Grenzcamp 2000

3. antirassistisches Grenzcamp
der Kampagne 'Kein Mensch ist illegal'
vom 29. Juli bis 6. August 2000
in Forst / Brandenburg
welcome to Telecity Forst 

L., Z., A.

Open letter to FA Poznan, Emancypunx and Kein Mensch ist illegal (english)

This letter comes out of many nights of stimulating discussions between three life-intoxicated individuals from three different places who are interested in working on one project together. The project is the "No one is illegal" camp in July in Poland. It should be a cooperation between people from different places. There are some tensions among some of those interested in participating which need to be resolved, and questions which need to be clarified. We feel that until now this has not been dealt with in a satisfactory manner.

There have been a lot of accusations spread by and about a number of individuals and groups which have made their way to some of the German participants in the "No one is illegal" project and have generated numerous questions on issues important to many in it. We find it unfortunate that those involved were not able to create a dialogue and think that one is necessary to find a way forward.

The main questions brought up in a number of exchanges relating to what we gather was a sexist incident in Poznan some two years ago are about positions on nationalism and political alliances.

Our opinions on most of these issues are fairly clear although we understand that there may have to be some space for slight disagreement, particularly between individuals from different socio-political backgrounds.

Regarding the question of alliances, we feel that basic criteria can be derived from a rejection of the following:

  • Advocating the superiority of any one group of people over others. This includes using insulting/demeaning/pejorative language and images with respect to others based on gender/religion/whatever.
  • Blaming a group of people for problems they experience that are formed by power structures (state, capitalism, patriarchy, etc.).
  • Solutions based on state structures or other formalized leadership and hierarchies.
  • Categorizing people into groups (cultures) whose lines cannot be crossed (whereas describing historical processes and group identities as a part of system of power).

The Polish FA\'s position on nationalism and on minorities is fairly clear and, based on what is in the group\'s statutes and on its actions, is basically acceptable according to the criteria set out here. Some FA groups however have been accused of cooperating with other groups whose politics was not acceptable. It is clear that there are different perceptions on the politics of said groups and that an open discussion on this would not be out of place. According to most Polish comrades, none of these groups have preached national hatred, and they are actually on the contrary in opposition to groups that do - making it inappropriate to label them "nationalist" if the word is taken to imply a type of nationalist-chauvinist, imperialist or hateful politics.

It should be noted that while some have shown concern about cooperation with groups which are not in the left tradition, Polish anarchists may also show similar concern when groups cooperate with the left, in particular with any authoritarian tendencies. The feeling was that, due to political history and not unlike many other Eastern European anarchists, Polish anarchists may react against the left and not be so quick to distinguish between various types of leftist groups, just as people from market capitalist countries may not be aware of differences in groups on the "right". References to the "left" are seen as equally problematic as references to the "right", given that both historically go back to state-oriented traditions (while Western activists tend to see a discourse of "neither left nor right" as reminiscent of fascist or New Center third-way positions). We were not able to come to any consensus on what we understood by left and right, which testifies to the fact that the issues are more complex. We need to dialogue about the actual politics of people and groups rather than raising accusations based on labels.

What we are asking for is some measure of goodwill between those that are interested in a common project. There should be chances for individuals and groups to clarify their own position and for them to discuss in a manner conducive to creating understanding and cooperation. Up to this poit, the essence of may issues has been obfuscated in insults, dismissive comments or hot accusations, and not everybody has taken the chance to clarify matters and open up communication because of feelings of being under attack. If we cannot manage to tone down our attacks on each other we will have no energy left to attack our enemies.

On the other hand we are surprised that the Polish FA has not made any clear statements against sexism, either in their statutes or in their everyday practice. We are worried about the lack of a position concerning sexism. Seeing the absence of adequate and serious response to existing criticism, notably in the context of the "Poznan incident", we propose to start an in-depth discussion with all intended parties. A proposal will be sent to the congress of the FA in Krakow for including a statement on sexism in the federation\'s statutes. We hope that this will be a starting point for such a discussion.

It is surprising to some of us that the same people who would clearly object to stereotypical and demeaning imagery in posters and other publications when it plays on national prejudice fail to see the offensive character of similar stereotypes directed against women.

L., Z., A.

Mehr zum Schwerpunkt Diskussion um FA Poznan
[20.06.2000] gefährliche verbindungen rechtsextremer und "anarchisten" in polen
[30.05.2000] On tensions between KMII and the FA Poznan (english)
[25.03.2000] KMII und FA Poznan - Versuch eines Beitrags zu einer Auseinandersetzung
[21.03.2000] Zur Auseinandersetzung mit der FA (Federacja Anarchystyczna) Poznan

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