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Keep the Fire Burning! Contribution Through Collaboration- Some Post Food Democracy Event Thoughts

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Last week we finished the official part of the second Memefest/QCA extradisciplinary seminar/workshop/direct action here at the Queensland College of Art in Brisbane. The theme was Food Democracy, and we wanted to explore it in relation to local Brisbane. We worked together with the wonderful and inspirational people of the Brisbane Aboriginal Sovereign Embassy in order to strengthen the food program of the Embassy. The food program is centered around food distribution to families in need. We were looking at possibilities to widen the operation and to address the problems of Food Democracy in relation to the operations of the Embassy. This was highly ambitious. The complexity of the issues and the scope of the problems are immense.

Have a look at the event program here: http://tinyurl.com/kxch8pz

There is a lot to say and a more serious analysis will follow later and will than also be published in our Food Democracy book next year as part of our Intervention book series.

What happened was extraordinary. In short- more than 45 participants were involved during the process and worked very hard for 8 days- unpaid, outside of the official curriculum, within the formal environment of the University, for activist purposes. All here in Brisbane. Socially responsive communication, extradisciplinary investigation, direct action. Local, interstate an International participants- students, academics, activists and professionals. Two and a half days of intensive conference, than workshop model, than public intervention. And what matters, a high level of genuine collaboration among participants was established. And we sat around the sacred fire.

Now, with things like this- talking about outcomes is a tricky thing. The most obvious outcome that people are usually are interested in are material outcomes, results if you like. So here in short about them:

We developed several poster campaigns, with seven posters all together. Some to critique the existing food system, some to build awareness about the Embassy and it's activities, the sacred fire and some to connect the Embassy, based in Musgrave park, with its immediate neighborhoods.

We created three online platforms, including a platform free of direct corporate and government control that uses a special mobile phone knowledge sharing tool. This platform is now ready to go and training sessions will be started in the coming days. But it is easy to use, so actually in most of the cases the manual that is on the web site should be enough. Have a look at it here, download ojoVoz and get involved:

http://sautiyawakulima.net/base/base.php

Various communication strategies, a sticker and zine campaign. Also an online viral video was produced- have a look at it here and share it:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5tCdGv4KbD4

And we did a direct action in a supermarket. Kangaroo meat was bought at Coles supermarket, cooked in Musgrave park, neatly arranged and given as a free gift to consumers coming straight out of Coles- with bags full of food in their hands. Creating a temporary autonomous zone, creating a situation where food was not a commodity. A free gift from the Aboriginal Embassy to non Aboriginal people? Food is a fundamental human right and everyone should be entitled to free and healthy food? And the conversations started...with an invitation to the Sovereign BBQ in Musgrave Park.

You can listen to a part of the conversation we had when we were planning the project here:

http://sautiyawakulima.net/memefest/permalink.php?id=78

A photo journalistic project was created, showing another side of the Embassy, one that is not visible due to the biased media representations.

Another zine project is being developed and is planed to be ready in January and distributed via the Embassy's food distribution network. Two online platforms will be ready end of the month.

Now, this is mostly just descriptions without giving you much context, background and strategies. Also, this are only partly the outcomes as the whole event is a social medium and it can't be reduced to it's material outcomes.

While many of the projects were finished in the course of the event, some of us are still working on the projects that are bigger and will take time to unfold in their full potential. Not only that, participants have organized to help fundraising as well as also volunteering for the food distribution and we will continue to work further with the Embassy on several levels. Keep the fire burning!

What is also good is that we were able to document formal and informal situations of the event process with photo and sound media and have also created a special internal online archive platform that will serve for research purposes on how to develop such events - as social media for pedagogy, research and socially responsive public communication further. Evaluation of this will of course take time.

Here two things we would like to share with you now.

Among other things at the event a manifesto for Aboriginal Sovereignty, for all Australian first nation people was presented on the conference. The document is now being discussed nationwide. Here you an hear the impressive young Phil Winzer reading the manifesto:

http://sautiyawakulima.net/memefest/permalink.php?id=45

Also, listen to Aunty Karen here as she talks about the Food Program and the Aboriginal community: http://sautiyawakulima.net/base/permalink.php?id=3

It was fascinating, inspiring and incredibly enriching to learn about the Aboriginal struggle lead by the Embassy and it is fantastic that we could create this collaboration. The more I think about the event the more I become aware that in the moments of genuine, true collaboration magic happened.

How sad that so many times activists and more critically minded academics and professionals can't really collaborate with each other, and in the end remain in the straightjacket of their own interests - many times with a radical/critical/intellectual image that shows a different appearance though. I can see that everyday.

Some of the participants said that this was a life changing experience. Many of us felt that this event showed what academia should be and that this is why we went to work at the university and became academics in the first place. I personally wish more of such open spaces would exist. But what we did goes beyond academia, of course, and this is the key strategy. Connecting academia with different cultures of knowledge production and with marginal, counter cultural positions as a research method, as pedagogy, institutional critique and direct action.

Here one more thing, actually two:

The BASE meetings are every Wednesday at 18h in Musgrave Park. All are welcome. Volunteers for the food program needed, so get involved. Next, the Brisbane Aboriginal Sovereign Embassy needs our donations. The money will go directly to their food program. 10 AUD bi- weekly donation helps already a lot and you probably wont really notice it.


Each week the BASE Community Food program is providing food parcels to between 50 to 70 families across Brisbane - in Acacia Ridge, Inala, Stafford, Ipswich and more. The program is working on creating a stable income to continue and expand this work. We are looking for 60 of our supporters who can contribute $10/fortnight - this will enable us to expand the program significantly. The primary cost of running the program is the food we collect from the Foodbank - but it is here that your contribution can go a very long way. A $10 contribution can cover the cost of 20 boxes of cereal or 50 bags of rice or 50 canned meals or 10 boxes of sausages....the list goes on, but basically we can make $10 go a very long way!

BASE Community Food Program
Bank: NAB
BSB: 084-447
Account: 156724064
Please include name as reference

Here is the email address, if you want to get involved: basefoodprogram@gmail.com

Thanks to all the participants, the Embassy, and members of the Memefest Kolektiv, for making this happen. We did it! Thanks also to QCA for hosting the event. See you at the fire in Musgrave part, every Wednesday at 18h!

Participants and collaborators of the event:

Recipients of the Memefest/QCA Award for Imaginative Critical Intervention:

Eugenio Tiselli, Miha Mazzini, Marko Plahuta, Mariano Mussi and Mohammad Naser

Other Participants:

Nancy Stilianos
Tania Olszewski
Oscar Waugh
Kelsey Hutchinson
Sophie van der Drift
Thomas Roohan
Cherie Davis
Adrian Doidge
Shaun Cruickshank
Melanie Gupta
Ani Dorante
Pen Donovan
Dru Handebo
Brett Weekes
Belinda Li
Cory Wright
Alban Vinevel
Denise Schilk
Tyler Zebra
Dylan Leak
Bill Platz
Ilewellyn Millhoue
Michell Gunther
Susan Ostling
Khamhou Phanludeth
Hui-Wen Cheng
Carley Jane Steel
Hamish Chitts
KC Newnam
Sam Burch
Tristan Stonhill
Russell Fuller
George Petelin
Oliver Vodeb
Ben Mangan
Manfred Huber
Jason Grant
Alan Hill
Zala Volcic
Mark Andrejevic
Robert Perkin
Bianca Beetson
Phil Winzer










Keep the Fire Burning! Memefest/QCA Food Democracy Brisbane Seminar/Workshop/Direct Action

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We are excited to announce this year’s special Memefest /QCA workshop. A few more days to go and we will meet in Brisbane. Bellow you can find information regarding the event and the program.

GOALS: The workshop/seminar aims to research FOOD DEMOCRACY in relation to current Brisbane. The whole event will focus on the Brisbane Aboriginal Sovereign Embassy and its radical food program. We will work together with BASE members to create a process that will help us to understand possibilities for imaginative critical direct action. Communication tools, strategies and tactics will be developed and used - as reality resists knowledge, direct action is necessary.

Our goal is also to contribute to the development of a local scene engaged in critical theory and practice, reflecting public effects of communication/design, art and education, connecting the university's potentials with bold non-institutionalised counter cultures and initiatives.

What follows bellow is the program of the event, and bellow some resources for you to check before the event.

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The Event takes place at the Queensland College of Art. Building: Webb Centre: Level 4 (Design Department) Rooms 4.35 and 4.36
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MONDAY Nov 4

10.00 Registration & Welcome to Country

10.30 Introductions of participants

10.50 Sam Burch-UQ Lecture: "Time for Sovereignty: First Nations Rights and Food Democracy."

11.30 Radical research methodologies panel discussion- facilitated by Dr Oliver Vodeb-Memefest/QCA: Dr Zala Volcic- UQ, Dr George Petelin- QCA, Jason Grant-Jordan Mcguire: Inkahoots -Ben Mangan: Inkahoots/Memefest/Uni Ballarat)

12.30 Lunch

1.30 A look in to last years Memefest Brisbane workshop/intervention:Dr George Petelin and Dr Oliver Vodeb

2.00 Dr Bil Platz Lecture-QCA: Zombie culture in protest and activism

2.45 Dr George Petelin Lecture: Problems with Food: Production, Distribution, Mediation, Consumption

3.30 Excursion to Voice and Reason, with a tour of the exhibition conducted by curators at the Queensland Art Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA).

*The exhibition highlights contrasting voices and draws attention to the reasoning, knowledge and experience behind the work of Indigenous artists, some in dialogue with works by non-Indigenous artists.

5.00 Group discussions outside of GOMA

6.30 Design Exhibition at QCA


TUESDAY Nov 5


Recipients of the Memefest/QCA 2013 Award for Imaginative Critical Intervention presentations

10.00 Mohammad Naser (Bangladesh)
10.30 Dr Miha Mazzini and Marko Plahuta (Slovenija)
11.00 Mariano Mussi (Argentina)

11.30 Robert Perkin- Food Connect, Lecture: 'The democracy principle, getting real!’

12.15 Break

12.30 Lecture/Presentation Aboriginal Culture, the Sovereign Embassy & Food Distribution: Wayne Wharton, Karen Fusi

13.30 Lunch

14.00 Dr Mark Andrejevic- UQ, Lecture "Curtailing Surveillance: Ag-Gag Laws and Activism"

14.45 Alana Hunt Lecture: "Don't expect a thank you, and other myths and misfits of the outback"


15.30 Recipient of the Memefest/QCA 2013 Award for Imaginative Critical Intervention: Eugenio Tiselli Skype Presentation (from Kigali, Rwanda): ojoVoz project/ICT and Agriculture

16.15 Break

16.25 Dr Oliver Vodeb Lecture: "Everybody Must Get Stoned! Food, Drugs and Social Control"

17.00 Break

cca 18h Evening and light dinner at the Woolongabba art gallery

WEDNESDAY November 6th

9.30 Presentation of works related to Aboriginal culture and/or Food democracy: QCA academics and students:

9.30 Bianca Beetson
9.50 Dr Susan Ostling
10.10 Bob Mercer

10.30 Oscar Waugh
10.45 Thomas Roohan
11.00 Sophie Van der Drift
11.15 Dru Handebo
11.30 Kelsey Hutchinson

11.45 Break

12.00 Phil Winzer, Boe Spearim, Callum Clayton Dixon: Presentation of the Aboriginal Sovereignty Manifesto

13.00-14.00 Lunch

14.00 Workshop in groups

18.00 Brisbane Aboriginal Sovereign Embassy meeting in Musgrave Park

19.30 Drinks in West End

THURSDAY November 7th


10.00 Critical Photo Journalism and Presentation of the Australian Photo Journalist publication: Food Issue, Alan Hill and Joe Ruckli

11.00 Workshops

12.30 Lunch

13.30 Critiques on workshop process including Brisbane Aboriginal Sovereign Embassy members

14.30 Workshops

17.00 Movies on Indigenous Culture and Food Issues

18.00 Evening: Free


FRIDAY November 8th


9.30 Workshop- Group Work

12.30 “Political cooking” (concept/theme to be announced)
Lunch at QCA

13.30 Workshop

18.00 Free evening

SATURDAY November 9th

11.00 Workshop /production of media

13.00 Lunch

14.00 Workshop /production of media

19.00 Party at Bob’s

SUNDAY November 10th

Direct Action/Documentation (groups do the direct action according to the developed strategies)

MONDAY November 11th

Morning: if necessary still direct action

11.00 Critique/Discussion of results with Brisbane Aboriginal Sovereign Embassy, planning and strategies for future collaboration

12.30 Planned Skype meeting with Aboriginal Tent Embassy, Canberra

14.00 (Maybe) Boondal Bush Tucker Guided Tour

17.00 Celebration/ picnic in the park


**************

Pre event preparation:

Download and read “The Militant Research handbook”:

http://www.visualculturenow.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/MRH_Web.pdf

Download and read: “A Userr's Guide to Demanding the Impossible”:

http://www.memefest.org/en/gallery/works2010-11/448/

Have a look at the four part documentary about the history of the National Embassy in Canberra, which is part of the history of the Embassy in Brisbane too:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qoIdi1seNbA&feature=youtu.be

And also check the video about the Brisbane Embassy:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jhTUWspWP1A&feature=youtu.be

Memefest Brisbane Seminar/Workshop/ Intervention- Food Democracy PROGRAM DRAFT!

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So..here we go. Bellow is a draft of the program for the event here in Brisbane that will take place from the 4.11.-11.11. http://tinyurl.com/l3m28mm

(update (25.10): there have already been few changes made since this was posted)

Have a look, especially the event participants, and let us know what you think. The finished version will be published end of this following week.


MONDAY Nov 4

10.00 Registration & Welcome to Country

10.30 Introductions of participants

11.00 Food Democracy Lecture (speaker to be announced)

11.30 Radical research methodologies panel discussion (Zala Volcic- UQ, George Petelin- QCA, Jason Grant-Jordan Mcguire-Ben Mangan: Inkahoots, Oliver Vodeb-Memefest/QCA)

12.30 Lunch

1.30 A look in to last years Memefest Brisbane workshop/intervention: George Petelin and Oliver Vodeb

2.00 Bil Platz Lecture-QCA: Zombie culture in protest and activism

2.45 George Petelin Lecture: Problems with Food: Production, Distribution, Mediation, Consumption

3.30 Excursion to Voice and Reason, with a tour of the exhibition conducted by curators at the Queensland Art Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA).
*The exhibition highlights contrasting voices and draws attention to the reasoning, knowledge and experience behind the work of Indigenous artists, some in dialogue with works by non-Indigenous artists.

5.00 Group discussions outside of GOMA

6.30 Design Exhibition at QCA

TUESDAY Nov 5

Recipients of the Memefest/QCA 2013 Award for Imaginative Critical Intervention presentations

9.30 Mariano Mussi (Argentina)
10.00 Miha Mazzini and Marko Plahuta (Slovenija)
10.30 Mohammad Naser (Bangladesh)

11.00 Robert Perkin Food Connect, Lecture: 'The democracy principle, getting real!’

11.45 Break

12.00 Lecture/Presentation Aboriginal Culture, the Sovereign Embassy & Food Distribution: Wayne Wharton, Karen Fusi

13.00 Lunch

14.00 Mark Andrejevic Lecture "Curtailing Surveillance: Ag-Gag Laws and Activism"

14.45 Alana Hunt Lecture: On Aboriginal Art and Intercultural communication/relations/problems

15.30 Eugenio Tiselli Skype Presentation (from Kigali, Rwanda): ojoVoz project/ICT and Agriculture

16.15 Break

16.25 Oliver Vodeb Lecture: "Everybody Must Get Stoned! Food, Drugs and Social Control"

17.00 Break

cca 18h Evening and dinner at the Woolongabba art gallery

WEDNESDAY November 6th

9.30 Presentation of works related to Aboriginal culture and/or Food democracy: QCA academics and students:

9.30 Bianca Beetson
9.50 Susan Ostling
10.10 Bob Mercer

10.30 Oscar Waugh
10.45 Thomas Roohan
11.00 Sophie Van der Drift
11.15 Dru Handebo
11.30 Kelsey Hutchinson

11.45 Break

12.00 Phil Winzer, Boe Spearim, Callum Clayton Dixon: Presentation of the Aboriginal Sovereignty Manifesto

13.00-14.00 Lunch

14.00 Workshop in groups

18.00 Brisbane Aboriginal Sovereign Embassy meeting in Musgrave Park

19.30 Drinks in West End

THURSDAY November 7th


10.00 Critical Photo Journalism and Presentation of the Australian Photo Journalist publication: Food Issue, Alan Hill and Joe Ruckli

11.00 Workshops

12.30 Lunch

13.30 Critiques on workshop process including Brisbane Aboriginal Sovereign Embassy members

14.30 Workshops

17.00 Movies on Indigenous Culture and Food Issues

18.00 Evening: Free


FRIDAY November 8th


9.30 Workshop- Group Work

10.30 “Political cooking” lunch Cooking session (concept/theme to be announced)

12.30 Lunch at QCA

13.30 Workshop

18.00 Free evening

SATURDAY November 9th

11.00 Workshop /production of media

13.00 Lunch
14.00 Workshop /production of media

19.00 Party at Bob’s

SUNDAY November 10th

Intervention/Documentation (groups do the intervention according to the developed strategies)

MONDAY November 11th

Morning: if necessary still intervention
11.00 Critique/Discussion of results with Brisbane Aboriginal Sovereign Embassy, planning for future collaboration

12.30 Planned Skype meeting with Aboriginal Tent Embassy, Canberra


14.00 Boondal Bush Tucker Guided Tour


17.00 Celebration/ picnic in the park















Keep the Fire Burning! Memefest FOOD DEMOCRACY Seminar/Workshop/ Direct Action event in Brisbane

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This years Memefest event will be held from November 4th to November 11th in Brisbane. We are very exited to announce that the project will be a special collaboration with the Brisbane Aboriginal Sovereign Embassy. Investigating further the topic of Food Democracy, we will focus on the Embassy's food program and create communication design/art that will through intervention in the city of Brisbane aim to support the Aboriginal Embassy's efforts to distribute food among local deprivileged aboriginal (and other) communities as well as make the general Embassy's voice more heard.

The international event will be structured as a conference- seminar/workshop/direct action. Workshop will be mentored. Participation at the event is by invitation only however we are open for anyone that is interested to collaborate, so let us know via email, we will be happy to hear from you.

The event is hosted by the Queensland College of Art and is part of the second Memefest/QCA Award for Imaginative Critical Intervention. Read more about it and check the curated works and their authors here:

http://www.memefest.org/en/memeblog/2013/08/harvest/

Before the event there will be a preparation phase: texts, films, discussions. We will also work till November with members of the Brisbane Sovereign Aboriginal Embassy to distill the issues we will research and work on.

For now have a look at the four part documentary about the history of the National Embassy in Canberra, which is part of the history of the Embassy in Brisbane too:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qoIdi1seNbA&feature=youtu.be

And also check the video about the Brisbane Embassy:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jhTUWspWP1A&feature=youtu.be

We will announce in the coming weeks more details about the event. You can check what happened on our last years event, here:

http://www.memefest.org/en/event/

More soon! :)

FOOD DEMOCRACY AND DEBT

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Vandana Shiva's text Stolen Harvest is part of this years Memefest Food Democracy Festival outlines. Things connect more and more. Last Memefest we have researched DEBT(http://tinyurl.com/bs3k5c8). Guess what- 270 000 Indian farmers committed suicide because they were driven in to debt.

A ghost is haunting Slovenia, the ghost of revolution!

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At the moment that I am writing this text, the massive social uprising in Slovenia continues and enters, with even fiercer political determination, into a new stage of political maturity. What began as an isolated sparkle in late November 2012 in Maribor, the second biggest city of Slovenia, spread to other cities and weeks later culminated in an all-Slovenian uprising composed of unprecedented masses across the country.

The images of riots, broken windows, tear gas and police repression spoke of unprecedented political violence on the streets. The social uprising also brought a fire burning the central myths of the Slovenian story of successful transition from the socialist past.

Behind the mirage of the brand new world, neoliberalism with a European face has finally shown its most real and brutal shape. The fairy tale of the free market society and of fair elections in the legal state supposed to guard young democracy, has been drowned in once tasty "Cabernet Slovignon."

In the weeks of December 2012 tens of thousands people hit the streets, occupying central squares and chanting now famous political slogans: "It is enough!" "It is over with them, they are done! [Gotov je, Gotovi so!]" "They are all crooks!" "We give the Parliament, but not the street!"

The political condemnation of the corrupt political class received material confirmation in the report of the public Committee Against Corruption, which found strong evidence implicating both major figures of the Slovenian political arena, Janez Janša (Prime Minister and president of right-wing Slovenian Democrats) and Zoran Janković (mayor of Ljubljana and president of major centre-Party Positive Slovenia) in major corruption scandals.

Instead of taking full responsibility and resigning, they and many others continue their illegitimate political mandates. The corruption report brought additional fuel to the fire, and even radicalized the demands of the social movement. The initial moral critique of the corrupt state officials shifted to a critique of the political class and the system as a whole. Protesters have recognized that something is rotten in the state of Slovenia, and the leading puppets are only the most visible symptoms of a deeper underlying and structural crisis of capitalism.

Off the Couch, into the Streets

The last three months of mass protest have brought together many different social groups and individuals of different political affiliations and generations, young and old, workers and students, queers and precarious, ecologists, anarchists and socialists. All are demanding a deeper social change. The "all-Slovenian uprising" gave birth to the new sense of solidarity. Instead of the usual complaining from the couch, people stepped into the realm of public protest.

It would be wrong to immediately relate the "people" that compose the movement to some previous ideal or truer Slovenian nation. On the contrary, the "people's" movement is complex and riven with splits and ambivalences. If the common cause is clear, namely, the overthrow of the political class, it has to be stated that the paths and goals of the new political project are less defined. This conflictual moment opens political space outside the pragmatic and established rules of the official political process. Thus, we are witness to diverse perspectives that range from moralism (the conservative liberal stance that "we need new good people and the real legal state"), to nationalism ("protest for a better Slovenia"), to an even stronger radical tendency in support of social transformation.

People are struggling under dismal social conditions in the new Slovenia, and many groups have been working to formulate socio-economic alternatives to the existing order. Aspirations that used to be unthinkable only few months ago, such as demands for direct democracy and democratic socialism, have come to the centre of mainstream public media.

The popular political agenda is no longer defined and molded by existing institutions or parties. It is now also being shaped by people on the streets, in numerous public performances, cultural events and political discussions of new popular councils, committees, and initiatives that take extremely seriously the search for the broadest possible democratic platform. These include the Committee for Direct Democracy, the Coordinating Committee for Cultural Slovenia, the General Assembly of all-Slovenian Uprising, and the Committee for Justice and Solidarity in Society. There are also other already existing cultural and political groups that have called for engagement in civil disobedience and protests against the current regime: university trade unions, the student organization Iskra, Workers-Punks University, the Federation of Anarchist Organizing, and many others.

Protests and discussions strengthen and expand the politics beyond representative democracy and its defunct policies. Many weeklies (the section Revolt in Sobotna Priloga, Dnevnik, Mladina, etc.) and also daily newspapers have started publishing more alternative contributions for the first time.

Worst Possible Austerity Measures

People in Slovenia have found the official political class guilty not only of misrepresentation, but also of attacking what remains of the welfare state , basically begging for foreign intervention. To be more precise, both the present right-wing government (Janez Janša) and the previous center-left government (current president Borut Pahor) have both participated in the imposition of the worst possible austerity programs.

These were recently even criticized by same International Monetary Fund that promotes austerity, and launched horrendous policies across the European periphery in the first place. They have included: privatization of banks (even manipulating a public referendum on setting up a "bad bank" to handle defaulted loans); imposition of special "holding"-"expert" institutions that would sell all domestic capital to the foreign investment firms ; massive layoffs and dissolution of collective bargaining agreements in all social sectors; and drastic cuts in the social budget (for example, the budget for research and universities fell from 10-20%; cuts in the field of culture are in some fields as high as 50%; endangered groups of pensioners receive merely 250 Euros or just over $300 CAD per month).

Austerity, in short, is financial discipline sanctioning unprecedented exploitation of labour. It is intended to ease the re-investment of capital in crisis. It comes as no surprise, then, that in the time of ever more severe economic crisis the heaviest burden is falls on ordinary people. Slovenia registers ever-higher unemployment (12-13% by Eurostat or higher) and has witnessed the most drastic rise of the youth unemployment in Europe, which went from 15% to 25% in last months of 2012.

For over two decades the political class of Slovenia has been congratulating itself for undertaking the most successful transition to a market economy. But the success story of the "Switzerland of the Balkans" has fallen apart like a paper-house. The mythical figures and actions of Slovenian independence have been stripped naked. Even people who"fought" for democratic transformations of the crippled Yugoslav state in late 1980s have finally seen the great robbery: the dispossession of social wealth both by local tycoons and foreign capital; gradual dismantling of the welfare state; social exclusion of underprivileged and vulnerable social groups.

Waking up from the Slovenian dream came late. However, it seems that even those living in the deep apathy of recent years have become political, organizing, discussing, meeting and creating. The movement has already had successes: the mayor of Maribor, Franc Kangler, resigned due to the pressure of public protest, and three coalition partners from the current government stepped down.

All this is happening not in a situation of abundance and free time, but on the contrary during the winter months when people struggle not only to pay their bills but also to find enough food to survive. At a time when the number of people demanding food stamps and charity is at an all-time high and evictions are common, the situation is ready to explode into clear alternatives: social disaster or social transformation, barbarism or socialism.

Strength in Conflict

Obviously, the path and the process of the future uprising cannot be anticipated. As mentioned above, there remain many conflicting strategies at play in the movement. Even if they all agree on the overthrow of political class, there are some that want a gradual reform of the system (60% of all interviewed from the established Slovenian Public Opinion) and others who see revolution as legitimate (30% of those interviewed). Some currents insist on strengthening direct democracy and popular institutions, taking lessons from Iceland. Others want to launch a project similar to Greece's Syriza, to establish a real left-wing party that would emerge from today's social movements and develop a long-term strategy. These diverse perspectives bring conflict into the core of the uprising, paradoxically making it stronger. Through constant debate and struggle the movement is experimenting with different political forms and gaining in political strength.

Also, importantly, in recent times the role of trade unions, especially in the public sector (SVIZ), has been radicalized. January 23 saw a massive general strike and 20 000 workers on the streets of 14 different cities across Slovenia. They have joined the struggles of the social uprising. What was fragmented and divided before has become more articulate and united today.

Weapons of Mass Creation

The insistent and powerful social movement that is connected with progressive political forms has become worst nightmare of the ruling class. This is why the government responded without arguments, but with repression. Out of the fear of its own decay and burial, it launched a series of repressive measures. The list is long: criminalizing the Committee Against Corruption, spreading fear among protesters by imposing fines for alleged organizers and participants of the protests, telling public servants not to join protests, criticizing media for their independent reports, manipulating the public in all the media, and massively recruiting for the security services.

The newest measure was implemented on February 8, the Day of Culture in Slovenia, when the third "all-Slovenian Uprising" took place in Ljubljana. What remained of the government, Catholic Church and their civil society organ "Assembly for Republic" decided to organize a street protest on the same day and time. The Party of Slovene Democrats headed by PM Janez Janša demanded that their members participate in a pro-government rally under threat of expulsion from the party.

However, the anti-government, anti-corruption and anti-crisis protests showed their political maturity by meeting hours later in the same day. The images from the two protests could not have been more different. The pro-government rally saw a few thousand aging "supporters" with a mass of Slovenian flags and ultra-nationalist slogans listening to Janez Janša speaking from the Brussels EU budget summit about the threat of "left fascism" in Slovenia. A few hours later, one of the most massive protests in Slovenian history took place: around 25 000 people marched through the streets with impressive cultural performances, raising the demand for "the spring to come, and Janša and the political class to leave" once and for all. Against their rulers' weapons of mass destruction and repression, the uprising responded with weapons of mass creation.

Let me conclude with the last strophes of the anthem of uprising written by Ksenija Jus, and sung by the self-managed women's choir Kombinat - "The Song of Resistance":

The battles of the brave-hearted people,/ are not forgotten stories of bygone days./ For them our poem should live on,/ For them we raise our fists to the sun.

Poem of resistance spread your voice,/ the dreams of millions are springing forth,/ Freedom is the thought as special as Karst,/ Freedom is the fire that warms our faces.

The Song of Resistance seems to have awakened another ghost of the past that was forgotten in 20th century. Shouldn't we again be allowed to dream and think of revolution? Even if still very young, the uprising seems to have survived more than one winter, and it is likely here to stay for much longer.

*For all hyperlinks see: http://www.newsocialist.org/index.php/679-a-ghost-is-haunting-slovenia-the-ghost-of-revolution

DEBTfest: Investigating Indebted Brisbane- The Event- Workshop/Research Seminar/Intervention

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About memeblog

Hey, welcome to the official Memefest blog!

Since 2003 we have been using a blog platform as tactical media to reflect, critique, comment and inform around the broad field of communication. Now in 2010 with our newly conceived on-line platform we hope that through time this space will evolve in a collaborative blog media with a wider group of contributors to the global discourse around social responsibility of media and communication. Stuff that you can find here is either original or carefully and originally edited from other sources.  There is a good chance that you will find things that will be of good use for you too if you follow us more regularly.

Of course we look at Memeblog as a dialogic platform. Your comments are encouraged and mostly welcome.

If you feel like collaborating in this: drop us a line: memefest at memefest dot org.

Categories

_community [39]

_communication [38]

_education [28]

_activism [24]

_festival [18]

_design [17]

_society [16]

_art [15]

_media [13]

_theory [9]

_critique [8]

_video [6]

_culture [6]

_photography [6]

_technology [3]

_writing [2]

_sound [1]

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MEMENEWS

2 months ago
New Book: InDEBTed to Intervene

We are very excited to let you know about our new book. More than a ... more >

8 months, 1 week ago
2013 Festival results

Fantastic Results of this years Friendly competition are published here

more >