Right time, right place, right crew
Beyond Europe Camp evaluation
I. Hard Facts:
– 18th-25th August 2015 in Skouries, Northern Greece
– 7 days, 500 attendants, 10 000 Souvlaki (in pork we trust), 5000 Frappe, 20 Dixies, 5 showers
– Italians, Swedish, Germans, Danish, Bulgarians, French, English, Austrians, Cypriots, Greeks, Kurds
– Crossing spectrums: hippies, eco-fighters, (queer)feminist milieu, unorganized, struggling locals from Skouries, Autonomous, drunk artists, anarchists, communists, Beyond Europe and friends
– Camp language: unfortunately German – and English
– Temperature: 30° Celsius
– Precipitation: 25809 liter/m² (average)
– Leaky tents: 158
– Atmosphere: mostly great, battlesome
II. Context of the camp: The capitalist attack has been intensifying: in summer 2015, despite a Tsipras-led government, austerity had still to be imposed in Greece. The optimist dreams of the most persistent Syriza-believers were confronted with reality. This failure to shift European crisis management consistently pulled through within the elections in Spain as well as Portugal and its suspicious compromise. The fact, that Tsipras announced re-elections during our camp, a move interpreted by many (amongst other things) as a resignation against the bosses of the EU, fits perfectly into the picture. Also the fact that the Greek government attempted to hault the works of El Dorado, seemingly a first step towards victory, could also be perceived as an attemp of the government to make sure the local communities did not feel the need to join forces with us and continue the movement. The “square movements” against austerity from 2011, our point of interest and action, were at the crossways: you can get quite dizzy between exhaustion and taking over power! It was no coincidence, that the camp took place in the “crisis laboratory” Greece, more precisely in the goldmining-region or at least what the investors and the political elites would like it to be, of Chalkidiki. It was a political decision; the massive police presence in the region, the partisan-stories of the locals from there and Thessaloniki, the practical as well as political solidarity between the people is drawing our attention for years already. Next to the political decision to support the local movement, one fundamental idea behind the camp was the further development of Beyond Europe as a European-wide platform for anticapitalist and antiauthoritarian groups, that keeps its process of discussion and action public.
III. Most important claim was met – international networking meets concrete social movement: the core-idea for initiating a camp was to physically bring together the European-wide process of exchange as well as networking and concrete practical solidarity with an eco-social movement with an anticapitalist perspective. Therefore the camp had two functions: on the one hand a non-virtual, old-school and “real” platform for meeting comrades from different political cultures, exchange ideas and engage in discussions and on the other, an opportunity to meet and coordinate how to practically support the local movement against the gold-mining in Skouries. A movement, which has been weakened by repression, lack of energy and the hopes of the local movement being placed upon the leftist Syriza goverment, who was long promissing help and which has explicitly called for such a camp in hope for revitalization. Practical support does not only include the peak point of the camp, which was the powerful and militant demonstration with 2000 people including camp attendants and locals at the gold-mining instruction sites on the mountains, but also the “getting-to-know-each other-inspection” of the villages surrounding the camp as well as several discussion events with the local committees, taking place at the villages’ central squares. In the beginning of the camp, high government officials in election-mode already announced the interruption of further construction works for the gold mines – one fundamental aim of the local movement. This was received as clear, de-escalative signal towards the camp, since Syriza – the party referring itself very close to the movements as the one in Skouries – wanted to prevent “ugly” images of protests. Nonetheless, this move was considered a political success for the camp, since it had an impact within the tense political atmosphere in the country and the region – although no one had the illusion, that this is a win for the local movement. The impact did not die down with the time; especially the demonstration, which was reported about as the most representative part for the camp, was received nationally. Greek comrades spoke of a dynamical situation of struggle, which has not been present since the intense period of protests in 2012. The movement in Skouries has gained short-termed power from and within the camp, which was expressed in the probably most beautiful moment of the whole week: when in the last day several local committees were having their assembly in the Beyond Europe camp. This was also a gesture of thankfulness by the local residents, which was sent towards the camp – despite many different language barriers- a kind of social bonding between the camp attendants and the local residents came up, which was a total new experience for many of us, who are used to be a small minority in their homeplaces. A part of the local communities also expressed the concern that Beyond Europe in one way overtook the struggle, by taking the iniative alone. On the other side another part of the communities expressed the will to continue cooperation with Beyond Europe in supporting the struggle. At this point we have to be honest to ourselves that the camp had no long-term impact to the struggle: Allthough we managed together to bring the topic again in Greek media and to an European public, not much remained in the sense of structures and self-organization in the local communities. We didn’t set a lasting mark together. The goal of our Greek comrades is to come into a discussion about alternatives to the actual government management and organization of life and to develop from it concrete. If we do something like the camp again, we have to have a concrete political agenda about self-organization in the concrete example, and more general about what world we want to live in, and talk about this in the events in a more specific way.
IV. What is to be improved (by all of us): Nobody’s perfect. Beyond Europe is noing as having booked an experience holiday with all-inclusive-service by Beyond Europe. Workshops and panels were visited very well, but many rightfully complained about a certain overload of inputs. Finally, the program was too massive and inbalanced; we should have had more information and discussion about the local struggle and why we are here and less covering all the other important issues. This is not meant as a “Demonstrations in Gree exception. Most important issues that we as an organization have to improveare transparency and informational hierarchies; these were never intended, but executing this noble claim is a whole different story. Another issue for improvement is the gender inbalance, which although was quite even concerning the camp attendants, was not carried onto the discussion panels. We try to do better, we promise. But others should do, too: from the beginning we said, that this camp is an antiauthoritarian camp which requires participation, and not only consumption, by ALL. Especially some comrades are hereby criticized by us, for actce 101”, but rather a deepening, problem-orientated debate; for example the dialectics of justfully supporting the anti-mining protesters and its consequence to thereby positioning against some workers there, which lied a bit heavy on the conscience of some of us. However, this inbalance of global vs. local issues probably occurred, because we wanted to make use of this big coming together and discuss other important questions beyond Skouries.
V. We need 2,3 many Skouries! No time to relax: The success of this week in August is not to be found in the rather fruitful camp, but in the re-vitalisation of the struggle against gold mining in Northern Greece; one of many self-organised movements from below, which – this is safe to say after five years of peaks and defeats within the anti-crisis protests –are to be pointed out as the only guarantee of consistent transformative practice against capitalist normality. This was for example expressed in the great impact the camp had in Greece, unlike many other countries, where our practice seems worth not much more than a marginalia. It is remarkable, but rather a reason for sadness, that several topics of the anti-authoritarian Left discussed on the camp – refugee protests, fortress Europe, reactionary formations, reclaim your city, climate change, gender issues and international solidarity,– are still highly relevant. Especially the European refugee politics and the addiction for more and more fences, connected to that the new old topic of “war on terror” with all its consequences within and outside of Europe and the growing threat from right-wing “alternatives” to the crisis, while the anti-authoritarian Left is struggling, show us: we still need to get Beyond this Europe! We will all continue with our efforts, and currently we are trying to coordinate the activities we are involved in nationally already:
– …ums Ganze started a campaign concerning the right-wing shift and the so called “refugee crisis”, which is a crisis of the capitalist politics and the reactionary parts of society aggressively rejecting to grant immigrants from all over the world, who flee from the military and economical desasters caused by just these imperialist and neo-colonial “first world” countries as Germany is itself. “We are here because you destroy our countries” is the old, but still precise slogan by the Refugee Movement from Germany some years ago. A main part of the campaign is besides the support of antiracist struggle, is to scandalise the rise of the right-wing party Alternative for Germany (AfD). A first succesfull action-day introduced the kampagne „Nationalism is no alternative“ and a big mobilization ist being organized to Stuttgart to the nationwide party-convention of the AfD. See: www.umsganze.org & www.nika.mobi
– Plan C are continuing to work on local campaigns including topics such as gentrification, anti-racism, and local labour issues. Nationally we are helping to support the national health service strikes as part of our work around the Social Strike. We are also working at the national level showing solidarity with Kurdish struggles in Syria and Turkey.
– Syspirosi Atakton is trying to connect and act in solidarity to the refugees that have ended up in Cyprus despite of their will, being “hosted” by Cyprus Government in centers far away from cities in the middle of nowhere. Events at our neighbourhood and in the refugees’ camp are being organised in order to spread our solidarity with the local community and show to the refugees that they have allies. Additionally one of the most important issues coming up this year in Cyprus are the negotiations for the solution of the Cyprus problem. With the new refferendum approaching rapidly, we have seen a coalition and increase of nationalistic narative in they “greek”-cypriot community, and some attackes to “turkish”-cypriots took place in November 2015. We forsee that this issue will impact the society in Cyprus and we have to take a dynamic part in the situation towards a unified-demilitarised island.
– Antiautoritarian Movements (AK) main topic of political work at the moment is the refugee crisis. A occupied refugee place (Notara26) provides since September temporary accommodation, basic medical treatment, clothing and information for several thousands refugees. Actions against the fence continue in Evros, coordinated with all the AK groups and the network against fences, are continuing. Preparations for further actions but also occupations are being made, in order to answer to the closing down of the borders. Also the idea about a No Border camp in Thessaloniki is going around. In Athens the comrades build up a squat in Koleti Street,in Exarcheia as a solidarity cooperative center and checkpoint for distribution of products without middlemen. Finally after a small pause of two years the antiauthoritarian festival ” B-Fest” in the end of May is making its comeback.
 Why Skouries in detail:http://camp.beyondeurope.net/first-invitation/
 Why a camp in detail: http://camp.beyondeurope.net/last-call/
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