Interview With Anarchists From Craiova

P1040044

„We see the importance to join the creating of a country-wide Network of radical-libertarian Groups“

BUNĂ: Can you tell us about your town? How are the life conditions? Is the town shaped by industry oder more from agro-culture? On which level is the unemployment-rate?

DIY-Craiova: We are living in Craiova, it is south west from romania, close to the border to bulgaria and also serbia. It is the 6th largest city in romana. In the former regime it was heavily industrialized. It is the poorest big city in the country and it is situated in an agricultural area, also one of the poorest areas in the country. It is also an university center and an administrative center. After the colapse of the state capitalist regime, in the 90s there were mass-scale privatizations which led to mass unemployment. Now the industry sectore plays a small part in the local economy, which is mostly composed of services and administration elements. The oficial unemployment rate is between 7-8%, which is one of the biggest rates in the country, but this means nothing since the real rate is much higher. Even this oficial rate would be far larger if we are to take in account the fact that in the last 15 years or so, the city lost more than 10% percent of its population, something more than 30 000 people. Most of them left the country to Western Europe, and maybe to other cities in romania like Bucharest or Timișoara. As a whole the region is even poorer than the city, sincer there are no jobs available and the economy in the rural parts is generally a subsistence agricultural one.

BUNĂ: In your groupname are written the letters DIY. What does they mean? Do you see yourselfs as anarchists or generally as „leftists“?

DIY-Craiova: They mean exactly that – do it yourself. When we opened the space the idea was that it should be an open space where people can get together and act inside and outside the space in a nonprofit oriented way, a place safe from the comodification of every day life. The space was imagined as a place free of hierarchies, and one which focused on solidarity not competition, rejecting in the same time all forms of discrimation and oppression which take place in society. The space was not intended only for anarchists and the people who got involved in the activities didn’t have to identify themselves as anarchists. But the people who were most involved inside the space consider themselves as anarchists or libertarian socialists.

BUNĂ: What kind of activities are you doing? Do you work in public? What difficulties do you have to face?

DIY-Craiova: Among the things that took place inside the space we can name organizing a library, having weekly film screenings, concerts, workshops(graffities and stencils, banner painting), freeshops and social evenings. In the streets we organized food not bombs actions. We started the critical mass, which takes place every month now since 3 years. We were also involved in street protests and demonstrations regarding the Roșia Montană mining project and anti-fracking movement. Maybe one of the most important difficulties would be the fact that not many people are interested in getting involved in social struggles. This is somehow explainable when we consider the fact that most people don’t have the time or energy for this, since they are focusing on surviving in their daily lives. There are no working class or student organizing initiatives. The unions are either non-existent or they are separated from the working class (capitalist unions). The university although a large one is a very conservative environment, dominated by nationalist and capitalist attitudes. The students that can afford studying in a different city usually do so. So the ones which are studying here are the ones from poor surrounding areas. There is no underground scene, that could be seen as a possible environment for spreading radical ideas. If there are local struggles which take place and that we could support they are usually organised and dominated by nationalist or even fascist attitudes. This is actually the main atmosphere in the country, where nationalist, conservative and far-right views are not only tolerated but actually seen as normal. Another difficulty is the fact that in order to make a living many people have to leave the country.

BUNĂ: In the past there was a „Craiova Anarho Front“ active in town, which faced harsh repression. Can you tell us about them?

DIY-Craiova: Craiova Anarho Front appeared inside the punk movement which grew quite substanial in the late 90s and early 2000s. Some of the people involved in the punk scene got radicalised and became among the first ones to popularize anarchist ideas in the country after the fall of the former regime. They put out fanzines, books, organized actions, street protests and concerts. Many of them eventually left the country. Some of the people who were connected with the front now have other lifes and private businesses and different views. The other ones which remained in the city also got involved in the space. Among the ones which left the country there are people which also have contacts with the space and show their solidarity.

BUNĂ: What kind of perspective do you see in your work? Do you find support, does people join in? What are your plans for the future?

DIY-Craiova: Before we talk about the future we need to explain our decision regarding the space. After almost 4 years we decided that in the present circumstances existing inside the city we need to find more relevant ways of engaging with the people. For this is our oppinion that the phisical existence of the space is not a priority at the moment so we decided to close it. The situation is that usually there are the same few people which are interested in the activities inside the space. This is also because many people leave the city to work or study in other places, like we explained before. We consider therefore necessary to organise actions in more visible places and to continue with the creation of a network of radical libertarian initiatives inside the country. In order to gain more visibility and relevance we are thinking of organizing most of the things that took part in the space on the streets. Things such as film projections, food not bombs, freeshops, and preparation in order to be able to intervene inside social struggles which might and hopefully will take place in the future.

BUNĂ: That sounds very interesting. Could you tell us more about the creation of this libertarian network in Romania? How many groups are involved and what are the basic-ideas, on which the people and groups gather around? What should be reached with such kind of network?

DIY-Craiova: We can not really talk of a such network at the present times, but of different groups which are active in different cities around the country tackling various issues such as fighting against evictions and gentrification, feminist and queer liberation struggles, environment, refugee solidarity. At the present time we can not really talk of a libertarian network with a clear structure or a clear common ground. But we can talk about our experience in the space that active people or a handful of small groups from other cities were interested in our activities. In this way we got in touch and we started in an informal way to share and discuss our experiences in different local social and subcultural activities and struggles like local fights against housing evictions in Bukarest and Cluj. The fact that we started to know about each others made it possible to do some spontaneous public actions together, things such as a banner action for refugee solidarity or an antifascist protest in front of the Ucrainian embassy. We published with three other groups an open letter which demanded the banning of fascist groups, activities and violence inside the campaign „Save Rosia Montana“ (published in Buna 1). So we came together because of the interest for our different local activities and not necessarily because of a common theoretical view of things. But we dont consider this to be necessary at the moment. The important aim of this way of networking for us is to learn from each others, to make radical anticapitalist and antiauthorian ideas more visible in the public space and in this way to become a more relevant social force. Of course in the end with such a kind of network should be reached a social and libertarian revolution 😉

Eine deutschsprachige Fassung dieses Interviews findet sich in der BUNĂ Nr. 2 unter dem Titel „Wir halten es für notwendig, am Aufbau eines landesweiten Netzwerks radikal-libertärer Initiativen mitzuwirken“ .

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