withdrawal or advance

have withdrawn, one might think, from being one of the biggest
students movements in years to opening a café. Superficially
looking, this is the obvious decline many movements take towards
creating some subcultural milieu and putting most energy into
maintaining an enclave whereas resistance to the surrounding desert
falls short. This could proof to be true in our case as well.

also, the current situation could be seen as an advance rather than a
retreat. For the first time, there was no doubt that we came to stay.
The university administration wanted back the room they had assigned
us to in exchange for the previously occupied second biggest lecture
hall. Back then, by seemingly spontaneously announcing a meeting on a
sleepy day with comparably few people, one day after a big assembly
where most voices said: for sure we will stay, some authority-minded,
obedient people managed to display a situation with no escape but to
accept the offered room. This was a scene more or less familiar to
us, as in most occupied rooms, at some point earlier or later, some
people started to push the issue of leaving voluntarily, normally for
nothing or almost nothing in return. That time, it was ‘successful’,
and the room that was then left to us became an officially tolerated
working room of the semi-official anti-bologna movement. The room was
handed over for that purpose, and when the bologna summit was over,
the administration was hoping to get it back.

kids, of course you may protest legitimately, but now that we’ve
heard you scream, go back to your desks and study. It could have been
an easy move to wipe us out. But maybe the experiences we made,
including successfully delaying the ministers’ party by blocking
roads and acting collectively in the moment, facing riot cops that
were loosing the overview and at the brink of loosing control of the
situation, maybe the slow but steady move in our brains towards not
accepting the authorities in place, towards seeing us and them as
antagonists, made us act otherwise this time. Back then it was a
strange move for us to exchange some room for another much smaller
one, rather than occupying the smaller one as well. This time, it was
near consensus that we will keep this room and liberate the space

is clear now is that this room needs to be a room defined by all
those who use it, as there is a big need for not previously defined
space. There’s collective cooking and a collective bar, both running
on free donations rather than prices, people are gathering books for
a free library and all kinds of things for a free shop, the room is
being and will be used for group meetings, as well as studying, for
films, live music, workshops, alternative ways of learning and
working or just to chill out. It is obviously open for anybody from
outside the university. There’s a piano that some people play on
every night. The area in front of the room is sunny from the morning
till the evening, and these days spring is starting, so the new place
became a center of campus life immediately.

we can hope for now is that there is a permanent meeting place for
this movement and for anybody else, as we probably have a rather
quiet period in front of us, a time we will need for reflection and
theoretical discussion, as well as for regaining energy and strength.
The fact that the room we are in now doesn’t have the character of a
sign of protest and a means of applying pressure on the
administration, nor is it a room predefined for those most involved
‘activists’ that prepare the next big event, means that the chance is
high that now we can dissolve the borders between those that
‘stubbornly’ continue to protest and those that have seemingly turned
their back to the movement because they had no time to be involved
permanently. The social networks we built are already mixing up with
other spheres of campus life, and the reservation many people built
up about getting (re-)involved with the movement are falling.

we will need to focus on actually using the space well. If we are
willing to rise from the ashes again after a while, we will need to
talk about how to act in the future, and for that, collectively
criticize what we have done in the past.

to occupy one or two lecture halls for protest and issue some
demands, which was not all by far but the core of the public picture
and at some point most of what our collective acting was focused on,
seems to move very little in the official structure. The authorities
have not made any significant move yet, and by their rhetoric it can
be judged that what they have in mind for the future is much worse
than what we have protested against initially.

tactics and strategies of occupation need to be re-thought. Rather
than using it as a means to apply pressure, it could be seen as a
means and an end at the same time, by occupying not for protest but
as re-appropriation and collectivization of space and ressources that
are previously controlled by the reign of capital and its state.

have started, a small step, but there will be a nucleus now, a nest, a
breeding place for what cannot be stopped if enough people come to
the conclusion that to radically transform the social processes goes
further than pleading for change to some representative of the
existing order, if we are willing to disrespect this very order and
to refuse its reign.