Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Radical Hospitality

"How can the house have a bike?" Kaudry asks me as we walk home from the gezellig squat cafe at the Partick Fredrick Straat. I am wheeling one of the Casa Robino collective bicycles as we walk thru the well lit and rainy streets of Am*dam. She has just hitchhiked in from Estonia. 5 rides, 48 hours, one difficult driver who would not let her out, nearly no sleep. But her question does not come from exhaustion.

I explain that Robin has a hospitality mission, which she already knows, because he is putting her up and they have never met before. That part of that mission is to provide durable resources to the guests of the house. He does not think of these as his bikes, he thinks of them as our bikes - more precisely, the houses bikes. Sky repaired them all three before he and Kassia went to Copenhagen, their care and upkeep relies on the generosity and handiness of the endless cycle of guests who come thru the Casa.

It seems a somewhat foreign notion to her. i mention that it is like communism, recognizing that it is a weighty word from a person from Estonia. I tell her i was in Estonia, in 1991, when they kidnapped Gorbachev and her country declared independence. I spare her the longer version of our exciting escape with our Lithuanian bus drivers switching seats while driving to make sure we did not have to stop. Of Russian helicopters circling the Riga radio station and us hearing the animated Latvian news announcer reporting on the invasion getting cut off in mid-sentence and replaced with classical music as the tyrants stormed the station. Nor did i speak of us passing Russian tanks which closed off the very roads we were on moments after we passed. We rushing towards the west, to escape the unknown fate of the dissolving Soviet Union. She was perhaps 3 then, it is ancient history.

Earlier, back in the squat cafe i am talking with the charming German anarchist Kristian. He is completing his PhD in security architecture. He tells stories of how military police who are beating protesters in Geneva were shortly before using the same tactics in Kosovo. He points out that when we use civil liberties arguments to try to stop this type of repression we are disabling our ability to access a more revolutionary and rightious position, that the very idea of military police being turned on their own population is wrong. Rather than they screwed up by being too oppressive in this particular case.

He is telling me about the "New Anita" which is the cafe/bar which he helped remodel 3 years ago. Which somehow has managed for 2 decades to operate right off a main street in Am*dam without a liquor license, by negotiating with the authorities. These days are ending here, but they are well established now. A German woman sings a haunting song, in English - simple in lyrics, rich in expression. She is behind the circular bar, which Kristian and friends designed cleverly to double function as a stage for performers.

Kristian tells me that the New Anita is filled with artists types. "As opposed to activists?" i ask. And we agree that we wish they were the same group, yet somehow they are mostly not. And i flash on the brilliance of Casa Robino again. Where the activists and non-activists share the same crowded little space. Where the ideas of people dedicated to making the world a better place, come up over Cruesli with people who are just looking for a place to stay for free for a few night.

Kaudry will learn about communism here. Not the kind that ruthlessly oppressed her country for decades, but instead the kind that great memeticist Marx envisioned. [Robin rightly objects, it is not communism, but anarchism - no state and no private property.]



And long after she was long in bed, and Robin and Anu and i had finished our wild rambling conversation - so common after midnight here. And Kasper had sent back instructions from Syria on how to start my first wiki. i very appropriately, got the first few pages of SharingIsDaring.com up and running.

It has all the feel of the beginning of a revolution.

6 comments:

memeticist said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
memeticist said...

Robin and i are ranting about Marx and his importance. I think Marx is important because 1) he wrote propaganda that inspired people to successful revolutions against their oppressors. 2) He has one of the most compelling cases against capitalism ever written.

So he was anti-utopian, problematic, sure. He provided political cover for some of the most oppressive regimes in history - bigger problem. Just like Jesus with the Christians, you often can't control what they do with your dogma.

Caroline said...

"Kristian tells me that the New Anita is filled with artists types. "As opposed to activists?" i ask. And we agree that we wish they were the same group, yet somehow they are mostly not."

What IS it? I mean, i certainly think that's true, that they are often not the same groups, yet there is obviously an affinity there...

I have some hunches, based on, oddly enough, Jackson Pollock - who was basically funded by the US government to be an anti-communist.

Patty said...

Exciting escapes? Roads closing just after you pass by? Rushing toward the west? Pax when is your enthralling adventure novel going to be published?

memeticist said...

The adventure/biography gets written when we get the Die Pretty biography project going. Hey weren't you going to grab a recorder and mic and ...

realitygaps said...

i'm glad I sent her to the casa :) see you guys tomorrow...