Are anarchists on the right

"You have to break the law"

The journalist and filmmaker Martin Hanni followed the traces of anarchism across Europe for six months. Together with the German writer Ilija Trojanow and the director Kurt Langbein, he traveled to places where the anarchist spirit still lives on today: the Bakunin hut, the village of Marinaleda in Spain or the island of Ikaria in Greece. These places are very different from those usually associated with anarchism by the media, such as devastated streets and neighborhoods at G20 meetings: “There is no storm of chaos and destruction here, but a gentle, very human breeze that blows tastes of freedom and justice, ”says Martin Hanni. He is now showing his anarchist journey in the documentary "Oases of Freedom - Anarchist Forays".

Do you see yourself as an anarchist?
I've been asked that many times over the past few months. I very much sympathize with the term anarchy, but as soon as it has the ending “-ist”, I start to question myself. This question also came up during the making of the film: We often interviewed people who are not proven anarchists, but still have an approach to life that is very anarchic. For example, a German-Kurdish sociologist who deals with Kurdish women's resistance in Rojava. While she tells us in the film about the resistance of Kurdish women against the state and tells us about the literature that is read in Kurdish libraries, she pauses and then says “Ah, I'm actually an anarchist too!”. The fact that many people very unexpectedly have such a "moment of enlightenment" is due to the fact that anarchism is always portrayed very negatively by the state.

What is anarchism if it is not used as a dirty word?
To be an anarchist means to take a skeptical attitude towards hierarchical power structures, whether it is the state, the church or one's own family. As a result, the person who has the power or authority has to justify himself again and again why he in particular has this power and whether he uses it responsibly. At the same time, the anarchist always thinks about the alternatives: How could systems function without a hierarchical order that ultimately always boils down to creating the privileged and the disadvantaged - or even the oppressed.

In this sense, shouldn't everyone be an anarchist when it comes to being critical of authorities?
First of all, every child is an anarchist. The child does not yet know the structures that adults have created and only adapts to them as they grow up. As an adult, demonstratively identifying yourself as an anarchist, I find just as little meaningful as if you were to constantly introduce yourself to others as a democrat. But I know for myself that wonderful, deeply humanistic ideas are buried in anarchism, which we approach in the film like archaeologists, so to speak, in order to dig them up and present them to the audience in a showcase.

How did you come up with the topic personally?
My interest in anarchism grew during my history studies, when I came into contact with anarchist ideas while researching archives and at the same time shouted my resistance into a microphone as a singer in a punk rock band. However, together with the writer Ilija Trojanow, I discovered a lot that I wasn't even aware of before. One reads little about it in the history books, but it was especially in the 1920s that anarchist realities emerged in Europe, which the state, especially the communists, quickly recognized as a danger. Towns and cities that were anarchistically administered were promptly violently crushed to regain control of people and the economy.

As in the Munich Soviet Republic in 1919 ...
This, too, was an anarchist attempt to dissolve the concentration of power and wealth on a few individuals in favor of all people. Like many others, however, he was struck down. It is interesting that communists in particular have always had a great aversion to anarchists.

Why the communists in particular? It seems that anarchism has a lot in common with socialism.
Basically, Marxism and anarchism are two brothers. Then there was a big argument between Karl Marx and Michail Bakunin, one of the great anarchist thinkers: One saw an authoritarian system as necessary to create more equality. The other had an anti-authoritarian approach. Anarchism is nothing more than the desire for a just system in which man can live in freedom and in which prosperity is there for everyone. To this extent, it is an anti-authoritarian socialism in which dictators like Stalin or Mao are excluded from the outset. We always like to refer to ourselves as communists when we are for more social justice, but we do not take into account that communism, as an authoritarian system, deported, killed, overheard and put millions of people in labor camps. Communism may provide more equality, but it certainly does not provide more freedom. Only anarchism can do that.

You can and must break laws if you are setting an example for humanity.

However, the anarchists have lost out against authoritarian communism when it comes to founding a new state. Individual anarchic villages or communities still exist today. How does life work there?
During the shooting, I was in Marinaleda, a settlement that stands like a Gallic village in the middle of Andalusia and defies the economic crisis. Only a few years after the fall of the Franco regime, the people there wrested the land from the large landowners and are now working it together.

Did you get away with that? That was against the law.
You have to break the law.

That's a strong statement.
Yes, but sometimes you have to do that, otherwise you submit to rules, some of which are inhuman. You can and must break laws if you are setting an example for humanity. Today there is no unemployment in Marinaleda and everyone can make a living from their work. It is also interesting that there is not a single advertising poster in the whole village. The residents reject this as commercial propaganda. The model works and the fact that people have not turned away from it in 40 years - despite targeted disabilities by the Spanish state - is the clearest evidence of this.

Another very strange place that you have visited is the island of Ikaria in Greece ...
In contrast to Marinaleda, Ikaria is not administered anarchistically, but here you can also find elements from which an anarchic spirit blows. There is not a single clock on the island. In doing so, the residents of Ikaria defy the dictates of the times. The day is divided into morning and afternoon, these are the only times. So when I want to meet a friend in the village square, it can happen that I have to wait three hours. A curious paradox is the fact that the first anarchist group consisted of watchmakers from the Jura.

Earlier you talked about the relationship between anarchism and socialism. Is there also right-wing anarchism?
There are anarchist tendencies among the right, for example among the identitarians, even if I wouldn't exactly call them right-wing anarchists. Right-wing groups generally borrow a lot of ideas from the left without causing a stir. That doesn't stop at traditional anarchist ideals like freedom. Who would associate me with left anarchism today if I described myself as a “freedom”? I would be placed on a completely different political spectrum. It was originally anarchists who called their stance "liberal".

How does it look in South Tyrol? Can you find traces of anarchism here?
South Tyroleans have always had a great anarchic, revolutionary energy potential. People like to hit the plaster and protest, but that's mostly limited to the pub. It is also annoying that in South Tyrol the lack of a real national state with which one could identify is compensated by hanging out the Tyrolean flag all the more. Resistance thinking is there, but it is politically wrongly directed. It leads into a corner and not to more freedom if you choose parties that only have freedom in their name.

Martin Hanni's film "Oases of Freedom - Anarchist Wanderings" will be shown tonight (April 11th) at 9:45 pm on 3sat. Alternatively, you can watch the documentation on the big screen at 5:30 p.m. in the Bolzano Film Club or at 8:30 p.m. in Merano (Docu.Emme).