Wednesday, 12 November 2008

The Anarchist Counterball

Members of ZSP Warsaw took part in the organizing of the People's Ball in Warsaw.

The anarchists' "people's ball" was held yesterday in Warsaw.

Nov.11, was Polish Independence Day. As the country becomes sick with more and more patriotism, the patriotic holidays are becoming more and more grandiose and grotesque. This holiday, the 90th anniversary of Polish independence, saw huge military parades, dozens of patriotic demonstrations and a presidential ball.

At a time when the government is preaching austerity to the people, when thousands of people are striking for better pay, when the government is attacking the health care and education systems, when early pensions and other benefits for working people are being done away with, and we are being told "we cannot afford this", the state wastes millions on shows of patriotism and attempts to show off its military might and present itself as a regional superpower. While millions suffer from lack of basic services, the president decided to throw a gala ball.

Presidents from the Visegrad countries, the Baltics, Balkans, Ukraine and Georgia came, as did high-ranking officials from other "aspiring" countries like Turkey. In short, the "B-list" countries are networking. Angela Merkel arrived for official ceremonies in the morning but did not stay for the ball, which featured all the typical luxuries, dashed with amazing Polish ultra-kitsch such as the strange gorale group Zakopower. (All we can say is the ball's 800 disgusting guests certainly deserved the torturous concert.) While the Presidents, the rich, powerful and elite were wining and dining, the anarchists decided to hold a counter ball - a people's ball.

Anarchists protested the arrogance of the politicians and their use of tax money, which was typical of the relation between those in power and those without. One of the many themes of the ball was the warning "Capitalism is sinking, enjoy your last dance" sent to the participants of the ball. Posters with the warning in many languages were put around the city.

Many would-be participants, who had taken part in an antifascist action were either blockaded by the police or waiting for people blockaded by the police. The ball was then attended mostly by people outside the movement, who danced to the DJs or samba band, watched fire shows, got a warm meal, anarchists leaflets and newspapers. Afterwards, people tried to move on to the official ball, but were stopped by the police. Some people went there anyway only to find that the anarchist ball, which was only a couple of hours long, had actually outlived the presidential ball. (Our guess is that people ran away after Zakopower.)

As a political protest, maybe the ball was a bit weak, but it was not a bad street party, made by the people, for the people and at a cost of a few thousand times less than the president's ball.

Some photos of the ball are here:

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