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<nettime> notes from the DIEM25 launch
Geert Lovink on Fri, 12 Feb 2016 22:41:41 +0100 (CET)


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<nettime> notes from the DIEM25 launch


Dear nettimers,

last weekend I was in Berlin where I combined Transmediale festival
(attending workshops on the Snowden archive and MoneyLab related issues)
with the launch of the Democracy in Europe Movement (DIEM25), initiated
by the ex-Greek finance minister & Sydney-sider Yanis Varoufakis. The
day was divided in three parts: a press conference (an old school format
with weird criteria who was entitled to attend, and as I am 100% not
press, I left), a closed meeting divided in three parts (general
diagnosis, economics and strategy) and a theatre show in the large
auditorium of the Volksb??hne (see links below for the entire stream and
selected presentations). 

DIEM25 should be seen as contemporary version of 1930s ???popular
front???, a meta-party that presents itself a broad coalition, a
historical block Gramsci-style, consisting of old and new leftist
parties, the Greens, Podemos, Die Linke, independent candidates and
scattered members of social-democratic parties and progressive liberals.
The key word here was the ???multi-level logic??? of the DIEM25 circles.
There was consensus that is no longer sufficient to have the right
arguments to counter the powers-to-be. We need to do something. Time is
running out for Europe. That???s the essence of the DIEM slogan: if
Europe does not democratize, it will disintegrate.

>From the social movement side it was Blockupy that had the most
visibility. Yanis attended a European coordination meeting of Blockupy
last weekend, where Toni Negri, amongst others, was also present.
Needless to say that many are involved in refugee/migrant support work,
mostly on the local level. On the economic level peer-to-peer
initiatives have clearly gained influence and visibility. The critique
that the DIEM was a consumerist event (entrance: 12 euro) was in fact
predictable and should be countered with demand that we need much more
spectacle with the inclusion of Berlin DJs, theatre performances, much
more video screens and up-to-date integration of digital tools in the
overall presentation. There is more than Skype. Rightly so, the unity of
politics and the arts was demanded and practiced???if in a rudimentary
way.

Vital European energies are coming from Spain, and in particular
Barcelona. The program centered around Spain. Remarkably not Italy.
Where are the Italian (autonomous) movements? In a similar way Greece
was the absent object, with Syriza being the absent political party. The
reason for this was clear because of the recent direction of the DIEM
founder but nonetheless a pity. If one reconstructs the emergence of
DIEM Greece is its birth place, and for many of us, a place where a
multitude of  alternative best practices are coming from. Hopefully
these lacks and imbalances will be corrected as time goes by.

Obviously countries from Central and Eastern Europe were represented:
Croatia, Slovenia, Slovakia, Poland. However, the great absent player in
the room was Russia. The war in Ukraine was not even mentioned once.
Traditionally, critical analyses of the situation in Russia do not come
from the left. This leaves open space for analysis for players like
George Soros (whose Russian NGOs were recently closed by Putin):
http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/feb/11/putin-threat-europe-islamic-state.
At the same time traditional anti-Americanism was prevented as well. The
USA was rarely mentioned. Europe is not seen a victim of imperialism.
The often discussed TTIP trade treaty is, rightly so, seen as a European
problem. 

The real challenge DIEM has to tackle is the question of organization.
It is called a movement, but is it really? Someone mentioned that one
cannot ???found??? a movement. They emerge, bottom up. What will happen
over the next weeks, and perhaps months, are local DIEM events to start
with Madrid, Amsterdam and for sure more that I do not know about. This
is the age of the internet so how about some internet coordination? I
counted around six ???people from the internet??? at the founding
meeting, amongst them Jacob Appelbaum, who argued for a secure way to
organize internal communication through crypto tools. Funny enough it
was the use of Facebook that caused the only open controversy during the
meeting. Whereas some favored the use of Facebook, others made it clear
that it is impossible ???to take over Facebook???. How can a movement
like DIEM have ownership over their communication destiny?

Another term someone dropped was ???think tank???. There is something to
be said for that. Why not create a ???thought collective??? that can do
political coordination on a meta level, behind the scenes, while
organizing local and regional assemblies and festivals at the same time?
We arguably need more meta coordination as there are already so much
local initiative. In the end, it is about democracy on a European level.
However, DIEM cannot only be only concept and policy development,
discourse making and strategizing in the background. In this media age,
it???s all about visibility through celebrities. The internet easily
replicates the celebs memes but the hard work of designing internal
democracy has yet to begin. 

If there is going to be a ???unity of thinking and acting??? we need
spectacles like the ones on Tuesday night. We???re all convinced of the
urgency of the situation throughout Europe???and beyond. Realtime
politics of today requires an ???open conspiracy model??? consisting of
???organized networks??? (a concept that I am co-developing with Ned
Rossiter). There are already enough ways to do outreach via ???weak
links???. The main communication platforms of DIEM right now seems to be
Twitter (plus some email in the background). Videos play an important
role, but so could info visualizations and animations. There are
powerful campaign tools and platforms available (such as Avaaz) that
were used in recent resistance (such as climate change and TTIP).
DIEM???s meta level is an ideal context to try out new, secure tools and
platforms to show that another internet is possible!

Geert

--

Some links:

Official DIEM25 agit prop video trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VJyju_tHS8k (3:25 min.)

Report by Marco Bascetta and Sandro Mezzadra in Il Manifesto: http://ilmanifesto.global/varoufakis-appeals-for-democratic-awakening/

Julian Assange???s video message to the DIEM25 launch in Berlin: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HanqooWCVsU

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