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English-speaking Friends: An updated version of the translation of Atlantide R-esiste‘s statement regarding the immanent eviction is now out (See Below.)

Please (re)read, share, and send your statements of solidarity, whether you are out there in internet-land on your own or you are writing on behalf of your collective, political organization, conscience. Or maybe you will consider sharing the statement with your english-speaking and politically active networks.

The clock is ticking. The eviction order issued against Atlantide takes effect tomorrow at 8am (2am EST).

A note for those who are tagged or who are, as the statement says, “just meeting us now” in this disembodied context (though some of you have visited Bologna!):

The statement references a number of technical developments specific to the Bolognese/Italian context, but familiar anywhere that neoliberal and statist “reforms,” sometimes under the guise of law-and-order, in defense of borders, sometimes under the guise of gentrification, have trampled trans*-feminist-queer (or, for that matter, any type of) self-determination and self-management (autogestione) of (urban) space.

If we believe that an injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere, if we believe that an injury to one is an injury to all: Consider this news that an organ which you may never think about or which you never knew existed and which has been working hard and in its place for 17 years, is signaling a latent failure after a bad diagnosis in 2012, when the eviction proceedings technically began. This failure that may not immediately translate into grave illness all the way over there, but our collective integrity can be eroded in the strangest of ways.

In light of the effect this is having on the bodies in that space––who have been born and reborn (irony alert, definitively not in the christian/catholic way) there, who have found refuge there, who have already landed there as a result of the perpetual displacements that accompany being trans*-feminist-queer––we are calling up all forms of resistance to the pathogen of precarity, to the toxicity of pretextual and perpetual evictions and states of emergency, to the state-driven terrorization of living, breathing alternatives.

Your expressions of solidarity on our Facebook page and/or blog, your sharing this with your networks, groups, collectives, and so on matters incredibly and will sustain us as we once again place our bodies on the line, as if they are ever not.

It is us who contaminate their dreams, not the other way around.

We cannot be (pro)cured.

They Want Us to Drown, They’ll Make Us Overflow

The Slumber of Politics Produces Evictions

(Posted on by smaschieramenti)

It is clear by now how Bologna’s government has been taken over by the public prosecutor’s office. In the past few months, police have been investigating the municipal administration’s decision to grant the use of running water to residentially occupied buildings. We have witnessed an alarming  number of unjustified restraining orders placed on many local activists. The eviction notice which was scotch taped to Atlantide’s doors on Thursday October 1st gave us 5-days to clear the building. All of which fits perfectly well in this dismal picture.

Yesterday morning, Friday October 2nd, we interrupted the City Council’s Question Time meeting demanding a public and political response from the Mayor who had just signed the eviction notice. After our action, the Mayor candidly spoke to the press, admitting that, “This is no longer political. I am the Mayor, I cannot follow dreams: Now I have to evict you.”

Our needs-&-dreams are extremely different from those of an administration whichpractices pinkwashing by supporting civil partnerships while at the same time forcefully evicting those queers who practice autonomy and self-management(autogestione). An administration which fills its mouth with empty talk of “welcoming refugees” while at the same time beating those refugees who don’t comply with the city’s guidelines for “integration.” An administration which concedesagency to sexist, racist and homophobic subjects in public space (No 194, Northern League, Sentinelle), avoiding in each of these incidents, to face its political responsibility by hiding itself behind concepts of “legality” and “lawful procedures.”There is no such thing as a “democratic bulldozer.”

We know very well by now that “legality,” today’s rallying cry for parties left and right, is a continuation of politics “in disguise”: It is a way to hide the reactionary politicalaims behind the alleged neutrality of the law in order to outlaw all those forms of life which resist against the unrelenting processes of neoliberal assimilation.

In Bologna, which is an historical laboratory for privatization (sussidiarietà). For some time, the PD (Democratic Party) forced whatever kind of sprouting social initiative to become either a start-up venture or a service based on free labour. Atlantide has always refused these conditions. Our mobilization tried to unmask this logic; we forced the administration to sign a formal document in which Atlantide is acknowledged as a project based on self-management.  On this basis, one year ago, we decided to start a dialogue with the administration’s cultural sector. We saw the possibility to innovate new forms of the relationship between institutions and self-managed realities.

This dialogue has now been violently interrupted. The Mayor and his Council, whether they like it or not, will have to take responsibility for the violent closure of an historical space of fags, lesbians, trans*, and feminists. This is not going to be a smooth election for them.

Nevertheless, we are sure that whatever social services are so urgently intended to displace Atlantide will meet the same fate of those planned to replace the evicted occupation of Santa Marta, a pension and kindergarten, or of the study rooms in place of Bartleby in Via San Petronio Vecchio (to cite just a few recent examples): They will never exist. After our eviction, the building at Porta Santo Stefano will remain empty for years and years, or forever, just as has happened to all of the evicted occupations in this city.

Though they want Atlantide to be “freed from things and people” (verbatim from the eviction notice), they will find it full of free things and free people. Hordes of furious faggots, perverted feminists, warrior lesbians, unruly trans*, and unlabeled punks will flood every neighborhood.

Atlantide stays. Atlantide is everywhere.

Over the years we have come into contact with many political groups in Italy and elsewhere. We remain dedicated to fostering transfeminist, anticapitalist, d.i.y. activist networks on a national and transnational level. Whether you knew us before or you are just meeting us now your statements and expressions of solidarity with Atlantide and its fabulous, resilient inhabitants, and to the collectives that animate her, please do so by posting a statement on the Atlantide R-esiste Facebook page or by sending an email to atlantideresiste[at]gmail[dot]com. 

Needless to say, every expression of affection and solidarity is deeply appreciated and makes us stronger.

You are all invited to the upcoming events in defence of Atlantide:

Sunday Oct. 4th, “Never a last time! Party”, h 17-21, @ Atlantide, Piazza di Porta Santo Stefano 6;

Monday Oct. 5th, general assembly, h. 20.30, Palazzina della Biblioteca delle Donne, Via del Piombo 5.

Stay tuned on http://atlantideresiste.noblogs.org or Atlantide R-esiste Facebook page.

NEW SMYRNA BEACH, FL - 1983: Caribbean-American writer, poet and activist Audre Lorde lectures students at the Atlantic Center for the Arts in New Smyrna Beach, Florida. Lorde was a Master Artist in Residence at the Central Florida arts center in 1983. (Photo by Robert Alexander/Archive Photos/Getty Images)

Audre Lorde in New Smyrna Beach, FL (1983)

It has been some time since I have written here. Today is the perfect day to return to mark 36 years since Audre Lorde spoke her profound Truth: “The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House.” Lorde’s frequently quoted axiom was begat of an intervention that she made at the New York University Institute for the Humanities Second Sex Conference as a panelist for “The Personal and the Political.”

Lorde’s intervention––as much philosophical as urgently political; as much material as deeply informed by spirit––challenged the theoretical terms of “difference” as it had been imagined in both the content of the panel and the formal organization of the conference itself. Lorde witnesses:

It is a particular academic arrogance to assume any discussion of feminist theory without examining our many differences, and without a significant input from poor women, Black and Third World women, and lesbians. And yet, I stand here as a Black lesbian feminist, having been invited to comment within the only panel at this conference where the input of Black feminists and lesbians is represented. What this says about the vision of this conference is sad, in a country where racism, sexism, and homophobia are inseparable. To read this program is to assume that lesbian and Black women have nothing to say about existentialism, the erotic, women’s culture and silence, developing feminist theory, or heterosexuality and power. And what does it mean in personal and political terms when even the two Black women who did present here were literally found at the last hour? What does it mean when the tools of a racist patriarchy are used to examine the fruits of that same patriarchy? It means that only the most narrow perimeters of change are possible and allowable.

Speaking of the weight of that “last hour” at which “the two Black women who did present [there] were literally found,” Lorde offers what would likely travel under the academic-legal terminology of an intersectional––not to mention immanent––critique. But, the term “intersectional” itself had not been coined in 1979, so we see behind and through the things that it has a tendency to shorthand when we hear it today.

Stepping through the erasures of the conference––imagining Lorde’s voice and wondering if it is a part of the archival documentation of the event itself––her words are perhaps best understood when read aloud:

Interdependency between women is the way to a freedom which allows the I to be, not in order to be used, but in order to be creative. This is a difference between the passive be and the active being.

Lorde’s truth is poetic and poetry is her truth. Eschewing the prolonged and inappropriately universalized language of White European Philosophy, Lorde reaches the core quickly. Time is limited for the appointed representatives of difference in the spaces of sameness:

Advocating the mere tolerance of difference between women is the grossest reformism. It is a total denial of the creative function of difference in our lives. Difference must be not merely tolerated, but seen as a fund of necessary polarities between which our creativity can spark like a dialectic. Only then does the necessity for interdependency become unthreatening. Only within that interdependency of different strengths, acknowledged and equal, can the power to seek new ways of being in the world generate, as well as the courage and sustenance to act where there are no charters.

Perhaps seeing the need to assuage an audience that would be threatened by both her profound presence and her Truth telling, Lorde reroutes the discomfort, rendering interdependency as a relation revelatory of difference’s generative power. This conference needs what she has to say. It is dependent on her vision and practice of interdependency. This makes her a Teacher. The open-ended-ness of the word “generate,” free of object, teaches that difference is not a localizable phenomenon to be represented by specific bodies, but a confrontation that necessarily “sparks” outside of the institution, even if it also lands there on this, or any, occasion.

Those of us who stand outside the circle of this society’s definition of acceptable women; those of us who have been forged in the crucibles of difference—those of us who are poor, who are lesbians, who are Black, who are older—know that survival is not an academic skill. It is learning how to stand alone, unpopular and sometimes reviled, and how to make common cause with those others identified as outside the structures in order to define and seek a world in which we can all flourish. It is learning how to take our differences and make them strengths. For the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house. They may allow us temporarily to beat him at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change. And this fact is only threatening to those women who still define the master’s house as their only source of support.

Having arrived there, in that particular institution, Lorde asks a series of questions that might easily be posed in the many academic institutions today. Especially where such institutions make explicit claims to feminist and queer knowledges, practices, and politics:

Why weren’t other women of Color found to participate in this conference? Why were two phone calls to me considered a consultation? Am I the only possible source of names of Black feminists? And although the Black panelist’s paper ends on an important and powerful connection of love between women, what about interracial cooperation between feminists who don’t love each other?

The organizer in me is challenged by these questions, set afloat on the fast moving stream of officially sanctioned action. Anyone who has asked a difficult question of someone in power will understand how that act immediately thrusts you outside of the smooth reproduction of the institutional order. You hit a rough rock in the stream and it cuts you as it also becomes your refuge. If you “speak from difference” it may not differ from your quotidian experience. But if you are assumed to speak from a position of institutionally sanctioned power and authority, you will feel the sense of betrayal on the part of those who rely on your silence to justify their own.

It may seem easy to emphasize love––not for anyone who has actually loved, still––but Lorde goes further than already-existing or hard-fought-for love. She questions everything else. She makes explicit the implicit affects that effected the very organization of the conference itself. For the timid, for those who might not yet feel it, she entrusts her point to a white Truth teller, someone who can show how to take responsibility:

In academic feminist circles, the answer to these questions is often, “We did not know who to ask.” But that is the same evasion of responsibility, the same cop-out, that keeps Black women’s art out of women’s exhibitions, Black women’s work out of most feminist publications except for the occasional “Special Third World Women’s Issue,” and Black women’s texts off your reading lists. But as Adrienne Rich pointed out in a recent talk, white feminists have educated themselves about such an enormous amount over the past ten years, how come you haven’t also educated yourselves about Black women and the differences between us—white and Black—when it is key to our survival as a movement?

Lorde references the feminist movement in a move that carries us to the coda of intervention. She speaks to and from the depth of feminism and the breadth of all it can learn if it moves beyond the mere gesture of inclusion toward the substantive and substantiating act of collective self-inquiry (auto-coscienza):

Women of today are still being called upon to stretch across the gap of male ignorance and to educate men as to our existence and our needs. This is an old and primary tool of all oppressors to keep the oppressed occupied with the master’s concerns. Now we hear that it is the task of women of Color to educate white women—in the face of tremendous resistance—as to our existence, our differences, our relative roles in our joint survival. This is a diversion of energies and a tragic repetition of racist patriarchal thought.

The tragic multiplication of labor, the fractious “repetition of racist patriarchal thought,” the redirected power of erosion: None is particularly surprising to the Warrior Poet, but each new iteration seems to demand another call to justice. And so we are called, in terms that honour what the space of intervention––the conference itself––is actually trying to do despite itself. Lorde brings us there in words that, thirty-six years later, fall like heavy raindrops on the still thirsty, root thick soil of early autumn:

Simone de Beauvoir once said: “It is in the knowledge of the genuine conditions of our lives that we must draw our strength to live and our reasons for acting.”

Racism and homophobia are real conditions of all our lives in this place and time. I urge each one of us here to reach down into that deep place of knowledge inside herself and touch that terror and loathing of any difference that lives there. See whose face it wears. Then the personal as the political can begin to illuminate all our choices.

Read all of “The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle The Master’s House” here.

(Try doing it out loud.)

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