Repression is working – it has turned the left into a paranoid, infighting, elitist mess.
An article in Der Bund today tries to draw a connection between the anonymous Tanz dich frei organizers and the autonomous cultural center Reitschule. The authors research has shown, the dance protest, that famously escalated into a major riot here in Bern, Switzerland back in May, was at least partially financed by what is called the “pool”, an internal Reitschule fund fed by some sort of tax drawn from alcohol sales.
The simple fact that some money (it is unclear how much) was spoken to support a sympathetic protest event does not mean a thing. The article draws some pretty far fetched conclusions, which I am not even going to dignify with a comment. What struck me though, and the reason why I am writing about it here, are a few remarks that were mentioned towards the end of the article, where the author informs us that all of the five people who shared information with him during his research insisted on remaining anonymous. Why? Because they fear repercussions from other activists.
So what happened there? While such a danger might exist, leaking internal dialogue to the press is frowned upon, and people might get confronted, there might also be some paranoia involved. Both things, the internal repercussions and the paranoia are shocking, and they mainly show one thing, the repressive apparatus is really working and it has started to grind us down. Constant state repression and the press poking around for polemic stories have created a climate, where distrust rules. It has turned us, the radical left, into a paranoid, infighting, elitist mess. This totally sucks. And way more than anything else, this will make us fail in our struggle.
A climate where people, who talk to the press prefer anonymity to avoid confrontation with others, who might disagree with them, is pure poison. As a result everyone will start to distrust everyone. Or actually, this has already started. Similarly the bullies who threaten people need to realize, the aggression turned inwards is exactly what is intended here. Infighting and aggression focused on fellow activists for minor (in the big scheme of things) disagreements will only backfire in the long run.
What to do?
Reitschule should close shop and discuss this shit. There needs to be a huge pow wow, where these issues get hashed out. I think it would be helpful to reactivate some old cynical activists, not unlike myself, who long ago have moved on to different struggles. It is time to remember, what an incredible gift an autonomous cultural center like Reitschule is for our city, and we now need to find ways to regain our trust, refocus our energy, and reunite in the struggle.
Edit: Yesterday I asked the journalist, who wrote the article in question, some few questions on Twitter, he was kind enough to respond to them. I will post the dialogue right after, it’s in German. The most important point does confirm some of my earlier thoughts. In accordance with journalistic standards the journalist claims, that all five of his sources knew that he was writing an article. So it really does sound like some people were trying to “use” the press to convey a point. Shitstorm incoming and let’s hope it will be constructive.
12:55 AM – 19 Jun 13
@lenzchristoph Re: Reitschule: Darf man davon ausgehen, journalistisch warst du sauber und alle 5 Quellen wussten, du schreibst den Artikel?
@lenzchristoph Danke, da bin ich beruhigt. Trotzdem würde ich gerne diskutieren, dein Artikel wird einen epic shitstorm auslösen. Bewusst?
@janzuppinger Diskutieren: Gerne.
@lenzchristoph 1. Frage zielt auf die journalistische Verantwortung, wie unterscheidet sich Interna publik machen von unverpixelten Photos?
@janzuppinger Fahndung nach mutmasslichen Straftätern ist Sache der Polizei. Aufdecken von Widersprüchen in subventioniertem Zentrum nicht.
@lenzchristoph Ok, diesen Punkt sehe ich. Dann vielleicht anders gefragt. Hilft diese Interna publik machen dem konstruktiven Dialog?
Die Infos helfen dem Leser, die verschiedenen Facetten der Reitschule besser zu verstehen. Das finde ich durchaus wichtig. @janzuppinger
Der Preis ist aber hoch, denn ich denke solche Infos tragen dazu bei den Dialog zu verunmöglichen, das Misstrauen zu schüren @lenzchristoph