Feminist Autonomous Cells – Because the Night Belongs to Us: Germany

Published August 11, 2019

Feminist Autonomous Cells – Because the Night Belongs to Us: Germany

Because the night belongs to lovers Because the night belongs to us – Patti Smith

For some time now we have been watching with concern the direction in which emancipatory struggles in German-speaking countries have been moving in recent years. We, the people who have been politicized within these structures in recent years, have since felt an ever increasing sense of responsibility for the direction of our groups and movements. At the same time, we have experienced personal concerns and fears about what we should do with our lives and how we should deal with, for example, financial and repressive pressures, that were not adequately addressed by these same structures. Our confidence in the strength of the left-wing radical subculture was wavering. Personal crises coincided with what we saw as structural deficiencies and doubts about our connections and “the movement”:

We were often overwhelmed by the size and number of political opponents and State attacks, remaining trapped in reaction to these external circumstances and were already overworked and exhausted by them. Internal hierarchies played their part in ensuring that the distribution of work remained unequal and that there could be no reliance on solidarity and attentiveness within one’s “own” circles. Doubts arose about the usefulness and effectiveness of our work – both internal and external – and feelings of stagnation. It often seemed that our actions were above all self-referential scenes. We asked ourselves: Were actions taken to achieve something, or because they brought the actor status?

We observed that certain established forms of (re-)action and rules of behavior in “the scene” had become ritualized. Alongside the social trends, a form of experiential culture also developed in the area of political resistance, which alienated activists from the goals, implementation and possible consequences of an action and increasingly turned action experiences such as a festival weekend into a consumer event. Our feeling was: we don’t need scene experts, political gurus or supporters of libertarian ideas. We need lived anarchy.

Many actions had barely obvious goals and only scratched at the surface of an issue. Others bowed to the massive feeding power of bourgeois society and were appropriated by the NGO-industrial complex and bourgeois forms of protest, always linked to the desolidarization and demarcation of other forms of resistance. On the other hand, justified fears of violence and repression grew, which paralyzed us and led to self-censorship and anticipatory obedience, for example, in confrontations with the State.

Our worldviews and “the movement” are now heavily fragmented into political wings and thematic areas. There have been repeated attempts and some successes in establishing relationships of solidarity between “neighboring” tendencies, but large, actually radical and non-reformist “mass movements”, such as those that have emerged in parts of Latin America in recent years under a common feminist denominator, seem unthinkable to us in Northern and Central Europe and especially in Germany. All this combined brings us to the question of meaning: Can it go on like this, for us as individuals as well as for groups, communities and as a movement?

These considerations take place within the framework of social conditions that are dominated by the steadily progressing displacement of open spaces, the increasingly better organization and integration of right-wing forces, reactionary escalation and authoritarian formation, new police laws and improved possibilities for technological surveillance, racist border and deportation regimes in the global North and the increasing transformation of the capitalist patriarchy. After anti-nationalist and anti-racist struggle came to prominence in Europe from 2015 onwards, within a few months and years they have exhausted themselves in resignation. But the deaths in the Mediterranean continue as does the shift to the right. How to live in 2019 with these irreconcilable conditions?

It is obvious that powerlessness and inadequate responses and counter-proposals cannot stand against these conditions. We are currently lacking strategies and appropriate answers to the question of how to deal with increasingly aggravating circumstances. Auschwitz as a point of reference for critical thought and action already establishes the absolute urgency of the struggle for a world free of authorities in which exploitation and domination are deprived of any basis. For us, Auschwitz stands for the simple necessity, so long as nothing changes in the world, to continue fighting. For many of us, subversives, punks and queers, subversive communities are and remain the only viable place in society. But to simply “carry on” is not an option for us.

Obviously we have no solution for all the faults and contradictions within our movements. But for some time now we have been concerned about what our struggles need and what we can contribute to the necessary changes. Our starting point is the combination of anarchist and feminist experiences and analyses as the basis of our struggles. For us, feminism and militancy are not a contradiction, but a means of connecting with the potential for subversion of patriarchal rule. Therefore (in recent years) we have decided to fight together as Feminist Autonomous Cells (FAZ). The FAZ stands for an orientation towards direct militant eco-feminist actions with theoretical-strategic embedding into the current social context and political struggles. We understand our activism as anarchist, feminist, antifascist, autonomous, militant, against the technological attack and consistently critical of the ruling class within our own structures. We are critical of personalization and personality cults as well as idolization in the scene, impressive prestige actions, as well as announced (pacified) mass actions. Our format is an anonymous and sustainable militant movement of decentralized autonomous cells.

By organizing under a common group name, we hope to establish the possibility of critique, which should enable dialogues with fellow combatants regarding the orientation and individual actions of the cell(s). The idea of autonomous cells is also the easy replication of actions between which references are established and can be built on the actions of others. The relatively simple follow-up and transparency of our steps within the framework of our security precautions, along with a Do It Yourself claim, is intended to enable a mass decentralization of organization and actions, which also makes it more difficult for the law enforcement authorities of the Status to locate us. We do not want to set ourselves apart from other forms of action, but instead provide constructive impulses of solidarity. We don’t know yet exactly where we want to go today, but we do know where to start and we are certain that doing nothing is not an option.

In terms of militant organization, we can look back on a varied history (in Germany alone). In particular, we want to establish historical references to the often forgotten eras of left-wing radical history, such as internal partisan struggles, the Red Zora and the Revolutionary Cells as well as the Militant Group and many other lesser-known ones, link our actions to their styles, learn from their insights and adapt them to current conditions with constant reflection. In concrete terms, we begin with small actions, understood as pinpricks against the nodes of the capitalist-patriarchal machinery.

As a start, in the morning hours of August 6th, 2019, we destroyed the Amazon Locker on Eschholzstraße in Freiburg im Breisgau. Amazon not only delivers small parcels, but has also become a global service provider for police, intelligence and military personnel. We want to address the role of the company in the technological attack and call for Amazon to be held accountable. We are not interested in spectacular actions, but in targeted attacks with the simplest means. It doesn’t require expertise, hard-to-obtain material or a willingness to take extreme risks. They will never be able to guard all their Amazon lockers. Even technology giants are vulnerable.

This marks the beginning of a series of actions and texts that we will try to make as transparent as possible. We hope to be able to contribute to thoughts and processes with our reflections and to learn from related actions and discussions. For feminist autonomous gangs!

Greetings and Kisses, a Feminist Autonomous Cell