florian schneider on Tue, 19 Oct 1999 19:51:51 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> officina99 and "no borders no masters" statement

The Social Centre "Officina 99" and the Coordination "No Borders No
Masters": our contribution to the Tampere counter-summit

The urgency of a European network for the citizenship right, for the free
circulation and for the support to the struggles for the needs of the
migrant proletariat, is on the agenda. The politic of the governments of
Maastricht in connection with the migratory phenomenona, could he
summarised in few words: to share out the foreign workforce through the
same mechanisms used for tomatoes and milk, shutting the one in excess in
the concentration camps (only the catho-labourist Italian hypocrisy can
call them "camps of temporary permanence"), and finally
expelling-dismissing the portion definitively cut out from the productive
system (do you remember: "ARBEIT MACHT FREI"!?). 

This is the real meaning of the Schengen Europe, citadel opened to the
free circulation of goods and capitals, but closed to the women and the
men to better blackmail them in conformity with the dogmas of
neo-liberalism. And to cover the shame of these abuses: thousands of media

Italy is a country in which the migratory flow is rather recent (still
attested at about the 1,5% of the population, even if its function of
country-gate of Europe makes the real flow larger than the one only
referred to the immigrants who settle in Italy). Besides, because of the
different development levels between the south and the north of the
country, the migrants continue to shift across the territory, preferring
for a first phase the arrangement in the south, because of the low cost of
living, and then moving to the north, because it's the only opportunity to
find a regular Job. 

These are the general conditions in which we developed our experience as
comrades of the social centres "OFFICINA 99" and "SKA" and of the regional
anti-racist coordination "NO BORDERS NO MASTERS". We speak about that
because we consider that the reciprocal acquaintance of all the local
experiences, and of their limits and resources, is an important premise to
our co-operation. 

Our experience is rather recent (about 4 years), but we've already seen
two phases of mass with the mobilisation of some thousands of immigrants: 

1) in 1996, in opposition to the first step of the Italian government to
conform the Italian laws about immigration to the repressive directives of
Schengen. The decree-law was retired by the government after a national
demonstration (3rd of February), born without big organisational support
and snobed by all the parties, that has seen the spontaneous participation
of further 50.000 immigrants. 

2) in 1997 with a regional mobilisation against the Immigration Police
Office of Naples, that blocked two thousands residence permits. After two
months of continuous mobilisation, that, because of the forms of the
conflict, has represented for us a great improvement in comparison with
the model of a coloured but sporadic antiracism. 

There have been many others significant moments with the construction of
various local and regional demonstrations, with the creation of
informative and operative windows, with the birth of a "popular medical
department". It was a route refined on the way, in which there have been
perhaps problems about the clearness of long-term aims, but rich in the
presence of immigrants and, principally, in its huge potentiality of
antagonism. In a territory in which the rule of the work and of the social
relationships constitute, because of the released submersion that
characterises them, an anomaly depth in comparison with the rest of
Europe, we tried to get over the self-pity and the "simple accusation" 
mechanisms, so that the innumerable antiracist initiatives did not result
into a series of temporary explosions destined to empty themselves of all
the meaning (because not expression of a subject able to interact
constantly and in an organised way with its needs and with the
contradictions of the territory). 

The autorganization and the centrality of immigrants have been the
characteristics that we have looked for also in the organisational models,
preferring, whereas possible, the form-collective, and referring to the
more advanced European experiences (like the French one), but always
maintaining flexibility (For example: in the relationships with the
immigrants communities, that are constituted on an ethnic or national

The main characteristic of the struggles conducted by the Co-ordination,
maybe because of the centrality of immigrants in taking decisions, was the
very disputing setting out, most of all about the release of the residence
permits. The first limit of this setting out is the only sporadic
involvement of the "democratic community", that is closer to the "fights
of opinion", in to these disputes. The second limit is linked to the
internal migrations. The more politicised immigrants have been forced to
go towards the north of the country to find a regular Job (because without
it, it's impossible to renew the residence permit). Therefore, we think
that its indispensable the construction of a net of structures that allows
to collect the contamination potentialities of this nomadism, offering to
the immigrants many datum points on the territory where to convoy the
political energies. 

However the birth of this net has lived alternate phases also on a
national scale, showing traces perhaps of the too much political factions. 

The characteristics of a recent migratory flow (like in Italy) make it
difficult to settle immediately autonomous organisational forms of the
immigrants and take up the movement structures in a role of catalyst
towards a subject practically deprived of a social net. Anyway, the growth
processes in the autorganization of the immigrants are fundamental, and
the reduction of the delegation mechanisms is functional to make some
aspects not belonging to our organisational traditions, but consistent
with the peculiarities of this new subject, come to the surface. For
example: the importance of mutual benefit instruments, totally missed in
Europe after the second world war, is present in all the organisational
forms of the immigrants. We've seen that during the dispute for the
residence permits that we made in 1997, discovering some mechanisms that
can be considered a phenomenon of the modernity: a Bengali and Pakistani
association contacted us because, in Naples, there was the possibility to
obtain some residence permits. At the same time, hundreds of Pakistani
moved from Paris and from other European towns to constitute, in less than
three months, a Pakistani community in Naples. Once we won the dispute and
they obtained the residence permit, they came back to the origin towns! 
The nomadism and an alternative informative tissue have constituted a
weapon, spontaneously autorganizated, to individualise the weak points in
the European legislation and to avoid clandestinity. This consideration
supplies us an approach to the migratory phenomenona that eludes the
self-pitying tone and prefers an other vision: The migratory flows are the
product of the unequal exchange, of the continuous and violent depredation
of resources and destruction of the territories, but they represent also
the destabilisation capacity that an important part of the class develops
against the structures settled by their exploiters, and the expression of
a strong character of insubordination. Unfortunately, until today, this
huge antagonist potential has been recognised much more rapidly by the
counterpart (first of all by the E.U. governments) than by the natural
allies: the exceptional control system constituted with the centralisation
of the data about immigrants and the homogenisation of the laws about
immigration imposed by the Schengen and Maastricht agreements are
(definitely also a response to the sabotage forms used by immigrants
against the bureaucratic control. 

Only a class approach allows to intercept all these aspects, and this
approach is possible only if (here is a link between the struggles for the
civil rights of the immigrants and the class needs that move behind them. 
The right of citizenship is all empty idea if it is not considered as
functional to evade the blackmail of the working overexploitation, if this
struggle doesn't become the occasion to come out of the social and politic
clandestinity and to meet the native proletarians in the struggle for the
fundamental needs. The immigrants, besieged by the repression of the E.U. 
governments, are no more a residual division of the class cut out from the
guarantee ambits of the Welfare, but they are the more advanced subject of
experimentation of the capitalist modernity: lack of stability in Job,
mobility, regimentation of the nomadism of a workforce pressed by poverty,
by the media and by repression, capacity of linking the citizenship rights
to the exploitation rates. 

An European campaign for the shutting of the detention camps, symbol of
the repressive legislation, could be a first response of the movement
against these politics, but it could also be the preamble to collaboration
forms always more coordinated. The question of the detention camps, that
seems to monopolise, in an humanitarian key, the media space granted to
that part of society that doesn't see its country menaced by a Mars attack
(also because the dangerous clandestines don't arrive with futurist flying
saucers, but with floating old crocks), is only the last ring of an
hateful chain. This chain ties the existence of immigrants together with
the necessity of accepting any Job to preserve the residence permit, it
makes the police offices the only and powerful referring for all the
bureaucratic aspects of the theirs life, it produces clandestinity
introducing always more restrictive norms about the residence permit. In
Italy, for example, the most of the expulsions happens directly at the
border, and the peculiarity of a sea border, like the "Puglia", emphasize
the importance of a struggle for the circulation freedom as a support of
that one for the right of citizenship. Given the circumstances we have to
aim at becoming rapidly a real strength, otherwise it becomes unrealistic
to propose solutions alien to the existing political situation. 

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