Call out for the Anti-Prison Days in Vienna, 7-9 Nov 2014 (Austria)
The Austrian word for jail is: Häfn, but no matter what name you give it, we are talking about the same thing here: Prison iron bars, cages, high walls, and barbed wire behind which those incarcerated are stashed away. for the ‘protection’ of our society, for punishment, to deter others, as revenge, or simply because their legal status in fortress Europe isn’t strong enough. The law will find enough reasons to stick you away. In these times of democracy, the reasons are ‘humane’; the penal system is the lesser evil in these times of unrestrained capitalistic freedom, capitalism supposedly being the best system, seeing as it just cant be beat.
The belief in the myth that those of us outside the walls and cages are free became manifested in the prisons of this world. This belief is delusive, creates false hopes, because we don’t believe in freedom within an exploitative capitalistic society, nor do we believe in the possibility of a reform of the logic of commodity and its society of spectacle, and we have absolutely no hope of finding within this system a better world. Free spaces, cuddle corners, small niches away from the prying eyes of power and control exist only in our heads, as a method of lying to ourselves and not facing the facts that it is impossible to exist within this system.
The fact that many arguments against prisons are well known and/or possible to read about, we wont get into those here, rather we would like to sum up our own motives why its not possible for us to conceive the fight against prisons without taking into account the fight against this system in which we are forced to live.
Prison could be the most totalitarian institution democratic society has. The dictatorship given to the few in parliament who stand above the rest of the people who are occasionally given the hypocritical choice between the plague or cholera. In prison the ownership of ones own body is taken away, the feeling of not belonging, of being an outsider, a wrong doer through the very physical presence of constant surveillance. Every contact to the outside world is regulated; prison controls when, how, what you: eat, sleep, exercise, work, shower. Things that most of us outside those walls can at least partially determine for ourselves. Even though freedom is preached it is let known to us that we don’t belong to ourselves. Through schools, psych wards, hospitals, barracks we are brought to realise that not only are our own bodies free for the public, but also that our very thoughts are monitored, normalised, and brought about to comply with the powers that be.
From the cradle to the grave we are accosted with the drudgery of bureaucracy, labelled, made into good little citizens of this system. Even the roll of the dedicated teacher who teaches their kids the courage to question the system, or the social worker who offers a youth hall with no costs where the youth can just be themselves, even these rolls encourage and support the system. Just like political parties, religions, the sacred place of work along with other coercive and believe systems within this system.
The cop in our head works either way. We grow up with the knowledge of what is alloyed and what is forbidden. We know when to keep our mouths shut or when we can/are allowed to curse. Foucault’s* society of discipline has won, when the powers above must no longer reign (so strongly) over us, because we are already doing it ourselves. In our dreams, operations, daily doings. We fit our lives into this age of surveillance, we have forgotten to question all those cameras in public spaces, we have normalized it in our heads the constant control over us. We have allowed ourselves to become ignorant of those sickening eyes on us at all times.
We’re not free. Neither in prison itself nor outside those walls. The prison bars are less obvious in the supermarkets, on the streets, or in the parks as they are in the cells; they seem hardly to disturb us on the outside, many don’t even see them at all. Through the over use of the defintion ‘political prisoner’ we have drawn arbitrary borders between the misery of one again the other. The political prisoner being celebrated while those inside due to poverty, hunger, sickness or absolute desperation are cut out, closed off, not worthy of the attention given to a ‘political’ prisoner. Well we spit on the term ‘political’ prisoner. For us prison, including the police, rules, law and order, is only one tool of oppression from many, of which we need to fight against. Why someone is in prison doesn’t interest us, seeing as we want the total abolishment of the prison institute and the society which depends on it.
This years anti-prison days will be held in Vienna a city with 4 (large) prisons right in the centre of the city, (centre and periphery). The Viennese struggle against prions is maybe small but at least constant.
This struggle attracts only a few people, whereas many others don’t seem to be bothered by life inside a capitalist system at all. It isn’t surprising seeing as the most still have enough to eat, and in post-fascist Austria, antifascist work is still the main focus of the left movement. Hence the wish still for prison for Nazis, stricter sentencing, and the specific wish that the police intervene harder against the political enemy; while in exactly the same breath you may hear bickering about the repression. Quite a logical chain of thought when you have condemned yourself to be a part of the democratic society, or when you half assedly question the state power. Issues such as: the reformation of the youth penal system, construction plans for yet more prisons, the introduction of more ‘modern’ forms of punishment like electronic tags, or even the permanent news about suicides, cruelty, assaults and neglect inside the Austrian prison walls have only been made a topic by a very few people.
We invite you to Vienna, to discuss together the possibilities of a world without walls, cages or borders, to find a way to fight against this world which we refuse to accept. Over the course of 2 days we hope to share ideas and experiences, inform one another on actual events of repression, struggles and prisoners, and hopefully connect a few projects together and come up with new ways for the anti-prison struggle to take. We want to encourage each of you to take part one way or another, even if we have different opinions about the ‘anti-prison movement’. Maybe its even the controversial discussions that inspire us, and through self reflective criticism we can motivate ourselves to sharpen our analysis and conclusions.
We look forward to and hope for am active agile group of interested people.
Against all forms of control, imprisonment and authority!
Vienna, September 2014
For further Information, program, possibilities for participation, ideas for workshops or sleeping places — get in contact with us!
or visit our blog
* Lots of books were written about prisons, Michel Foucault wrote one of them. In ‘Discipline and Punishment: The Birth of the Prison’ he analyses the development of the structures of punishment till the appearance of the modern state, where power sustains and penetrates the smallest sphere. To disciplinary action against the individual is carried out not just by a repressive, greater instance, but by all partners of society.
This entry was posted on Saturday, October 11th, 2014 at 8:15 pm and is filed under Prison Struggle.