A wide range of organisations have called for a common European action week 15-25th of may 2014 just before the coming EU elections. We, autonomous activists who are now part of the 365-campaign believe that it is an important arena for the Swedish movement as a whole and the 365-campaign in particular.
The call is coming from the German ‘blockupy’ network which is a transeuropean collaboration which also has contacts, for example, in North Africa. Blockupy has previously organised demonstrations before the European Central Bank in Frankfurt. It attempts to move the struggle against the troika (EU, ECB and IMF) from the Mediterranean nations into the ‘heart of the beast.’ We share the ambition to struggle together against politics of austerity and to organise internationally.
The 365 campaign takes place during the ‘super election year’, that is to say, the year of both EU elections and national elections in Sweden. The EU election is, in many ways, even more of a farce than the elections to parliament. Power is further away and far more people than those who are sceptical to the elections in little Sweden are sceptical to the elections for the EU.
The concentration of power in the EU is clear. Conservative, rich men dominate the agenda. Lobbyists carry an enormous amount of power. In the EU:s women’s committee the chairperson is an opponent of abortion.
The foundation for all common struggle is solidarity. Trust in the person who is standing next to you in the assembly line or the riot is critical. When people are fighting each other it makes struggle impossible. The institutions of the EU produces racism. EU-citizens and migrants are set against one another. Those who manages to cross the ‘border-less’ EU:s militarised outer walls are met by a restrictive politics of asylum and a brutal defence and deportation machinery. The ‘Reva-project’, that is, the Swedish police ‘secret’ strategy for deportations which is concerned with hunting migrants and which uses racial profiling to stop and search people to check their citizenship, is no coincidence. This kind of ‘inner border control’ is part of the EU project for ‘open borders’ – an openness for white EU citizens which is inhibited the moment it serves the powerful. These ‘open borders’ are closed, for example, when there are large international demonstrations.
In Sweden these conflicts have been obvious. A group of afghani have erected a tent camp in the Jesus park in Malmö to protest for their right to stay. A group of homeless migrants, largely Romanian, have, due to lack of other possibilities, camped in Stockholm and been met by harsh police repression. The ‘harmonization’ of EU-nations politics of asylum which is glorified by the liberals as part of a humane politics of refugees actually means strangling asylum migration.
Where there are fences there are openings. When the EU-liberals say that ‘we have to make it easier for people to come here’ they talk about work migration. It is no coincidence that the least regulated branches of industry are also the ones dominated by migrants which can easily be controlled by the buyers of labour. The anarcho-syndicalist union the SAC:s struggle against the restaurant Berns, where a group of undocument cleaners were fired due to their union struggle against awful conditions and crimes against Swedish employment laws, are just the tip of the iceberg. People who are easy to expel are easy for the owners to exploit. The EU politics to stop asylum migration, to create undocumented migrants and increase temporary work migration must be understood as part of a politics of control and attack against a section of the working class.
The lowered wages and worsened labour laws in southern Europe are also reasons to show solidarity and to struggle. As the labour movement has realised long ago we have to struggle together across borders for the good of everyone. 68% of the Greek workers who are employed make less than a 1000 euro a month. Of these many earn around 550 euro a month. Blockupy attempts to take the struggle from the south into the heart of Europe. We realise that the best help for southern Europe is our own liberation. We have to fight together against the austerity politics of the EU. The propaganda in Sweden (as well as in Germany) has been that we are helping the poor Greeks. That we’re paying for those who are broke. Nothing can be more wrong. The EU makes Greece, Italy, Spain, etc. indebt themselves further even as they are demanding cuts in all social programs. Racism and fascism cannot only be understood as a result of competition among workers. However, we are seeing a clear fascist mobilization throughout Europe.
We were reached by the news of our comrade Pavlos Fyssas death on the 18th of september and went out into the streets together. We realised then that Pavlos could have been one of us. We could feel it within ourselves. A few months later we realised our feelings were correct when our comrades were stabbed in Malmö – thankfully without any deaths. We also saw our Greek comrades send their greetings back to us.
Our southern European neighbours have shaken the troika and the entire EU. The popular mobilizations from Plaza del Sol to the Maidan (with all it’s uneven and sometimes even reactionary forces) have shown that there is a chance to overthrow the system. In Swedish politics there is almost a consensus of belonging to the EU. The parties will never be able to leave the EU even if they wanted to. It is the struggles of the masses against the crisis which has come closest to achieving this, more so than all empty talk has accomplished in decades.
The slogan of the 365-movement is ”We do politics every day.” That is democracy. People should rule their own lives, not vote every fourth year (Swedish elections are every four years – translators remark) for who should do it for them – an election which furthermore stands between all the more similar alternatives. In Sweden as well as internationally we’ve seen democracy against the democrats – against the politicians. Whether right or left-wing governments there have been the same budget cuts. It was the Social Democratic Partido Socialista Obrero Españo which began the austerity politics in Spain and then Partido Popular which continued these. In Sweden the left wing coaliation in the region ‘västra götaland’ has cut hundreds of millions in health care, just as the the right-wing coaliation (the right-wing parties + green party) in the region Skåne. They administer capitalism and play with all the rules of capitalism. We are a joker in the deck.
In Sweden the struggles the last few years have had clear inspiration of struggle for democracy, that is to say, the power of the masses against that of the rulers. The mining exploitation in Norrland in northern Sweden has been a clear example. Indigenous and local populations have fought mining companies whose exploitation of nature would have devastating consequences. At the same time workplace organisations outside of the unions appear in the privatised train sector as well as in health care. The workers find new ways of organising, beyond the union bureaucracies and class compromises.
The working class in Sweden is far from mobilised but there are certain small, positive tendencies which are always filled with a democratic spirit where grass roots are posed against their leaders. Other parts of the class have organised proletarian counter power in their residential areas. We are of course speaking about the riots in the suburbs. These have had a clear character. A working class area with a large part of racialised young workers are systematically harassed by the police, attacked by politicians and the media. Finally the police cross a line. In the area Husby in Stockholm this was a murder of a 60-year old man in his home. Then there are several days of rioting. The police have a hard time controlling the situation as the rioters know the terrain well. It spreads to other suburbs which immediately recognize themselves in the situation. Then it dies down after a few days.
The election appears for many people as a choice between left and right where the main difference appears to be that being left is to be for state ownership and being right is being for private ownership. This is a false division. State ownership can mean bureaucratic oppression where the little person has very little say. Examples of these are the entire control apparatus with försäkringskassan (Swedish insurance agency) and arbetsförmedlingen (Swedish state employment agency). State ownership can be preferable when it can, occasionally, give the workers and users in some companies more control and more power over their labour. It is on this basis we are opponents of privatisation. We believe in something beyond public or private, the common. What we own and use together beyond hierarchical structures.
The commons can mean the free sharing of culture on the Internet through, for example, file sharing. It can also mean the socialisation of property as in squatting, or expropriation of food from a company to instead give it to a collective. The common is nature and the land we live on, it can be parts of a company we use for what we need and that our bosses can’t control, or occupied parts of universities where we produce different kinds of knowledge.
The 365-movement is a movement of activists which frames their struggles in the specific question of the election to tie together every day struggles. We come from many different directions. We are antifascists and migration activists, we are feminist activists and have struggled outside of the unions in our workplaces, we have occupied our universities and we have created commons. The joker is our symbol as he is a fool – the person in the middle ages who could point out that the emperor was naked.
In the same way we are part of the game but don’t agree to the rules. We mean that the election is a time when many people become engaged politically and discuss politics. We believe that there are many who will be drawn to radical class struggle and the autonomous movement when they think about why life looks the way it does. That makes it important for us to struggle. Everyone who struggles in their everyday life is part of the 365-movement.
Our foremost action day is the 14th of September, the day after the election, that’s when the most important struggles begins – when all the politicians have packed their things together and abandoned the ‘people’ they say they represent.
We hope that everyone who see themselves part of us, and maybe even others, will take part in the action week 15-25th of may.
/365 activists in Lund, Sweden