The danger in supporting Belgicistic nationalism is bigger than many people in and outside of Belgium think it is.
Ultranationalism of this kind was present in the once electorally very succesful Rexist movement. In the thirties, the party Rex could easily get ten or twenty percent of the votes in Belgium. It was a time when more and more people started to embrace very dubious forms of nationalism, also Social-democratic leaders like the Belgian Hendrik de Man (who began to sympathize with Nazism) and Bolsjevist leaders like Joseph Stalin.
Rexism was a fascist movement in the first half of the twentieth century in Belgium. The Rexist Party (Parti Rexiste), officially called Christus Rex, was founded by Léon Degrelle (picture). The name was derived from the Roman Catholic social teachings concerning Christus Rex, and it was also the title of a conservative Catholic journal led by Degrelle. Rexism was mostly about Belgicistic ultranationalism.
Early Rexism called for the “moral renewal” of Belgian society in large conformity with the teachings of the Church and other ultra-right parties, by forming a corporatist society and abolishing parlementiary democracy. Rexism soon began to ally itself with the interests of Nazi Germany.
Democratic Alternative For Oslo now has the possibility to run candidates in the upcoming municipal elections. But what is the purpose of the electoral campaign?
Anett Andreassen : "First and foremost: It’s about spreading our ideas, getting people to think about their role in politics and mobilize people to participate more active. It may sound strange for some but our main goal is to let people create politics themselves."
More about the organization Anett is active in , you can find here (in English).
There will be bands performing from Germany, the UK, Italy, Hungary, and a surprise band.
Libertaerer kommunalismus: www.anarchismus.at/texte-anarchismus/libertaerer-kommunalismus
You can also read works of social ecology in German. Here are some books...
Triskel is the paganist shop of the 64-year old Wim Verreycken. He has been one of the most known politicians of the Far Right in Belgium for many years.
Verreycken sells propaganda, Celtic and Germanic inspired jewelry, leather articles, swords, mystical postcards, etcetera. The shop is in the heart of the city of Antwerp.
People of the ultra-right have often tried to justify a nationalism that is mystical.
In the New Age milieu of today, the ultra-right may well find the mystical component it needs to make a truly updated, modernized authoritarian nationalism.
It is said that alternative people sometimes go to the Triskel shop and buy things there without knowing the background of the shop. Antirational cults of the New Age -- primitivistic, esoteric -- abound in the West of today. Such antirationalism and mysticism are appealed to by the 'New' Right. It wants to redefine social norms so that rational doubt is regarded as decadent and therefore eliminated.
The original Bootboys group was founded in the late eighties by Ole Krogstad. He had been convicted before that occured to ten months imprisonment. He was arrested after a bomb attack on a Muslim mosque in 1985. One of the most serious incidents with the Bootboys occurred eight years later, when Krogstad, together with several other Nazis attacked the anarchist youth house Blitz, hurling fire bombs at the building, and firing shots with a sawn-off shotgun when the youngsters inside the house tried to extinguish the fire.
Blitz has been a busy autonomist liberty space/social center in Oslo with a vegetarian cafe, newspaper, radio station, library/bookstore/record store, and meeting/hang out/band space. Just before it was attacked by the Bootboys, antifascists had “spontaneously” broken into the radio offices of fascists and smashed the place. It took the fascist radiostation Nite Rocket 3 hours to get back on the air.
A few days later Blitz was attacked by 25 boneheads, with molotov-cocktails. The Nazis fired four rounds from a shotgun through the windows. Nobody was hurt. The house was defended by people on guard inside the Blitz. It was clear that it was a revenge action after the attack on the fascist radiostation. Radio Nite Rocket (which was on air 8 hours per night) was sending threats on air to Blitz in the hours before the attack. And the bonehead leader Ole Krogstad was a guest in the studio. The fascists also used the radio offices to gather before they attacked Blitz.
La plume noire is a bookshop, info- and action center of anarchists in Lyon. It was established in 1989. Eight years later, an act of arson was committed there (probably by fascists), which destroyed a part of the bookshop. To try and destroy bookshops of the Left, by putting fire to it, regularly happens in Europe.
You can also find a good introduction to libertarian municipalism in a translated version of a book that Janet Biehl wrote, and there is a book of Chaia Heller that has been translated in French.
Or you can read some texts online...
Textes de Vincent Gerber:
L'écologie sociale, ou l'utopie réalisable d'une société écologique
Apprendre à decider
Entretien avec Murray Bookchin par Janet Biehl (1996)
One of the most known folkbands in Belgium is Urban Trad. At the end of 2002, there was a small misunderstanding in this group. The leading vocalist, Soetkin Collier (picture), was accused of being in connection with ultra-Right Flemish groups, although this was mostly a thing of the past, when she was still singing in the (nowadays much into ecofolk) band Laïs. Still, Collier kept connections with her very nationalist parents. Collier could not perform at the very prestigious Eurovision Contest. Therefore, Urban Trad acted with another female vocalist who was born in Spain. The group became second in the Song Contest, representing “the French-speaking community” in Belgium.
The most known national-anarchist group is based in Great Britain. Le Cercle de la rose noire is a United Kingdom-based national-anarchist group.
The president of Le Cercle de la rose noire is the musician Troy Southgate and its web presence is the online journal Synthesis. According to Wikipedia, Southgate and other national-anarchists “have been on the editorial board of the journal Alternative Green for three issues”.
Alternative Green is (unfortunately) often called a Green Anarchist journal, and is much connected to the writings of the neo-primitivist Richard Hunt, who has also worked together with people of the 'New' Right in Belgium. In Belgium, the ideas of Hunt have inspired the people of the “neither Left nor Right” journal Vrijbuiter, in which national-anarchism has been embraced a lot. The group of Vrijbuiter is much into ecofolk, and very active near the city of Antwerp to preserve the village Doel from disappearing (a disappearance planned in the near future, due to the expansion of the Antwerp harbor).
According to Wikipedia, Hunt is “the editor of various environmentalist magazines, such as Green Anarchist and Alternative Green. He was widely criticised in the anarchist community for his support of nationalism, and consequent support of the 1991 Gulf War in Iraq, leading to him setting up his own Alternative Green magazine. Hunt has contributed to The English Alternative, the journal of Troy Southgate's National Revolutionary Faction.”
Synthesis is an irregularly-published “intellectual and cultural journal devoted to Anarchy”, "the appreciation and understanding of the Esoteric nature of Life and Culture”, and anti-humanism.
Its aim mainly is to explore key figures of the Right, such as Ernst Juenger or Julius Evola, but it also wants to explore key figures of the Left (like Mikhail Bakunin and Sergei Nechayev) or the neither Left nor Right (like Friedrich Nietzsche).
One of the worst nationalist groups in Belgium is called Nation. The members of it sometimes work together with Flemish Nazis, ecofascists and other members of the far Right. They generally are explicitly opposed to globalisation and the Nato. The Belgian identity is very important for them.
The symbol of the Front National de Belgique : flames in the national colours of Belgium
Hanif Lakdawala (2005):
Muslim groups generally think that the only sort of communalism that has to be fought is Hindu communalism, but this is wrong since Muslim communalism is also a threat. In fact, it is more of a threat to Muslims themselves than to others. We should stop this habit that we have of blaming others alone for our plight and do some serious introspection and admit that we, too, have had our share of responsibility for the communal problem. Hindu and Muslim communalism, as I said, feed on each other, so both need to be combated. Hence, intra-Muslim dialogue on the issue of Muslim communalism is very necessary. There is an urgent need for internal reforms and democratisation within the Muslim community, be it on the issue of leadership, women or the poor. We need progressive interpretations of the Quran on issues such as women or inter-community and inter-faith relations.
ZNet will be positive about anarchism though, it will never point to the danger of national-anarchism for example. And it wil not easily criticize anarcho-syndicalism or other forms of anarchism. But ofcourse, it doesn't like individualistic anarchism or anarcho-capitalism very much.
“In the past decade Belgian scholar Koenraad Elst has emerged as the most prominent advocate of Sangh Parivar in the West. His vociferous defence of the Hindu right is equally matched by his rabid attacks on Islam.”
Koenraad Elst is one of the most important ideologues of the 'New' Right in Europe. He has often been accused of islamophobic writings, and his writings have formed an important inspiration for the, in the north of Belgium, electorally very successful far Right.
Elst, according to Wikipedia, lives near Antwerp. In the city of Antwerp the far Right sometimes obtains more than one third of the votes. Elst has graduated in Philosophy, Chinese Studies and Indo-Iranian Studies at the Catholic University of Leuven.
During a stay at the Benares Hindu University, he (in his own words) “discovered” India's “communal problem” and wrote his first book about “the budding Ayodhya conflict”. While establishing himself as a columnist for a number of Belgian and Indian papers, he frequently returned to India to study “various aspects of its ethno-religio-political configuration” and interviewed Hindu and other leaders and thinkers. His research on the ideological developments within “Hindu revivalism” earned him his Ph.D. in the Belgian university city of Leuven in 1998.
Elst has also edited a book on Sita Ram Goel, a writer who passed away at his residence in Delhi at the end of 2003. He often courted the label of “Hindu communalist”. Koenraad Elst, the ardent supporter of paganism then invited eighteen contributors to write on Goel and what he stood for. Some of the contributions were testimonial or biographical, but others dealt with the ideological controversies that Goel initiated and thrived on.
India's Only Communalist : In Commemoration of Sita Ram Goel/edited by Koenraad Elst. New Delhi, Voice of India, 2005, vii, 353 p., $25. ISBN 81-85990-78-6.
The title of this book was a tongue-in-the-cheek response to the fact that Goel called himself a communalist. According to Elst, Goel was one of India's most important thinkers in the post-independence era. “His writings are central to the recent Hindu awakening in the country that is now growing rapidly to world prominence. While his Guru and colleague, Ram Swarup, laid the spiritual and philosophical basis for the movement, the detailed analysis and in-depth articulation was supplied by Mr. Goel. The current generation of Hindu writers owes a lot to him for charting a clear course for them to follow. As this movement develops, his work is bound to become yet more significant.” (Koenraad Elst, 2005)
According to Elst the man “sometimes made his task of gaining support for his views unnecessarily difficult by his way of expressing dissent, e.g. by openly courting the label 'Hindu Communalist', which clashed with some people's excessive sensitivity to his candid language. Happily, there are now winds of change and the ideas he propounded are proving their worth. It is time that the people of India, the media in particular, gave him his due.”
The book that Elst edited was in Goel's honour. Elst, 2005 : “It contains 18 contributions written independently of one another. Some are purely testimonial or biographical, others set out to continue his work by taking on historical or ideological controversies.”
Ecology is warped for mystical-nationalist ends by a whole series of neofascist groups and parties. Indeed, so multifarious are the ecofascist parties that have arisen, and so much do their memberships overlap, that they form what antifascist researcher Volkmar Wölk calls an "ecofascist network." Their programmatic literature often combines ecology and nationalism in ways that are designed to appeal to people who do not consider themselves fascists, while at the same time they ideologically support neo-Nazi street-fighting skinheads who commit acts of violence against foreigners.
If you do not know much about ecofascism, read this book from Janet Biehl and Peter Staudenmaier about it. It was published by AK Press in 1995.
One of the worst Flemish nationalist groups is Groen Rechts (Green Right). They like advocating animal rights, are inspired by deep ecologists, a neo-primitivist called Richard Hunt and Nazism, and they have a militant group that likes to go to demonstrations of the Far Right. Their main symbol is the celtic cross.
Let's face it: There is a major dispute in the ecology and Green movements, today. It is a dispute between social ecology and "deep ecology" -- the first, a body of ideas that asks that we deal with human beings primarily as social beings who differ profoundly as to their status as poor and rich, women and men, black and white, gays and "straights," oppressed and oppressor; the second, that sees human beings as a mere "species" -- as mammals and, to some people like the "Earth First!" leaders, as "vicious" creatures -- who are subject almost entirely to the "forces of nature" and are essentially interchangeable with lemmings, grizzly bears (a favorite species!), or, for that matter, with insects, bacteria, and viruses.
"Earth First!" means exactly what it says and what "deep ecology" implies -- the "earth" comes before people, indeed, people (to the periodical's editor, David Foreman) are superfluous, perhaps even harmful, and certainly dispensable. "Natural law" tends to supplant social factors. Thus: is there a famine in Ethiopia? If so, argues Foreman to an admiring Devall in a notorious interview, nature should be permitted to "take its course" and the Ethiopian should be left to starve. Are Latins (and, one may add, Indians) crossing the Rio Grande? Then they should be stopped or removed, contends Foreman, because they are burdening "our" resources.
I wish to propose that the democratic and potentially practicable dimension of the libertarian goal be expressed as Communalism, a term that, unlike political terms that once stood unequivocally for radical social change, has not been historically sullied by abuse. Even ordinary dictionary definitions of Communalism, I submit, capture to a great degree the vision of a "Commune of communes" that is being lost by current Anglo-American trends that celebrate anarchy variously as "chaos," as a mystical "oneness" with "nature," as self-fulfillment or as "ecstasy," but above all as personalistic.
In his political isolation he had recourse to "the men and women of political movements with which he could still sympathize, those of the far-out left, who on their own chosen terrain were often as lonely as he was." Other French avant-garde artists had, around that time, also broken with authoritarian communism, like André Breton and some other surrealists.
Surrealists like Breton and Benjamin Péret had become members of the libertarian Left, while another surrealist called Salvador Dali wasn't supporting the anti-authoritarian movement at all. Péret had even fought as an anarchist in the Spanish civil war. French anti-authoritarian singers like Georges Brassens and Léo Ferré have also become well-known, certainly in the sixties and seventies. Today, radical artists in France get little attention. Some members of the libertarian Left in France recieve a lot of media attention, like the activist and farmer José Bové or the philosopher Michel Onfray, but their political views aren't always coherent.
Belgium became a federal state in the 1970s – which was the reformist wish of many Flemish nationalists. Flemish nationalists often advocate the independence of their region Flanders, certainly those of the far Right. But Belgicistic nationalists advocate the unity between all language groups in Belgium, sometimes even the knowledge of all official languages (Dutch, French, German), and they often reject internationalism just like all other nationalists in Belgium.
The Belgian National Front (a sometimes electorally successful extreme-right party of the French-speaking part) and other politicians of the Right are more belgicistic than the politicians of the Left in the French-speaking part of Belgium (this region is called the Walloon Community). Some people of the flawed Left have embraced Walloon nationalism, which has historically been led by self-styled socialist trade unions, while Catholic trade unions have formed a part of the Flemish nationalist movement.
About the latest elections in Belgium... The 10 June poll made the Francophone right-wing liberal MR the largest statecraft party in the French-speaking part of Belgium, while Yves Leterme's nationalist “Christian democrats” were victorious in Flanders. For the first time the MR overtook the Francophone Social-democrats. The talks about forming a new coalition soon started. And five weeks ago, Albert, king of Belgium, appointed Leterme as "formateur" and asked him to put together a new coalition, a “federal government” for the whole of Belgium. At first, talks made progress on the budget and nuclear energy (the existence of nuclear power stations in Belgium would be more supported again), but community issues and Flemish demands for institutional reform cast a long shadow over the talks. Yves Leterme has now been obliged to terminate his mission. It could take a long time before a new federal government arises. The Flemish nationalists are benefiting of this small crisis, many of them really want to split up Belgium now.
The forms of nationalism in Belgium have marginalized the internationalist part of the Left. While the libertarian Left in Belgium is suffering difficulties, like organization problems, the Greens and Communists are not always interested in authentic internationalism. Greens think it's not reformist or realistic enough, while authoritarian Marxists embrace many third-world-nationalisms.
Because of certain "disagreements" with city-hall, Demokratisk Alternativ for Oslo had to collect more signature than necessary to participate in the elections. In March-May we collected close to 1000 signatures, and spread our message face-to-face to more than double that amount of people.
The people of Demalt in Oslo organize open meetings, participate in some debates and hand out leaflets/programs at events on squares and in the streets of Oslo. This is the first electoral campaign of Demokratisk Alternativ in Scandinavia.
Ageism can be defined as any attitude, action, or institutional structure which subordinates a person or group because of age, or any discriminating assignment of roles in society on the basis of age or looks because of age. Ageism reflects prejudices in society against older adults or young people. It can also refer to the tendency of young people being dominated by the elder. All of this includes the discrimination in commercial functions and cultural settings where the often supposed greater vitality and/or physical beauty of youth is more appreciated than the sometimes supposed greater moral and/or intellectual rigor of old age.
Have you ever heard of an independent media center (imc) that gives little attention to libertarian socialism, although Noam Chomsky has much inspired some of the people who have been working for it? Do you know of an indymedia that wants to professionalize indymedia-activism and likes Hugo Chavez? Have you ever heard about an imc that often dislikes open publishing when it's about Stalin, Lenin, Mao or Fidel Castro? Do you know the "independendent media center" that is close to an authoritarian communist party in Belgium, and has not much criticized regimes like those of China, North Korea and Iran?
It's indymedia minus, better known as indymedia.be!
Leftist theories, whether it is anarchist syndicalism, socialism, or left libertarian socialism, tend to see production and the production process and economics as the central human activity, through which one mobilizes society and social change. Social Ecology really takes a different approach and sees human beings not primarily as working animals, but primarily as what Aristotle called "political animals", conscious animals. Animals that actually have the ability to think and talk and speak with compassion and reason with one another. Like every aspect of society economics would be put into the hands of the citizens in the general assembly. The municipalized economics or directly democratic economics means simply that economics would be the stuff of every day civic life of citizens. The citizens themselves in their general assembly would convene with other citizens and consider carefully what are the needs and desires of their community, and take that into consideration with considering the needs and desires of other communities, with which they are confederated. That means in a very concrete way, that economics is not in the hands of the worker or the factory, but in the hands of the everyday citizen.
A painting made by Chaia...
La Commune (Paris, 1871) is a 2000 historical drama film directed by Peter Watkins about the Paris Commune. It is a historical re-enactment in the style of a documentary, and was shot in just 13 days in an abandoned factory on the outskirts of Paris. The large cast is mainly non-professional, including many immigrants from North Africa, and they did much of their own research for the project. As Watkins says, "The Paris Commune has always been severely marginalized by the French education system, despite - or perhaps because - it is a key event in the history of the European working class, and when we first met, most of the cast admitted that they knew little or nothing about the subject. It was very important that the people become directly involved in our research on the Paris Commune, thereby gaining an experiential process in analyzing those aspects of the current French system which are failing in their responsibility to provide citizens with a truly democratic and participatory process." Like many of Watkins' later films, it is quite lengthy - a long cut runs 5 hours and 45 minutes, though the more common version is 3 and a half hours long.
Eurodusnie (Leiden, the Netherlands) will be showing the lengthy film La Commune at the 8th and 9th of september.
A text from Philippe Lafosse : Peter Watkins verfilmt de Commune van Parijs.
This winter, the Oslo group has started the collecting of signatures, and initiated its campaign in the city. Visiting members from Sweden were helping out, the libertarian socialist rock group "Kolokol" used its loud-speakers to announce the initiation of the campaign, and a dinner was organized where Eirik Eiglad discussed Communalism and Anarchism, with a focus on participation in municipal elections. Sveinung Legard and others spent their time in the streets of Norway's capital, collecting signatures for being allowed to participate in the elections of september. The amount of signatures needed to participate was 300, and after four weeks they had already collected more than 500. Legard declared : “Over all, citizens in Oslo seem positive for a new initiative calling for citizen power in the municipality. Now, Demokratisk Alternativ for Oslo will start developing it's program.”
The third of september, the group will have an open meeting to present this program for Oslo. Almost 90 000 persons with immigrant background are eligible to vote in the local elections in Oslo this autumn. Persons with immigrant background comprise 20 percent of the electorate there. The municipalities in Norway are responsible for day care facilities, child welfare, primary and lower secondary schools, public libraries, primary health care, harbours, municipal roads, water supply, sewerage, garbage collection and disposal, housing,...
Fatih Akin's musical documentary in which Alexander Hacke, Bassist of the German Avantgarde-Rock Band "Einstürzende Neubauten", travels to Istanbul, Turkey, in order to sample the sound of the city.
Next friday : open air screening of this film in Antwerp for free, by the river in the city center.
Ashanti Alston Omowali is an anarchist activist, speaker, and writer, and former member of the Black Panther Party. He was also a member of the Black Liberation Army, and spent more than a decade in prison after government forces captured him (and the official court system convicted him) of armed robbery.
Ashanti is a former northeast coordinator for Critical Resistance, currently co-chair of the National Jericho Movement (to free U.S. political prisoners), a member of pro-Zapatista people-of-color U.S.-based Estación Libre, and is on the board of the Institute for Anarchist Studies.
Marie Trigona :
Argentina’s worker occupied factory movement is rallying across the country for a national expropriation law in the face of eviction orders and legal uncertainty. At the forefront of the worker recuperated enterprise movement is the BAUEN Hotel, just one of the 180 worker-run businesses up and running in Argentina.
After four years of successful worker management, a federal court issued a 30 day eviction notice to the workers of the hotel on July 20. If the workers do not successfully block the eviction order legally or through political actions the hotel could be lost and 154 workers out of a job.
A network of worker run factories and worker organizations are mobilizing not only against the possible eviction of the cooperative from the BAUEN Hotel, but also for a long-term legal solution for the 10,000 workers currently employed at Argentina’s recovered factories and businesses. At worker assemblies and rallies, hundreds of workers without bosses are using the slogan: si tocan a uno, nos tocan a todos! (if they touch one of us, they touch all of us!)
The BAUEN hasn’t only just shown that workers can efficiently manage hotel services, but have also demonstrated creativity in opening this space to the cultural and social movements in the city. On a local level, BAUEN Hotel has become a prime example of coalition building and development of a broad mutual support network. In the midst of legal struggles and successfully running a prominent hotel, the cooperative's members haven't forgotten their roots. The 19-story worker run hotel has become a political center for movement organizing.
The eviction order came as the BAUEN cooperative was spearheading a Federation of Self-Managed Worker Cooperatives (FACTA) for worker-run businesses to strategize how to overcome market challenges collectively. “It’s difficult for a cooperative to become viable, without capital resources and state subsidies,” said Fabio Resino, a legal advisor at the BAUEN Hotel. According to Resino, the 30 cooperatives in this federation are building a productive network for the commercialization of self-managed produced goods to at least have a chance to survive in a dog-eat-dog market.
After a lull in the publishing of the review, in September 2003, Freedom Press announced that it would no longer be publishing The Raven. The Press cited both a review of costs (in a letter to Raven subscribers) and changes in the direction and content of the Freedom newspaper.
The Raven, the theoretical and discussion journal from Freedom Press, often had good essays from people like Colin Ward, George Woodcock, Brian Morris, Vernon Richards and others. It also included reviews, debates, etcetera. The changing climate in Great Britain made it difficult for The Raven to survive. Politicians like Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair widened the gap in income between the rich and the poor. Education institutions and large media were really bad too. And anarchism became more and more a lifestyle in the UK, much connected to a badly informed direct action scene and punk music.
AK Press offers some old issues of it.
The group squatted a building in the summer of 2002, which was its most important direct action. It wanted to use the formerly empty building as an information center for the libertarian left, combined with free access to a computer and internet workplace. And there were people's kitchens where organic, healthy food and drinks were served. I remember also the performance of the Belgian band Traktor there, a band that has much inspired the alternative music scene in Belgium.
Before that, it had done much to get indymedia and other alternative or radical media projects known in Belgium. The name was inspired by periodicals like the British The Raven or the Dutch De Raaf (also a left libertarian journal). The squat was soon evicted, so not many of the plans were realised. But before that, it had been empty for more than four years and after the squatting had taken place, the building was immediately used by its owners to start doing things there.
Raaf was one of the most interesting groups in the history of Antwerp, many talented people were in it. And many of my friends have been a member of it.