My Austrian/European summer tour 2007

It all started in the middle of the Afghanistan campaign: The same group of Afghan refugees that had hunger struck in front of Oslo Domkirke last summer now arranged a 650km march from Trondheim back to Oslo. The point was to get media coverage in order to stop Norway from deporting people to their war-torn country. I had just arrived a day or two earlier from the G8 summit in Heiligendamm when they arrived in Oslo. A few hundred supporters showed up when the 45 young men who had done the walk arrived at the outskirts of Oslo and walked the last kilometer or so with together them. The final destination was the parliament building and the secret plan was to erect a tent during the speeches there, which would then stay in place, giving shelter to the camping Afghans. They would then stay until the police/government would take any concrete action.

Austria -- for real, this is what it looks like there!
Austria — for real, this is what it looks like there!

This is the story on how I left from Oslo and that campaign and traveled 2000km to visit Marina Einböck, whom I had only seen a few hours in Panama half a year ago…

Why would one leave Norway, greatest place on Earth?

Bob from Hausmania, with whom I had driven back from Berlin after the G8 some three days earlier, was amongst those in charge, and so I was involved when she asked me to help with the tent. When the speeches finished and people were starting to leave, comrade Torgeir Holgersen from the Socialist Left Party (SV) then figured that someone needed to enlist people for night watch. He asked me as one of the first ones, and so I was signed up for that same night — making me the potential target for arrests for the third time in a week (in three different countries). Luckily that did not happen, and instead Torgeir, Sjur from Hausmania, Tanja from Blitz, another Blitz woman whom I do not know and I spent that Saturday night talking to passing semi-drunk teenage girls, who used us to shorten their time waiting for their friends who had gone to another bar and to much more drunk and much older males who needed to be calmed down enough to not go and bother the sleeping Afghans.

I know when one reads such a simple description of what one does as an activist, it sounds rather boring and not like a job at all. You probably have to try it to see just how energy draining it can be to wait for the cops and figure out new things to do constantly. So when that following Wednesday night all the Afghans actually were arrested, with 21 immediately sent to one of these new refugee prison camps and flown out to Afghanistan about 10 days later, I really felt I needed to take a break from all this action and leave the country once more.

Of course given the existence of the Internet, that often just means a little less work, and so I still finished a website against the EU Bolckenstein Directive perfectly with another website campaign: “Send me to Afghanistan [instead of the Afghan refugees, if there really is not enough space enough in this country for all of us]” which I created that same day. I really just copied the code for the “Get the soldiers home” campaign (which i finished up simultaneously), and (which has some cool new features that the administrators still have not taken into use) and when Marielle (long time co-activist with Blindern Fred, SV and whatever other organization names we make up as we go along) suddenly was declared media star by Norway’s two biggest newspapers Dagbladet and VG, it coincided perfectly.

Blindern Fred’s Aksel Gihle helped me with a new design for the page. And Marielle had something to campaign for whenever a microphone was poked in her face. That made the campaign being talked about in several national papers. Seemingly, no-one noticed that it was the same person making web pages to pull soldiers out of and to send civilians in to Afghansitan. Also Torgeir had another 15 minutes of fame, when it became clear that a key card for the SV office that the police had confiscated from one of the refugees, belonged to him. The point was that the SV office was right besides the camp/parliament and that it has toilets. Still, it was somehow a scandal to write about. Torgeir used his media time wisely. Nevertheless, nothing changed and the refugees were deported.

Leaving politics (almost) behind in Norway

During all this I first went to Copenhagen to visit my grandmother and then on to Schuby/Skovby to visit my parents. Whenever one of us boys comes by there, there is bunch of technical issues to fix. It was us who talked our parents into acquiring most of the more or less standard solutions when we still lived there, and a fair bit of it requires more technical maintenance experience/knowledge than what my parents or any local company is able to do (for example, strangely setup for satellite dishes). It took me almost a week to fix it all, working part time while writing a letter to the editor and a few other such things. Now my mother has Linux/Ubuntu instead of Windows, so I hope that will at least remove the time spent on fixing virus problems.

When also in Schuby it seemed like I would bury myself in work, I decided that I would have to take a longer trip. Goal: Vienna. I had gotten to know Marina during my last night in Panama. We had talked most of that night and I had thought it to be quite a shame that I only met her that late. Then we had had some email correspondence mainly because of some complicated circumstances I had removed her alarm clock, and she had thought I had planned on stealing it, while I really only meant to wake up a Dane in another room.

As you can here, it is pretty thin ground to invite oneself on. Still, she said I would be welcome. But instead of going directly to Austria, I thought I’d go slow, not stress, and then see how far I would dare go before I would have to or preferred to go back to Oslo. My mother drove me down to the train station in Schleswig for the train to Berlin. We ran a little late, but I would be able to make it. On the station though, I decided to not run and instead take the train in the opposite direction, the 20 minute ride toward Flensburg. From there I would be able to take the bus to Berlin the next morning. That would make me a bit slower, but as said, I for once did not want to rush it.

Taking the train through Germany on cheap tickets, one tends to strand at small, but standardized places. One rally does not need to know where it is, they all work the same.
Taking the train through Germany on cheap tickets, one tends to strand at small, but standardized places. One rally does not need to know where it is, they all work the same.

Flensburg, the place I used to call home

First thing in Flensburg, I walked to the Left Party office. I have been doing that many times for the last few years, but this was the first time it actually was open. The new county leader was there. I did not know her and I presented myself as “the guy who back in the days had chosen the carpet for the office.” We got to talking, and a little while later another guy, with background from the WASG, came in and we stayed for a few hours. When they heard that I had finished my master degree, I was immediately asked if I could not run in the local elections 2008. Only requirement would be that I would officially move to Flensburg no later than February. We also talked strategy on what to do with those new members who come from other parties. Some have the expectation that they can start just as high up as they had previously been, and while that is often not a good idea, one also needs to make sure to use these people’s resources. (addition: The guy later turned out to have some strange ieas about the far right, which he believed to have been let down by the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party.)

From the conversation I gathered that three things have remained the same: The integration of anarchists and party is exceptionally well developed in Flensburg (some of the same youngsters running both). And the run for party-internal offices in the Schleswig-Holstein chapter of the party is rather strong. “You need to go outside the county to show yourself, if you want to do something more,” the guy argued. I had really just meant to talk about what kind of local activities were going on and how the local group operated. Also, there is a huge focus on practical and bureaucratic issues such as were one puts up which information booth, when which election process requires which permits and how to do the logistics of it all. Very little theory or tactics. Nevertheless, very nice people, and after a few hours and after receiving invitation for three meetings the next few weeks, I left. It was getting late, and I thought I would sleep on the beach. As always when I am about to sleep somewhere illegally, I notified Linus in Berlin by SMS, just in case I should be arrested during the night. I then usually send another SMS in the morning. Only if they do not receive the second SMS, I ask them to notify my family. Instead though, Linus sent me the numbers of tow of our common friends in Flensburg.

Before leaving to Lena’s place, I ran into Rebecca whom I had hung out with at high school who was riding home from work at a border mart (Flegggaard) and I chatted with a 68’er, who recuperated on the beach with his dog after a grill party at his house that day. When he saw me and my sleeping bag (asking him about some stuff to get my Wifi-connection working), he started philosophizing on how also he had wanted to change the world back in the days. That a sleeping bag is enough to mark me as a revolutionary was new to me. But he was surprisingly accurate in his expectations of me. Of course he did the usual “when only you get older” speech, and gave a little introduction about the revolutionary power of using drugs and listening to rock and roll music — neither of which I have ever understood. When he heard that I was to go to Berlin the next day, he also included a part on how you want to live at quiet places when you are older.

All this together, walking down the streets of Flensburg at night, made me realize just how old I really am. I mean usually I see myself as on the brink of being grown up. Maybe grown-up age wise, but also just barely. but in Flensburg I have a history. I can remember how I booked this and that lace for various events; how I was grown up back then, and how long time ago that was.
Lena looked like she has been doing the last 15 years. Only difference of my class mates in Flensburg is that the last living communes have been replaced by apartments held by individual couples. Also Lena lives with her boyfriend Julius. Nevertheless, much of the idea of collective planning is living on. Lena proved this by including me in the planned team for the moving of Verena, one of her previous flatmates one of the following days. But I was to go on to Berlin the next morning so she had to change the plans.

The art of creating nationalized space is perfected in Germany, even in the cities. This happens to be Hannover train station.
The art of creating nationalized space is perfected in Germany, even in the cities. This happens to be Hannover train station.

Berlin, halfway to Vienna

In Berlin I was greeted by Linus and Rune. We watched a movie at the train station they have had as their home for the last few years. I stayed there for about ten days, while Rune and Linus in reality lived at their girlfriends’ homes. I showed up at a bunch of their lectures and also at the seminar that Rune gave. I even spoke on my fieldwork and how the fact that I am a Marxist influenced the way I did fieldwork. The group currently living at train station consisted, as always, of an odd mix of people. One night, which started as a man’s night (with tea and chocolate, no soccer talk), I drank a bit more than the others, and when the boys had all left, I found myself watching an alternative French movie with a French couple that was on its way to Iceland and had stopped by a few days. I commented rather aggressively on how exaggerated the movie was and how little “normal people” would get out of it. Luckily, he had a similar outlook, and so after the movie, she had a little lecture on how important it was to “escape heteronormality.” Another night, there was a presentation of an alternative May 1st celebration that some artists have arranged in Novosibirsk for the last three years. Now one of the early spokes people lived here in the train station. Yet another day, Rune and Linus came by and we went to a super market to make some (illegal) shots for a video about consumerism that is to be played during a concert in Copenhagen. During the entire time, discussions centered around themes was how to get free or cheap food from the market after closing hours, how guests were expected to contribute, and whether the chicken a Swiss guy kept in a self-made cage between the train tracks and the train wagon in which he lived should be slaughtered before he left on some trip or not. It was decided by a general assembly that it was not necessary.

But I did not only stay with my west German friends. I arrived on a Friday night, and the following Wednesday I had arranged to meet with Ines Koburger from Solid for the evening. We were to meet up at a theater next to Left Party headquarters, but Ines needed to go back to party head quarters for something or other before we could leave for good. As I waited in a chair in the Solid office, Katja Dahme noticed me. “Hey, what a seldom guest! What are you doing here?” she started out. Somehow all the office people of Solid know me, while close to no-one else in Solid knows who I am. “Going to Vienna,” I replied, “and you just happen to be living on my way.” At least that was partially true. Only thing was that I had not really made any concrete plans. Another girl commented on Austria that there was a conference there soon. We walked over to a map hanging on the wall to find the village of Gosau, where the European Left Summer University was going to be held. Katja showed where it was to be. “I’m still looking for people who could go,” she said toward me. Within a minute she had me invited. “But you realize that I’m not elected for anything, right?” I tried to counter. I was explained that it was not a matter of being elected. Katja then took me to the party guy, who would do the final signing up process, a hall and some stairs away. He interviewed me briefly and everything seemed to be right about me, so I was put on the list. I still think it is odd that a party, with some 72,000 members, sends a guy who walks in from the street and lives in a different country as party of their delegation of 17 people to a conference like that.

And then there were of course the university lectures and meetings. One night I even found myself stamping people’s hand and giving them flyers about sexism at the entrance of a student party to which one of Rune’s students had dragged me.

We were to leave a week later, so I contacted Marina in Austria and asked her if it would be better to visit her before or after the conference. After was better, so I suddenly had another week in Berlin. Time went fast though. One thing I did was read quite a lot. On the bus from Flensburg I had read Eric Blair’s “Animal Farm.” During one of my first days here I had found a bibliography of Erich Honecker (effectively head of state of East Germany 1971-1989) from 1976. After that I found three volumes of letters by Rosa Luxemburg that I could spend all my excess time on. Another thing was the net; I had to transfer a lot of signatures from a Facebook group with the same purpose.

One night, I apparently drew everybody’s attention by constantly using the term “you” (“du”) rather than “thou” (“Sie”) in a discussion (about whether activist anthropology, or “action anthropology” as my opponent called it, was an acceptable way of conducting anthropology) with a university professor, who had been an activist in the West Berlin solidarity campaign for an African country in the 1980s in which he later on conducted fieldwork. That happened in a small circle in a bar after an open meeting at which he had spoken. He thought that it would generally be unscientific if you mixed your own persona into the whole thing and that the cases he had seen all ended with people gaining absolutely nothing out of their fieldwork. I argued that I thought it hard to make a clear distinction between “our society” and the “society” I studied and also to distinct myself completely from my informants — after all my informants have been following what I do in Norway just as closely as how I have been following them through the internet.

I had not really noticed until I half-way into the discussion that I was using “du,” and thought it wrong to change it then. I guess I am somewhat of a cultural imperialist in the question of extending the “du.”

A little while after havign signed up for the conference in Austria, I received a call by Sascha Wagener, member of the Left Party leadership and member of Solid. He was to go to Austria as well, and had been asked whether he could jump in for one speaker who had suddenly turned ill. He suggested that we together were to hold a seminar on “Leftists as migrants.” We had the train journey to organize and prepare for that.

European Left Summer Uni in Gosau, Austria — getting closer

Finally Wednesday arrived, and I met Katja, Sascha and some of the others at Berlin Central Train Station. I will not go into the fraction fightings within the Left Party, because some of that is information that is still relevant and is at least unofficially classified. But of course there was also some of that on the trip to Gosau. We were about five people directly from Solid, Karsten Schatz and a few others from the Berlin section of the party, and a number of people with other backgrounds making up the German section. From Scandinavia I was the only one. In reality there were only three seminar days. On the first, Sascha and me held ours, on the second there were a lot of parallel seminars on the subject of water (which I did not think to be too interesting), and on the third day the theme was labor. On that day, Sascha and I attended a seminar on the labor theory of value. From Austria, the Communist Party (CP) participated, and I had thought that they would be somewhat better schooled when it comes to foundational Marxist theory. But to my surprise we from Solid had much more of an insight when it comes to these things. I asked the CP members whether they did not attend any summer camps (where one usually studies such things), and the answer was that some time back in the days one used to have camps over Pentecost. However now, Austria was simply too small for it.
Of course there is no natural law that determines when a country is too small for a full-fledged socialist education in party hands. Both Denmark and Norway have lower populations than Austria, and yet one can find schooling in subjects such as Marxism and socialist organization theories. In the case of Austria, it is simply the combination of being a very small party in a very small country, that makes such things impossible. Provocatively I stated to some Austrians that it would be like half of Bavaria without the help from former Eastern Germany.

The days at the seminar were really interesting, especially also what we heard form other countries, but it was not my main concern these days. Most of all I wondered how the meeting with Marina would be. I had not set any time limits, an the only change of plans was that a week earlier she had suddenly said that she would be somewhere in Ober Österreich (OÖ) on the day when my seminar finished, so we decided to meet there and then go to Vienna together. I had no idea what she would be doing there. At one point I was rather afraid that it would involve some kind of extreme sport in the mountains for which I would not at all be equipped. Sure, Sascha and I had walked across a mountain/hill for six hours one morning, and I am also otherwise not completely unfamiliar with the idea of hiking. But the only shoes I currently had were my fake Crocs hat I had been wearing every single day since some time in May. Also, i really did not know this girl — what was I thinking inviting myself like this?

On the other, I did exactly not know her. And although I am usually rather shy, I thought that for nothing else than kicks, it would be interesting to actually show up and meet her and see what would come of the situation. I had been traveling so far and so much the last few weeks, that it seemed this could not possibly end up being more awkward than many of those situations I had been in already. And if it did, I would at least not feel any embarrassment (or rather, so I hoped). Sascha and Katja both seemed to declare me insane, my other Berlin friends as not really from this planet. None of that stopped me.

Finally: Visiting the girl I did not know

Riding yet another train, for once not alone, but with Marina.
Riding yet another train, for once not alone, but with Marina.

And so I did take a 3h+X bus and train ride to the tiny city of Ried im Innkreis on the day the summer university finished. Marina had SMSed the night before that she was really not in that village, but further out, in a tiny 3000 soul catholic place called “Taiskirchen.2 She picked me up at the train station and we drove to Taiskirchen. It was mega strange. Taiskirchen turned out to be the village where her family lived. I was introduced to parents and grandmother, as well as to other village youth at some kind of drink party that night. The grandmother asked me amongst other things if there were churches where I was from. Thereafter she asked whether they were all Roman-Catholic. I answered something about Lutherans having gained strength during the last few years. I was on the brink of thinking this was some kind of candid camera stunt when a band of Lederhosen men started singing at the party that night. But although I had a hard time understanding even single words of what any of them were saying due to their accent, I heard that the song was about McDonalds and how delicious their burgers are. That drew it all back to the modern world. Still, even when Marina had driven us home, we could hear the band play on and on from the veranda of her parents’ house. It was like a movie; quite surreal. Marina also explained that the church bells would go off every quarter of an hour — the whole night through! Wow, I had not been at any such exotic place anywhere in Europe before!

Next day we went to Vienna. I was put up in the TV room, and immediately had discussion on advertisement for children with one of her two flat mates. I had not seen it as anything bigger, rather just an exchange of ideas. But for him it was quite a bit more it seemed, and he asked Marina the next morning when I was to leave. I did stay all that week though, and left with Marina on the Friday, when she was to go back to Taiskirchen once more. During that week, Marina had to work, and I went out to see Vienna. Now I know most people go and see all old castles and whatever else they can find on postcards about a city. For me though, I feel that once I have seen one old and dusty castle, I have seen them all. Instead I therefore went to places like the university to attend meetings in connection with a biology conference just to get a taste of the way they were conducting it, an anarchist house with soup kitchen and parks, where I wrote an article for the next issue of Under Utdanning (teacher trade union student magazine) on how I think multicultural aspects of Norwegian schools should be dealt with and transcribed and translated three small interviews with Dag Solstad, Linn Ullman and Jostein Gaarder, a request which Helle (high school class mate living in Berlin) had forwarded to me for some friend or contact. I did not quite understand the background, but it was to be used in some book or other. Why they spoke Norwegian in those audio files to begin with, given the interviewer was German and obviously must have instructed them in English or why they would have some random person translate it, I never quite understood.

On the first day I showed up at the anarchist place because I saw they had announced soup kitchen later on that day. Someone needs to make the food first though, I know from experience from similar projects in other countries. So I showed up a few hours early and was put in charge of the potatoes, while I discussed how the left is organized in Austria in comparison to Germany, Norway and Denmark, with some of the other helpers. There was a young couple, she 20 he 23, that was going to marry the following week. “We always wanted to marry,” she explained, “and now we’ve been together for 2.5 years.” She was working as a waitress, he was unemployed, and he heard of the free soup kitchen through Indymedia, and so they have been showing up here for a while on a weekly basis. The parents did not know anything about the wedding that was to take place in the government office, and not in a church. They were not christian, but her parents had specifically asked for her to stay in the church, so that she could some day have a “white wedding.” Again, all this seemed strange to me. The clothing, the place itself and the opinions of people seemed to be close to or exactly the same as they would in other houses like this in other parts of Europe. As I’ve said before, the radical left “it’s like one big family.” But the extreme conservative culture around it would just force it to accommodate for it in a totally different way.

But there was also a lot of time to discuss with Marina. She had been studying company economics, as a kind of MBA program, and only during her studies found out that capitalism is evil, and has therefore changed to study about poverty rather than how to make a profit. That gave a perfect starting point to try out what the business answer to the labor theory of value, the falling tendency of the rate of profit and other such concepts is. But in concerns of the exact contents, it would hardly be interesting to anyone else than the involved.

Friday came about and we left Vienna. She exited the train in some time little place near her parents home, and I went on to Passau, across the border in Germany. It was at 9PM on the evening of July 20th, the day before my birthday, that I was stuck there. I had just counted on trains going all night, but that was not so. Just like Padborg/Flensburg at the German-Danish border, connections were more than bad. If you arrived from Austria at 9PM, your connection to Nurenberg was at 5:47AM. That was my case. Now I just needed to sleep some. First I went up on a hill. It started raining. First a little, then as if the world was coming to and end. I needed a place where the police was not very likely to pick me up that night. I found the outskirts of a field, bordering on a little forest. The trees would protect me at least partially from the rain. Nevertheless, even with my rain coat as extra protection, after a few hours I was wet through and through. I instead walked back into town. At the train station there turned out to be a tiny little waiting room with two benches where one would be allowed to sleep. I walked in and asked the only other occupant, Carolin, about 40, without shoes, but other than that dressed clean and nicely, whether she would mind me charging my cell phone behind her bench. She did not. But she did not fall back to sleep again either. sat on the other bench and answered her first few questions about where I was from and where I was going. She spoke with an accent that I understood even less of than the people from OÖ. And she had this crazy laugh into which she would burst out every half minute. I decided that it would probably be safer not to sleep with her close-by. Maybe she thought the same about me, and so she also got up. We talked about her shoes. she had lost them at the train station chapel. Her story was that someone who lived with her at her home some 3 km from here had forgotten to pick her up. And now she had been waiting for a few hours. She was the first one to congratulate me on my birthday. She wondered if I had a coat or a second sleeping bag. I offered my rain coat. She thought it was too wet, and when I could present no alternative, she walked out into the night. I started spreading some of my stuff out to dry, and took a quick nap of a few minutes on the bench Then the second person congratulating me that day walked in: a police man. He wanted to see my papers. It was a German police man, and although I answered all his inquiries in German, for the first ten minutes or so, he only spoke English to me. Did I have a passport? No, sorry I was pretty sure I did neither have passport nor identity card. Luckily it turned out that my Norwegian student id card was enough for him. He called my name in, but they had nothing on my student id in the German police register. There were a few more control questions, but nothing really substantial. Finally he gave up and left.

It is my birthday, Carolin has left and the police man has not arrived yet. I take a quick break in the Passau train station shelter.)
It is my birthday, Carolin has left and the police man has not arrived yet. I take a quick break in the Passau train station shelter.)

I had some more hours to kill, so I walked into the city center. A few drunk students started talking to me: “did you just arrive here? What are you studying here?” The fact that that I was studying, but not in Passau and that I had not even ever considered Passau seemed to be beyond them. I refused to walk with them, and alone I ran into Carolin again a few minutes later. Carolin now knew where we could fill up my plastic bottles with tab water. And she wanted to talk my backpack there. I let her, and afterward we sat on a bench for a while. She told me about her day. It had been perfect weather, and she had walked to some Lutheran church. She was still waiting to be picked up, and it was about 4:30AM. I finally decided that I needed to go on, and so I walked quite an extra bit in order to avoid running into Carolin again. At 5:47 I was finally on my way, and I sent Marina an SMS that I was fine (I had notified her of me sleeping outside the night before, just in case.)

Birthday on the road

Next stop was Coburg in Northern Bavaria. Babara and her boyfriend Roland from Solid picked me up at the train station and we walked to Barbara’s apartment. We were to move all her things downstairs and paint her room white, because she was to move out the following morning. They gave me a chocolate as birthday present at the train station, and on Facebook/StudiVZ a bunch of people greeted me with my birthday. My parents called, and probably because I answered the phone in Norwegian, my mother asked surprised: “Are you at home?” No, I was in Bavaria. “Bavaria? what are you doing there/” I was helping Barbara move out. Would I come by their place, they wanted to know. I did not know, but did not assume so. I was planning on either going toward Hamburg or Berlin but had a hard time deciding. Lately that has been the case with so many things. During a break, we went to ALDI or LIDL and bought a pastry which we ate on the floor of Barbara’s empty room. “What a horrible birthday, huh?” Barbara asked me that day.

Roland, Barbara and Claudia. My birthday was about moving them out of their apartment.
Roland, Barbara and Claudia. My birthday was about moving them out of their apartment.

No, it was not. It was just great. The amount of input of various sensory data has been so great in the last few years and seems to have been increasing exponentially, so I have become almost totally numb toward having any kind of expectations about any situation or from any person. A day of little stress like this was a perfect birthday gift.
Nevertheless, we went into the park and got drunk that night. Roland and I talked on how the social structure of this city was so “stable” that absolutely nothing would come of it. Around us we saw the local teenage rebels sitting in the park on some benches, having diverted their rebelliousness into various fashion goods. Only a few meters from some pensionists were walking their cat in some of the most fancy clothing I have seen. Some of Barbara’s local friends showed up, and at least one of them was a local antifascist activist. Roland, he and I agreed that once the world revolution starts, it will most likely be the job of activists in Bavaria to prevent people from anouncing a counter revolution. In a somewhat drunk state i told him to “always shoot for the legs.” Bavaria has a special conservative party, the Christian Social union (CSU), rather than the Christian Democratic Union, that exists in all of the rest of the Federal Republic of Germany (BRD). That party has been ruling Bavaria ever since WWII. Of course we expected that to be the case for Coburg as well. But I thew my arm around the neck of some “normal” youths that walked towards us when we were about to go, and they ensured me that Coburg is all about being a social democrat. “At least a little better,” Barbara argued.

Southern Schleswig once more

The next morning I took a 11h train ride to Schleswig. Three days I visited grandmother, Niels Nielsen, a high school friend in inner Flensburg, the Left Party Flensburg and a birthday party that functioned as a kind of reunion for friends from high school, mainly those a year younger than me.

This was now the second time I had contact with the Left Party Flensburg this summer, but this time I showed at an actual local meeting. It was fascinating — the way it all operated had completely changed since 2000. Back then, it was largely a group of socialists from East Germany. There was one senior citizen from Rostock, a number of 1968ers (both from East and West) and two students. And then there was me, the high school student. Genderwise the 1968ers had been a rather mixed group. Now all this was replaced by a group of male IG Metal trade union members, with a background more or less directly linked to the Social Democratic Party (SPD). My first political trainer Rainer Konrad Bachmann (RKB) was still there, but that was about it. In the inner city I had met a couple of the those who ahd been active back when i was still in Flensburg, and had told them that the people at the party office had asked specifically about them. She also showed up, but after a few hours of purely administrative party issues handled in a rather male chauvinist way, she had enough for now. Several of them almost lie on their chairs sideways, with their bellies popping up over the table, giving various statements partially serious, partially jokingly, but almost all about administrative points on various party internal struggles or constitutive papers rather than actual actions or politics. “Well, this is what we wanted, isn’t it?” RKB said to me and her when we talked a few minutes outside. Indeed, to be able to grow the meeting this big, and to actually include the “working class” like this is like dream coming true. But many things that one thought had been settled once and for all have to be discussed over again.

Back to Scandinavia

I did not have long time, my room in Oslo had to be given up. So I left for Oslo once more, going by train to Copenhagen and then by all-night bus to Oslo. Originally I had planned on packing up that day, participate in a demonstration and coordinate some of the actions that are to take place during the election campaign period, and then to go back that night to Copenhagen, and catch a bus or train to Hamburg, and there to pick up about 6 delegates from Solid for the Socialistisk Ungdomsfront (SUF) summer camp near Odense in Denmark. I had first helped Solid and SUF make contact two years ago, when I showed up at the SUF summer camp for Solid. Since then, contact has luckily been maintained by “real” Solids. But I still think it is fun to show up at a meeting like this, if nothing else to learn all the newest Danish slang and gain an overview of how Danish politics and the movement work as well as help international connections where-ever this is fruitful.

Öresund -- crossing the border Sweden/Denmark back and forth
Öresund — crossing the border Sweden/Denmark back and forth

But when Barbara sent over the list of German participants and their ages, and I saw that they were ages 17-29, I decided that they were old enough to make it across the border by themselves, and so instead I stayed another night, and met up with Francis to update me on the Norwegian situation that night. We sat and drank tea until late at Cafe Sara, the central place for all Oslo revolutionary gossip. The following night I then went down to Copenhagen and to Odense. Here I have been sitting since Sunday, translating various workshops in real time German<->Danish or to and from English (at times even TV shows).

A break at the Socialist Youth Front summer camp -- most are afraid to have their picture taken.
A break at the Socialist Youth Front summer camp — most are afraid to have their picture taken.

And the next few days…

The plan is now for my parents to pick me up tomorrow, because they happen to drive by here, and then to go on to their summer house on Zealand. Form there I will go to Oslo Sunday night. In Oslo, Linus and his girl friend will be waiting and for some days I will hang around with them as well as prepare activities for the election campaign period. When the election campaign has started, i will then go back to Berlin, where Marina happens to be in mid August. Then, in September, I will need to go to the UK to start my studies there…

Only the process of writing this down has taken me days, because I just feel too tired, and keeping up this blog had been taking quite some time the last two years. It seems as if the world is turning after and faster, and I hardly have time to reflect upon any of what I am doing.

To the regular readers I therefore want to announce, that you should probably not expect too many postings here in the future. Yes, I will try to post if anything important happens to me or if I have anything of importance to say, but I simply do not want to have that pressure hanging over me of having to write every few days.

2 thoughts on “My Austrian/European summer tour 2007”

  1. Man you don’t even know how long I’ve waited for this since disabling my own Movable Type widget (that doesn’t work since Haloscan bypasses that code).


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