White Overalls from Finland

Helsinki 26.01.2001

The White Overalls from Finland

The Finnish scene

During the last year the Finnish radical scene has have some new developments. Basically we have a differentiation between five major positions:

  1. The "white overalls/zapatista" (referring at international level to the white overalls movement) operating through five local groups.
  2. The anarchist/AFA (referring at international level to AFA-networks and syndicalism)
  3. People involved in Attac Finland and Friends of Earth Finland
  4. The Marxists (the Communist Youth League - connected to the Finnish Communist Party - and the Socialist League - members of the IS, the Trotzkyist international network)
  5. People that participate to activities from a personal or affinity group point of view

During the past years Friend of Earth Finland has participated to the PGA s activities.


The main differences between the anarchist/AFA groups and us - (it is important to note that some of us are also anarchists) - is that our position is not strictly related to a particular ideology or a "flag". We are also not dogmatic regarding forms of political activities (participation to local elections, contacts with institutional organizations as the Green Party etc.). Our vision of processes of liberation is different than the position expressed from some purist Finnish anarchists, but we also respect differences. We believe that we can show at practical level that our choice is the more functional one. We think that we do not have the need to explain the differences between us, Marxists and Friends of Earth.

Some anarchists in Finland also think that we are a hierarchically operating group. Our opinion is that in direct action — direct action is the central unifying point of our network - we need people who take responsibility. We agree with the zapatistas idea of command obeying and obey commanding. As we agree with the idea of marching and asking. As we agree with the idea that all the responsibility position has to circulate. For us the idea of not taking any individual responsibility is quite naïve. Some of those anarchists also think that we privilege the spectacular point of view and we organize action for the media. That is true, but is true in part. We recognize the importance of spectacle in the present society, but if the "street theatre of civil disobedience" is virtual, it is also true that, for example, the 19 people arrested in the civil disobedience action of December 6 and people that have to go in hospital after the same direct action are real, not virtual.

Our activities in Finland and at global level

As white overalls of Finland we have produced during the last year civil disobedience acts regarding GMO and biotechnologies (photos: http://kulma.net/vaikuttava/kuvat.php3?c=nayta&id=88 ) and, in particular, we have participated to the yellow block in Prague (photos at http://kulma.net/vaikuttava/kuvat.php3?c=nayta&id=101 and indymedia ) and produced the very first mass white overalls-style civil disobedience action in Finland, with hundreds of participants, in December 6 in front of the presidential palace in a demonstration connected to the Nizza EU-summit. (Photos at http://kulma.net/vaikuttava/kuvat.php3?c=nayta&id=136)

Some of us are also involved in the project of Indymedia Finland (http://kulma.net/vaikuttava) and we are networked at global level with different groups in Europe and abroad. We feel that our sister groups are Ya Basta! in Italy (in particular in the North-East and Milan) and the white overalls of Spanish State. We are also networked, directly or through Ya Basta! with EZLN in Chiapas, Kein Mensch ist Illegal in Germany, and other groups and network like the No Borders — network. Of course our people co-operate at local level with many different Finnish groups.

Our methods of struggle are non-violent, but at the same time we are not Gandhian pacifists, and for this reason our civil disobedience is protected, collective and organized. Our symbolical target is to show in the public space (in the virtual “agora”) that between constituted power (or our enemies) and the constituent power of the multitude is located the violence of states and governments.

What are for us the white overalls?

Our vision is that the white overalls are a ZAPATISTA symbol and a method open to everyone. The equivalent of the Marcos balaclava or of the balaclava of the 70 s in Italy. White overalls symbolized mainly two things:

  1. We are not the traditional blue-overall working class, but a new postfordist productive subject
  2. We are the faceless or invisible of the society, and the white overalls give us visibility in the spectacular / mediatic space.
  3. Together with the white overalls an other very central thing, that we would like to underline in our actions, is that in the post-modern the body is the weapon, the subject and the object of the political fight. That means that we have interiorized in our political practices the concept of biopolitics derivate from the analysis of Michel Foucault and from feminism.

Chiapas, The White Overalls Convention, Gothenburg and Genova

For the white overalls network the main event of year 2001 is the Genova G8 of July. We have started the debate about the event and we expect in Genova a very massive mobilization and we will organize also a Finnish delegation participating to the event.

We think also that the Gothenburg EU Summit (15-16 June 2001) is very important for our internal process of consolidation and definition of political organization and in order to spread our form of struggle in the Nordic Countries. We are intentioned to participate together with the Finnish scene to the Gothenburg event (and we invited all the groups involved in PGA to participate). We mobilized together for Prague 200 person in September 2000 and we think that this is also our target for Gothenburg. Maybe even more will join us. We also suppose that we can organize a non-violent civil disobedience act of some dozens of white overalls. Of course is important that the organizers of the event, and the Swedish scene think that our proposal is acceptable.

Our opinion is that our form of struggle — in Genova and Gothenburg - can be a valid alternative between riots made at long distance from police with stones and bottles, and the typical and ritual pacifist demonstration march. We also would like to point the fact that for us open communication regarding civil disobedience is very important. We will show to medias and to everybody BEFORE the event our protections and we will explain our tactics. We will also organize public training. Is very important to explain that we do not accept the use of any offensive weapon (as sticks, stones and so) in our activity.

Not only Genova and Gothenburg are important event for us during the year 2001. Our representative will participate to the march of zapatista commanders from Chiapas to Mexico City (February-march 2001) and we will attend to the Convention of the white overalls in May in Italy. Of course we will also do informative work in Finland related to all those events.

Some political aspects of the Gothenburg and Genova mobilizations

For us at present moment our struggle is first of all at global level. We believe that the political space of nation-state is over and we try to operate, together with our networks, at least at European level. This, in order to say, that we are not against Europe and for nation-state, but we are for Europe (not EU), for a Europe of citizenship rights (right to income and right to reappropriate means of production) and for an Europe of open citizenship and freedom of circulation (for us European citizen is everyone who live here - legally or illegally - independently of their origins). For those reasons the items that we will put on the center of the mobilization are:

  1. Freedom of movement and citizenship open to all
  2. Citizenship rights (universal income and free use of production technologies — that means also no to the patents and no to copyright)

Regarding Gothenburg and Genova — as for all the global mobilizations - we understand the necessity to have a large platform of contents and participants, but we think also that we are interested to give relevance to some particular themes, in particular in order to avoid to being confused with nationalist anti-globalization or anti-EU forces or with people who fight for the "right to work" or other similar "socialist" demands. For us is very important to understand that we fight for a universal citizenship right to income independently from job. We also think that the antiracist/antifascist items have to be pointed out in a positive light as for example struggle for freedom of circulation (and not only as a militant fight against fascists). In finally we think that in the new European political space we have to fight for more spaces of freedom, participation, direct democracy and for more rights to the local communities. This is our vision of federalism and Europe.

For this reason protected, non-violent, active, and mass civil disobedience is, according to our opinion, the right way to proceed. For us direct action has — in Gothenburg and Genova - to enlarge consensus, has to involve new sectors of civil society and not to be a vanguardist practice of small groups of persons. We think that we have to involve civil society in our activities and not to be isolated in some violent practices.


Regarding the PGA we have to say that we are quite inexperienced with this network. Some of us have participated to the ICC in the year 99 and to some others PGA initiatives. For this reason we do not have a clear vision of the future of the network. In any case we feel that we will like to be involved in PGA s activities. We think also that if the white overalls network will be a cluster of affinity groups sharing more or less similar analysis and methods, the function of the PGA is to be a more open forum involving also other sectors of civil society and of the global movement (PGA as a Consulta?). Under this point of view we think that PGA have to develop the following aspect of discussion:

  1. The future of the global movement after the first phase of struggle (enforces and formalizes internal organization? Opening to other sectors of civil society? The zapatista s model of Consulta?
  2. Contents of the Gothenburg and Genova mobilizations (our proposal: open citizenship and citizenship rights)
  3. New forms of global struggle after the recent problems in Prague, Nice and Davos with freedom of movement (in particular what we can do in order to protest against imperial institution when they meet in very insulated places like Qatar?)
  4. New forms of global struggle that are not over determined from the imperials summits but are autonomously decided. In other words not only reactive struggles, but offensive practices.

Finnish white overalls

Zapata vive - la lucha sigue !!!

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