Geert Lovink on Sat, 12 Oct 96 09:26 MET

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nettime: More on Radikal

We thought it would be interesting for nettime to have more information
about the 'Radikal' magazine from Germany and to put the fight against
censorship (xs4all and xs2all) in a more political context. We are trying
to get more information from/about Radikal translated into English.

From: Arm The Spirit <>


"It was never about illegality as such, rather the promotion of free
communication and the conveyance of radical political content." 
     - from an interview with Radikal, 1989

On June 13, 1995, federal police in Germany carried out a
major coup against left-radical structures. At six in the
morning, around 50 homes and leftist projects all across Germany
were stormed. The mainstream media praised the action as a "blow
to terrorist groups", including the illegal magazine 'Radikal'. The usual
stigma of "terrorist group" was attached, justified with
Paragraphs 129 and 129a of the German penal code (membership in or
propaganda on behalf of a terrorist or criminal organization). Standard
It's a part of German reality to have homes being stormed, children rousted from
their beds by masked cops with guns, weapons pointed at the heads
of individuals whose "only" crime was their work on a
left-radical newspaper. Even on the suspicion of simply
distributing Radikal, people were terrorized all over the
country, from Berlin to Hamburg to Cologne. This was the biggest
raid on the German left in years.

The autonomist magazine Radikal was formed as a "socialist newspaper for
West Berlin" in the late 1970s, transforming over the next few years into a
nationwide magazine for Germany's "Autonomen" (autonomous leftists).
Radikal is magazine which, in a time of state control and self-censorship,
is a forum for, among other things, discussions of street militancy and
armed struggle. Of course, the makers aren't neutral in these discussions.
Radikal fundamentally rejects the notion that the state has a monopoly on
the legitimate use of force. The existing social conditions can only be
changed if left-radical groups and associations build up their abilities
and structures so as to be able to counter some of these effects, even
today. This, of course, includes militant and armed intervention, but these
would be empty gestures if there wasn't also some sort of linkage or means
of conveying their message. Another important task of Radikal is exposing
fascist structures so as to make both old and new Nazis attackable, one
very important aspect of anti-fascist work.

Radikal has been banned and criminalized by the German state in the past,
but the present attacks on the paper, however, are qualitatively
different. Firstly, Radikal has now been declared a "criminal
organization", and secondly, it has now been stated that Radikal
has "entirely criminal content". A look back at the last few
issues, therefore, will reveal what "criminal" means: an article about new
anti-racist street names in Braunschweig; articles on nationalism and the
liberation struggle in Kurdistan; an analysis of the history of patriarchal
gender divisions; an appeal from non-commercial radio stations; debates
about leftist campaigns surrounding the May 8th commemorations...that's
criminal content? Before, the authorities used to point out specific
articles which
"supported a terrorist organization" so as to criminalize them. Now the
cops don't want to go through all that trouble so they have just called the
entire project a "criminal organization", therefore the content must be
criminal, too. 

But it's the mixture of theory and actual attacks, discussion and practical
tips, which makes Radikal so interesting to read for so many people.
Radikal aims to mobilize people to oppose Nazis and to stop nuclear waste
while at the same time giving information about debates on anti-nationalism
or the background of the origins of capitalist and patriarchal social
structures. What's more, it offers space for people from even the most
remote corners of Germany to discuss their actions or their difficulties.
The federal police have called this mixture criminal.

In 1982, about 20 homes, bookstores, and printing shops were raided in an
attempt to prosecute Radikal for "supporting a terrorist organization". In
1984, 2 supposed editors of the paper were sentenced to 2 1/2 years in
prison, but they avoided going to the slammer by getting elected to the
European Parliament for the Greens. The next step came in 1986, when
Radikal was already organized underground. Now, 100 homes and shops were
raided by the cops. Nearly 200 court cases were opened, and in the end 5
people were given suspended sentences of 4-10 months. The wave of
repression in 1986 - in addition to the obvious aims of scaring people and
just being repressive - had one major aim, namely to drive Radikal out of
the public realm and to lessen its effectiveness. But that didn't succeed.

The German cops would love to get their hands on everyone involved in the
production and distribution of Radikal. But who actually "produces"
Radikal? Those people who send in reports of
antifa actions, or is it those people that take 10 copies and
give them to their friends to read, or maybe it's those people
that write a few articles and do some lay-out, or maybe it's the
people that see to it that a few copies get into the prisons? Or
maybe the state thinks it's those people that discuss for weeks on
end which articles should go in the next issue of Radikal? Or is
the ones who stand for long hours behind the printing presses?

We're not really sure who exactly the cops are referring to
when they talk about Radikal, but we know they really mean all of
us! All people who see the continued need for radical-left
structures for discussion and communication, away from state
control and the apparatus of repression. And all people who
recognize the need for women and men to become organized to avoid
being swallowed up by capitalist and patriarchal reality. That's
why it's the task for all of us to not accept this attack nor to
let it go unanswered.

For an uncontrollable resistance media!
Read, use, distribute, and stay Radikal!

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