Geneva Or Bust

AntiNote: Hafsa Sabr is a vital presence at the enormous, improvised, and barely survivable camp in Dunkirk, northern France. She has been instrumental both in coordinating with independent aid and solidarity organizations operating in the camp as well as in insurgent media work, filming conditions in camp and reporting day-to-day on activities and incidents there.

The following could be a model script for the dystopian road-trip movie of the future. Its hopeful, tragic anger not only fits the Antidote vibe, but it also reveals much about revered institutions and the real effects their often arbitrary decisions have on people. We have edited it lightly for clarity, and thank Hafsa for her kind permission to print it.

Geneva or Bust
23 January 2016
by Hafsa Sabr

We need to talk. Everyone asked us what we did in Switzerland. This is our answer.

One week ago we heard that the UN would make an urgent conference in Switzerland: A journalist from New York came with her team to film the miserable conditions in the camp. She also made interviews. Her video was supposed to be shown during the UN meeting!

At this moment we all thought that the UN could change the world, and would make huge decisions about the camps of Dunkirk and Calais.

On Tuesday morning we (Sarhang, Besh and I) prepared ourselves to go to Paris. We were in a hurry and positively excited, thinking about what we were going to say… Continue reading Geneva Or Bust

O Balkan Pioneers: Anatomy of an Escape Route

O Balkan Pioneers: Anatomy of an Escape Route

by Antidote’s Ed Sutton

Perhaps twenty years old, probably younger. Kabul, Afghanistan.

At the transit point in Adaševci, buses arrive in clusters from points further south in Serbia: the border camps of Preševo (on the Serbian-Macedonian border) and Dimitrovgrad (Serbian-Bulgarian), or from Belgrade. In Adaševci, there is a wait—sometimes several hours, sometimes half a day—for the arrival of a Croatia-bound train in the nearby city of Šid. When it comes, the buses deliver travelers to the train station there, from where they are taken to the Croatian border camp in Slavonski Brod.

During this wait, once the initial crush of arrival is over (travelers are often not let off the buses for the entire trip, even if the driver stops for a bathroom break himself; meanwhile volunteers meet the arriving buses immediately to distribute food and hygiene items and direct travelers to medical or internet services), everyone gets a little bored. Kids kick a football around on the asphalt: what was once a parking lot in front of what was once a roadside motel. People gather in clumps, smoke cigarettes and converse. They try to distract their babies from the strain of travel with song, laughter and dance. They drink cup after cup of blindingly sweet chai.

Q. noticed me chatting with a companion of his and approached cautiously with a couple other friends in tow. “You are speaking English,” he gently interrupts. “Do you have a phone my friend could use? To call his brother in France?” Continue reading O Balkan Pioneers: Anatomy of an Escape Route

You Can’t Have One Without the Other

AntiNote: Although it necessitates writing the first (and hopefully only) AntiNote accompanying an Antidote writer’s work, I (Ed) feel some obligation to break the fourth wall and confess to you that I wrote this essay several weeks ago, days before my own departure for Serbia. Two things prevented Antidote from publishing it at the time: first, of course, our collective’s work preparing and coordinating direct solidarity efforts on the Balkanroute put the Zine in sleep mode for a time; there are only so many hours in a day. But secondly, I was a little unsure of the argument itself.

Fortunately, my experiences over recent weeks in Serbia—and the ongoing exchange of experiences happening among comrades operating elsewhere on the route—have made me much more confident. In other, more journo-speaky words, I have been able to independently verify all of the assertions I made—naively, I thought—in December. Continue reading You Can’t Have One Without the Other

Exposing the Chicago Police’s Cover-Up Culture

Transcribed from the 5 December 2015 episode of This is Hell! Radio (Chicago) and printed with permission. Edited for space and readability. Listen to the whole interview:

Think if this were a routine homicide, meaning not involving the police, and you had multiple police and civilian witnesses; you had the videotape of the crime itself; you had, within less than 24 hours, the results of the autopsy, were there any doubt about the violence inflicted on the victim. They would indict within days.”

Chuck Mertz: If it were not for two journalists, to this day we would not know how Laquan McDonald died at the hands of a Chicago police officer. Right now I am very proud to welcome the journalist who was the first to see Laquan’s autopsy report, and the journalist who sued to have the police video released.

Welcome to This is Hell!, Jamie Kalven, and welcome, Brandon Smith.

Jamie Kalven: Good to be here.

Brandon Smith: Hey, I appreciate it.

CM: Brandon, let’s start with you. I just want to get your reaction to the front page of today’s Chicago Tribune. The headline says, “Video contradicts officer Van Dyke’s account, conflicts with dashcam recording of McDonald shooting.” It says that “new details that emerged from hundreds of pages of police reports released to the Tribune on Friday night show that additional police reports indicated that Van Dyke’s partner and two other officers also said that McDonald was advancing on the officers with a knife when Van Dyke opened fire. Two additional officers said McDonald was either turning toward police or threatening the officers when Van Dyke fired, according to the reports.”

So Brandon, my question to you is, how does this change the story? What does this do to the story? And more importantly, what do you think it says about the Rahm Emanuel administration when they don’t release these documents until late on a Friday night?

BS: I think the timing of the documents is more about when we filed our Freedom of Information request, and they basically complied with part of that as soon as they realized they were required to. That said, it certainly doesn’t look great for the Emanuel administration, because every officer on the scene seems to have given the story that officer Van Dyke was in the right and that the young man, Laquan McDonald, was basically being violent or threatening the officers. And of course we know that didn’t happen.

So my question is, why weren’t all these officers sought out and punished a long time ago? The video was in the possession of the prosecutor. Continue reading Exposing the Chicago Police’s Cover-Up Culture

We Will Find a Way: Politics and Praxis on the Balkanroute

AntiNote: the following is an interview that crimethInc’s Ex-Worker podcast included in their episode #43, Borders and Migration, Part I: Europe’s “Refugee Crisis”, released on 7 December 2015.

Alexandra is a comrade of the Antidote Writers Collective, we are proud to say, and has shared some very important and difficult thoughts with the Ex-Worker about her experiences on the Balkan route, from well before the precarious situation in the region was christened such. Her insights are for us especially crucial to sit with and consider as we prepare for our own participation in solidarity efforts “on the field.” As we imagine that our readers are motivated and engaged and either already working on the field, preparing a trip, or looking for ways to contribute from afar, we present these insights to you in the same spirit. Let us learn from her experiences and build on them.

The Ex-Worker publishes full transcripts in parallel to every audio episode they release. We present here only a tiny fraction (lightly edited for clarity) of the impressive document that is the transcript of episode #43. We encourage you to power through the whole thing, or (probably more enjoyable), listen to it.

Alanis: We wanted to hear from some radicals and anarchists directly involved in migrant solidarity struggles at the moment in Europe, so we put out some feelers. Many of the people we contacted were so busy with support work on the ground that we couldn’t set up interviews. But we did manage to catch up with a few folks who shared some valuable perspectives on what’s been going on with migrants in Europe and how anarchists have been responding.

We’ll now share a longer interview with Alexandra, an anarchist from Switzerland, who discusses her experience doing direct migrant solidarity work in Hungary and elsewhere, and her reflections on how her experiences on the ground confronted and sometimes conflicted with her anarchist visions.

The Ex-Worker: Alexandra, thanks for talking with us!

Alexandra: I’m happy to talk to you.

The Ex-Worker: You’ve spent some time in Röszke, Hungary, which has been one of the “hot spots” around conflict and solidarity with migrants in Europe recently. Can you talk a little bit about what you experienced there, why in particular these places have become so significant recently, and what kind of solidarity efforts are happening there?

Alexandra: I was with a group of people in Röszke in the middle of September—this is at the border between Serbia and Hungary. At the point when I was there, there was still an open space in the border where people could go through on the way to Western Europe, over Hungary.

What I think is important for context is that the situation is extremely volatile and chaotic at the moment in the Balkans, so the place where I was, Röszke, doesn’t exist anymore like it was then, because the border there is closed now. But other places, which are very similar but are just at a different spot on the map, have opened now. So just in case people would want to go and support the migrants, this place is basically not a hotspot anymore Continue reading We Will Find a Way: Politics and Praxis on the Balkanroute

Building Paradise in Hell

The following is an extended excerpt of a radio interview, edited for readability. Listen to the whole interview:

On 12 December 2015, Chuck Mertz of This is Hell! Radio (Chicago) and author Roy Scranton had a conversation that cast all our work—at the Antidote Writers Collective, sure, but on the revolutionary left more broadly—in a new light…without directly addressing ‘us’ or our ‘work’ at all. Scranton presents a re-thinking of the present context in which we are working which, if he is right (and we suspect he is), demands to be considered as we plan, organize, and act in all of our campaigns for human liberation and social, economic, and environmental justice.

The scenario Scranton describes, of climate-caused societal collapse, mass migrations and conflicts, and potential mass death, should not be understood as a possible future, though it is so tempting. It is a scenario unfolding right this minute, and its tangible effects—tangible even to structurally privileged populations—are being felt (or feared) more and more, by more and more people.

The question posed by the interview—how to die, or how to learn how to die, as a society—could be slightly rephrased as “How shall we prepare for our death?” Although this phrasing inaccurately regards the death of society as an event rather than a process, it is still worth considering because it contains the more propulsive question of “What, actually, shall we do? Continue reading Building Paradise in Hell

Die Fallen vermeiden, die uns gestellt werden. Und die Welt verändern, weil es nötig ist!

Unsere Belgischen GenossInnen sind im Zuge der Attentate von Paris und der Ausrufung der höchsten Terrorwarnstufe in Belgien mit einer Reihe von politischen und sozialen Folgen konfrontiert, deren Reichweite sich teilweise noch nicht vollständig abschätzen lässt. Klar scheint auf jeden Fall, dass die grausamen Morde von Paris und die Angst vor weiteren solchen Attentaten von allen jenen Kräften ausgenützt werden, die versuchen den sozialen Widerstand zu unterdrücken und eine rassistische Politik betreiben. Wie müssen sich linke Kräfte und soziale Bewegungen in einem Klima der Angst, der Sprache des Krieges und der Militarisierung des öffentlichen Lebens verhalten, welche Positionen müssen sie entwickeln?

Von Mauro Gasparini

Die LCR-SAP (Ligue Communiste Révolutionnaire) aus Belgien teilt das Entsetzen und die Betroffenheit über die schändlichen Attentate, die am 13. November 2015 in Paris verübt wurden. Sie drückt gegenüber den Opfern und ihren Angehörigen ihre Solidarität aus. Über diesen Horror ruft sie die sozialen Bewegungen und die antikapitalistische Linke dazu auf, nicht in die Fallen zu tappen, die nun gestellt werden. Diese reichen von dem Gerede einer Nationalen Einheit, über den Vorschlag einer „Gefechtspause“ des sozialen Widerstandes, bis hin zur erneuten Verschärfung der Sicherheitsbestimmungen. Mehr denn je gilt es, sich die Frage nach dem Ursprung dieser extremen Gewalt zu stellen. Und zu verstehen, dass der einzige Ausweg in der Einheit der unterdrückten Klassen und in der Fortsetzung des Kampfes für Gleichheit und gegen imperialistische Kriege, die Regierenden und die herrschenden Klassen besteht.

Die BewohnerInnen Westeuropas haben selten zuvor ein solches Entsetzen empfunden, wie es in gewissen Ländern mit autoritären Regimes und den dort herrschenden Kriegen, die dazu noch von unseren Regierungen beeinflusst werden, zum grässlichen Alltag gehört. Nach den Attentaten von Paris, den mörderischsten in Europa seit den Attentaten in Madrid 2004, wurde überall auf der Welt Solidarität mit den Opfern und ihren Angehörigen bekundet. Es ist wichtig, hierbei die besonders starken Solidaritätsbekundungen aus zahlreichen Teilen Syriens zu unterstreichen, diesem Land, welches vom Assad-Regime, von Daesh (Akronym der Organisation „Islamischer Staat“) und von den verschiedenen ausländischen Angriffen gepeinigt wird. So konnte man beispielsweise in Douma Mahnwachen sehen, die von der Regierung belagert wurden, aber auch Statements von lokalen Koordinationskomitees, von Aktivist*innen aus Kafranbel und etwa 50 Brigaden der Freien Syrischen Armee. Continue reading Die Fallen vermeiden, die uns gestellt werden. Und die Welt verändern, weil es nötig ist!

A tale of blind doctors and good illnesses


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