[Pga_europe_process] Presentaton text for alternatives tocapitalism

Rasmus Bjerre brasmus at hotmail.com
Thu Jun 17 11:30:28 CEST 2004

please... I fear that I'm entering a heated discussion without knowing who did what to whom. So please regard these remarks not as a taking sides in this discussion but rather as an attempt to state a general point about why I have been afraid of participating in some of the discussions of gender and racism on the list.

The issues you guys raise surely aren't trivial! On the contrary they're both interesting and controversial.
but I think the way you're trying to debate them on the list is not very respectfull. At least for me - middle class background, living in Denmark - I get a bit scared of the hostile tone in your mails. I fear that because of my different background and lack of command of the english language i may end up inadvertently being identified with some racist or sexist or in other ways bad guy that you know from your own context. And then I just keep quiet instead of discussing these things with you and learning from our diversity.

I mean: If you tell me that for most Black people living in the UK use of the word "ghetto" has racist undertones, then it is an important information for me. And since I trust you I shall try to avoid using it when communicating with people living there. (The reason I add "living in the UK" instead of  just "most Black people" as you do in your mail is that frankly I find any generalization across very different histories of political struggles, languages, integration, and/or subjugation very problematic. As for the word ghetto I'd think that the connotations are pretty different in - say: the UK, Poland, Germany, Israel, Palestine, South Africa, and Denmark)

But: This respect and trust that I'm showing you I need to be somewhat reciprocal: 
-I need you to listen in the same respectful way when i try to communicate what i think the word "ghetto" (or whatever we're discussing) means when coming from guys with my background. This is not to say that we should agree on everything or that the opinions of a black and a white guy carry equal weight when discussing the best politics of speech on the different issues. It just means that I need to feel somewhat respected to be able to tell you freely what i know, feel, and think on the issues. 

-And on top of that i need a bit of friendly exercise of authority from you guys: I mean: you're the ones knowing the language that we're talking. This is a difficult aspect of our attempted discussion really: 
On the one hand you know the language way better than me and I want to learn from you so as to be able not to inadvertently offend people whose struggles i support. This means that I'm trying to change my expressions in a foreign language not as a result of a personal learning process but as a result of my acceptance of your authority on these issues. I don't see any way to get around this problem, but to keep trying to change my way of speaking i need some willingness on your part to forgive me if i make mistakes, slip of the tongues etcetera while getting used to the way of speaking that you guys recommend.
And on the other hand a basic presupposition when you are discussing these issues in english in the UK does not hold for our discussion: The presupposition that the context of the discussion is the political history of the UK/British Empire. One of the great opportunities of PGA is that we have a chance to learn from our differences - including different backgrounds - but to do that these presuppositions needs to be somehow cancelled. Again I have no big answer as to how to do that, but i know that i need to feel respected when trying to communicate - if not I'll get so afraid of making a mistake that the chance of learning from each other disappears.


----- Original Message ----- 
From: <paki.tv at cyber-rights.net>
To: <pga_europe_process at squat.net>; <javier at spc.org>
Sent: Thursday, June 17, 2004 8:16 AM
Subject: Re: [Pga_europe_process] Presentaton text for alternatives tocapitalism

> Hash: SHA1
> On Tue, 15 Jun 2004 06:37:59 -0700 javier <javier at spc.org> wrote:
> >Global movement : Are we a mouvement ? what next ? Going out of the
> >ghetto ? : skrati[AT]yahoo.com / javier[AT]spc.org
> >>
> We have had a discussion about the use of the word Ghetto and its use
> in this way has been shown to be racist.
> What does that mean?
> It means that when discussions are put out with this heading, is thta
> most Black people will be less inclined to attend the conference because
> they know the organisers are taking the piss.
> As this is an issue which has already been raised, I can only assume
> that the use of it here is deliberate, a sort of "hardboy" machismo about
> not caring for sissy quibbles.
> After the postponement of PGA meeting the author spoke to us dissmissively
> suggesting that the issues we were raising were trvial.
> This is how institutional racism works in the PGA.
> The final insult was to be told that they considered their work in the
> European Social Forum as their real political work, and PGA as a holiday
> . . . this from a person who the PGA paid to go to a preparatory meeting
> in Belgrade.
> How can these issues be left to the conference when it is precisely now,
>  just as Nico himself pointed out, the white middle class guys are going
> around dominating.
> Seems like these alternatives to capitalism are simply the same old "shit"
> (to use one of Nico's favourite terms) in new bottles.
> That's all for now, folks!
> West Essex Zapatista
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