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Issue #027 articles
Issue #027 Published: 15-12-2019 // Written by: Sofia Bifulco
Making themselves heard
I am a politics student currently on exchange in Santiago de Chile and participating in the demonstrations. What follows is a subjective account of recent events, drawn out through interviews and conversations. On October 25th, Chile witnessed its biggest ever march, during which over one million citizens protested in Santiago. People were singing, dancing, and banging pots, demanding: Dignity, Justice, and Equality. This followed a week of protests, during which president Sebastian Piñera de facto declared war on his citizens, using the army to enforce a curfew and disperse protests around the country. However, anticipating a “visit” from a mission from the United Nations’ Commissioner for Human Rights, Piñera later tweeted: “we have all heard the message”. But have they? Imagine the distance between the power of the “people” and the “political elite” that results in one million people taking to the streets in order to make their voice heard. Socio-political elitism is the result of and perpetuates deep inequality. Economic and political inequalities in Chile arise from a neoliberal economic system, the marketization of law, and economic criteria for socio-political inclusion. In their book Politics and Social Change in Latin America (1994), Wiarda and Mott draw out how the distance between people and the political elite is deep-rooted and is an inherited characteristics from times of colonialism. In Chile, the popular class lack political leverage. The protests began small, and were purely in opposition to a metro fare increase on October 16th, but developed in a complicated manner until, one week, the movement became a contemporary symbol of the fight for politically voiceless people to make themselves heard. Many factors lead to the escalation of the protests: the presence of the military in the streets (recalling the not-so-long-ago military dictatorship); the violent repression of the protests; a curfew; the misrepresentation of the protests by national media, the violation of human rights by the military; demands not being taken seriously; the government indifference and the superficial and insufficient “social agenda” that was promised. As a whole, the factors leading to the protest’s upsurge are linked to the government’s tentative to further silence the people’s voices and mute their demands. The demands of the people are wide-ranging. The protests represent a broad spectrum of the population, from children to young students, teachers, and retirees. Each group has different needs, and yet they are all together protesting in the same streets. Demands include better pensions to public education, improvement of the sanitary system, reduction of inequality, and the de-privatization of water, among others. Many protestors are asking a constitutional assembly to change the current constitution, which they view as illegitimate because it was written during the dictatorship and approved by a questionable plebiscite and thus reflects autocratic values. What most astonished me during the demonstrations was the solidarity among the protestors, who were (and continue to) singing in unison and helping each other. For example, two girls spent the past week at the window of their home filling the protestors’ bottles with water. This and other images of the “Biggest March in Chile” are making history. Meanwhile, the country is due to host the upcoming Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, as well as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change conferences. How these glitzy demonstrations of global power will play out alongside unrest in the streets is still unknown. In my opinion, given the evident distance between the government and its citizens, it is necessary for the president to stop silencing protestors, and even move beyond listening to his people, and start acting with the concerns of the people of Chile taken seriously. Any steps being taken should be oriented towards changing a structure that renders people voiceless. Photo: Sofia Bifulco
Issue #027 Published: 14-12-2019 // Written by: Jonathan Berg
Bajesdorp (niet) te slopen?
Waarschijnlijk ken je Bajesdorp wel van het jaarlijkse festival, de volkskeuken, de buurtpermacultuurtuin, de Rond de Bajes Fietsrace of een van de andere kunstzinnige en politiek getinte evenementen die het leven in de stad de moeite waard maken. Sinds ongeveer vijf jaar zijn we in Bajesdorp ook bezig om de vrijplaats te behouden. En dat gaat goed! Een korte recap… In 2016 is de Bijlmerbajes gesloten. Daarna is het hele gebied, inclusief Bajesdorp verkocht aan de hoogste bieder. Dat bleek projectontwikkelaar AM, die samen met de plannen voor de nieuw te verrijzen wijk direct aankondigde de sloopkogel door Bajesdorp te halen. En zo geschiedde. Afgelopen september zijn de oude cipierswoningen van Bajesdorp overgedragen aan de slopers. Dat was wel janken natuurlijk, maar betekende gelukkig niet het einde van het alomgeliefde Bajesdorp. Het zit namelijk zo, terwijl de kapitaalkrachtige projectontwikkelaars elkaar flink op stang aan het jagen waren voor de gunsten van het Rijk, bood Bajesdorp een slim verzet en slaagde erin om in het bestemmingplan van het gebied een broedplaats te fietsen. Dit bleek de benodigde voet tussen de deur om Bajesdorp voort te zetten op het stukje land bij de ingang van het voormalige Bajesdorp. Creatieve koppen kwamen samen, plannen werden gesmeed, potloden geslepen. Voor we het wisten was daar een voorlopig ontwerp voor een vrijplaats annex culturele broedplaats met woon- en werkruimte voor 20-30 mensen en een cultureel centrum. En ook nog eens een hechte en capabele gemeenschap om het te dragen! Intussen heeft Vereniging Bajesdorp de broedplaats-status gekregen, dat was nodig om de gemeente mee te krijgen. Op het moment van schrijven staat de gemeente Amsterdam op het punt het besluit te nemen om de kavel van de directeurswoning van AM te kopen om deze vervolgens in erfpacht aan Vereniging Bajesdorp te geven. Met het nieuwe Bajesdorp gaat er voor het eerst in Amsterdam een collectief zelf een nieuwbouw vrij/-broedplaats realiseren. Tegen de stroom van marktdenken en gentrificatie in, creëren we hier permanent betaalbare werk- en woonruimte, met vrije ruimte voor creatieve, sociale en duurzame experimenten. Om de benodigde 2,5 miljoen euro op tafel te krijgen, leggen we zelf geld in en werken we samen met de coöperatieve Duitse GLS bank, VrijCoop en de gemeente Amsterdam. Daarnaast hebben we jullie hulp nodig! Over een kleine maand trappen we onze crowdlendingcampagne af, waarbij we ca. 600.000,- binnen willen halen. Vanaf dan kun je Bajesdorpobligaties kopen, tegen een betere rente dan de gemiddelde bank én kun je je spaargeld inzetten op de nieuwe lokale vrijplaats. Dus, hou ons in de gaten, koop straks wat van de felbegeerde Bajesdorp obligaties, of stuur je vermogende tante langs Bajesdorp voor een kopje koffie. Samen houden wij de stad de moeite waard.   Photo: Nico Jankowski
Issue #027 Published: 06-12-2019 // Written by: Anonymous
Kafka in pastels
It’s another sunny, but rather cold day as I’m looking out over Osdorp, that peripheral and cheerless suburb, busy as it might be any weekday morning, people scurrying to trains and buses to get to the getting place, to the offices and dispatches of this technocratic hive. A good day to find thrown away produce in the market. Were it Tuesday, Wednesday or Friday, I might go to one of the various weekly free supermarkets around the city. Shoplifting the more expensive of the essentials – olive oil, coffee, cheese – only gets you so far. A dwindling bank account balance will instill just the right amount of fear of God in me to do what I must in order to not go bankrupt in my attempts to maintain a normal diet. But of course, we’re the privileged subjects of the sprawling metropolises of the first world and, accordingly, there is enough bounty to go around – just so long as you can manage to get your hands on it. On the sixth floor of this student studio building – a cascading series of plastic containers – the view is good and the heater either works too well or barely at all. I’m subletting from the classmate of a friend, gone for several months for family reasons, who couldn’t be bothered to go through the official avenue of subletting through DUWO, the student housing corporation in charge of this building. That’s with a “W” – not DUO, the official Dutch government student finances division. I guess they just wanted to choose a name that inspires trust, but the potential for mix-ups seems to be almost a consumer rights issue. I can stay here for a few months and then: Out on the free market again. Or another sublet, hopefully one for more than just a couple of months. Not making the threshold income seems to condemn the average wage toiler to shared flats and dodgy landlords. Yes, I’ve lived in a converted storage space in an attic with a bootleg shower in the hallway-kitchen, complete with centuries-old kerosine heaters that we long suspected released unsafe amounts of carbon monoxide or nitrogen dioxide. Surely any young, foreign worker here knows that if you were hoping for a decent place to live but don’t make so-and-so many times the rent, you find yourself truly out of luck. I was even rejected from an antikraak company for making too little. I’m 8 months into the 10 year waiting list for social housing. To be sure, I’m not holding my breath. I’ll go swimming later. After the end of my employment contract on the 22nd month, 3 contracts in (just before the compulsory indefinite contract), I was left with nothing more than a certain stinging resentment and a working login to OneFit (a ridiculous app for the more indecisive gym-goers with a Reaganite obsession for consumer choice), which soon after expired once the finances guy finally realized it ought to be cancelled. That means I could go to the swimming pool for free by just showing that I had logged into the app and “checked in”. Now that it’s expired, I just use a screenshot of that same screen that says I logged in, superimposing the correct date and time accordingly with a picture editing app right before I walk in. Just your typical botch job. It’s not like they study it too closely, just a quick look and you’re in. A few rounds in the sauna does my sore back good – but I think my half-rotted vegetables are advancing into even further stages of decomposition in the intense warmth of the changing room. Luckily, there’s another perk post-full-time, after getting the boot: unemployment benefits. Previously not registered anywhere, having told the Gemeente I went back to Spain (I didn’t), and living between sublets, I decided to register with a postal address at a friend’s place. Since I was “coming from abroad” (I wasn’t), I was given an appointment for a month later. Once that came, I was given not the postal address I was hoping for, but rather merely the “permission” to register at one – along with another appointment, another month later, to actually do the registering part. So then, a total of two months in, a number of erroneous “sleeping” addresses provided, and some paperwork filed, the details of which I couldn’t decide whether or not crucially violated my privacy, I was finally, officially homeless. Perfect! Now I could rest assured that all the fines I never paid, sent for the fifth time to the wrong address, would arrive safely in my friend’s mailbox. Not in mine, in my sublet, where I am actually living – that would be too easy. Now I don’t want to seem as though I’m skirting responsibility for my own legal and bureaucratic status – I’m not. I take full responsibility: I’m simply too poor and too underemployed to be what we might consider a “normal, productive member of society”. Besides, all this comes to little consequence because, in the end, I’m an EU citizen. I would never be the subject of deportation or forced internment, those policies weaponized against our neighbors and colleagues, our friends and family, those not unlike myself in any way besides the side of the imaginary line they happened to be born on. And while I don’t expect to be discounted of my own farcical irresponsibility, maybe the Gemeente itself is unknowingly a participant in this whole ironic plot. Going up the stairs again in that stuffy reception – those that I had already gone up and down and up again – I stopped to admire a curiously placed, colorful pastel portrait of Franz Kafka halfway up the mezzanine, about 30 by 50 centimeters in a cheap, plastic frame and a good bit higher than standard eye-level. That tone deaf ode to a writer – categorically disregarding the underlying themes of his oeuvre – was somehow poignant.
Issue #027 Published: 29-11-2019 // Written by: Anonymous
Emancipation or Indoctrination? A Reflection on Education from Disillusioned Students
The following article has been submitted by a group of students who have recently graduated from Utrecht University’s Dutch Sustainable Development masters programme. Unfortunately, the programme left them deeply disappointed on many levels. Our suspicion is that what these students bemoan – the general hostility to students who think critically or adopt an emancipatory political attitude – is not an isolated case but can be experienced in many Dutch institutions of Higher Education. So if you are a student or teacher who’s had similar experiences please come forward and share your experience with our readership. We are happy to provide a platform for such a critical conversation and help make connections between those who want to build alternatives. -------------------- “I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness … who passed through universities with radiant cool eyes … who were expelled from the academies for crazy” - Allen Ginsburg, 1956 “It seemed like I had a sickness. No one wanted to interact or speak to me. I was too much of an extremist. A professor bluntly told me to shut up during one of my classes. Most of my critical comments were not welcomed, especially if the professor felt I was in disaccord with their life philosophy. I started questioning my own mental sanity.” - Sustainability Student, 2019 Education is commonly identified as a crucial foundation for a better, more sustainable, more just future – but what happens when educational institutions fail to ‘keep up’ and end up sabotaging our very ability to contribute to such a future by educating us in outdated modes and priming us for a failed system?  Knowledge is never apolitical: it can either be a tool for emancipation, that allows us to view the world with a critical lens and become active participants in its transformation, or it can act as a mechanism of assimilation, stifling, molding and then inserting us into the current dysfunctional system (1). Unfortunately, the latter has been the experience by many of us. As recent graduates of Sustainable Development we can say that we have learnt a lot more about how not to do ‘development’ than anything else; a valuable lesson in itself but one accompanied by distress, frustration and outright anger. There is a growing understanding among academics that the development trajectory championed by the ‘West’ is inherently unsustainable, causing destruction to livelihoods and the environment. Achieving true sustainability will require radical changes and a questioning of fundamental beliefs, including the underlying logic of economic growth and development itself. If this is what progressive scholars are telling us, how is it that one of the foremost academic institutions created to address issues of sustainable development is so static and backwards? Can we make the university contemporary, truly representative and open to dealing with the complexities of our time, or will it persist as the necessary counterpart in opposition to which more radical ideas emerge? No aspect of our program questioned core values of development or created space to contemplate what alternatives to development could look like. The program was in essence organized around the globalized and technocratic Sustainable Development Goals, with an emphasis on measuring them through indicators and statistical regressions and implementing them onto unfamiliar contexts and cultures. Not only was there very little critical education, but more importantly critical thought was more often than not put down and ridiculed. The questioning and trivializing of students’ desire for change is a particularly serious issue in a field where a lot of students are already experiencing climate depression and are forced to deal with heavy truths on a daily basis - truths which seem to have no effect on the lecturers disseminating them. The institution’s archaism and rigidity came in many forms, some more subtle than others, such as when told that arguing for the Rights of Nature does not align with the faculty’s language policy and thus cannot be discussed; or being told, after an exhilarating realization that the spread of knowledge among a community of students and educators is akin to the spread of information of rhizome networks of trees, that such ideas “do not meet department standards”; or when attempting to make the link between environmental policy and environmental consciousness for an assignment only to be told that environmental consciousness is an invalid concept because there are no indicators for it; or when a student was called a ‘vegan economist’ by a lecturer for questioning the underlying assumptions of carbon capture and was ridiculed for bringing alternatives such as degrowth to the table; or when a student spoke up in class to ask that the professor stop using gender binaries only to be confronted by ridicule, mocking and a defensive retaliation questioning in turn the limits of political correctness; or when the term underdeveloped countries is still used even when identified as disrespectful by students from so-categorized countries; or when a prestigious professor in the department describes Native Americans as being only good at getting drunk and women as only being good at gossiping. These are just some examples of, at times, an absurd level of insensitivity and the denial of students’ ability to expand their epistemological horizons by searching for new connections and new solutions. What we are tasking the institution with is not easy, as the French anthropologist Bruno Latour says, “actually knowing how to become contemporary, that is, of one’s own time, is the most difficult thing there is.” All we ask is that the university be aware of its rigidity and encourage those students trying to think outside the box rather than make them feel crazy. We believe that our education needs to be continuously re-examined and reconstructed; it needs to be a source of emancipation, not repression. It seems as though the university today has become one of the institutions that must be unmade and counteracted (2). Only true, deep, uncomfortable reflection encouraged in a conducive environment can lead to solutions existing outside of the status quo, and it is becoming unbearably clear that the status quo is no longer serving our needs or the planets’. 1) Paulo Freire (1968) Pedagogy of the Oppressed 2) Arturo Escobar (2017) Designs for the Pluriverse.
Issue #027 Published: 25-11-2019 // Written by: Iris Kok
Update WOinActie
Sinds de vorige keer dat ik schreef over WOinActie zijn er een aantal nieuwe ontwikkelingen te bemerken. Aangezien ik jullie graag op de hoogte houd volgt hieronder een (korte) update plus mijn mening  hierover. Om te beginnen met de opening van het academisch jaar, of beter gezegd ‘De Ware Opening van het Academisch Jaar’ die plaatsvond in Leiden. WOinActie heeft tijdens de laatste vergadering te kennen geven dat er meer acties zullen gaan volgen. Hierbij moet gedacht worden aan meerdere (ludieke) acties en een echte, grote staking aan het einde van dit studiejaar dus in juni 2020. Verder schrijft WOinActie schrijft het volgende: “Gedacht wordt aan stiptheidsacties, witte stakingen, aangifte bij de Arbeidsinspectie en andere opties.” Ook zint men op een nieuwe ronde gesprekken met politieke partijen met oog op de nieuwe verkiezingen. Deze acties zijn aangekondigd als een reactie op wat er tijdens Prinsjesdag bekend is geworden. Hierbij was de teleurstelling erg groot toen bekend werd dat er geen extra geld naar het Hoger Onderwijs zou gaan. Het was daarom ook des te zuurder aangezien dit in tegenstelling was met wat minister Ingrid van Engelshoven eerder suggereerde. Dit zijn op een rijtje de uitkomsten: 1) Er moet €226 miljoen extra weggehaald worden bij het onderwijs, omdat het niet gelukt is om de rente op studieschulden van studenten te verhogen. Dit geld wordt gebruikt voor “de houdbaarheid van overheidsfinanciën”, terwijl er sprake is van een miljarden overschot en de regering het niet uitgegeven krijgt. Waar komt dit vandaan? De €226 miljoen is terug te voeren op het halveren van het collegegeld van eerstejaars, een maatregel die volgens de Raad van State geen hout snijdt en waar studenten nooit om gevraagd hebben. 2) Er is reeds een tekort van €1,2 miljard in het WO. 3) Er wordt €4,4 miljoen weggehaald bij onderzoek en wetenschapsbeleid omdat OCW verkeerd geraamd heeft; 4) En als bonus nog een extra en structurele bezuiniging van €3,1 miljoen. Kortom, dit betekent dat het vanaf 2020 gaat om een bezuiniging van €42 miljoen op het gehele Hoger Onderwijs. Eind september werd het volgende geschreven door Bas Heijnen in dit artikel bij het NRC.nl: ‘‘Door ‘nutteloze’ alfa- en ‘nuttige’ bèta studies tegen elkaar uit te spelen, heeft Van Engelshoven laten zien dat haar culturele gemijmer voor de bühne over ‘het verhaal’ dat we over onszelf vertellen hypocriet is. Maar vooral laat haar beleid zien dat ze bar weinig gevoel heeft voor wat er echt speelt.’’ Het tegen elkaar uitspelen refereert hier in aan het rapport wat de Commissie van Rijn eerder uitbracht in opdracht van de minister. Een van de aanbevelingen was om het bekostigingsmodel aan te passen en zo geld van niet alleen de Geesteswetenschappen maar ook de medische tak over te laten hevelen naar de technische en de Bètastudies. In plaats van een structurele oplossing aan te bieden wordt er eigenlijk gezegd vecht het maar onderling als faculteit en per universiteit maar uit. Ik ben blij dat de universiteiten tot nu toe  te kennen hebben gegeven dit niet te doen, maar wanneer de College van Besturen niet gauw mee gaan protesteren tegen dit wanbeleid dan vraag ik me af wanneer dan wel. Ik ben het eens met Aleid Truijens die in augustus al schreef in de Volkskrant: ‘‘Alfa’s, bèta’s en techneuten, we hebben ze alle drie even hard nodig. Juist de ‘nieuwe’ onderwerpen vragen om samen werking. Big data, algoritmen op internet, privacy, kunstmatige intelligentie – er zitten technische, culturele, filosofische en maatschappelijke kanten aan. Ik hoop dat de wetenschappen [en de universiteiten dus ook] zich niet door de minister uiteen laten drijven’’. Voor meer informatie over WOinActie: https://woinactie.blogspot.com
Issue #027 Published: 22-11-2019 // Written by: Menno Grootveld
Fearless cities: NEE, Rebel cities: JA!
Zondag 27 oktober vond in Ru Paré in Slotervaart tijdens het activistencongres ReTakeTheCity het debat over Fearless Cities plaats, onder leiding van Fatima Faid van de Stadspartij uit Den Haag. Wat zijn Fearless Cities precies en waarom was het tijd voor zo’n debat? Het concept Fearless Cities is ruim twee jaar geleden in Barcelona bedacht, waar in 2015 – net als in tal van andere Spaanse steden, waaronder ook de hoofdstad Madrid – een burgerplatform aan de macht was gekomen, in dit geval Barcelona en Comu, met Ada Colau als boegbeeld. Barcelona en Comu kwam voort uit een aantal sociale bewegingen in de stad, waarvan de PAH, een organisatie die tegen huisuitzettingen streed, de belangrijkste was. Het burgerplatform was een poging om buiten de gevestigde politiek en alle bestaande – linkse – politieke partijen om de agenda van deze sociale bewegingen in politieke munt om te zetten. Destijds waren veel mensen – waaronder ik – heel enthousiast over dit fenomeen. De verwachting was dat deze steden zich nu ook zouden gaan verzetten tegen destructief neoliberaal beleid van de centrale overheid. Niet alleen burgerlijke, maar ook “gemeentelijke ongehoorzaamheid.” Het ideologische fundament van deze vorm van politiek was het “municipalisme” (losjes gebaseerd op het gedachtengoed van onder meer de Amerikaanse theoreticus Murray Bookchin). En “Fearless Cities” was het etiket waaronder de municipalisten hun revolutie wilden exporteren naar andere landen en andere delen van de wereld. Het is belangrijk om te vermelden dat er aanvankelijk (vóór 2017) sprake was van “Rebel Cities,” geïnspireerd door het beroemde gelijknamige boek van de marxistische denker David Harvey en het gedachtengoed van de Franse theoreticus Henri Lefèvre, een van de inspiratiebronnen van de Situationisten uit de jaren vijftig en zestig en van de Parijs meirevolte van 1967. Het is voor mij altijd een raadsel geweest waarom het woord “rebel” zo nodig vervangen moest worden door “fearless,” tenzij je hier al de eerste tekenen in denkt te kunnen ontwaren van een minder radicale opstelling. Hoe dan ook, de eerste tijd leek het de goede kant op te gaan. Er waren initiatieven van diverse Europese steden om zich gezamenlijk te onttrekken aan het nietsontziende, harteloze asielbeleid van nationale overheden door onderling afspraken te maken over de opvang van ongedocumenteerde vluchtelingen. Een schip met bootvluchtelingen uit Afrika dat overal rond de Middellandse Zee de toegang werd ontzegd en al wekenlang op zee ronddobberde, werd in Barcelona toegelaten, en er was sprake van dat de andere steden uit het netwerk van Fearless Cities Barcelona te hulp zouden schieten door eveneens een quotum vluchtelingen op te nemen. Daarnaast werden er pogingen in het werk gesteld om gezamenlijk tot maatregelen te komen om de groei van platformbedrijven als Airbnb en Uber een halt toe te roepen, en om digitale platforms te ontwikkelen die burgers een grotere vinger in de pap van de beleidsvorming zouden geven. In Amsterdam werd het concept Fearless Cities in de aanloop naar de gemeenteraadsverkiezingen van maart 2018 met groot enthousiasme omarmd door GroenLinks. Lijsttrekker Rutger Groot-Wassink liet te pas en te onpas weten dat hij geen gelegenheid onbenut zou laten om samen met Barcelona en andere steden uit het netwerk op te trekken tegen het grootkapitaal en rechtse (of zelfs rechts-nationalistische) overheden. Na de eclatante verkiezingsoverwinning van GroenLinks in Amsterdam werd er zelfs een Fearless Cities-team aangesteld onder leiding van Frans Bieckmann, dat de opdracht kreeg een voedingsbodem te creëren voor vruchtbare samenwerking tussen de sociale bewegingen in de stad (op het gebied van wonen, vluchtelingen en het klimaat bijvoorbeeld) en het stadsbestuur. Maar hier wringt natuurlijk (een deel van) de schoen. Waar Barcelona en Comu een burgerplatform was (en is) dat van onderop, vanuit de sociale bewegingen zelf een greep naar de macht op gemeentelijk niveau heeft gedaan, bestaat het Amsterdamse gemeentebestuur uit traditionele, gevestigde politieke partijen met een totaal andere organisatiestructuur. Bovendien zijn al deze partijen niet alleen op gemeentelijk niveau actief, maar ook op provinciaal en nationaal niveau. Hoe wil je dan in hemelsnaam gemeentelijk beleid gaan voeren dat hier en daar op gespannen voet staat met het nationaal beleid? Dat dit idee op deze manier niet werkt werd al snel duidelijk toen Femke Halsema werd benoemd als nieuwe burgemeester van Amsterdam, als opvolger van Eberhard van der Laan. Binnen GroenLinks gold en geldt Halsema als representant van de rechtervleugel, en in de jaren die zij na haar Kamerlidmaatschap doorbracht in de politieke luwte is zij er zeker niet linkser of progressiever op geworden. Sinds haar aanstelling heeft Halsema aldus op ongeveer alle denkbare beleidsterreinen de glazen van Groot-Wassink cum suis ingegooid. Waar Groot-Wassink vóór de verkiezingen van 2018 vol trots verkondigde dat “het hoog tijd werd om weer te gaan kraken,” zijn de ontruimingen sinds het aantreden van Halsema niet van de lucht en heeft zij zich in een interview met AT5 zelfs laten ontvallen dat het particulier bezit wat haar betreft heilig is. De waslijst met autoritaire, zich volledig aan de ideologie van wat voor Fearless Cities dan ook onttrekkende beleidsmaatregelen begint ontzagwekkende proporties aan te nemen: de ontruiming van de ADM, de ontruiming van het door studenten bezette PC Hoofthuis, de ontruiming van de door klimaatactivisten geblokkeerde Stadhouderskade voor het Rijksmuseum en als klap op de vuurpijl in oktober de ontruiming van een door huurdersactivisten bezette sociale huurwoning in de Borgerstraat die door wooncorporatie Stadgenoot in de verkoop was gezet. Ondertussen hebben de ongedocumenteerden van We Are Here ondanks alle toezeggingen en beloftes nog steeds geen dak boven hun hoofd, hebben (internationale) vastgoedbeleggers vrij spel op de Amsterdamse woningmarkt en wordt er ter bestrijding van de overlast van het toerisme louter symboolpolitiek bedreven. Dan is het toch wel op zijn plaats om je af te vragen wat de waarde is van de inspanningen van Bieckmann en de zijnen om ons – onder verwijzing naar modieuze begrippen als “co-creatie” en de “commons” – op te roepen onze medewerking te verlenen aan allerlei burgerparticipatie-initiatieven. Wat mij betreft is dit pure volksverlakkerij. De neoliberale keizer heeft geen kleren meer aan, maar probeert dit uit alle macht te verhullen door hier en daar wat mooi opgetuigde vijgenbladen aan te brengen. Het is een gotspe dat de bedenker van de prachtige term Rebel Cities, David Harvey zelf, nu in december mag komen opdraven om een door Bieckmann georganiseerd onderonsje cachet te geven. Is het dan in de rest van Europa, en met name in Spanje, de bakermat van het municipalisme, net zo erg? Ja en nee. Opvallend was in ieder geval dat tijdens ReTakeTheCity de meeste vertegenwoordigers van sociale bewegingen uit andere Europese steden (onder meer Berlijn, Lissabon, Madrid en Barcelona) opriepen tot “autonomie.” Met andere woorden: laat je niet door mooie beloften verleiden om hand- en spandiensten te verlenen aan al dan niet vermeende geestverwanten in het stadsbestuur, blijf autonoom en doe alleen mee als er écht iets te halen valt.
Issue #027 Published: 20-11-2019 // Written by: Christopher Kelly
The Burden of Brexit: Told through London Grime Musicians.
They find the words that we have lost in shock at our broken system” Where I come from in North London, Grime MCs are our prophets of social revolution. They are the messengers of injustice and the activists that keep morality in the minds of voters. They bring out our inner dialogues through beats and bars in order for them to be discussed and debated. When things go wrong in London it is to these MCs that our heads turn in search of a rallying cry or words of comfort. They are our Robin Hoods clad in Adidas tracksuits. When I think about these MCs I realise that they are the Ovids, Ciceros and Marcus Aurelius of my time and place. Their words and oratory act as a catalyst for change, yet their authority comes from the experiences that they have had. Today, there is a new threat to the people of Britain - and you best believe that our musicians are ready to say something about it. However, before I can properly do justice to the thoughts of musicians about Brexit it is imperative to contextualise what Grime musicians mean to UK culture and politics. The influence of Grime musicians on public perceptions of UK politics can be traced through the actions of a few key artists. For example, Stormzy was the voice of rebellion that pierced the inertia of The House of Commons after the horrific events at the Grenfell Tower in 2017. During the 2018 Brit Awards, he challenged the Prime Minister with the exclamation, ‘Yo Theresa May where’s that money for Grenfell, what you just thought we forgot about Grenfell, You criminals.’ Back then, the government pledged £60m to deal with the ramifications of the fire. However, at the time of writing this there are still former residents of Grenfell who have not seen a single penny of what was promised, not to mention the copious amounts of London buildings still equipped with the same cladding that caused the fire. Now a few MCs are busy trying to prevent the whole country from going up in flames. Akala is perhaps one of the UK’s most prolific poets and wordsmiths. Aside from being the brother of the legendary MC Ms Dynamite, he is a talented rapper, scholar and a fearless activist. In a lecture titled ‘The Battle of Britishness in the Age of Brexit’, he contemplates the implications of Brexit and the racial connotations behind its conception in front of a captivated audience. He states: ‘I was driven to the remain camp by the xenophobic tone of the “Leave” position and the role of anti-intellectualism in the campaign, convocation and outcome. For too long poor people have been painted as the inventors of racism yet it has been conceived and utilised by Britain’s ruling class now and through history’. He adds ‘Winston Churchill for example, is often voted the UK’s favourite person, yet he often described the killings of ‘the red men of America’ as no real crime at all. His point is that the racism that pervaded the Brexit discussion was not new, rather race had defined the majority of Britain’s post war immigration policy’. The Brexit campaign was aimed at young people as being an issue of race. We were continually told that leaving the EU would allow us to unify and include the countries in the commonwealth yet vans continued to patrol the predominantly Caribbean neighbourhood of Tower Hamlets with ‘Immigrants go home’ written across them. In reflection, Brexit was a collection of promises that half of us never wanted, promises that were never intended to be delivered. The second MC to take up the mantle of subculture activist is an extraordinarily talented young man by the name of David Orobosa Omoregie. Otherwise known as Santan Dave, this gifted rapper was awarded an Ivor Novello Award for his politically charged diatribe at the UK’s new PM in his track, ‘Questiontime’. The track begins with an incredibly impactful message about the looming threat of Brexit: “A question for the new Prime Minister  And please, tell me if I’m being narrow minded But how do we spend so much money on defence  And weapons to wage war when the NHS is dying? Bursting at the seams, and what about them people That voted for us to leave for the money that it would see? 350 million we give to the EU every week That our health service needs But now them politicians got what they wanted Can you see an empty promise or a poster on the street?” Dave’s lyrics are a perfect summation of the anger felt by a nation that was repeatedly lied to about the fiscal redistribution that would happen if the UK left the EU. This infamous falsehood about NHS spending that was plastered on the side of a big red bus was detrimental to the hopes of young people who wanted to stay. Dave has become the figurehead and voice box of today’s politically conscious youth. Other MCs such as JME, Kano, Wretch 32, Avelino and Lowkey are continuing to help explain to the masses the political injustice present in both Britain & Brexit. Their lyrical capabilities and their online following make them indispensable allies in educating those often not in tune with politics or those neglected by it. They find the words that we have lost in shock at our broken system. The question that often arises from those not a part of the London music scene is ‘why should we listen to these people about issues of politics?’. The answer is because they have as much invested in things getting better as the rest of us do. They feel the effects of poor policy decisions just as fully as the rest of us. They are not removed from the cultures they represent, celebrity and success does not make artists from working class background non-persons or blank slates, rather, they embody them and make us listen to what’s happening through their skilful oratory. Photo: Journalism Collective
Issue #027 Published: 18-11-2019 // Written by: Jens Kimmel
De Meent zet commons op de kaart
In november 2016 ontmoet een groepje Amsterdammers elkaar bij de eerste European Commons Assembly in Brussel en werd het idee voor een Nederlandse commons assembly geboren: De Meent. Drie jaar later is De Meent een platform voor en door commoners, dat het idee en de praktijk van het gemeenschapsinitiatief -‘het commonen’ – actief verspreidt en versterkt. De uiteindelijke missie: bouwen aan een commons-transitie in de stad. Er is een nieuw verhaal nodig. Een verhaal dat het oude verhaal, die van het vrijemarktkapitalisme, overbodig maakt. Staat en markt kunnen de grote problemen van onze tijd niet oplossen. Sterker nog, ze zijn vaak veroorzaker van problemen als de klimaatcrisis, de vermogensongelijkheid en het uithollen van de democratie. Het nieuwe verhaal is dat van de commons. Of de meent, in het Nederlands. Meent refereert aan gemeenschapsinitiatief waarin sociale en ecologische waarden voorop staan. Het gaat over het samen beheren van de hulpbronnen die we tot onze beschikking hebben. Van grond tot kennis tot energie, met minimale afhankelijkheid van staat of markt. Op veel plekken bloeien deze ‘commons’, op andere plekken delven ze het onderspit. De Meent wil de spil zijn in het verenigen van commoners in de stad en probeert dit proces te faciliteren. De eerste stap is het in kaart brengen en verbinden van diverse initiatieven als stadstuinen, energiecoöps of voedselcollectieven om de gefragmenteerde commons-beweging coherent en zichtbaar te maken. Het bouwen aan de beweging is een collectief proces, iedereen bouwt mee. Daarom bij deze de oproep: ben jij betrokken of ken je een initiatief met een commons-aanpak, zet het op de kaart via onze website: www.demeent.org. De tweede stap is het starten van een vereniging om de commons assembly een vaste structuur te geven. We plannen hiervoor een oprichtings assembly, waarbij iedereen die de commons een warm hart toedraagt welkom is zich aan te sluiten. Houd voor de aankondiging de website in de gaten, kom naar ons volgende CoLab of mail jens@commonsnetwork.eu voor vragen. Commoners en geïnteresseerden zijn van harte welkom op de assembly van 21 december. Programma volgt spoedig. www.demeent.org  
Issue #027 Published: 17-11-2019 // Written by: Serena Gandolfi
When Dutch academia speaks English: between opportunity and “siege syndrome”
English courses, yes or no? A long debated in Dutch universities. On one hand, the universities rejoice at the exponential increase in registrations, while international teachers and researchers see the Netherlands as a preferred destination for career expansion. Yet, on the other, there is a growing concern among natives that the presence of foreigners is becoming dominant in the country’s universities, limiting access to the Dutch and, due to the prevalence of English language use, affecting the quality of the teachings. Some universities do consider more stringent linguistic barriers but, justified or not, a certain sense of siege syndrome is widespread. The most obvious element of which is the number of courses offered in the English language. English as official language of the master’s degree Over the past ten years, registrations of foreign students have doubled; As reported by Nuffic, in 2018 the number of internationals reached 122,000. The percentage of non-Dutch students in the first three years of the bachelor’s degree today is 14%, while 23% are students enrolled in master’s courses. Additionally, just over half of bachelor’s programs are offered in Dutch while master’s programs in the local language are at only 15%. Many argue that the internationalization of the universities brings added value for both Dutch and foreign students, but at the same time the anglicization of education certainly raises doubts; one wonders if teaching and learning in a non-native language ends up compromising course quality. Not everyone is optimistic Beter Onderwijs Nederland (BON), an organization in defense of Dutch education, was among the first to mobilize with intention of curbing the English-based race for high-level education by organizing a fundraiser and petition against the Universities of Twente, Maastricht, and against the government itself: “I want to clarify that we are not opposed to the arrival of foreign students or professors, nor to the use of the English language by itself” explains Gerard Verhoef, member of Bon, professor of Mathematics and Physics at ‘Hogeschool of Amsterdam. “What worries us is the surge in foreign registrations. With this rhythm, Dutch risks becoming a standard B language. It is not just a matter of ‘identity’: BON’s concerns are linked to economic issues, such as the improper use of public and practical resources, as the risk that an educational exchange may prove too superficial. “If English is not the mother tongue of either the teachers or the class, how can there be good communication? Especially when it comes to complex topics such as those faced in university classrooms”. Minister of Education, Ingrid van Engelshoven, does not agree. At the beginning of July (2018), in a letter to parliament, she defended internationalization by defining it as a resource. But reassuring the academic world, she added: “places for Dutch students will always be guaranteed, as well as a number of courses in the mother tongue. The primary objective of the institutes must not be just to attract foreigners from abroad”. Errors in the exam text and Google Translate for the slides It is the excellent reputation of Dutch education that brought Teresa, a 20-year-old German, to enroll in the first year of a Psychology degree course at UVA. “For us Europeans, studying in the Netherlands is not expensive (around 2,000 euros, the same tax as local students) and the international offer is very attractive,” she said. “I do not believe that the use of English reduces the quality of learning but it is true that in at least two translations of written exams, I found non-marginal spelling or grammatical errors: they were oversights that made it difficult to understand the test itself. Annoying in that case because it was a penalty right at the examination stage”, continues Teresa. “Not all teachers master the language and in a course, the teacher used slides translated with google translate”. Eva, Dutch, attends the same course as Teresa but following the path in her mother tongue. Dutch and foreign students attend the same lectures given in English, they are then divided into workgroups where they are compared, respectively, in the national language and the non-native one. “From this point of view the University is organized rather well and the presence of foreigners in this way does not slow down the lessons,” he explains. However, it seems to capture the difficulty of some teachers: “Sometimes I get the impression that they really can’t express what they want. As if, having to speak in English, they could not go into the details of complex concepts as they would like”. However, optimism seems to prevail among teachers. At the time of hiring, all professors, including foreign ones, are required to have a specific level of linguistic competence. Each year their work, as well as fluency, is also evaluated by the students. Eva, also Dutch, seeks a future in research and chose an international program: “I intend to do research or otherwise remain in this area. If I intend to publish, I will have to do it in English also to reach a wider audience. Furthermore, I don’t think it is tiring to study in another language, it is just a matter of habit”. Internationalization has now become synonymous with anglicization: although English is the global language par excellence, and its use in technical-scientific fields does not seem to have raised particular problems, it remains doubtful whether it can adapt equally to the deepening of subjects such as literature, history, and social sciences linked to local, historical-political context. Humanities departments who now have to deal with students from the most diverse cultural backgrounds, begin to question their programs. Regardless, optimism seems to prevail amongst teachers. Joris Larik, who teaches International Law at the University of Leiden, sees only opportunities: “English allows you to communicate with heterogeneous classes, prepares students for international careers and I don’t think we can really say that the quality of education, in general, is affected. Multi-nationality classes are very lively and full of ideas. I always encourage my students, especially those who come from particular regions or situations, to contribute to the lessons and to go beyond reading the texts in English. Their points of view often go deeper into the lessons”. In the debate over internationalization, the voices are many. From concerns about the costs, economic and social, of a foreign-oriented education system, to the interests of many cities, especially the smaller ones, for the contribution made to the local economy. Translated from Italian by Steve Rickinson (31 mag)
Issue #027 Published: 12-11-2019 // Written by: Sebastian Olma
First Aid in Case of Art: 20 Years of OT301 in Context
Rupturing the Urban Fabric It’s been twenty years since a group of activists squatted the old Amsterdam film school on the Overtoom 301. It was 14 November 1999 and the occupation was led by a collective of artists who called themselves EHBK (Eerste Hulp Bij Kunst – First Aid in Case of Art). The name was a pun on the abbreviation for the Dutch emergency services. Nonetheless, it also communicated the ethos of the group: here is a collective that refuses to shy away from organised action should the city’s (sub)cultural infrastructure be threatened. The concrete threat at hand was the eviction of the squat at Onze Lieve Vrouwen Gasthuis, one of the city’s subcultural hotspots at the time, which had left a number of cooperative initiatives homeless. Like many of their comrades in the alternative movements, EHBK was driven by the belief that taking care of Amsterdam’s cultural anti-establishment was a matter of caring for the city as such. Their belief was that a metropolis such as Amsterdam needs rupture along the seams of its regular fabric to produce the colours of a different, more rousing and emancipative urban texture. In their view, where otherwise would novelty, creativity or cultural innovation come from if not from those gript by being singular and uncommon, living otherwise and creating an alternative world of their own? Let’s produce the ruptures in the urban fabric, they said, so that the city can be more colourful. Up until the turn of the millennium, Amsterdam’s cultural scene was largely built on a strong and lively underground scene. Anyone with a shard of interest in the city’s cultural development knows what it owes to the networked infrastructure of squats that hosted a vivacious scene of diverse subcultures. Today’s nightlife sanctuaries such as Melkweg or Paradiso are only a couple of prominent monuments to the significance of the underground for mainstream culture. Perhaps more crucially it was embodied in the speculative delirium that captivated visitors of the Robodock festivals or the sublime weirdness that drew the crowds to each and every spectacle at ADM wharf. These were moments when the ruptures along the seams of the city’s fabric cleft into veritable rabbit holes, inviting Alice and all her friends to tumble down into the wonderland of collective cultural imagination. However, in order to produce these supreme moments of urban bliss, an infrastructure needed to be in place where imagination and weirdness could thrive. Such an infrastructure was provided by Amsterdam’s squats and the culturally rich and diverse projects they hosted. OT301 consciously situated itself within this convention. However, by 1999 when the old film academy on the Overtoom 301 was squatted, the extraordinary period in which underground subculture was the driver and trendsetter for urban popular culture and the arts, was already dimming to a close. While it took another eleven years for the Dutch government’s imprudent ban on squatting to take effect, in 1999 the Internet boom was in full swing and capital was spilling over onto the real estate market. The nineties were the decade in which the development frenzy started, turning our city into the paradise of real estate speculation and unaffordable housing it is today. Prior to that, squatters had played a very positive role in preventing extreme forms of anti-social real estate practices. The gedoogbeleid that effectively decriminalized squatting (in the case when squatters could prove that the building in question had been unoccupied for a year) was a good motivation for owners to keep their property occupied and away from speculation. Amsterdam’s Neoliberal Reconstruction In the nineties, Amsterdam’s city government laid the groundwork for the current neoliberal reconstruction of the city. It soon became clear that squatting and visions of a more inclusive and colourful city were in conflict with the ideological turn that city planning was taking. The wave of evictions, particularly around the Southern shore of the IJ, brought an entire era of cultural dynamism to an abrupt end. Perhaps symptomatic for the nature of the transformation was the conversion of Pakhuis Afrika, then a thriving centre of subculture, into a temple of neoliberal ideology. Where Amsterdam had been famous for a wildly progressive cultural scene within an economically run-down urban environment, it was now time to invest in an infrastructure that could attract creative businesses and technological innovation. This, of course, was the famous credo of the so-called creative class, popularised in the early noughties by the US-American geographer Richard Florida. Florida’s legendary $50.000 a day visit to Amsterdam in 2003 gave the city’s administration the star-sanctioned pseudo-legitimization to lift creativity onto the political agenda. Now, what could be wrong with a policy that makes your city more creative? Indeed, one of the strengths of the creative city argument was that nobody in their right mind could seriously object to something as positive as creativity. To policy makers it was even more attractive as it promised an exciting detour around the complex and often lacklustre issues that city planning generally involves. The problem of course was that the creativity they had in mind was a very specific variety, one that had much more to do with business models and technological innovation than it had with cultural transgression, aesthetic experimentation and collective emancipation. What was lost in Amsterdam’s creative transformation was precisely the measure of autonomy that had made the city Europe’s beacon of cultural creativity. It is a particularly mean historical irony that the culturally rich and dynamic Amsterdam of the nineties that served as a model for Florida’s theory; was all but destroyed by the application of this very theory. The city’s well-intended cultural incubator policy could do relatively little to change the course of things. It was initially intended as a way of containing the catastrophic effects of the evictions of the late nineties and early noughties on the city’s (sub)culture. With the founding of Bureau Broedplaatsen in 2000, the slogan “No Culture without Subculture” became synonymous with official city policy. The early history of OT301 is closely connected to the formation of this policy. Without the support of those edified members of the city administration, civil servants who later shaped and were members of Bureau Broedplaatsen, OT301 would have been promptly evicted. Funding from Bureau Broedplaatsen also supported the renovation of the building and underwrote the loan that allowed EHBK to become collective owners of the place. Yet, while EHBK was clearly a great beneficiary of cultural incubator policy, it is difficult to say whether the policy’s positive effects – such as affordable studio and workspaces for creative professionals – aren’t in fact more than offset by its obvious complicity in the city’s uncompromising gentrification. What Happened to Autonomy? Where then does the trajectory of these last twenty years leave OT301 today? How do we deal with the fact that the two decades of our existence have been a time in which the city has lost much of its autonomous cultural infrastructure, in which the ruptures have been smeared up with a precarious mixture of neoliberal ideology, witless creativity and mammoth amounts of capital? What does it mean to be one of the few remaining spaces in Amsterdam that stays committed to a notion of autonomy even though we understand that our autonomy today is a far cry from the squatters’ ambition to be resolutely independent from the state and market economics? Indeed, what kind of responsibility does it put on our collective shoulders to have been fortunate enough to carve out this sustainable little crevice in the neoliberal city?     These are some of the crucial points of issue that OT301’s future practice will need to find effective answers to. One of the things that continue to keep the collective on its toes is its radically democratic form of organisation. In our homonymous 2014 publication we called this “autonomy by dissent”: a cacophony of internal voices that so far have made an integration of the project into the cultural mainstream utterly impossible. This does not mean that OT301 hasn’t contributed at all to the gentrification of our neighbourhood Oud-West. Neither does it preclude the occasional member from joining the ranks of foolish creatives whose work is functionalized by smart city planners. While we are not always fully aware of the ambivalences of all the aspects of our existence, we try to do our best to put the struggle for autonomy back on the agenda. OT301 Today: Taking Responsibility Together An example of our practical attempts to do this is the creation of Amsterdam Alternative by OT301, OCCII, Cinetol and a number of other parties. This is a platform that attempts to create a conversation between the city’s remaining vrijplaasten and the new generation of activist projects that strive for timely practices of autonomy. It started in 2015 as a free, bimonthly newspaper combining subculture listings and journalistic content concerning the city’s (sub)cultural and political developments. Today Amsterdam Alternative has developed into a platform that also organises the AA-talk series as a podium for more direct engagement with current issues. It also includes an initiative on collective ownership with the ambition to fund alternative vrijplaatsen for a new generation of activists who care for the city by creating a thriving underground. While OT301 is an important partner within the Amsterdam Alternative ecosystem, efforts are also made with regard to our internal projects and programmes, to reach out to millennials and post-millennials. EHBK understands its responsibility towards the younger generations. Unfortunately, there are too many former squats in Amsterdam that missed their moment to involve a new generation of activists in their spaces. This is quite a tragedy as these ossified projects have basically been turned into exclusive retirement homes that retrospectively delegitimize Amsterdam’s squatter subculture. Fortunately, OT301 has a multitude of public facing projects that help prevent any signs of cultural sclerosis. On our twentieth birthday, OT301’s activities range from club nights of any imaginable shape or form, to the excellent vegan cuisine at De Peper, from exhibitions, workshops and performances at 4Bid Gallery to the underground and alternative film programme at Cinema of the Damn’d. On offer too is an eclectic mix of aerial gymnastics, dance, martial arts, yoga, therapeutic message and ping-pong nights, a prestigious artist residency, plus ad hoc and regular programming in the individual and collective studio spaces. All of which is done in the spirit of providing the community of guests and members the opportunity to experience an alternative to the vacuous commercial culture that is suffocating our city. Space for Radical Imagination Let’s make no mistake, the timeworn subculture and underground scene are unable to provide the younger generations a template for their struggle for an alternative to the aesthetic poverty of our time. The youth should navigate their own alternative way. What they are up against today are forms of power and control that are more oppressive and opaque than what they were some twenty years ago. Particularly the Internet and social media have turned into instruments of what the British cultural theorist Mark Fisher (aka k-punk) called “consciousness deflation”. This is the opposite of the collective consciousness raising with which the feminist movement enabled women to recognise and then fight against the well-hidden social forms of oppression. Consciousness deflation keeps people in their place by hyper-individualising their existence and teaching them that they are in constant competition with one another. This debilitating brainwash has led to an atmosphere in which it is easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of neoliberal capitalism. Fisher spoke of this in terms of “capitalist realism”: an ideology that has convinced us that there is no alternative to seeing every interaction in society as a business transaction. You are, in essence, an entrepreneur of your self; so invest your life in such a way as to make the most profit from it! Those of us who had the great fortune of growing up with the experience of collective action, of imaginative deliria, of being able to create our own underground and subculture have the responsibility of sharing the space we were able to save from the steamroller of capitalist realism. We don’t have all the answers that the youth are looking for but we’ve got spaces from which the struggle against neoliberal consciousness deflation can be waged. What we are able to offer the younger generation is an experience that lies outside the breathless boredom of the creative city. Such an experience of having a safe space outside the commercial mainstream is what shaped us. By opening our spaces to the young we can help them to kill their inner entrepreneur that capitalist realism relentlessly implants. For the big challenges of our time – from the climate crisis to mass migration and the rise of fascism – we need a young generation that understands; and, by the way, understands better than most of us; that we need cultural experimentation combined with radical political imagination. Let’s use our spaces to facilitate a new generation of activists that can rupture the ideology of capitalist realism, smash the great swindle of the creative city, and help build a future that is desirable for all, instead of one for the rich and powerful. This article is part of the book ‘OT301 - 20 Years of Art and Autonomy’. The book can be ordered from Friday 14th of November at www.abnormaldataprocessing.com ISBN: 9789081786423
Issue #027 Published: 07-11-2019 // Written by: Moneylab
MoneyLab #7: Outside of Finance On feminist economics, social payments, corporate crime and the “blokechain”
14 + 15 November - Tolhuistuin It’s August 2019. After years of inflation, high unemployment rates, and sharply falling living standards, Argentina’s national currency, the Peso, took a nosedive that further deepened its financial despair. Today, Argentina is one of many countries on the brink of yet another recession. Is this Groundhog Day? History repeating itself? Financial asset markets are declining the world over, the US and China are engaged in a trade war and central banks have fueled record levels of corporate and government borrowing over the past ten years. The ‘solutions’ applied to the last debt crisis seem to push the global economy toward the next collapse. Are you ready to descend into yet another economic depression? Since 2013, MoneyLab has been the stage for critical reflection on pressing financial issues. In the upcoming 7th edition, artists, researchers, activists and geeks will gather again to show what role art, activism, feminism, journalism and design are playing in re-thinking money, the critique of finance-tech and the democratization of finance. With a debt crisis looming, many feel the urgency to move away from the legacy powers and monetary institutions of the previous centuries. But what are the alternatives on offer? With workshops, performances, screenings and discussions, MoneyLab#7 will explore what is happening outside of global finance, with a special focus on social payments, value systems and the premises of crypto design. Facebook crashed the crypto-party earlier this year by announcing their faux-chain, Libra currency. With Facebook’s Libra, the whispers of the financialization of the social reached mainstream audiences. Is this a first attempt to copycat China’s WeChat and Alipay? What are the implications of the convergence of a social media monopolist, a crypto currency and a payment system? Is there anything to be learned from the Chinese examples that we comfortably position as doom scenarios from the Other side? How do we intervene in the cycle of competition between old, established players and new financial industries on markets that are still caught in bubble and burst dynamics? Decades into the story of crypto and there’s still a lot of speculation—both in terms of money and concepts—and not a lot of actual, useful cases of practice. Our event will ask: what is now slowly changing? What new business models make developments in fintech possible? Like it or not, the avant-garde of fintech-uptake can be found in the online sex industry, pump ‘n dump schemes, on dark markets, and in corporate cybercrime. What can be learned from the attempts to regulate and reform? What would it take to globally govern blockchains and cryptocurrencies, and is it possible and desirable? As crypto fantasies overflow with the same old biases, the question of who will redefine money remains an urgent one. Needless to say, redesigning the architecture of money cannot be left to libertarian men that dream of autarky. At MoneyLab #7, we will be looking beyond the world of libertarian start-ups aimed at fortifying eroding notions of identity, autonomy, property and copyright. We imagine a crypto economy, fueled by feminist critique and aimed at decolonizing existing power structures, that values care work and focuses on equity and solidarity. And we look at provocative counter-narratives and design strategies that parry the corporatization of digital money, from hyperlocal cryptocurrencies at techno festivals and the SheDAO, to self-organized exchange systems in refugee communities. “Revolution,” Audre Lorde once wrote, “is not a one-time event.” We need to harness group power, work collaboratively from the margins and against the mainstream. Chains of engagement, as Felix Guattari believed, have to be “continually reinvented, started again from scratch.” The aim of MoneyLab #7 is to explore new possibilities to prevent, as Guattari put it, “becoming trapped in a cycle of deathly repetition.” The program closes with a party on Friday night at Mike’s Badhuistheater. With: Micky Lee, Brett Scott, Ana Teixeira Pinto, Reijer Pieter Hendrikse, Malcolm Campbell Verduyn, Josephine Wolff, Thomas Bollen, Lana Swartz, Andrea Fumagalli, Valeria Ferrari, Rachel O’Dwyer, Andy Morales Coto, Ruth Catlow, Denise Thwaites, Ailie Rutherford, Alexandre Laumonier, Eric Barry Drasin, Antonia Hernández, Stephanie Rothenberg, Aude Launay, Gregory Tsardanidis (Synergy), Silvia Díaz Molina (P2P Models), Anne Kervers (Unmuting Money), RYBN, Blockchain and Society Policy Research Lab, Furtherfield & Martin Zeilinger, Mischo Antadze, Emily Martinez. The next MoneyLab events are scheduled in Ljubljana (March 24-25), Helsinki (September) and Canberra (November). For tickets and the program go to http://networkcultures.org/MoneyLab7