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A radio Berlin

With a wild mix of articles on the subject of anarchy and culture, the libertarian podcast of “A-Radio Berlin” offers a serious and satirical look at the events of the last month from a libertarian perspective.

A-Radio is an amalgamation of various Berlin anarchists who jointly create radio reports with libertarian content. In doing so, they are guided by the principles of mutual help and solidarity as well as resistance to all forms of discrimination, oppression and domination.

With what aim was the A-Radio started?
Anna: The Anarchist Radio Berlin, or A-Radio Berlin for short, had two phases of development. It was originally founded in 2009, right before the Bundestag election at that time, when we were given the spontaneous opportunity to participate in a temporary radio project (i.e. via a frequency) as part of a broader left-wing radical information channel. That went on for about four months until 2010. At that time, completely different people were there too and the whole thing was more like playing with libertarian content than a mature idea, or that we even had a goal in mind. Most likely we had the idea of ​​using the medium of radio to spread anarchist content further and perhaps also to reach people who have a completely different idea of ​​anarchism than we do, which seemed to us to be a very attractive task in connection with the elections .
Maxi: In the absence of broadcasting possibilities, as there is no free radio in Berlin, and due to the lack of framework conditions for a stable pirate radio project, the project fell into disrepair very quickly after this project radio phase and only came back to life in 2012. Parts of the former group then developed a concept for making radio without radio, today often understood as a podcast, although we have nothing to do with the technical trappings of podcasts and our concept can be broken down as follows: We publish all our audios on the Internet and also put them up All radio projects are available for broadcast on the Free Radios platform, which actually happens on a regular basis. So we can be heard on the radio after all (since 2017 also in Berlin ...)!
Anna: For this new start, we already had a clear program concept in terms of structure and regularity: Always at the beginning of the month, the “Libertarian Podcast” and irregular other contributions that had no place in it. It should be 25 minutes long, so that it can comfortably fit in a half-hour slot of free radios, and two parts, one "serious" and one satirical. It soon turned out that we couldn't get by with 25 minutes and we extended the whole thing to an hour. The concept has also been further refined.

What kind of group do you see yourself as?
Maxi: We see ourselves as an anarchist, anti-authoritarian group. I would describe us as quite pluralistic and undogmatic. The appropriate technical term for this would be “synthetic anarchism”.1
Anna: We don't see ourselves as journalists. Media activists are more likely to be hit because we do not strive for impartial reporting, but rather are more of a mouthpiece for our scene.
Maxi: We are not just a group that produces audios, we also see ourselves as a political collective and, in this context, are part of the Federation of German-speaking Anarchists (FdA)2 organized where we work on joint campaigns and projects and support each other.

What makes the A radio so valuable as a libertarian alternative medium of movement?
Anna: There is so much to say. First of all, definitely the format. Although the number of anarchist audio projects has increased in recent years, most of them are live broadcasts that are only received locally or are listened to by a few people in the live stream. As an audio or podcast project, we still have a rarity and thus close the gap between print media and video formats (of which there are far too few). With audios we can address completely different senses than would be possible with a text, it also offers a completely different authenticity and immediacy. It also offers completely different design options, we're talking about collages, radio plays, etc. Sounds are a completely different story and often help to record things even better.
Maxi: But we don't limit ourselves to the pure production of audios either. We often look for exciting events and offer ourselves to document them. We are increasingly being asked from outside to do just that. For us, this activity has two major levels of meaning: Firstly, the A-Radio also serves as an audio archive for many events, the content of which would otherwise have been lost long ago (which also gives the work of the speakers, etc., a fundamental appreciation and potentiation - instead of 30 People at the real event then hear 2,000-3,000 people the content of the lecture or discussion!). Second, this is also a practical step towards breaking down barriers, because many people simply do not have the opportunity (time, capacity) to attend many events and we still get the chance to familiarize themselves with the content.
Anna: And another very important aspect that has not been discussed at all so far: We talked about our audios earlier. However, we did not mention that we do not only publish audios in German. This is true of the monthly podcast, but we also publish audios in English and Spanish on a regular basis. This means that we also conduct interviews in other languages, but then try to publish these audios in all three languages ​​as soon as possible. In practice, it works like this that we take the original audio and, depending on the language, add so-called voice-overs (spoken translations) to make the content accessible to people who do not speak the original language. We are a multilingual collective ourselves and international work is one of our core themes. And here, too, two major areas can be distinguished.
On the one hand, we want to make information about fights that are happening elsewhere on the globe known here, but also to bring things that happen here to other people. This is, for example, an interview about the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, conducted in Spanish, transcribed (by friends in Spain), translated into English (by friends in the USA) and spoken, put back together by us and then broadcast on an Free Radio in New Zealand. That is the kind of international cooperation we envision.
On the other hand, we are also concerned with a very specific distribution of the radio medium. For this purpose, we collect money (with fundraising campaigns, soli parties and soli t-shirts and bags), with which we get recording devices, which we then make available to projects that want to start a radio project themselves, but have such a device can not afford. In this way, our devices are used all over the world: Chile, Brazil, Cuba, Rojava.

Why are acoustic contributions and podcasts suitable to use the potential in order to organize oneself and to bring anarchism to the public as an important political component?
Maxi: Anna mentioned the topic of authenticity earlier. Like videos in other ways, audios also convey a completely different feeling of closeness relatively easily, or at least they can, while this is a fine art for texts.
There is also the possibility of immediacy by accompanying events live (or, as in our case, promptly re-live). As a result, audio can play a completely different role as a means of mobilization, but also as a means of organizing, so there are supposed to have been groups who organized a live pirate radio especially for a demo, to give the participants information about the environment, but also about police tactics to be able to give.

In this context, how is it possible to push anarchism out of the light of an unrealizable utopia?
Anna: It's not easy and of course, as a small radio project, we can only make a small contribution to it. With our audios, however, we can easily and easily present examples from everyday life in which anarchy and self-organized life work. We show that it is possible and that anarchy does not have to remain a utopia.

What are the criteria for a contribution to your podcast?
Maxi: We do not have any fixed criteria, but of course they cannot completely contradict our own self-image. But as already mentioned above, we are quite pluralistic. We look what has happened or, looking ahead to a future podcast, what might happen in the near future. Some topics are so important to us that we discuss who can do what about them. For others it depends more on the motivation of the individual members in the collective. Our diversity plays into our hands!
Anna: And of course it also plays a role where we can get audios, that is, whether any of us could be there, whether we know someone who can give us an interview, etc. We draw contributions with athmos or original sounds definitely before. We practically do not have any read-aloud texts from books or the Internet. We find this a boring way of conveying content, especially because our medium is about sounds.
Maxi: Otherwise, of course, we also keep an eye on the amount of time, because our podcast is always exactly one hour long so that it can be played in our radio slots. In other words, the focus topic can sometimes be 20 or 25 minutes long, but the other posts in the podcast are usually between 5 and 15 minutes long, some even shorter. And then we take music in from time to time, or it is already in the contributions.

The media play a not insignificant role when it comes to asserting ideologies and political interests. Does that also apply to you?
Anna: You mean, do we want to use the radio to assert our interests? Well, we're an anarchist radio project. Of course, we also want to spread our political interests, but assert them from above or indoctrinate people, that is not part of our concept as a libertarian medium.
Maxi: And since we are still more of a scene medium, we don’t have any biting columns that pick at those who think differently. We prefer to use satire and irony to poke fun at the powerful and their world of thought.

The Internet primarily offers new opportunities for the (counter) public, here professionally and non-professionally generated communication modes compete. Which communicative possibilities does your podcast offer, especially for social movements and forms of protest?
Anna: First of all, we're all about audios. And although, at least in theory, anyone can write a press release, that doesn't just translate to audio. In other words: At this point we are able to support groups, projects or events with something that most of them cannot do themselves. And we really don't care at all about hearing ourselves speak. We would much rather let others have their say. That's why we mostly talk to people who are directly involved in something. We seldom try to explain the world to our listeners ourselves.
Maxi: In this sense, it's a hands-on project, as the basis of our audios is the cooperation of other people. And that is a reciprocal relationship, i.e. we enjoy the content that others make available to us with their voice, and they enjoy the fact that we do not distort any content or even take it out of context. For social movements and political groups, our podcast definitely offers the opportunity to use us as a communication platform. We are also often asked whether we want to accompany a certain campaign or an action week. We are open to a great many things, openly partisan to left-wing extremist, anarchist positions, and that's why we tend to ask the sympathetic questions. Solidarity criticism has its place, but as I said, we are more of a scene medium ... Otherwise we actually try to work together on an equal footing with the people we are interviewing, for example. This also means that our questions are open to discussion and that we try to create a pleasant atmosphere for discussion.

Libertarian alternative media initially create a small counter-public, they publish information that does not appear in the mass media, or only in small doses. Still, what are the advantages of alternative media over mass media?
Anna: You already mentioned the first advantage. In alternative media like ours, there is room for opinions and information that are more likely not to be found in mainstream media. Another aspect is the organizational form of our medium. There are no editors-in-chief or someone who determines what and how to report. We decide everything ourselves and thus have the freedom to design our podcast in such a way that we and hopefully our listeners also like it.
Maxi: Beyond that, we don't depend on any institution or donor. The little money that our project costs, we easily raise out of our own pockets. This means that nobody can exert influence from outside and we are also not in danger of trying to please potential sources of money through self-censorship.

And what perspectives of a libertarian counter-public do you offer?
Anna: If you understand perspectives as opinions, then of course ours.
But also those of our interlocutors, with whom we show solidarity and to whom we offer our medium as a mouthpiece.
Maxi: If you mean prospects as possibilities for the future, now might be a good time to briefly talk about international radio networking.
Anna: And Channel Zero ...
Maxi: Okay, then I'll tell you something about radio networking. We started this project about 5 years ago, now more than 20 anarchist and anti-authoritarian radio projects, live broadcasts, podcasts and sometimes even entire radio stations from all over the world are involved in the networking / in fact there are currently projects from Europe and America ). There is a meeting every year, the last one just took place in May 2018 in Berlin. In addition to the practical exchange of know-how, networking serves to help us create publicity, but also to cope with joint projects. The most important project that has arisen so far is called "Bad News"3 and is a monthly information broadcast in English, with contributions from networking projects. This is very well received and we have the faint hope of being able to do a version in Spanish in the future.
Anna: And then we were invited to Channel Zero4 to participate in a project of English-language, anarchist podcasts, and because we also have programs in English, we were allowed to participate. The concept is a 24/7 live stream, which is made up of the content of the individual projects and has been particularly well received in the USA.
In order to have a say in social affairs, to have a say, to be able to work on preparing a free society, one must first of all be informed.

What relevance do critical, libertarian media have in our society?
Maxi: Unfortunately, it's still much too small. After all, we often stay too much trapped in our own echo chamber. Plus, getting bigger and better known is quite a bit of work. We have been around for a few years now, our podcast is downloaded around 1,500-2,000 times a month, some stand-alone audios even up to 4,000 times. Some people would definitely speak of a well-known medium, at least in the podcast area. It all took a long time. We still see ourselves as a very small medium.
Anna: And it's no secret that if alternative media are a thorn in the side of the state, they will also be criminalized. It used to be the radical, now linksunten.indymedia. And that long before any point in time when we would have developed great media relevance in society.

Why should the development of media competence consist in turning away from a passive use of the media to an active, critical-reflexive and discursive use of the media?
Maxi: Participation and opportunities to participate are essential for us for a free society and for the way there. We wish for the future that everyone can make their own decisions.To do this, it is definitely necessary to look at the media critically and to question information. Especially in a time of fake news.
Anna: Maybe it sounded through ... We are very interested in more interactive formats. As a live broadcast, at least this part would be easier. Because for an offline project like us, direct participation is difficult to implement. A realistic option would be to simply rely on live streams more often in the future. At the last international radio networking meeting, we gained a lot of experience when we organized a 9-hour stream broadcast for all 14 projects present.

Media are a means to an end. They have their own intrinsic value in terms of design, their own charm or their own expressiveness. What creative approaches do you have / do you use and how can these be implemented with the podcast?
Maxi: Our contributions are very diverse. Although the most common form of expression is definitely the interview, we also play with other formats that are best implemented in the podcast form (as opposed to a live broadcast, for example), since you have time to tinker with the audio properly. What comes out is reports with a live character, collages of voices, original sounds and sounds or real radio plays where we relate scenes or tell stories. Then, of course, formats such as our alternative press review “Where there is anarchy” or a link tip.
Anna: The diversity is also to be found in terms of content, as we naturally have a Berlin focus, but by no means limit ourselves to that. Anyone who listens to our podcasts knows that we regularly try to report nationally and internationally. We don't set any limits on topics either: from ubiquitous gentrification to Christian fundamentalist marches, days of action against Google or Amazon to anarchist prisoners and protests against gold mining in Romania - everything has already appeared in the podcast. It is only important to us that there is a libertarian perspective and a correspondingly critical perspective.

The libertarian podcast has been available in the archive since October 2012. That's a relatively long period of time for regular podcasts. What are the reasons for this continuous commitment?
Maxi: I would turn the question around, so why is there a monthly podcast? When we were unsure at the beginning how we could motivate ourselves without a fixed broadcast slot (and its clear requirement that something specific had to be fulfilled at a certain point in time), we opted for the monthly podcast, not just a regular free radio station To guarantee output, but also as an opportunity to motivate ourselves continuously by giving ourselves a clear target.
Anna: But we also just have fun with it and see that people actually listen to our podcast. Our download numbers can be checked at any time at archive.org. And of course that motivates when we see that it is also heard. Occasionally, but unfortunately far too seldom, we also get feedback by email, on Twitter or in a personal conversation. That gives us additional strength. Either way, we have the feeling that a project like A-Radio is currently absolutely necessary, which is why we don't even think about stopping.

From the very beginning there were contributions that were created not only from a libertarian perspective but also by means of satire. Has this mixture been preserved as a concept for you?
Maxi: That is a complex question ... For us it was definitely important from the start to give the more "serious" parts of the podcast a counterpart that doesn’t weigh so heavily, but possibly also provides amusement.
Anna: Unfortunately, the world we report on is all too often full of shitty things. We feared that it might be depressing in the long run.
Maxi: Especially since satire as a means also allows other readings of news or enables us to illuminate the thoughts of, let's say, right-wing or conservative people in a creative way.
Anna: To get back to your actual question: We would say that the mix turned out to be good, although satire is also a total matter of taste. We have also discontinued satirical formats because listeners did not think that was a good thing. Overall, however, it can also be observed that the satirical share has declined. Writing a satirical article is just a lot of work (and not something for everyone). The more projects we tackled, the less time there was for comparatively elaborate satire articles.
Maxi: Only “Where there is anarchy” has remained with us throughout, a section in which we try to literally use the phrase “There is anarchy” in the media and to drag it through the cocoa.

1. Synthetic anarchism or synthetic federation is a form of anarchist organization, a gathering of free people who set goals and rules for their cooperation. The general aim of an anarchist federation is to spread ideas - such as the anarchist analysis of society and current developments, libertarian forms of organization, direct action and solidarity. ↩

2. The Federation of German-speaking Anarchists (FdA) is an association of anarchist groups, local federations and networks, as well as some individuals: https: //fda-ifa.org↩

3. https://archive.org/details/BadNews_anIntroduction_1706_en↩

4. https://channelzeronetwork.com/↩