Blowing in the Wind

The radical flyers one sees pasted up in European cities frequently try to make up for the blind spots of the postwar Left establishment. That means prioritizing multiculturalism, pro-immigrant policies and a decentralized, anarchistic mindset that repudiates the longstanding belief that achieving a measure of political power in the bourgeois state is a worthwhile goal. This tract photographed in Zurich earlier this year is a fine example:

A RASCIST WIND is ripping through our everyday experience. Whoever has a migrant background richly senses this. Be it from the side of the cops, politicians, co-workers or passers-by. But this wind touches all of us. This racism doesn’t originate with mere peevishness; we notice daily how the politicians package it. No, racism is a tool of the government. It has a purpose.

To the extent that it serves working people as a vent for their frustrations, racism pits every person who basically has to slog away day after day for some asshole against each other. It distracts them from seeking out the reason for our problems in oppressive social conditions. For these problems are imposed by the same set of circumstances, whether one is a migrant or Swiss.

For the ruling class, by contrast, racism functions as a linchpin of their economy. Simplistic pictures of the enemy serve as a pretense for pushing through laws which in the end ensure the most unconditional exploitation of migrants possible: the threat of months-long confinement or deportation, always becoming more common in everyday life, holds them in check as a cheap and flexible workforce. Along with existing migration treaties with many countries, the Economic Ministry (and, to a lesser extent, the hatred of foreigners) determines who is to be “picked up” and who isn’t (which the Swiss People’s Party also knows.)

When we thus allow racism to spread, we only play into the hands of the rich and the ruling class. If we reject it and meet human beings as individuals, without categorization, we can find among them accomplices with whom to battle problems that we ultimately have in common: exploitation and the authorities.


We have no answer to politicians’ questions about aliens, crime, and security. Simply because the questions themselves are false. For us, the question is not how the state should deal with asylum-seekers, sans-papiers (those without papers.) and “criminal aliens,” but rather: do we want a world that confines human beings behind borders, laws and prison walls? Do we want order that hands people over for their unconditional exploitation, detaining them for months and forcibly deporting them, because they don’t have valid identity papers? Do we want a society that controls, isolates, exploits, estranges, demeans and, finally, dehumanizes people?

Inundated with commodities, “lifestyles” and new technologies, these questions appear to get suffocated in the spiritual void of the everyday. Social pressures would drive us to live for a goal rather than in the moment, to plough onward towards the next stage, to function without pause. . . as if one didn’t want us to dare pose the question of living conditions. To pose them earnestly. For only a deliberate or unexpected break with this everyday and these pressures permits us to ask: How is it, then, that things are this way and not different, very different? And why isn’t this “very different” the starting point for our demands, instead of this sad reality.

The questions of politicians, the votes and initiatives, don’t interest us, simply because they carry within them acknowledgement of those politicians’ dominion. To ask, at what point migrants should be deported, presupposes that we endorse controls, prisons and deportations. Our questions proceed from a very different point. From an ethical point. From a freedom-centered and anti-authoritarian sensibility: no one should be confined. No one should be dominated and exploited. Everyone should be free to organize their lives by themselves. For this, the end of the state is necessary. The uprising against authority is a question of dignity.

It is from this point that we recognize ourselves in the revolts against oppression, whether in the deportation centers or the street. If we speak here of ethics, it has nothing to do with the morality apostles and humanists. It turns on weighing the discrepancy between our living conditions and our dreams. And, keeping reality in view, with the latter set up as a wall against it, our resolution can only be a declaration of war.




Preface and translation from the German by Charlie Bertsch. Photographed in Zurich by Joel Schalit.

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