March and April in the program “Solidarity 2.0, or democracy as a form of life”

Tuesday, March 6, 18:00
Biennale Warszawa, ul. Mokotowska 29a
From participatory art to organizational art
Meeting with Georg Blokus and Nina Paszkowski from the Political School of Hope in Cologne

The Political Hope School (Ger. Schule der politischen Hoffnung) is the self-organized initiative of artists, activists and citizens of Cologne. Meetings take place in areas dedicated to culture and other places in the city. This progressive venture is an area of self-organization and knowledge production directed to all those who do not want to feel politically powerless and lonely but instead want to unlearn their helplessness, acting together to create a perspective for a social change. The School of Political Hope as a space of cross self-education organizes debates, lectures, seminars, film screenings, concerts, workshops, tours and political actions. It combines art, knowledge and activism with everyday life. Its activities have been supported by numerous artists and intellectuals, inter alia, theatre director Milo Rau and philosopher Srećko Horvat.

Tuesday, March 13, 18.00
Biennale Warszawa, ul. Mokotowska 29a
The city as an arena of democracy – from the Italian republics to the libertarian municipalism Mooray Bookchin
Lecture by Jan Sowa

Inquiry regarding democratic forms of social and political life is, to a large extent, a question of scale. Democracy was born and shaped in relatively small groups, such as tribal communities, and within European culture – in cities (first in ancient Greece, and in more recent times in Italian cities-republics at the end of the Middle Ages and at the beginning of the Renaissance). The emergence of modern parliamentarism in the eighteenth century was accompanied by discussions on the scale – opponents of democracy claimed that the nation-state is too large creation in order to be democratically organized. Contemporary democratic experiments with new, more democratic systemic solutions are often held within the range of cities, which the best example is the Brazilian city of Porto Alegre with a participatory budget established there. Hence, the city seems to be the best arena for further democratization of democracy.

Saturday, March 17, 18:00
Muzeum Rzeźby im. Xawerego Dunikowskiego w Królikarni, ul. Puławska 113A
Meeting in English
Art as Commoning and Compatibility
Lecture by Stephen Wright

According to Paul Devautour “Compatibility has replaced specificity as a key factor shaping artistic practice” Modernist obsession with the specific visibility of art – and its specific ontology – has given way to demands for its compatibility with other activities, practices and circulations: interventions specific to the locations in where they take place, tools compatible with the media used and the competences of users of art, objects in conformity with the environment in where they are being established… Art seen in this way is a kind of open-source plugin that can be freely and usefully adapted to anything that appears. This is mainly due to the “commoning” of artistic competences, and thus a practice radically different from the modernistic custom of displaying works of art. The latter removes art from the area of useful things, while the mutualisation assumes that art belongs to the area of the commons – it is happening anytime, anywhere and however – and focuses on mutual adherence to it as a common good.

Tuesday, March 20, 18.00
Biennale Warszawa, ul. Mokotowska 29a
Cooperatism – an ideology of the economically organized democracy. History and timeliness
Lecture by Bartłomiej Błesznowski

The subject of the efforts of the emancipation movements of the nineteenth and twentieth century was primarily the material situation of the people – on the one hand, it was about the ownership of the means of production, on the other hand, the facilitation of consumption of the most-needed goods and services. The democratic organization of creativeness and self-management of one’s own consumer choices were, in fact, political demands, becoming the basic differentiator of the cooperative ethos. The progenitors of the cooperative movement in the form of utopian socialist as well as the first ideologists of cooperatism, such as the French economist Charles Gide or the Polish socialist and philosopher Edward Abramowski, believed that a righteous way to meet basic human needs leads through cooperation and mutual assistance.

Cooperatism is the result of a modern dream of a rational social world typical of the era. In this sense, it forms part of the great ideologies of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, at the same time not limiting itself to the assumptions of any of them. By moving through on the periphery of influential political narratives, whilst referring their message to the universal ideal of brotherhood and the universality of the experience of cooperation, it was a kind of “lesser ideology” – the universal culture of the common penetrating history. Perhaps, treating cooperatism as a historical phenomenon, we can also find in it still alive and current elements – a remedy for the exhausting formula of the liberal parliamentarism and the crisis of post-Fordist capitalism, and even the way of anticipating the upcoming forms of community life.

Tuesday, March 27, 18:00
Biennale Warszawa, ul. Mokotowska 29a
A general assembly as the core of radical political mobilizations: Arab Spring, Indignant Ones, Occupy
Lecture by Jan Sowa

In 2011, a wave of democratic mobilizations and revolutions swept through the world. Its trajectory was quite paradoxical, because contrary to cultural and religious stereotypes, the source of these events was the world of Islam: within the so-called Arab Spring, the people of Tunisia, Egypt and many other countries of the Maghreb and the Middle East went out into the street and in the name of the ideals of democracy, freedom and self-determination began occupying the public spaces that have shaken the socio-political order of the region. In the summer and autumn of the same year, similar mobilizations overwhelmed Western countries – from Spain to the USA – activists pointed to the Arab Spring as the main source of inspiration. At the centre of all these movements was the institution of the general assembly – an ultra-democratic practice of self-regulation of plurality. It is not only related to a certain set of ideas, but also with a specific practice of communication and decision making. It belongs to one of the paradigmatic examples of the democratic form of life.

Thursday, April 5, 18:00
Biennale Warszawa, ul. Mokotowska 29a
What can anarchist management be useful for?
Lecture by: Monika Kostera

“Our times are characterized by the ubiquity of the organization and the destabilization of organized life forms resulting from the erosion of their structural and moral foundations such as long-term employment, social trust or factual compliance with the declared ethical principles”, writes Monika Kostera in her book “Occupy Management: Inspirations and Ideas for Self-Organization and Self-Management” published in 2014. Should we then, in the face of this paradoxical crisis not be looking for a new foundation for organized forms of democratic life in the radical self-organization and self-management practices? An empirical look at this type of undertaking is often carried out under the banner of anarchism – from street demonstrations through autonomic squats and occupant strikes to assistance initiatives for refugees or providing rations for homeless people – it reveals them not only perfectly organized, but also very strongly marked by the ethos – paradoxically – of ultra-civic engagement, which, despite the numerous declarations, has unfortunately evaporated from our public life dominated by (neo)liberalism. In her lecture, Monika Kostera, a specialist in the field of management sciences, tries to outline the horizon of possible practical and ethical inspirations that can be provided by such self-organized practices and ventures.

Tuesday, April 10, 18:00
Biennale Warszawa, ul. Mokotowska 29a
Democracy of fleeing – squats, communes, autonomous zones and other demons of liberal propaganda
Lecture by Jan Sowa

In the mainstream of the public debate, both the conservatives and the liberals try to construct a peculiar symmetry in which the left-wing extreme – anarchist and neo-communist – would be equally dangerous and contemptible, as is the nationalist-fascist right-wing extreme. Even a sketchy glance at the actual actions and demands of the radical left-wing makes it possible to comprehend the absurdity of a similar juxtaposition: while the fascists send refugees and Jews for a certain death in gas chambers, as well as celebrate the birthday of Adolf Hitler, the anarchists protect poor people from evictions and cook meals for those in need. No left-wing hate list similar to right-wing Red Watch never has been emerged, and the physical object of the radical left-wing’s attacks is the capitalist infrastructure, not specific individuals or groups of people. Practical experiments with egalitarian self-organization, which take place in squats and other similar autonomous centres, historically speaking, refer to practices that could be called “democracy of fleeing”; they consist in an attempt to carve out an autonomous area of the social reality, which in its functioning would anticipate future forms of democratic life. Their historical sources are the pirate communities and radical religious movements that, since the 17th century have at least tried to undermine the elitist-capitalist consensus.

Tuesday, April 17, 18:00
Biennale Warszawa, ul. Mokotowska 29a
About internal contradictions of autonomy: Warsaw squatting
Meeting with Marta Burza and Antoni Wiesztort from the Syrena collective

Concepts need matter: both neoliberal elites, as well as movements for social justice, grounds their actions on the material base and infrastructure that they find useful. Left-wing/anarchist groups of workers, associating thousands of people, sometimes in different countries, have been taking over the official headquarters of the ‘job market’ (transformed into the so-called ‘houses for the community’), effectively developing self-organization and social bonds between workers. This is one of the historical sources of what we call “squatting” these days. The others are, for example, the fight against cyclical housing crises in cities being caused by the speculation, as well as the fake housing hunger (the phenomenon of “people without houses and houses without people”) or other calamities – for example, the destruction of cities under the influence of war or natural disaster.

In addition to, or in spite of the rootedness in social struggles, squatting also has got a completely different face, derived from the (radically) liberal tradition. Seeking the reasons for the anarchist defeat against the Bolsheviks during the October Revolution, its active participant Nestor Machno indicates, inter alia, to the ideological impotence of its liberal current in the light of a social struggle. Machno bitterly remembers “those who seized the bourgeois properties, where they built houses and lived comfortably, They are those whom I call

, various anarchists who travel between several cities, in the hope of finding a place where they can live, skive and wandering as long as it is possible in comfort and carefree.” Over a hundred years, the tradition of stepping the bourgeois’ shoes has become the doctrine of “Temporary Autonomous Zones”, created to at least raise the “avant-garde” above the destiny of ordinary people and the “nonentities” who make a living being humiliated every day.

What role do the Warsaw squats play in this light? Does the idea of self-governance have a bearing on the daily fights and struggles for social gains in the capital itself and across the country? Marta Burza and Antoni Wiesztort try to answer these questions on the basis of Margit Meyer’s material “Squatting and neoliberalism”, as well on their own experience.

Tuesday, April 24, 18:00
Biennale Warszawa, ul. Mokotowska 29a
Workers’ and economic democracy: can the economy be managed democratically?
Lecture by Jan Sowa

The last two centuries have been systematic and impressive growth of democratic forms of organizing social life. Parliamentarism, however distant from the ideals of a full democracy, made a clear progress in comparison with the various forms of the preceding its autocracy. Since the time of the parliamentary revolution dating back to the end of the eighteenth century, huge segments of society have gained the right to vote, in particular, poor people, women and minorities. Despite this, one area of the social world, the economy, remains outside our collective control, being still a field of processes of disastrous (crises, the arbitrariness of corporations) or extremely individualistic nature (arbitrary influence of the richest individuals on our fate). It is not, nonetheless, the case that the ideas of subjecting the economy to collective control have never appeared in theory and have not been tested in practice. These are mainly various types of workers’ democracy, in particular workers’ councils, as well as attempts to rationally control the economy as a whole. Although, the latter is reminiscent of central planning discredited by many, by the so-called past epoch, rapid development of new technologies, especially in the field of Big Data, creates new possibilities for subjecting the economy to democratic control.