An outsider about the Morze Infoshop

Posted by Daniel

It is really nice to get fresh, outsider opinions when you are so deep in shit that you cannot really look out of it. I had a lot of trouble in the past dealing with my own submissive behavior regarding internal hierarchies of left alternative atmospheres and supporting exclusionary behavior (i still do today) so i find it extremely important to try to reflect. I publish the following in hopes of getting through to some people who appear to be an impenetrable concrete wall to me.

Enjoy!

(D is a good friend who visited Budapest really shortly and is an outsider to the left alternative scene in general)

D: and i feel down whenever i think about maria.

seems she won. she can have Budapest for herself.

and the infoshoppppp

she’ll be rich and smart and owning in the future!

me: no

D: i hate this..not talking over a problem and then all of a sudden ‘hello’ email, like nothing happened. things dont work this way, not with me, not anymore

me: Budapest and the infoshop doesnt belong to Maria

and i dont think she will get rich or anything

D: i think she is very protective of this group.

me: i know

D: and consantly changing mind in basic things. i never know what she thinks, what she..ah.

yes

i couldnt even sign up to the mailing list

she influeced me in a way that i finally resigned out of this idea

she said: ah its not worth it, i wanna save your time on this bullshit.

yes somehow ppl read what Milla says, what she writes

then they ignore her or write nasty stuff about her

but they READ. they read it like entertainment.

she is not sick, she is just trying to fight injustice, the way she knows, the methods she knows.

nevermind, i am bittered about maria

everyone says they dont care

yet they liek having those power positions

or how you call them.

i dont wanna know ppl like this

thats why i dont wanna be in this stupid Alert here either.

me: aha

but power is everywhere

D: one way or the other. for me its simple

me: you need to deal with it

thats how you make the revolution

if you want a better job and car and house and husband all those things are also about power

D: so what i should be Milla the second? go to Bp and say what i hate about Infoshop?

how maxigas ignored my emails, how maria is overprotective? how Hajni ignores my emails too?

this is ridiculous

those ppl have their right to their lives

if they dont want any new ppl there whom they dont feel safe with – so be it.

i should look for another group then.

and maybe i dont fit them anyway

sorry a bit frustrated here

me: no

you are totally right

that is what im also mad about

that the group is totally exclusive

it does not make me well

D: well, your methods maybe are a bit radical to many, but youre the only open person from this group.

yes it is

also if i may say smth about Maria

i think she is very clever

she gathers information from ppl

tried ot be friendly with everybody

then she sums up and brings out the common denominator

and on this basis she acts.

to keep her in power

i know she is weak sometimes too, i know she has doubts. but all in all she is more powerful than i thought.

she is very bright, very clever

and thats why i think she will get rich or powerful.

i think nobody knows real Maria.

sorry to admit this, but Milla was right here. i dont know how i could be so blinded

i have a lot of negative feelings about maria.

and you were right too

fuck again..

pedestal.

now its gone again

i hate this

me: what has gone?

D: so, i should stay away from people, power etc

me: pedestal?

D: for me the most important things are build in silence, peace and quiet, not in the lights of jupiter!

yes ive put maria on a pedestal

and i denied, even though you told me i would.,

me: well i told you if you want to stay away from power than you have to avoid society… cause hierarchies cannot be magically suspended only worked on

D: i still create pictures of ppl in my head too fast,

well sorry but there is zero work on hierarchy in infoshop ppl

or maybe there is but i dont know nothing about it

but your group is very closed

unfortunately it is like this with many groups

and the richer, the hierarchy is bigger and harder to fight

i know, im not saying anything new..

its just..new for me because i realized this.

also hierarchy at my work, at my room

when i started to ‘show teeth’, ppl are more careful with me too.

i cannot be nice, because ppl use it. i have to be nasty!

me: well… or you can be always nice

that confuses ppl 🙂

but nobody can keep it up 😛

D: rarely someone can

and those ppl are not valued

usually

i used to say hello to everyone even guys

not anymore

and the typical sexist behavior is here also

and the typical homophobia every day

tiring. anyway

i think i prefer environment and greenery

ppl just hurt each other

trees dont

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yet another written statement for dec13 (ignored)

another written statement for the meeting dec13. there’s some heavy criticism of lack of democracy and also support for dealing with sexism and support of the work that i do in the letter. this was put down in one sentense by Madman, and that was that with this person’s say at this meeting. Madman said: “She was only at one meeting in May..” or something like that. Madman hasn’t been present herself in the house, so I don’t really understand her logic of discrediting this person’s words by lack of presense. (btw -Madman is one of those whose say weighs more than others in the movement. Madman herself doesn’t perceive of herself as having any power in the project…)

first in english, then in finnish. the name tag is something i added myself.

A QUICK TRANSLATION TO ENGLISH:

Sexism is present everywhere in our society – in films, in books, in commercials, in our language, in our concept of history and so on. In my opinion it’s really important to work against it, as a part of the wide struggle against capitalism, environmental destruction and animal (and also human) abuse. Sexism is a structure that’s built into our culture.

I therefore consider Milla’s struggle to be important. I’m not always agreeing with the methods, as I often find direct confrontation as an ineffective way to get people to really question their own behavior. But Milla’s analysis has been very precise.

When I heard that Milla had been sending a call for solidarity to several lists, also international ones, I felt that it made a sore situation even worse. At least it wouldn’t add any to the discussion within the squatting scene and I felt disappointed. I got a response to Milla’s message and after reading it, without reflecting too much on it, I passed it on to two lists where I had seen the call for solidarity.

Now after more time has passed, and I have been getting more distance to the chain of events, I have been reading the response again, and also been getting a version commented by Milla. I am now of the opinion that I acted too hastily, and passing the message on without analyzing the content any further, was a mistake.

Many have considered Milla to be a difficult person, but the fact is still that she’s been pointing out real problems and always been giving a very sharp analysis of the gender aspects in different conflicts. To my knowledge nobody’s been able to show that Milla has been wrong in any of the direct examples of sexist behavior that she’s been giving. From the very beginning I felt great disappointment that Milla was banned from the mailing list as well as from the house. The fact that she wasn’t allowed to participate in the following house – even though many other things had changed and been organized in a different way – I thought of as very strange. Milla’s “difficulty” is largely based on that she brings out difficult truths. It’s easier to ignore the problem than to do something about it.

All the conflicts and the otherwise bad atmosphere got me to withdraw from the whole movement. The exclusion of Milla affected this decision a fair amount, and as well that I had the feeling that my chances to affect any of the decisions regarding the house were not much greater than in the general Finnish elections. I haven’t experienced the squatting scene as very open or democratic. It seems like some persons have more power than others, and that the say of some have more weight than the say of others.

I hope for the squatting movement to democratize. I also hope that the ones who still participate in it, would do their best to crush sexism – like, for real. I haven’t been following exactly what improvements have been made after I left, but I don’t think the way Milla is treated is acceptable.

Kind regards,

“From a certain Someone

whose say meant Nothing and Nil

at the meeting dec13, 2008”

SUOMEKSI:

Seksismi on lĂ€snĂ€ kaikkialla yhteiskunnassamme – elokuvissa, kirjoissa, mainoksissa, kielessĂ€, historiankĂ€sityksessĂ€mme jne. MielestĂ€ni on erittĂ€in tĂ€rkeĂ€tĂ€ toimia sitĂ€ vastaan, osana laajaa
kamppailua kapitalismia, ympÀristötuhoa ja elÀinten (myös ihmisten) hyvÀksikÀyttöÀ vastaan. Seksismi on rakenne joka on rakennettu sisÀÀn kulttuuriimme.

PidÀn siis Millan taistelua tÀrkeÀnÀ. Aina en ole kuitenkaan samaa mieltÀ metodeista, usein koen suoran konfrontaation epÀtehokkaana tapana saada ihmisen todellakin kyseenalaistamaan omaa
toimintamalliaan. Mutta Millan analyysit ovat olleet hyvinkin tarkkoja.

Kun kuulin ettÀ Milla oli lÀhettÀnyt solidaarisuuskutsun lukuisille listoille, myös kansainvÀlisille sellaisille, asia tuntui tekevÀn jo tulehtunutta tilannetta entistÀ pahemmaksi. Se ei ainakaan lisÀisi
keskustelua talonvaltausliikkeen sisÀllÀ ja oloni oli pettynyt. Sain mailitse vastalauseen Millan viestille ja luettuani sen, ilman sen kummempaa pohdintaa, lÀpi lÀhetin sen eteenpÀin kahdelle listalle joilla olin nÀhnyt solidaarisuuskutsun.

Nyt kun on kulunut enemmĂ€n aikaa ja oon saanut etĂ€isyyttĂ€ tapahtumaketjuun, olen lukenut vastalauseen lĂ€pi uudestaan ja myös saanut Millan kommenteilla varustetun version. Olen nyt sitĂ€ mieltĂ€ ettĂ€ toimin liian hĂ€tiköidysti ja analysoimatta sisĂ€ltöÀ sen enempÀÀ – viestin eteenpĂ€in lĂ€hettĂ€minen oli virhe.

Moni on pitĂ€nyt Millaa hankalana henkilönĂ€, mutta tosiasia on kuitenkin se, ettĂ€ hĂ€n on osoittanut todellisia ongelmia ja aina antanut hyvin skarpin analyysin sukupuoliaspekteista eri konflikteissa. TietÀÀkseni kukaan ei ole pystynyt osoittaa Millan olevan vÀÀrĂ€ssĂ€ missÀÀn niissĂ€ suorissa esimerkeissĂ€ mitĂ€ hĂ€n on antanut seksistisestĂ€ kĂ€ytöksestĂ€. Koin jo alusta alkaen suurta pettymystĂ€ siihen ettĂ€ Milla bĂ€nnĂ€ttiin listalta ja itse taloltakin. Se, ettei hĂ€n saanut osallistua seuraavassa talossakaan – vaikka moni asia muuten oli muuttunut ja jĂ€rjestetty uudella tavalla – pidin hyvin
kummallisena asiana. Millan “hankaluus” perustuu kuitenkin pitkĂ€lle siihen, ettĂ€ hĂ€n tuo esille hankalia totuuksia. On helpompaa olla nĂ€kemĂ€ttĂ€ ongelmaa kun tehdĂ€ asialle jotain.

Kaikki konfliktit ja muutenkin huono tunnelma sai minut vetÀytymÀÀn koko liikeestÀ. Millan poissulkeminen vaikutti melko paljon tÀhÀn pÀÀtökseen, sekÀ sekin ettÀ tuntui ettei minulla ollut kovin paljon suuremmat mahdollisuudet vaikuttaa talon pÀÀtöksiin kun yleensÀkÀÀn esimerkiksi Suomen vaaleissa. En ole koennut talonvaltausliikettÀ kovin avoimeksi tai demokraattiseksi. Joillakin henkilöillÀ tuntuu olevan enemmÀn valtaa kun muilla ja toisten sanat ovat toisten sanoja
painavampia.

Toivon ettĂ€ talonvaltausliike demokratisoituu. Toivon myös ettĂ€ he jotka edelleen osallistuvat tekevĂ€t parhaansa murskataaksen seksismin – siis ihan oikeastikin. En ole itse seurannut niin tarkkaan mitĂ€ parannuksia on tapahtunut lĂ€htöni jĂ€lkeen, mutta en pidĂ€ tapaa jolla Millaa kohdellaan hyvĂ€ksyttĂ€vĂ€nĂ€.

YstÀvÀllisin terveisin,

“Joku jolla ei ole sananvaltaa valtausskenessĂ€”

update – solidarity statement for dec13

Solidarity statement

I was really thinking a lot about this. I wanted it to have some structure, some generalizations, theory or whatever… but i’ve finally decided to make it as simple as it can be, cause there are a lot of unclear things for me in this whole experience, so i’m just going to stick to what is sure. I first read Milla’s writings on the PGA europe list and was moderately interested: interested cause of their topic, but only moderately, cause i could not fully comprehend what she was saying. I always felt like i am missing some context, because i cannot put a real, living person behind it. When she made the radical exchange call-out on the list it was the final spark for me to get totally into this „Milla fighting for a better finnish squatting scene and to save the world in general” issue. I wanted to go to Tallinn at the end of october with my friends to have some fun, but i decided to abandon them for Milla and Helsinki something that is more fun than just hanging around: getting to know a lively person who you did not really know before with all her ideas, values, emotions…

We had a neverending discussion ever since. I can see that she is really lonely and suffering, party because of the way she is being treated, but i don’t see her as a sour person or somebody who is unable to communicate. She is very outspoken (this is one of the qualities i value in her the most) and not afraid to point out what a sad, oppressed world we live in. I view this as an opportunity to improve the way i’m behaving towards people and i am really dissatisfied to hear that there are people who consider her insight harmful. The only thing that can solve this problem is communication and this is exactly what is being swept aside. I really hope that on 13rd of december people who participate in the discussion about the issue will be open enough to actually hear eachother, to look at the arguments behind the frustration and anger and to try to understand. That is what i expect from trying to take part in this whole thing. To understand people, why they act the way they do. Needs, fears, motives, patterns… I cannot say much, because i am still trying to connect with Milla, the issue and people involved, but i will move to Helsinki at the end of december to try to work with Milla on making the finnish squatting scene an open environment and to reach an understanding. With myself, with my potential comrades and friends.

With love,

Daniel involved with the Budapest infoshop, currently residing in Vilnius

update – zagu’s statement for dec13

here’s another written statement for the meeting dec13:

Report from the outside in solidarity with Milla on the outside

A report and analysis of the valtaus house meeting on September, 8th by one member of the international Milla supporters group

This text is an absolute subjective report on my experiences within a valtaus house meeting (September, 8th) as a supporter of Milla. At that meeting I presented the petition for a fair trial together with signatures and words of support from international activists. The petition is just one of the results of Milla’s international call for solidarity. Actually I didn’t decide to travel from germany to Finland because of that call. Milla and I met in summer 2007 and we stayed in contact since then. Although we have certainly some tough issues of dissent and constant discussion I consider her to be a really inspiring person (I highlight this because Milla is often presented as a person with whom it is impossible to discuss). That’s why I wanted to show her that she is not alone out there and that her actions and thoughts mean a lot to some people – even if they seem to be far away.

I’m absolutely aware of the impossibility of judging that conflict as an outsider. There will always be some sides I can’t take into account, some perspectives I can’t listen to. For sure it’s Milla’s perspective I know best. Some might say that this approach is very limited. But even within the really limited time I spent with some people from the squatting scene in that meeting there were pretty obvious methods and social dynamics going on which have to be criticized. These structures should be named and challenged by anyone who has an upright interest in creating a progressive emancipatoric space and process.

That’s what I’m up to do in this text: making a contribution to such a process. Although I’m not a part of that particular scene I’ve got an interest in solving this conflict and pushing things forward apart from my solidarity with Milla. I consider many problems and issues not only as connected to basic forms of oppression such as sexism but also as rooted in basic leftist forms of organising and decision making. In this text I’m going to concentrate on the latter problem, which is certainly interconnected with the first one.

My arrival at valtaus and the situation before the beginning of the „official“ meeting:

When I arrived at the house there were already some people waiting for the meeting to begin. I didn’t know any of these persons and I was asked about my background and intention. When I said, that I’m not on vacations but travelled to Helsinki to support Milla and present the petition I got the reply „This is fucking crazy.“ Immediately another person tried to demotivate me in a relatively subtle way. I was told that there are so many other things to talk about that evening, so that I would have to wait a long long time before I could bring up my issue. When people argument like this, they try to act as if they don’t have any principal problems with some specific content (in this case: Milla) but that there are some obstacles they can’t make disappear. As if there is a rule that conflicts have to be discussed at the end of a meeting. As if agenda of meetings isn’t set up by the people at the particular meetings. But in that argument it sounds as if that agenda is set up by some force far out. It also makes clear, that dealing with the conflict is not considered to be an important one issue. I was not surprised at all that there were just some standard organising items set up on the list later like fixing some post box. If these are the most important things which have to be discussed I wonder why there is a house meeting at all. Luckily there was another person (A.), who seemed to see things differently and supported my suggestion discuss the petition first. Thanks for that.

At that point of time T. entered the house and was informed immediately about my mission. It was the first time I met T. but she had been introduced to me by Milla beforehand. She was described as having a NGO-background, dominating the conflict resolution group and being one of the persons quite eager to exclude Milla. I was also informed about her denial of acting that way and her sometimes subtle methods of exclusion. This information made it a lot easier to disbelief her words of understandig and caring for Milla’s case. While she expressed her compassion for Milla, she tried to block a discussion about the petition even before the meeting started. She suggested that the conflict is too difficult at that moment and she doubted that there could be any progress within that meeting. When I showed no interest in these arguments she also tried to demotivate me by referring to the decision making process (consensus) highlighting the enormous amount of time necessary for that process. This strategy has the same message like the one explained above: „You’ll have to pay criticism with many hours of your life time.“ Apart from that she tried to deligitimize Milla’s demands for a fair trial and to ridicule them. I pointed out that I didn’t want to discuss these things at that point of time „in between“ but properly at the meeting. My following report and analysis will deal a lot with Ts words and actions because she seems to have an important and dominant role within the group and the conflict and for sure played that role during the meeting.

The meeting:

While T. failed with her first attempts to stop my support for Milla some more people joined the group, so that there were 10 – 15 persons gathered when the meeting began. T. volunteered for moderating it, which was accepted by the others. No one else seemed to be interested in that function, although it is a really important and powerful one. If you moderate you can dominate discussions very easily. Hence it was no surprise at all that T. wanted to moderate on that evening. I guess that she might have gained quite some experience in moderation during her NGO-work, which is a skill enabling to create/affirm hierarchies and dominance inside a group. Apart from that T. was also one of the persons, who talked most that evening. This behaviour and her role within the group should be discussed and reflected.

Despite the attempts I described above I was allowed to present the petition as the first item of the agenda that evening. T. continued her strategy just after I had read out the petition, the signatures and comments. She argued that there is no sense in a petition, which pleads for opening the case of Milla in the house meeting again, because it was never really closed and that people are still working on it. I responded that Milla didn’t recognise any visible progress in the past months. T. reacted with an argument which was repeated several times that evening, which says, that there aren’t enough people to do conflict resolution at the squat, so that it is impossible to cope with the conflict. With reference to the petition I responded that Milla was not asking for conflict resolution but for a fair trial. When the „not enough people“-argument was repeated at some other point of time I put emphasis on the problem, that it is an easy way to silence criticism and to block a progress by complaining about having not enough people. There were 10 to 15 people sitting there but this didn’t seem to be enough. The radical left in Europe is absolutely marginalised since the collapse of the soviet union. In almost all countries the scenes are fighting to survive. So it is pretty odd to talk about people missing to do this or that. Because it was like this the past decade and it will certainly continue.

Furthermore this argument is the perfect tool to postpone decisions forever. When people don’t want to think about or even solve a conflict they will never have got the impression that they finally found enough people to deal with it. Not a single participant specified how many people they think to be necessary for dealing with the conflict.

But there weren’t only these people capable of conflict resolution missing. There weren’t any sincere opponents of Milla either. Milla told me about that phenomenon beforehand: when you ask people involved in the scene, why they banned Milla, you’ll always get the same response „It wasn’t me. Someone else did it. I don’t have a problem with Milla (at all).“ I became a witness of that miracle, when T. brought up a different remark. She said that it will be really difficult to formulate the precise accusations against Milla because you’ll have to find the people, who have got a problem with her. Most of the other participants agreed and confessed that they all don’t have a (real) problem with Milla. I still don’t understand why at the same time T. was so sure that Milla would be banned for ever from the scene in case of an „official“ decision. As far as I understand the principles of leftist decision making, it often goes like that: the people who form some kind of group at some point of time make decisions for that particular group for that particular point of time. Most activists just spend some years of their adolescense in the scene and leave for their family and career afterwards. So there is almost no continuity inside a group and therefore an obvious need for flexible rules and decisions. If all the people who are sincere opponents of Milla don’t go to the house meetings: why does anyone care about them? The house is, who is active in it.

And if all the people at the house meeting say, that they don’t have a problem with Milla: why should Milla be banned for ever in case of a „final“ decision? If I’m not mistaken a „final“ ban „for ever“ should be impossible in itself when the people who are active in a project make the decisions. Because these people won’t be the same for ever, so decisions have to be questioned again and again.

There was another basic principle of leftist decision making people (especially T.) referred to in an absolutely naive and affirmative way: the consensus. I don’t know which type of consensus is practiced in valtaus but all forms are certainly not the golden solution of group decisions. Unfortunately there is really rare reflection on this problem in many collectives because consensus appears to be so much more egalitarian than the majority/minority-decisions. This might be true sometimes but consensus is absolutely not free of hierarchies. When you have a decision to be made it is really important who formulates the question how. For an example (consensus with block-system): if you ask „Do we want to ban Milla from the scene?“ you need just one person to block this and Milla will stay. If you ask „Do we want Milla to stay in the scene?“ you need just one person to block this and Milla is banned. Sounds fairly simple but makes a big difference if you’re not deciding just on fixing post boxes.

These were just some examples of really problematic argumentations during that meeting. Despite Ts attempts to block discussing Milla’s case at all I was able to bring it back into the public and consciousness of some people at the meeting. The decision on the petition wasn’t important in the end to me and said something like this: Milla will get a fair trail, when there will be some volunteer to collect the tons of problems all these invisible people have with Milla. It was even discussed to collect these accusations anonymously, so that people don’t have to fear the terrible wrath of Milla. Why seem so many people (who don’t even go to Milla-free-meetings) be afraid of Milla, while there is a guy owning an important role in the scene, who is not only verbally dominant but also physically violent? When you use anonymity, which means freeing people of responsibility, the ones who fear to loose their own privileges and dominant positions within the community won’t hesitate to make up even more absurd arguments than the ones I mentioned above to keep Milla out. But I don’t want to discuss this decision any longer because it is formed around the idea of searching for people outside the house meeting to affirm decisions within the house meeting, which was already criticized in depth beforehand.

This was my personal report and attempt to analyse how some people in the scene behaved when they had to deal with Milla’s petition. Although it might be just one small episode within that conflict I’m pretty sure that it is full of patterns which structure the whole conflict and keep repeating. That’s why I hope that these words help to realise these patterns and break through them.

For sure I am an outsider. But outsiders very often see some things people, who are stuck in a situation, don’t (want to) realise. Activism very often takes place from such an outsider position. So activists should also start listening to outsiders.

The first step for activists in the Helsinki squatting scene then is to start listening to Milla. To stop leaving her alone on the outside. Because she has many things to say, which are important for a politically progressive scene. I absolutely agree with her, that scenes should care less about houses but more about community buildig. If there is a collective which is able to deal with dissent and conflicts in a productive way it almost doesn’t matter if there is a space squatted or not. The catch phrase „The house first“ is just the most boring of the thousands of phrases to avoid conflicts and criticism and maintain power structures. This might pan out some time with more and more people leaving the scene frustrated. On the long run this structure will turn against itself. So it’s time to change not only for Milla’s but also for your own sake.

In solidarity with Milla and all the people in solidarity with her.

Zagu

For words of support, question and critique write to zagu (A) riseup.net

Update – written statement for dec13

i’ve asked (pushed! and pleaded) for people who can’t attend the meeting dec13 to write some statement.

here’s Jules:

From Jules
Hi all. I want to contribute a bit to the discussion on the
conflicts in the hki social center movement involving Milla
Ahola, although i can’t be there on saturday 13th.

Summary (if you’re too tired/lazy to read it all):
I’m really reluctand to take stands in these (or any) conflicts: It
feels like everyone is just taking stands all the time
and no-one is actually trying to discuss or figure out what reality
the other person comes from. Bohoo, i’m a sad hippie.
No-one dies of being attacked with criticism. Your strengths are
often your biggest weaknesses as well.
EF! magazine has a good-looking anti-oppression policy, have a look
at it:
http://www.earthfirstjournal.org/section.php?id=6
I also recommend everyone to read this easy-to-understand text on
victimization:
http://archive.tamaracksong.org/view.html?page=Victim%20One,%20Victi
ms%20All.htm&title=Victim%20One,%20Victims%20All

Milla, you have been acting in unrespectful ways towards many
persons; which you have aknowledged at least in
part. You have just not gotten away with it in the way others have.
This shows that there’s clearly a sexistic power
imbalance in the ‘scene’. The people might not be consciously
sexist, but the structure created by this imbalance of
tolerance & power is clearly sexistic, and needs to be dealt with.
Ultimately, conflict resolution cannot be prioritized away (and
even less antisexism) as “less important”.
Both of these are things that Milla has expressed interest in
helping with, providing models for and educating about;
but if you don’t like her (or someone else’s) approach, then that’s
a reason to do some own research and self-education. This concerns
everyone! This concerns you!
I’m not able to criticize because i would be better than somebody
else, but because anyone can. I’ve made some attempts at doing
something about these conflicts, but i’ve never been consistent in
any way. This is something i project on the process in general, the
scene in general, and the people involved. Maybe someone else can
deem
how much it is true, but i think it might well be, at least partly.
I think it is unrealistic to think that this one meeting is gonna
get very much sorted out (it might easily wind up being quite
frustrating), so it needs some continuation. It would be good to
lay out a structured plan for how the process will proceed, who
will do what when etc. Easy for me to say when i’m far away from it
all…
End of summary.

I’m really reluctand to take stands in these (or any) conflicts: It
feels like everyone is just taking stands all the time and no-one
is actually trying to discuss or figure out what reality the other
person comes from. Bohoo, i’m a sad hippie. I see a lot of things
as consequences of the state of constant confusion that the social
center/squat/whtever scene is in. It is an aspect of this
‘movement’ that is a strength, and over the years i’ve come to
appreciate it,
although it can be frustrating sometimes. But your strengths are
often your biggest weaknesses as well (“whatever way you turn your
ass is always backwards”: ), and this also applies on the personal
level. Just for everyone to think about.
I think there is lots that could be done better with the help of
more structure in the “pseudocommunity” of this scene, including
dealing with conflicts, also these conflicts. Maybe there’s a limit
to how much structure it’s good to have in this project. Personally
i believe more in culture than in structure, but this scene/project
is maybe not stable enough for a strong, functional, healthy
culture to grow, or to create structure “spontaneously”. Anyway,
although there might be limits to how much structure it’s good to
have, there already is some, and there’s also clearly some not
working stuff in the structures. Also, in the loopholes there are
clearly informal structures that are not outspoken or analyzed. I
have heard people small-talking before meetings about the need to
“see to that the meeting goes in the right direction”, and in
general i think there’s a slight phobia (though it has gotten
better over time) towards opening up discussion over goals,
strategies or tactics.
i’m not sure i want to name people. That is because there seems to
be a slight phobia towards criticism as well. Although i can
understand it, i think it still needs to be worked on. No-one dies
of being attacked with criticism. Especially not heterosexual white
males.
If all this talk about structure is a bit vague, what i mean is:
how to as a group deal with conflicts like these ones in a
constructive way? How to as a group deal with sexism and other
forms of oppression? With power imbalances? With emotional
frictions?

I think it’s good for everyone to actively read up on these stuffs
themselves, there’s lots of good material out there, even though it
might take a little searching and effort. Workshops and discussions
with others would also be good, so that people develop an
understanding of each others’ thoughts (this would in general be
great to see more in the ‘scene’).

I think one major imbalance in the ‘scene’ is that new (& old)
initiatives tend to become the work of a few people that also are
dedicated to a lot of other things, not the least their own lives.
It would be great in general if some less occupied people could
take the initiative, acquire the resources they need and make
something happen.
This is not necessarily rewarded by the structure/culture of the
scene, so i hope it would be rewarding in itself. I have no
blueprint for how to make the culture support people to learn and
take initiative. maybe a good beginning could be for people to get
to know each other and each other’s ideas more, to build up trust
and connection. If this is only done with your close pals (the
usual situation), it doesn’t make sense to do inclusive projects
with more people than your close pals!

i just found this anti-oppression policy from the Earth First!
Magazine. Since the whole squat/social center/whtevar project seems
to be in need of tools for anti-sexism and anti-oppression work,
please have a look at it:

http://www.earthfirstjournal.org/section.php?id=6

I recommend everyone to read it! It’s easy to understand, i think
it could easily be adapted, it has lots of great points and could
be a good starting point. Sadly i don’t have anything more concrete
i know to work, and i don’t know if there’s any method without
drawbacks. But there’s lots written about these subjects, so go
find out!
Search words: restorative justice, conflict resolution, community
response to sexual assault, anti-oppression work, you get it.

Ultimately, conflict resolution cannot be prioritized away (and
even less antisexism) as “less important”.
Both of these areas of community work are things Milla has
expressed interest in helping with, providing models for and
educating about; but if you don’t like her (or someone else’s)
approach, then that’s a reason to do some own research and self-
education. This concerns everyone! This concerns you!

I also recommend everyone to read this easy-to-understand text on
victimization:

http://archive.tamaracksong.org/view.html?page=Victim%20One,%20Victi
ms%20All.htm&title=Victim%20One,%20Victims%20All

Nonviolent Communication is also very useful to read up on, i
recommend the book with the same name by Marshall B. Rosenberg.

As i said, i don’t like to take stands in these conflicts, but i
suppose i can’t just run away from it, so here’s some personal,
subjective opinions of mine:

-Micke, i think, regardless of what you feel (which you are
entitled to), you tend to act defensively/martyrically in your
interaction with Milla. Milla, i think you have disrespected
Micke’s boundaries an awful lot. Being mad or alcoholic doesn’t
justify it, or anything else.

-Milla, you have been acting in unrespectful ways towards many
persons; which you have aknowledged at least in part. You have just
not gotten away with it in the way others have. This shows that
there’s clearly a sexistic power imbalance in the scene.
You tend to act aggressively towards people expressing differing
points of view (cutting off, labeling, not listening); regardless
of if you’re right or wrong, i feel alienated by it (also when
witnessing it from the side, which is what i’ve mostly done). This
might also describe what others are feeling.
I think it would also be good for you not f.ex. post 20 long
messages in one day to a mailing list: it’s not practical for
anyone, it might not be the purpose of the list, it’s overkill and
it doesn’t exactly foster reciprocal discussion. Long texts are
better published on a blog f.ex.

-re: the “solidarity call and response: The main problem with The
Response is that it’s colored with personal interest (i.e. it’s
defensive). The solidarity call was alright, and pointing out that
Milla’s actions are controversial & that there are other views is
also alright, but to make it into ‘Milla vs. Scene’ is
unproductive, and assumes one person can speak for the “common
will” of the scene.

-I’m ultimately not interested in ‘what really happened’.
Addressing the involved people’s feelings is more important.
And this should be done on an individual level – there isn’t a
“consensus of emotions”.

-So far, the ‘Conflict Resolution Process’ has gone forward only
because Milla’s been pushing & working on it all the time. The
Conflict Resolution group would need a clearer vision & process,
and more dedication, preferably from people not overworked with all
the other stuff. See above.
I think it is anyway quite unrealistic to think that this one
meeting is gonna get very much sorted out (it might easily wind up
being quite frustrating), so it needs some continuation. It would
be good to lay out a structured plan for how the process will
proceed, who will do what when etc. Easy for me to say when i’m far
away from it all…

-Yakup, i think you would benefit from adopting a less self-
righteous & self-glorifying attitude. Your interaction with Milla
seems to be characterized by an inability to consider that you
might be wrong on anything.

-Aleksi, i think you have a tendency to get frustrated and cut off
discussion quite fast, in many areas. It’s quite alienating, and
suppresses the stuff to boil under the surface instead, which isn’t
exactly constructive.
I’d really want to help you deal with facing your personal issues,
because i see some of them as quite problematic, but i don’t
really know where to start. You can contact me if you want to. I
don’t wan’t this to sound like ridiculing or psychologizing. I’m no
fucking therapist, i’m just me.

-There are lots of people ‘in the scene’, from the center (which it
has!) to the fringe, with lots of issues or ‘political
incorrectness’ – but they are tolerated. Milla, but not only Milla,
is seen as too dangerous to also be allowed this, for some reason.
Antifeminism, and persons with such views, are not seen as
dangerous, and tolerated. The behaviours tolerated range from
domineering behavior, to disrespect for unprivileged persons, to
violating of people’s personal boundaries. These are all typical
expressions of patriarchal power, and perpetuate sexism. The
persons might not be consciously sexist, but the structure created
by this imbalance of tolerance & power is clearly sexistic, and
needs to be dealt with.

This text has become rather long.
I’m not exactly impressed with how the social center
pesudocommunity has handled this conflict. I’m not exactly
impressed with how i’ve handled it myself either (I’m not able to
criticize because i would be better than somebody else, but because
anyone can.). I’ve made some attempts, but i’ve never been
consistent in any way (in thought, in
action, in accountability, in communication, in criticism, in
initiative, in accountability. Yes, i wrote accountability twice),
so it hasn’t helped much. This is something i project on the
process in general, the scene in general, and the people involved.
Maybe someone else can deem how much it is true, but i think it
might well be, at least partly.
My opinion right now is, that to deal with these conflicts in a
restorative way, might need consequent, strong facilitation of the
process, holding both parts in any one conflict accountable.
Because nothing such is gonna fall from the sky into my hands, this
will demand Time, Energy and Resources, a lot. In other words, it
will be ‘uneconomical’, or ‘costly’. But whether one does anything
or not, the only way to make a conflict like this pay back even a
bit, is to learn as much as you can from it. It doesn’t pay back to
avoid it.

Love & Anarchy,
Jules

End

Conflict resolution group – from the inside

i got a statement from the most active (at least in relation to/with me) participant of the conflict resolution group.

the recent letter signed by 19 women, gave an impression of there being enough effort put into the process of creating communication / discussion around the issue of my exclusion from the social centre project. most of the persons signing this statement, have not been in personal contact with me, in relation to this conflict.

i’ve also tried to get conflict resolution going with some of the members taking part in the group trying to deal with the conflict (k-ryhmĂ€). at least half of them declined having a one-on-one meeting that would have been needed for me in order to create the necessary trust for me to be able to do work together with them in this process.

here’s (he)’s experience from inside the conflict resolution group ( = k-ryhmĂ€ )

“You can also freely quote me in whatever forum saying that in my opinion, the conflict resolution group has not been a functioning tool to resolve this conflict because of a total lack of clear methods from the side of k-ryhmĂ€ and a mutual lack of trust.

Members of k-ryhmÀ have had very different ideas on how the group should position itself. While the group has been frozen by internal confusion, you have mostly handled your relations to the squatters yourself outside of mediation.

After this summer’s experiences I don’t think it’s even a realistic idea that a conflict resolution group should take a strong role in mediation, instead of simple facilitation – mediation is an illusion anyway, and in the worst case it turns out to prolong the conflict instead of helping parties to communicate.

I think it would have been best for all if you could have spoken for yourself, but since [you] couldn’t earlier, do that as soon as possible.”