of society, where I could be the person I am. A place for the outcast who don’t fit into society´s norms. For me it was so important to find this place and to find acceptance within this scene. Or this was what I thought I found.
Years went by and I noticed more and more that this scene is just a mirror of society. There is a bigger consciousness about discrimination and marginalization and often there is an attempt to create a safe space for everyone. But we all are socialized in the same society, and we have internalized all these norms and ways of thinking.
It is hard to notice the behavior that is anchored deep in your mind and act against it. But especially the punk-scene is full of (mostly cis-male) assholes that just want to live a hedonistic alternative lifestyle without respect for other people’s boundaries. People who don’t reflect their own behavior and who think politic is to be drunk and shout political slogans or destroy things. And if they get criticized, they complain about the overreacting politically correct or woke people who don’t understand fun and more importantly don’t know what punk is about.
But what is punk about? Is it this way of life? To not give a fuck about anyone or anything? Or is there more behind it?
For me the answer is clear. I don’t want to be part of a scene that excludes politics from punk. Punk is a political scene, and everyone’s behaviour is a political act. And that includes the reflection of exclusion within punk. There is racism and sexism in punk. Punk is mostly a big white boysclub. And that is something that has to change. There are more and more bands and people who try to do this and who point a finger at problems inside the punk scene. But there still is a big way ahead.
Biedermann all over again & Hirschbraten (in brauner Soße) [Deer-roast (with brown gravy)]
[Biedermann and the arsonists is a radio play of the author Max Frisch – the original english title was just „The Arsonists“ – and was a metaphor about how normal citizens (the Biedermann = the Every-man) can be taken in by fascists or authoritarian ideologies and thereby help these ideologies to gain power.]
On my first record there was the Song „Ein Hirsch! Ein großer, toter Hirsch!“. This song was about the status of the German society and the right backlash that took place at that time. The year was 2015 and there was the so called “refugee crisis” that increased racist and nationalist points of view in society. At that time, I wrote that I had the feeling that there was a negative development in society.
These two songs now are written 1.5 years later, and it seems that this feeling was right in some parts. On the one hand, political parties of the far right have gained about 15% of the votes at the last big election and the whole pre-election time was full of topics about security issues, linked to a supposed “threat from the refugees” and a discourse about the idea of a national identity. Former conservative parties have tried to get back voters by using slogans similar to the ones of the right wing. And in this way, they played their part in the increasing of the right backlash. And it seems to be the same situation in other countries. In the USA Donald Trump became president – an open racist and misogynist person that focuses on a white national identity and tries to renew nationalistic ideologies. Just as the ‘leave’-campaign of Brexiteers in the UK or the government of chancellor Kurz in Austria.
On the other hand, there are some positive examples as well. Elections in the Netherlands, where right wing parties lost a lot of votes. And there are also lots of people who show their repulsion against right wing politics in society. People who are warning about the dangers of this politics and who try to become active or partake in political processes.
And this is so important! It’s important to occupy the public discourse so that right wing ideas can’t spread any further. To show alternatives to their simple solutions of nationalism and chauvinism. And to be in solidarity with marginalized groups to build a better tomorrow for everyone.
Ohnmachtsverhältnisse [circumstances of powerlessness]
I’ve often experienced aggressive behavior against me in public spaces, mostly coming from cis-males / groups of cis-male. I got targeted because I didn’t fit their picture of a ‘real man’. I got called names or was threatened. And way too often I felt frightened by them and reacted in a defensive and insecure way, even if I felt like yelling at them and show them some kind of opposition.
But my insecurity gets really big in these situations and I often feel helpless and powerless. In hindsight, I am angry with myself because of my reaction and regret that I didn’t act in any other way. Because I don’t want these people to have such a big influence on me. And I hate the people that get me in these situations. And I hate that they make me hate myself for not acting in the right way. Because it’s not me who is the problem. It’s them. The ones who use their privileged position and their power to discriminate people.
And I begin thinking even more about people who are being marginalized and discriminated against. Because at least I, being read as a white cis-male, don’t have to face the even greater danger of even more marginalized groups. I wish for those who discriminate others to be confronted with the consequences of their actions in a way, that might make them understand the consequences for the victimized person’s mental health and self-image.
But I also wish that there were a greater solidarity. That other people in public space won’t look away and won’t try to not get involved, but act in solidarity and try to support the ones who are targeted by these threats. That would be really helpful and could create a safer place for many people. And at last the ones being a threat would get confronted more often because of their behavior. And hopefully they won’t do it anymore.
Viel Rauch um Nix [Much smoke around nothing (a german phrase)]
In 2014 I quit smoking because at some point in my life, I smoked up to 50 cigarettes a day and had to accept that I was addicted. It took me a long time to quit successfully.
As a non-smoker I noticed how hard it was to be in rooms full of cigarette smoke for the first time. When I visited a show as a smoker I only noticed that my headache the next morning was worse. But as a non-smoker I get an annoying dry cough that can last up to a week or longer.
Since then, I noticed that I couldn’t handle playing a show in a room full of smoke, like I used to. Sometimes I would have to cough so badly, I’d puke. The only solution is drinking a lot of alcohol because then I don’t notice the smoke anymore, which definitely isn’t a very healthy way to handle this. And for me personally, it’s only the inconvenience of having to cough and sometimes puke. But there are others, who can’t handle the smoke at all because of health conditions. For them the only solutions is to stop going to shows, where smoking is allowed. And that can’t be something we want for this scene.
For me this scene is about fighting excluding mechanism so that everyone can be a part of it. And with that situation we actively exclude people that can’t handle the smoke, for the sole purpose that smokers aren’t faced with the minor inconvenience of having to go outside to smoke. That’s something I can’t understand.
But luckily there is progress. I notice more and more clubs and places having a debate about smoking indoors and that most of them come to the conclusion that it’s not a big deal to ban smoking indoors, to be a more inclusive scene.
Von Leerstellen und Leerstand [Of blanks and vacancy]
Many of my friends were politicized in small free-spaces in small towns. They got there because these towns hadn’t anything to offer for the youth. There, they got in contact with the DIY punk-scene. This contact was so important for their further life and most of them are still active in the punk or radical left scene.
These spaces can be a place for experiments with self-administration and political Ideas. They can offer a place that tries to become an alternative to normal society, where people, that don’t fit societal norms, can find a home.
Because of that these free spaces are important, especially for small towns or rural areas. So it’s also important to get active in these spaces, to keep them alive and to fight for their existence.
One strategy to build up new spaces is to squat a house. In the 90’s there were lots of squats in Berlin and today many of them still exist. And even if there is a big fight about these spaces, and we lost some really important squats in the last year, there are also successful new squats in other towns.
Another point of the strategy of squatting houses is that it tries to get houses out of the real estate market. Because in the last years this market grows and grows, which had bad consequences for the people that are living in these house. The rent is increasing drastically and more and more flats are being modernized and sold as condominiums. So many people are suffering from these consequences. They have been evicted and in the worst case are now homeless. So to squat a house to get it out of the real estate market and to open it for homeless people can be a very powerful political strategy.