Last Thursday we had yet another meeting in the student parliament – scheduled to last 5 hours! And trust me that is one boring place to be, at least as long as we are in the absolute minority.
However, this time I thought I had found something that would be so clearly imperialist and against the principals of everyone, that they would not dare say anything against it. So I brought up a resolution against the Norwegian oil company that started investing in Iraq without the approval of the central government in Baghdad – you might remember our actions last spring and fall.
However, they quickly voted against even considering saying anything about it, as it was seen as being “somethign that the student parliament shouldn’t say anything about”. Hmm, well that might even sound logical to some bureaucrats.
However, at the very same meeting, they managed to declare their support for the campaign for democratizations of Belarus – a campaign that pretends to be nonpartial and support nothing but free elections in Belarus. But in reality only supports one candidate…
In recent years, I have repeatitively been asked to whether I am an anarchist or a socialist – and I’ve always had a hard time answering it. When my French discussion partner came by last night it was there again: “How can anything work, if everybody has to decide upon everything?,” he initiated the conversation, “won’t that just be total chaos?”.
Well, yes, of course I do believe in organizing thing and my political socializisation process happened inside political parties. And I haven’t really changed my mind about parties either: I am quite sure that itis the high amount of organization in socialist political parties as well as in their youth organizations in the Scandinavian countries as well as Germany that have contributed enormously to the high level of consciousness of what’s going on – in the country side. While you can find anarchists mainly in the centers of large urban complexes thinking relatively freely and organizing locally, socialist parties tend to have more of a structure that can accomodate actvists and people with interests in what’s going that live furhter apart, on a day to day basis. Parties send snail amisl to the entire country, have people emloyed at offices (as far as possible spread out throughout the country) and actively try to built up local groups by outside intervention in those areas that they’re not present yet.
Traditionally though, parties have been quite hierarchical, and as the flow of information to a large extend was controlled by those leaders on various levels who had the means to travel around the country (now all that is done through a whole web of different email lists, both party-internal and others crossing party lines, that noone really can control), the whole structure and the day to day politics could be manipulated by a handful of central leaders – and therefore it is questionable how different a system ruled by these guys would have been (or has been in those countries with succesful socialist revolutions) compared to today’s rather hierarchical capitalism.
And that’s where the my anarchist streak comes in: the fundamental believe in having flat structures to as large a degree as possible and not having to follow various party lines that one fundamentally disagrees with. However, as someone who has seen the inside of several parties I can tell you that the parties I know in Scandinavia/Germany are a lot more anarchist in the way they organize themselves in the internet age -no matter what the official party doctrine might be. For example the way campaigns are planed at the Red Voting Alliance of Norway (RV), for whom I fixed computers and built up the previous web page for severals years, is not that one makes a central plan that one expects activists in the entire country to follow through as one might assume. Yes, the plan might be there, but all those sitting at the central office know exactly that all they can give is just suggestions of how to do things (well, the party web site is under their direct control), but in reality it’s local activists around the country that determine what will actually happen. Some things will happen as one suggested, some things will not happen, and some locals always manage to surprise the activists in downtown Oslo with local initiatives around the country that noone here had known about before they see it in the media.
Now today I stumbled upon the following defence of communist anarchism by Murray Bookchin in the old SDS Newspaper New Left Notes back from 1969, but I think it seems surprisingly applicable to today’s situation – take not of the remark of the current technological level of innovation in the US. Read it here
Ok, so here it finally is: my posting on Berlin. I really wanted to write this after my first trip down there, but it simply did not happen. I was trying to convince myself that it was due to an overly large work load right now, but it might also just be cause I am a bit afraid to write about things that are too close to me. Anyways, as I already wrote in the last few posts, I went to Berlin twice this year already: the first time over New Years from Dec. 31st until January 5th, and the second time from last Thursday (the 12th or so) and then I took the bus to Copenhagen, Denmark on Sunday (15th) and slept there at my grandmothers before I took the plane back to Oslo Monday morning – in order to be back for an English pedagogy course with obligatory attendance at noon.
So what was up with Berlin? Well, there are two groups that I know down there: on one side there are all my Danish minority friends from high school, and on the other, there are those I know through my activism in the youth organization [‘solid] (youth of the new Linkspartei). Now I’ve written about the two groups before, when I visited them last summer. Basically my activist friends are from East Germany (although not neccesarily Berlin), while my high school friends are from West Germany (on top of being Danish-like). Now you would of course imagine that to be a difference mainly of wealth, and yes, that probably has something to say – but not quite the way one would think. Let us try to look a bit at my “ethnic friends.” Continue reading Freezing in Berlin→
As I came back from Berlin today (have been there again this weekend, but more about that in the next post), i had to stay at university all day to stay for various obligatory affairs. And when I finally came home tonight (about 15 min. ago), I had a new neighbor! I figured it out when I opened the outer door and saw that someone had put a water cooker and a candle inside a bowl of mine on the shelf inside the kitchen. “Oh, crap!” I thought, “I’m pretty sure I hadn’t cleaned the kitchen sufficiently when I realized hat I had way less time than calculated to run to the airport express train Thursday night.”
I got a few requests as to update everyone on the state of relation to my neighbor. Well, she is gone. In fact she left some time early in December or so, and instead a guy moved in. She finally got her own room in this very same student house. The guy who moved in after here was from Oslo West. He let me know that right away. “I’ve always lived in this town — just somewhat further West”. Gee — as if I couldn’t smell that. He was 21 and had “just moved out from his parents” as they were moving from the family house he had grown up in to a smaller flat which he helped them to fix during December. That’s why he almost wasn’t here at all. Starting around New Years he was to move back to Oslo West to live with some of his childhood friends. So right now, I’m having the kitchen all to myself again.
An interesting fact about my neighboor for all of last fall is though that according to her sccesor, a bunch of things from the police arrived for her after she had moved. Now students living in these flats do not tend to receive a whole lot of parking tickets, but I guess with alllikelihood she probably was no master spy or terrorist or anything like that.
Now you could probably hear some of the disgust that I had for my very last neighbor — and of course that is connected with soem normative standards that exist in my mind:
– you have to move out before you turn 18
– you should not attend university or live in the same country that you grew up in
Now of course I realize that only a veyr small percentage of the world population lives according to these standards, and so it could probably make for an interesting study of how exactly I got those standards (family-related, I can tell you), and also who I would let parse without following them (anyone poor and/or oppressed) and who I would not (well, anyone with relatively rich parents). And again one should ask the question: to what degree is that just a reflection of an internatization of the neo-liberal spirit of the 1980s? How can I have normative standards for flexibilization, when at the same time I attack such demnds on the political level?
I just got back to Norway today. And that was not entirely my plan in the beginning. I had really planned to be back here some time between Christmas and New Years, but a snow storm all across southern Scandinavia, and in particular in Sweden, made it suddenly more complicated to take the bus, and so I decided instead to spend New Years with some of my friends from high school in Berlin and then to fly back here today.
Now my high school friend are one of the lasting communities (I won’t go into the definition of community here) of mine but in any way I am always amazed of how they have managed to keep the close connections we all have had in school all throughout our time at university; I myself only see them every six months at the max.
But on my way down to Berlin, I met a group that I would say formed an “instant group.” Now I love to make these things to form, and usually they are over just as quickly as they came into existence. The thing is that in Germany the railway has made a rather cheap group ticket for up to 5 people available for approximately the last decade. It’s called Wochenendticket (Eng: Weekend ticket) and although it hads changed quite a bit from the way it was intially set up, it still gives you the right to travel as far as you want to, as long as you only use short-distance trains. Now you can always still make it from any corner of Germany to another, but it just takes a long time, and you have to switch often.
As this ticket has gained popularity especially amongst the youth, certain tiny train stations have become interconnection points for popular travel routes – one of them being the tiny village of “Bad Kleinen” (otherwise only known for a shooting episode between the police and a member of the Rote Armee Fraktion about 15 years ago) on the route between Berlin and the states of Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein. According to the train schedule, one should be able to switch traisn immediately, but if there are any delays on the train going there, you have to wait two entire hours there! Amongst my friends that are studying in Berlin this has become a known issue and a running joke amongst them is that “Oh no, X is not here yet, she/he is waiting for an alternative train in Bad Kleinen.”
Now this time it was my turn to experience that to happen. I started travelling from Schleswig at 12:33 and expected to be in Berlin at 18:44 – after changing trains four times.