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← Trouble 14: Fighting Where We Stand

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Showing Revision 3 created 07/01/2018 by submedia.

  1. Greetings Troublemakers
    ... welcome to Trouble.
  2. My name is not important.
  3. From the endless turf battles
    found within the animal kingdom,
  4. to the mechanized
    carnage of modern warfare...
  5. the drive to control territory is a
    potent and recurring source of conflict.
  6. Yet within the artificial borders that
    fortify the so-called “developed world”,
  7. this type of conflict, like all others,
    is carefully managed.
  8. Which is not to say it doesn’t exist.
  9. People quarrel with their neighbours
    all the time, even in suburbia
  10. … and in places like
    Chicago’s South Side,
  11. young men routinely get shot
    fighting over street corners.
  12. As groups and individuals,
  13. we face differing types and levels
    of conflict in our everyday lives
  14. ... but at the end of the day,
  15. the ultimate manager and
    mediator of these conflicts is the state.
  16. Through their police,
    courts and prison systems,
  17. states enforce laws
    that reproduce power dynamics,
  18. restrict our choices,
    and regulate our behaviour.
  19. The allocation of resources is determined
  20. by the logic of
    the so-called “free market”,
  21. whereby ownership over
    land is given official sanction
  22. by the state-backed illusion
    of private property.
  23. The key to the state’s
    control over our lives
  24. lies in its ability to regulate all
    conflict within a given physical area.
  25. It follows, then, that those of us
    seeking to steal back the power
  26. to resolve conflicts on our own terms
    must first draw a firm line in the sand,
  27. and deny access to the state and its
    sophisticated apparatus of social control.
  28. In order to meaningfully
    assert collective autonomy,
  29. we must be capable of defending territory.
  30. Over the next thirty minutes,
    we will explore three autonomous zones
  31. serving as living embodiments
    of defiance to state rule:
  32. the ZAD, or Zone to Defend,
    in Notre-Dame-des-Landes, France,
  33. the Unist’ot’en Camp located on the
    Wet’suet’en territories of so-called BC,
  34. and the autonomous spaces movement
    in Ljubljana, Slovenia.
  35. Along the way, we will speak
    with a number of individuals
  36. who are flaunting state authority,
  37. asserting control over
    the spaces they inhabit
  38. ... and making a whole lot of trouble.
  39. The ZAD has many realities.
  40. But mostly it’s kind of a
    community where people try to
  41. experiment other ways to live
    their social and political life.
  42. In the end of the 1960s,
    somebody came up with an airport project
  43. for this area,
  44. And during all those years, the bocage
    itself is put under the status of ZAD
  45. – which basically means
    Postponed Planning Zone,
  46. which was transformed one day
    into Zone to be Defended.
  47. So there was a big resistance
    with lots of different forms of action,
  48. including sabotage, black bloc
    demonstrations, quite offensive defense.
  49. Occupying land is quite
    similar to a political squat,
  50. but with a strong dimension
    regarding the environment
  51. and the territory we live in.
  52. During all those years,
  53. we did not simply organize
    politically against the airport,
  54. but we also made connections locally.
  55. We took care of the land.
  56. Some of us settled for good.
  57. And we thought out
    the future of the ZAD together.
  58. So it’s been ten years now that
    structures have been created on the ZAD
  59. to figure out how to live
    as autonomously as possible.
  60. It necessarily means that we have
    to be able to answer our basic needs.
  61. Like be fed, sleep under a roof,
    have access to medicine.
  62. It’s a place that has become
    a place where you can live for free.
  63. You can build your house, your cabin...
  64. The occupation movement was created
    at a time when some of the peasants
  65. had called for illegal
    occupation themselves.
  66. When squatters came in 2007
    they were close to anarchist
  67. and/or antiauthoritarian ideas.
  68. Trying to work together
    and allowing for a diversity of tactics,
  69. and knowing that that is our strength.
  70. We’re fighting against
    this state and this project.
  71. Also we come here....
  72. we fight against things, but we
    also try to create things together.
  73. And making things available
    and trying to share.
  74. That everybody has possibilities
    and access to a place to live
  75. ... to water and food.
  76. So there’s a kind of hegemonic ideology.
  77. Diversity of tactics has been much more
    of a theory for the past few months.
  78. Certain ideas that become
    ways of judging people,
  79. of excluding people from discussions.
  80. So yeah there’s some kind
    of really well-organized,
  81. sort of communist ideas that have taken
    a lot of place in the past few years
  82. that will have a kind of discourse about
  83. “you have to go to our meetings, and if
    you don’t agree you might have to leave,
  84. or shut up... or maybe later on we’ll
    come beat you up with baseball bats.”
  85. Some people who used sabotage
    as a tactic have been pressured
  86. and even attacked for
    having dug holes in the concrete
  87. of one of the roads which crosses the ZAD.
  88. And someone especially was
    put in the trunk and taken out of there,
  89. molested and left almost naked
    in front of a psychiatric hospital.
  90. And it’s been some years that
    contesting this hegemonic power
  91. of the dominant group
    has been much more difficult.
  92. They tend to concentrate wealth.
  93. To concentrate strategic discussions
    regarding the movement.
  94. Bonds with local farmers
  95. and people governing other
    institutions of the movement.
  96. And they of course, deny it
    when it comes to critique.
  97. We provoked a number of discussions
    on the place that their reading group,
  98. called the CMDO,
    has been held among us.
  99. But they never recognized, publicly,
    their group as a group of power.
  100. And thus, never wanted to share that
    power with other groups or individuals.
  101. It was mainly this group of
    persons which pushed towards
  102. the negotiations during the evictions.
  103. Well as you can see
    all around us it’s pitch black.
  104. People were not expecting the expulsions
    to happen until 6am this morning,
  105. local time here in France.
  106. Tiny groups of people
    chose their means of actions.
  107. When the police attack,
    making barricades,
  108. going to harass the police
    in any form, or any way
  109. ... to throwing back their own grenades
    or other forms of explosives,
  110. or molotov cocktails.
  111. From sabotage attempts
    ... especially on the tanks.
  112. We really wanted to see one burn.
  113. Digging holes to prevent
    the tanks from going further.
  114. And of course, erecting barricades
    and defending them.
  115. Deep in the central interior forests
    of so-called British Columbia
  116. lies the unceded territory
    of the Wet’suwet’en nation.
  117. Never surrendered to the
    settler-colonial Canadian state,
  118. the gateway to these remote territories
    is the headwaters of the Wedzinkwah River,
  119. which lies under the stewardship
    and protection of the Unist’ot’en clan,
  120. one of the five house groups
    that make up the Wet’suwet’en nation.
  121. For the past decade, the Unist’ot’en
    have been physically blocking
  122. the construction of three major
    oil and fracked gas pipelines
  123. slated to pass through their
    territories en route to refineries
  124. and tankers on the Pacific coast.
  125. Ground zero in this stand
    has been the Unis’to’ten Camp,
  126. constructed in 2010 as a
    permanent resistance community,
  127. located smack dab in the path
    of the originally proposed route
  128. of the Northern Gateway, Pacific Trails,
    and Coastal Gaslink pipelines.
  129. The Unist’ot’en have also established
    a checkpoint system,
  130. with access to the territories
    conditional on completing
  131. a Free Prior and
    Informed Consent Protocol.
  132. This system grants
    the Unis’tot’en authority
  133. over who gains access to their territory,
  134. which has allowed them to keep
    representatives of the extractive industry
  135. and Canadian state at bay.
  136. This territory is unceded
    Unist’ot’en territory,
  137. which is part of
    the Wet’suwet’en territory.
  138. Knedebease is the hereditary chief
    that manages this territory,
  139. and I am a member of that house group,
    so we manage these territories.
  140. And in my view, it is not Canada.
    It’s not BC.
  141. This has always been
    Wet’suwet’en territory
  142. because we’ve never ceded
    or surrendered it to anybody.
  143. Doesn’t belong to the crown.
  144. Doesn’t belong to the federal government.
  145. Doesn’t belong to
    the provincial government.
  146. It belongs to Unist’ot’en.
    To my people.
  147. We started travelling
    through the territories
  148. back here a lot more frequently.
  149. And the reason why we started
    spending a lot of time back here
  150. is because there were some
    proposed pipelines that were
  151. being proposed
    by industry and by government,
  152. to begin doing some preliminary
    work back here to stop them.
  153. You guys can’t be doing any work in here,
    because we’ve already told them no.
  154. That they can’t access our territory.
  155. Once we found out that industry
    was trying to force their way in,
  156. we put our cabin directly in the path
    of the initial proposal for Enbridge,
  157. for the bitumen pipeline that
    was proposed to come through here.
  158. So the log cabin sits right
    en route of their GPS points
  159. of where Enbridge initially had planned
    to put their pipelines through here.
  160. At the same time, there was Coastal
    Gaslink and Pacific Trails Pipeline
  161. that wanted also to put
    pipelines through our territory.
  162. To me that’s not self-sustaining.
  163. When it’s really quick,
    it’s boom and bust.
  164. And they’ll come, and then they’ll be gone
    and they’ll leave their mess behind.
  165. As you see on the sign behind
    it says checkpoint.
  166. So whenever industry,
    or just anybody comes through here
  167. you go through protocol,
    which you ask a series of six questions:
  168. Who are you?
    Where are you from?
  169. How long do you plan to stay
    if we let you in?
  170. And do you work for industry or government
    that’s destroying our lands?
  171. And how will your visit
    benefit Unist’ot’en?
  172. And one of the key questions
    that they could not answer,
  173. truthfully and honestly,
    was the question where we ask
  174. “how will your visit benefit
    the people of this land?”.
  175. Uhh.. I really don’t think
    there is any benefit.
  176. And the reason why we turn them back
  177. is because they could not pass
    simple protocol questions.
  178. The RCMP was created by the government
    to keep our people off our land.
  179. So, they are part of the government,
    so they too don’t pass protocol.
  180. We don’t trust police,
    because we’re suspicious that your forces
  181. would in to scope out our layout
    so that if there is an injunction,
  182. you guys would be better prepared
    about how you’re gonna deal with us.
  183. The camp serves as a beacon for other
    people who are struggling with these ideas.
  184. That they might not
    be able to stop a project
  185. from coming through their territories.
  186. And you know,
  187. for anybody to stand up to something
    like that is quite a daunting task.
  188. But a lot of people who
    have studied us over the years,
  189. and learned from the
    resistance that we’ve taken
  190. ... they’ve taken those lessons
    and have started their own actions.
  191. And there’s an incredible amount
    of economic and logistical disruption
  192. that arise from that type of activity.
  193. We are here today in solidarity
    with the Unist’ot’en camp.
  194. We wish to share the Unist’ot’en
    hereditary chief’s clear statement
  195. that they do not consent
    to having pipelines built
  196. on their unceded traditional territory.
  197. This colonization has always been
    about the taking of Indigenous lands.
  198. We always said if we heal our people,
    then we’ll heal our land.
  199. The healing center idea
    came when we realized that
  200. “why aren’t our own people
    coming out here to visit us?”
  201. And even though some do come, there’s
    not a high number of our own people.
  202. And we realized that a lot of our people
    are still struggling
  203. because of colonization.
  204. From the Residential School era.
  205. From the public school system
    ... lotta racism.
  206. We realized that a lot of our people
    are struggling because of trauma.
  207. And we realized that
    we needed a healing facility
  208. that incorporated all the whole
    wellness thing that we were talking about.
  209. And we wanna put our
    culture back into our people.
  210. So that they will be strong
    and they will stand up.
  211. When people come out
    to a space like this,
  212. what they experience is land
    that's actually beginning to go
  213. through the healing process.
  214. This land back here that
    we’re walking through and passing through,
  215. is land that was devastated
    from logging already.
  216. And it’s in a process of healing.
  217. It actually has berry bushes,
    so we’re surrounded by berry bushes here.
  218. There are grizzly bear tracks
    a half a kilometer from here.
  219. So when people come up
    to spend time here,
  220. they begin to learn about the
    importance of connecting themselves
  221. to the planet that is in need of healing.
  222. While defending territory from
    state incursions is hard enough
  223. in rural, or remote natural terrains,
  224. those seeking to establish autonomous
    spaces in urban environments
  225. face an additional set of challenges.
  226. Cities are sites of concentrated
    state power.
  227. Not only are they strongholds of
    surveillance and repression,
  228. but they are also areas where
    the logic of state control
  229. is thoroughly integrated
    into everyday social relations.
  230. This opens the door to recuperation,
    a process whereby state power
  231. constantly shifts and adapts itself
    in order to preemptively cut off
  232. and assimilate potential threats
    to its authority and legitimacy.
  233. This is the balancing act faced by
    urban squatter movements
  234. in cities around the world, whose
    participants must constantly navigate
  235. the twin minefields of eviction
    and legalization.
  236. This means simultaneously
    avoiding the social isolation
  237. that would make full-scale repression
    possible, while also combating
  238. state and real estate developers’
    attempts to transform these spaces
  239. into nothing more than
    edgy tourist destinations.
  240. One of the really important
    functions of the urban occupation
  241. is that it becomes
    a source of inspiration.
  242. Despite being surrounded by hostile forces
    - in the form of state, police, capital -
  243. that it is possible to have a
    space in which you can experiment
  244. with different forms of existing.
  245. With different forms of living.
  246. With different forms of
    relating to one another.
  247. We could speak about three distinct phases
    of squatting experiments in Ljubljana.
  248. First one is early 90s.
  249. This is the time of the
    destruction of Yugoslavia.
  250. It’s a time of massive changes
    in Slovenian society.
  251. This movement had a clear continuity with
  252. alternative cultural movements of the 80s
    that was heavily influenced
  253. by progressive currents such as
    feminism, LGBT movement,
  254. anti-militarist tendencies,
    ecological movements.
  255. This movement found its highest
    expression in the squatting
  256. of Metelkova military barracks
    in 1993.
  257. The second wave of squatting
    can be traced to the late 90s.
  258. In around 98 and 99, several different
    initiatives and individuals
  259. were squatting different
    spaces in the city of Ljubljana
  260. and were all evicted from those squats.
  261. And in the middle of this wave
    of repression over the movement,
  262. the community of Metelkova decided
    to give one empty space
  263. in the Autonomous Cultural Center
    to the anarchist infoshop.
  264. The third wave of squatting
    in Ljubljana is symbolized
  265. by the squatting of ROG Factory, which is
    maybe the biggest squat in Ljubljana.
  266. It was squatted in 2006
    by a new precarious generation
  267. of younger people that
    later came to be identified
  268. as the generation without future.
  269. It has always been understood by us
    that the front
  270. between the two different squats
    is the same front.
  271. Because if one of us is attacked,
    or evicted for instance,
  272. that will mean a huge attack
    on the ability of the other
  273. to actually be part of any kind
    of political process in the city.
  274. The relationship of the state has been
    slightly different in its expression.
  275. So for instance, when it comes to ROG
    they have had constant attempts
  276. of the city to either evict them
    or attack them in different ways.
  277. And just two years ago
    there was the most serious attempt
  278. to tear down several
    buildings in that area.
  279. That attempt was stopped
    by a broader political mobilization.
  280. The nature of an urban occupation
    is that it is faced
  281. with different kinds of factors that
    perhaps escape rural occupations.
  282. Our squats are part of
    the neoliberal capitalist society
  283. that is progressing further and further
    towards social devastation.
  284. Every time we are faced with the
    processes that are destroying our cities,
  285. we always have to question our position
  286. and our changing position
    within those processes.
  287. Metelkova and ROG both
    generate quite wide public support.
  288. So this forced the public authorities
    to be cautious.
  289. And even though there are several
    softer attempts to push Metelkova
  290. into the state of legalization,
    we haven’t in the last decade
  291. really been faced with
    an attempt of eviction.
  292. That of course brings a different
    set of questions for all of us
  293. who are part of Metelkova squat.
  294. And that is, in such moments, where
    the city is actually trying to sell you
  295. as one of its premium tourist destinations
    ... how do you maintain yourself
  296. as a space that can still produce
    radical social movements
  297. and interventions in the city?
  298. That of course comes with
    every question of recuperation.
  299. How do we still manage to
    keep our practices DIY?
  300. How do we still manage to stay
  301. which is basically the only way
    not to become a squatting museum,
  302. or a sort of caricature
    of what a squat should be?
  303. Many people and many activities
    that are cleaned from the city center
  304. because of the demands of the tourist
    industry... we all end up in squats
  305. with different trajectories
    and different positions that we occupy
  306. in the current social-economic order.
  307. This naturally leads to tensions.
    Some more serious than others.
  308. And the consequence also can be seen in
    what recently happened to club Jalla Jalla
  309. - it was destroyed in a fire.
  310. As a community this was
    immediately recognized as an effect
  311. of the general state in which
    the whole city is being pushed.
  312. And our focus is not only
    to rebuild Jalla Jalla the club,
  313. but also to rebuild and reclaim
    our collective capacity to resist
  314. the processes of devastation
    that are everywhere destroying
  315. the conditions of living
    for so many people in this town.
  316. Establishing and effectively securing
    an autonomous space isn’t something
  317. that happens overnight.
  318. States cannot afford to let challenges
    to their legitimacy go unanswered,
  319. lest they serve as examples
    for others to follow.
  320. For this reason, any political attempt
    to reject state authority over a territory
  321. is likely to provoke a serious reaction.
  322. It is therefore crucially important
    that those involved
  323. anticipate the state’s response,
    and are in a strong enough position
  324. to weather the inevitable storm.
  325. Autonomous territories allow
    for the building of dual power.
  326. They are alternative focal
    points of legitimacy that can
  327. effectively challenge the
    state’s monopoly on authority.
  328. Indigenous Nations draw this legitimacy
    from spiritual and cultural practices
  329. rooted in generations of deep connection
    to the lands claimed by their colonizers.
  330. For those of us more alienated
    from the lands and spaces we occupy,
  331. the process of asserting autonomy
    must begin with navigating the tensions
  332. and contradictions that
    exist in dominant society,
  333. cultivating strong bonds of solidarity,
  334. and fuelling antagonism towards the state.
  335. We’d rather not pass lessons to anyone.
  336. If people get inspired from what they’ve
    done here, it will always be a pleasure
  337. to share experiences and knowledge
    of those years spent here.
  338. I think it has been proven several times
    that building the infrastructure
  339. for the movement and of the movement
    really becomes crucial in moments
  340. of high and demanding political
    mobilization in the society.
  341. To have the kind of spaces
    that enable you to maintain
  342. the historical memory of movements,
  343. that enable us to find different
    kinds of accomplices
  344. in our struggles for
    a different kind of world.
  345. With the help of allies
    all around the world
  346. ... we’ve garnered lots of support through
    Indigenous, non-Indigenous, professionals,
  347. ... everyday citizens.
  348. A lot of people do support what we’re
    doing and have vocalized it to us.
  349. We have come here to be with you,
  350. to make sure you understand
    you’re doing the right thing.
  351. There’s always people who come here
    also who have connections,
  352. or who have been to other
    places where people are struggling
  353. and bring us information.
  354. And so that creates solidarity
    between different struggles.
  355. You need to ensure that
    the Indigenous people
  356. who have always lived on those lands,
  357. since millennia,
    are involved in that struggle.
  358. They have long stories.
  359. Ancient, ancient stories that talk about
    how and why they have responsibilities.
  360. The mere fact that a squat
    exists as a potential
  361. of development of autonomous ideas,
    of politically radical ideas,
  362. is of course already a threat to the
    state, a threat to capital’s interests.
  363. And therefore we will never be safe,
  364. no matter how many
    selfies tourists make here.
  365. If it is possible that in a city that
    is so increasingly gentrified,
  366. so penetrated with
    different capitalist forces
  367. – if it is able to have a space
    where experimentation with our freedom
  368. is possible,
    then it kind of gives us hope
  369. that other kinds of political
    projects are also possible.
  370. And what we would really love to see
    is more of these kinds of inspirations
  371. around the world, around different cities,
    around different communities.
  372. As for our inspiration,
    we take as much inspiration as possible
  373. from as many struggles as possible.
  374. The Zapatistas movement, even though
    we’re far far from what they achieved.
  375. The Landless Peasant Movement,
    especially in South America,
  376. or Reclaim the Field network
    all over Europe.
  377. Or occupied neighbourhoods,
    like in Exarchia in Greece.
  378. Or people protecting seeds like in India.
  379. Rojava is, of course, an insight
  380. – especially regarding
    feminist self-defence.
  381. Some of us are also really
    close to the Italian struggle
  382. against the train line
    crossing the Val di Susa.
  383. The most important thing is that we have
    to ask ourselves “what are our needs?”
  384. And then find ways through
    which we can express them.
  385. We’re absolutely going to win this fight.
  386. Y’know, this is a fight that belongs
    to not only us, but all of our unborn.
  387. This is a fight that belongs
    to all of our ancestors
  388. who died fighting for these spaces,
    and protecting them.
  389. So this is a fight that
    doesn’t belong to us.
  390. We’re not selfish people.
  391. This fight belongs to all of
    our Wet’suwet’en people
  392. – past, present and future.
  393. Some of us went to fight
    the world of the airport.
  394. And the airport was a pretext
    to fight the system behind it.
  395. I’d say for me, the ZAD,
  396. it helps me burn the social
    and structural boundaries in my head
  397. ... and then almost everything
    became possible.
  398. We live in a historical moment
    in which the global neoliberal order,
  399. wracked by overlapping social,
    economic and ecological crises,
  400. is rapidly unraveling
    before our very eyes.
  401. Yet far from being a
    cause for celebration,
  402. the dark new reality rising to take
    its place promises to be even worse.
  403. New and resurgent forms of
    state power are being constructed
  404. on foundations of
    hyper-nationalist reaction,
  405. armed with sophisticated new tools
    of surveillance and repression.
  406. A proliferation of civil wars,
    surging levels of inequality
  407. and climate change-fuelled catastrophes
    are provoking historical levels
  408. of forced human migration.
  409. But while things look undoubtedly bleak,
  410. the rapid transformations
    currently underway have the potential
  411. to uncover new cracks
    in the facade of state power.
  412. Revolutionaries must be ready to take
    advantage of any and all opportunities
  413. that these shifting
    new dynamics may produce,
  414. establishing a decentralized
    network of autonomous zones
  415. that can sustain projects of mutual aid,
    respond to emergent threats,
  416. and coordinate solidarity across borders.
  417. So at this point,
  418. we’d like to remind you that Trouble
    is intended to be watched in groups,
  419. and to be used as a resource to promote
    discussion and collective organizing.
  420. Are you interested in offering
    sustained material support
  421. for existing autonomous spaces,
  422. or figuring out what steps would
    be involved in launching your own?
  423. Consider getting together
    with some comrades,
  424. organizing a screening of this film,
    and discussing where to get started.
  425. Interested in running regular
    screenings of Trouble at your campus,
  426. infoshop, community center,
    or even just at home with friends?
  427. Become a Trouble-Maker!
  428. For 10 bucks a month, we’ll hook you up
    with an advanced copy of the show,
  429. and a screening kit featuring
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  430. and some questions you can
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  431. If you can’t afford to support
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  432. You can stream and/or download
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  433. If you’ve got any suggestions for show
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  435. This episode would not have been possible
  436. without the generous support of
    Komunal, Group Groix and Michael.
  437. Now get out there
    …. and make some trouble!