American Autumn

Brigades!

Unemployed youth of Europe, look around! What do you have to lose?
Unemployed youth of Europe, look around! What do you have to lose?

John Kolesidis / Reuters

Audio version read by George Atherton – Right-click to download

In 1936, the whole of Europe was confronted by one, extremely threatening enemy: totalitarian fascism.

Many countries were already lost, and more were destined to succumb. Italy had already been under the fascist heel for more than a decade, Portugal for exactly ten years, Germany had been conquered by the Nazis just three years before and countries like Britain were heavily flirting with the possibility of shifting towards similar types of regimes.

In that year, general Francisco Franco launched his attack against the Spanish Republic, quickly gaining the support of Italy and Germany and threatening to impose fascism on yet another European country. Although European civil society was facing the same enemy on numerous fronts, the choice of Spain as the ultimate battlefield became immediately apparent. Having identified one specific battle as the heart of a broader struggle, thousands of anti-fascist militants, who were powerless in their own countries, joined forces and traveled to Spain. On the wave of the Communist International, they named their joint effort the International Brigades.

The example of the Spanish Civil War is a reminder that, in certain historical moments, it is necessary to identify one shared battlefield, in which radical forces from all countries converge. Where could today’s anti-austerity, anti-capitalist, anti-totalitarian International Brigades focus their forces?

Some might say Greece, the first EU country to officially join the New Third World. Already equipped with hundreds of anarchist groups, countless social movements and organizations, Greece is certainly a good candidate for the place where all our struggles could converge. Others might say Italy, where a corrupt, plutocratic government is finally crumbling under the weight of the economic crisis, while student and migrant riots are growing by the day. Italy too has a strong, historic tradition of resistance struggle, together with a widespread anarchist culture, especially in the southern regions.

To this list, I would like to add the United Kingdom: the laboratory for tomorrow’s post-crisis Europe. The UK is a pacified, normalized, First-World country and I suggest we focus our energies here because if the totalitarian capitalist project succeeds in Britain, the rest of Europe will have a “functioning” model to follow. A defeat in the UK would be an extremely dangerous step towards a general defeat across the whole continent. For this reason, I believe that just like Spain in the 1930s, the United Kingdom should become the destination for the New International Brigades.

How can we imagine International Brigades to function today? I believe that rather than armed conflict, the practice of struggle today is that of “prefigurative politics,” in the sense of an immediate implementation of models of life that are already utopian. Partly because of the Schengen Agreement for free circulation within the EU and the availability of cheap transport, it is now possible to imagine internal migrations on a scale that were once inconceivable. Any young, unemployed person in any European country could quickly and cheaply move to the UK for an indefinite period of time. We could flood the UK with masses of radicals with little to lose and “a world to win.”

Considering that youth unemployment rates in most European countries are around 20%, the numbers we are talking about are truly astonishing. Once in the UK, this wave of political migrants – aka New International Brigades – could gather around countless local projects in every area of the country from the suburbs of London to Manchester, Liverpool and Brighton. Social centers would spring up in most cities and of a strong network of cooperation would be laid across the whole island. Furthermore, the encounter of like-minded activists for an extended period of time – well over the short-termed experiences of anti-summit contestations – would spark new strategies of struggle and life, the mixing of concepts, practices and solutions and the creation of a truly grassroots alternative to the current structures of economic and social life.

Unemployed youth of Europe, look around! What do you have to lose? A miserable life? Frustration? Powerlessness? Submission? We, the people of the United Kingdom, migrants and subjects of the Crown, need your help today! Come in the thousands and flood this land! Let us, together, experience liberated lives. We shall take them by surprise!

As Sun Tzu once said, “appear at points which the enemy must hasten to defend; march swiftly to places where you are not expected.”

Federico Campagna was born in the Italian Alps and is currently pursuing an MA in Cultural Studies at Goldsmiths University. A version of this tactical blast was originally published at th-rough.eu

140 comments on the article “Brigades!”

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Anonymous

One doesn’t need a PhD in finance to figure out who is sucking blood out of the American taxpayers. One just has to look at the latest report published by the US-based credit rating agency, Standard and Poor’s. The agency which had down-graded the US to A-minus a month ago – has raised Israel’s credit rating to A-plus.

http://rehmat1.wordpress.com/2011/09/17/economy-us-a-minus-israel-a-plus/

Anonymous

One doesn’t need a PhD in finance to figure out who is sucking blood out of the American taxpayers. One just has to look at the latest report published by the US-based credit rating agency, Standard and Poor’s. The agency which had down-graded the US to A-minus a month ago – has raised Israel’s credit rating to A-plus.

http://rehmat1.wordpress.com/2011/09/17/economy-us-a-minus-israel-a-plus/

I like your old...

Dear Editors, I remember when Adbusters appeared to maintain a rigorous policy that only permitted contributions of extremely well informed and/or rational thought. However well-meaning this article may ultimately be, it is also little more than a wide-eyed high school Social Science paper, and thus not what you really need to be publishing.

I like your old...

Dear Editors, I remember when Adbusters appeared to maintain a rigorous policy that only permitted contributions of extremely well informed and/or rational thought. However well-meaning this article may ultimately be, it is also little more than a wide-eyed high school Social Science paper, and thus not what you really need to be publishing.

Anonymous

"I believe that rather than armed conflict..." As this article features a picture of armed conflict. I see this all the time, the message and the language used aren't congruent. Using language about conflict, struggle, revolution, setting the context of the struggle in war imagery, then claiming yours is a peaceful struggle is hypocritical and leads to an undermining of your cause.

Dan from Brooklyn

Anonymous

"I believe that rather than armed conflict..." As this article features a picture of armed conflict. I see this all the time, the message and the language used aren't congruent. Using language about conflict, struggle, revolution, setting the context of the struggle in war imagery, then claiming yours is a peaceful struggle is hypocritical and leads to an undermining of your cause.

Dan from Brooklyn

Teo

I lived in the U.K. for several years in the late nineties, I participated in what back then seemed a truly revolutionary movement, Reclaim the Streets, and I was part of the squatting movement. Looking back I think sometimes that protest was just an excuse for phasing out and having fun. There was actually no vision of how to go beyond capitalism, just a desire to form a strong subculture within it. Maybe I dont do it justice, but comparing it to other experiences of protest and social struggle I have had since, that was the most inoffensive.
Nowadays I seriously doubt the capacity of well-off countries to actually breed social change. It probably has to do with the population (social movements included) that are too comfortable and have too many things to lose. I am sure the UK is different now than it was 10 years ago, and neoliberalism has made a huge attack on political and economic rights there as well. The recent riots are a proof of that. But in any country with a deep tradition of struggle, these spontaneous riots would very quickly acquire a political content. In the UK the social movements were caught by surprise and they sat there watching the youths without knowing how to react. It was extremely easy for the media/government to attribute the riots to the "greed" of the gangs, because noone was vocal enough in pointing out the political dimension of it.
Anyway, I am not writing this to criticise social movements in the UK, I just happen to disagree with the author about a new "International Brigade". While foreign people are always welcome, and they should by all means participate in social movements in their place of residence (I myself have lived most of my adult life abroad), my proposal is: "STAY WHERE YOU ARE, ORGANISE, RESIST THE POWER, CREATE NETWORKS, EXPERIMENT WITH NEW STRUCTURES IN ALL LEVELS: INTERPERSONAL, SOCIAL, POLITICAL, ECONOMIC. "
In my native Greece right now there is a steady flow of emigration towards "greener pastures" because of the unemployment, frustration and poverty that the IMF and its client governement have imposed on us. The social movements have an obligation to provide alternatives and make a change in the lives of people here and now. The struggle should be decentralised but connected, we don't need a Mecca of social struggle to direct our prayers to.

biotexnia.org

Teo

I lived in the U.K. for several years in the late nineties, I participated in what back then seemed a truly revolutionary movement, Reclaim the Streets, and I was part of the squatting movement. Looking back I think sometimes that protest was just an excuse for phasing out and having fun. There was actually no vision of how to go beyond capitalism, just a desire to form a strong subculture within it. Maybe I dont do it justice, but comparing it to other experiences of protest and social struggle I have had since, that was the most inoffensive.
Nowadays I seriously doubt the capacity of well-off countries to actually breed social change. It probably has to do with the population (social movements included) that are too comfortable and have too many things to lose. I am sure the UK is different now than it was 10 years ago, and neoliberalism has made a huge attack on political and economic rights there as well. The recent riots are a proof of that. But in any country with a deep tradition of struggle, these spontaneous riots would very quickly acquire a political content. In the UK the social movements were caught by surprise and they sat there watching the youths without knowing how to react. It was extremely easy for the media/government to attribute the riots to the "greed" of the gangs, because noone was vocal enough in pointing out the political dimension of it.
Anyway, I am not writing this to criticise social movements in the UK, I just happen to disagree with the author about a new "International Brigade". While foreign people are always welcome, and they should by all means participate in social movements in their place of residence (I myself have lived most of my adult life abroad), my proposal is: "STAY WHERE YOU ARE, ORGANISE, RESIST THE POWER, CREATE NETWORKS, EXPERIMENT WITH NEW STRUCTURES IN ALL LEVELS: INTERPERSONAL, SOCIAL, POLITICAL, ECONOMIC. "
In my native Greece right now there is a steady flow of emigration towards "greener pastures" because of the unemployment, frustration and poverty that the IMF and its client governement have imposed on us. The social movements have an obligation to provide alternatives and make a change in the lives of people here and now. The struggle should be decentralised but connected, we don't need a Mecca of social struggle to direct our prayers to.

biotexnia.org

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