Intro

Theme

The Berliner Gazette (BG) 2022 project AFTER EXTRACTIVISM launches its intervention at a critical juncture: Economic and ecological crises are increasingly devastatingly intertwined and fuel each other – an ecological-economic complex (or rather: vicious circle) that produces pandemics, extreme weather events, the slow violence of climate catastrophe, and outright wars.

When governments (and companies) officially recognize that the realms of ecology and economy intertwine in increasingly disastrous ways, they promote ostensibly “sustainable” measures, but in fact advance mostly variants of the dominant capitalist mode as solutions to these problems.

However, isn’t said economic mode key to the problem? Does deploying it as part of the supposed solution not only reinforce and sustain disastrous tendencies? Thus, shouldn’t organizing transitions into a better world be inseparable from fundamentally questioning the dominant economic mode organized around the pursuit of endless growth, energy-hungry profit coercion, and, last but not least, resource-devouring extractivism?

Wishing to explore these questions, the BG 2022 project proposes we learn from the last big transition – the post-Cold War transition from “communism” to capitalism – and raise the question of transition justice. This means tackling what is usually denied in official accounts of post-1989 transitions: class struggles and the immense, long-lasting political, social, and, ultimately, environmental costs of transitions.

Project outline
The detailed outline of the BG 2022 project – conceived and published before Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine – is available in German and English. Written by Magdalena Taube and Krystian Woznicki, the organizers of the project, this text is indebted to the collective findings from previous BG projects, including “More World” (2019), “Silent Works” (2020), and “Black Box East” (2021). It serves as an introduction to the text series that BG is developing in this context in cooperation with activists, researchers, and cultural workers. Read more about it in the column on the right.

Exploration

The BG 2022 project deploys the term transition justice as a conceptual evolution of the just transition framework. Developed in recent years by the trade union movement, the just transition framework puts forward claims for social justice in the context of climate catastrophe adaptations, calling for interventions required to secure workers’ rights and livelihoods, e.g., in coal-dependent developing regions, where economies are shifting from fossil fuels to supposedly “green” energy sources. Here, the idea of transition justice suggests going a step further, namely also taking claims of environmental justice movements into account: ethical, legal, and political issues of accountability and responsibility for the consequences of ecological havoc caused since the so-called “European expansion” in the course of colonization and industrialization.

In short, the BG 2022 project proposes combining just transition claims with claims for environmental justice. Conceived thus, transition justice last but not least echoes indigenous concerns and makes room for the interests of laborers not (yet) represented by unions, e.g., migrant workers or social reproduction workers. Consequently, raising the question of transition justice in the face of man-made natural disasters (such as pandemics or the climate catastrophe) and greenwashed neoliberal responses to it means calling for accountability and responsibility for ecocide, as well as demanding that transition measures must not reproduce existing power structures (which have caused the destabilization and outright destruction of lifeworlds in the first place), but rather forge new paths into a just world.

Undoing the power structures in question when, e.g., working towards an energy transition and other climate catastrophe adaptation measures requires decolonizing climate production and removing it from capitalism’s grip. Such a multi-layered endeavor can crucially contribute to transition justice for our planetary inter-species community. The BG project 2022 challenges activists, scholars, and cultural workers to research, think, and imagine how we might go about this in solidarity.

Milestones

The guiding questions of the Berliner Gazette’s annual project 2022 “After Extractivism” are:

How can we wager our future on the legacies and claims of those who – yesterday as today – have been plunged into existential hardship by the ecological-economic complex? And how can we make such struggles a source of inspiration for a common cause?

Searching for answers, the BG will create a hybrid platform for cooperation and exploration. In addition to a text series, published in BG and its international media partners, the project will encompass a multimedia website, partner events, and an international three-day conference in Berlin.

Text series
The BG has created a space for the project within its online newspaper. Here, around 50 essays, reports, and interviews will be published in the course of 2022. While the texts are appearing in German in the BG, English (and other language) versions are being published in cooperation with the BG’s international media partners. If you would like to contribute a text (1,500 words) and/or subscribe to our newsletter, mail us at info(at)berlinergazette(.)de

The text series is tentatively partitioned into three sections (as detailed in the project outline): The Ecological-Economic Complex, Green Capitalism, and Transition Justice.

Conference
Undoubtedly the heart of the Berliner Gazette (BG) conference, five workshops will be looking for answers to these questions. Bringing together activists, researchers, and cultural workers from more than 20 countries, the workshops will take place in parallel on October 13, 14, and 15. More info below.

Partner events
A program of short experimental documentary films by the (X)-trACTION collective that engage with histories from the US American West will have an in-person screening at the Arsenal in Berlin on July 29, 2022. Their manifesto is published as part of a collaboration between Harun Farocki Institut and BG’s “After Extractivism” project.

Workshops

Setting

Bringing together activists, researchers, and cultural workers from more than 20 countries, the workshops of the Berliner Gazette (BG) conference will take place in parallel on October 13, 14, and 15 at the Haus der Demokratie und Menschenrechte in Berlin.

Goal
All workshop guests will be invited to join a hackathon-style collaborative process. The goal is to come up with collective projects, ranging from multimedia stories to utopian scenarios. The resulting resources will be made available online. For reference and inspiration, take a look at projects from recent BG conference workshops: CAPTCHA Factory, Dull, Dangerous + Dirty, The Wretched of the East, and Shouldering the West.

Registration
The workshops will feature a number of selected guests who have been invited by the conference organizers. Additional participants are able to apply. Details for registration see here. The maximum number of all participants per workshop is 7.

Rebooting Eco-Justice

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is not the first aggression by a major power since the end of World War II, but it is probably the first time that an alliance of major powers has opposed it with an unprecedented, all-encompassing economic war. All of this has serious consequences – not only for Ukraine and Russia, but for practically all globally interconnected economies. The unsettled security of supply (supply chains for energy sources and food are interrupted) also affects international climate protection, because money and coordination efforts in this area are now being poured into supply security. In the course of this, coal and oil are experiencing a comeback, and are being reframed as “future raw materials,” even in countries that had shown commitment to climate goals. What challenges do environmental justice movements face in light of this? What does it mean to act, campaign, or journalistically raise awareness? What does it mean, if necessary, to strategically readjust the environmental justice agenda?

Facilitation: Nina Pohler + Sotiris Sideris. Guests: Laura Burtan*, Mark Cinkevich, Lira Ramadani, Stoyo Tetevenski.

Algorithmic Mindset

“One big war, and all the climate goals we have can be scrapped.” “One big war, and the algorithmic control of social networks could strengthen totalitarian tendencies.” In recent decades, we’ve heard both warnings from experts again and again. Today, it is important to think them together. The showdown between carbon and post-carbon capitalists is coming to a head in the course of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. This battle for supremacy in capitalism is also fought as a battle over the socio-political perception of the ongoing climate catastrophe: last but not least as an algorithmic class struggle from above for the collective consciousness of users of Artificial Intelligence (AI)-driven technologies, social media, and the Internet at large. How is this algorithmic struggle over collective consciousness centering our attention on wrong misleading questions, arresting us in the false present of opportunism, and preventing us from questioning capitalism as such rather than just one form versus another? How is this stealing “the future” from us?

Facilitation: Jose M. Calatayud + Cassie Thornton. Guests: Aslı Dinç, Lenka Hamosova, Katrin Kämpf, Julia Molin, Cristina Pombo.

Disarming Resource Wars

“Resource wars,” “energy wars,” and “climate wars” on the peripheries of empires are all expressions of the fact that economic and ecological crises are becoming increasingly devastatingly intertwined, fueling each other. Needless to say, diplomacy must be preferred to a “hot” war at any time in the face of this. But this is not enough for a true bottom-up peace movement. As Rosa Luxemburg already knew in 1911, we must be able to do more than urge capitalist states to negotiate the terms of their business deals, because if we focus only on that, we undertake basically nothing more than the defense of capitalism and imperialism – that is, yesterday’s forms against today’s or tomorrow’s. Hence, struggles for an internationalist politics of peace in the face of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and all other forms of imperial military aggression across the globe should also, if not primarily, be conducted by challenging capitalism and imperialism. How can we advance eco-socialist alternatives to the capitalist economy? How can we create commons-based caring economies as a peace strategy that disarms “resource wars” and the like?

Facilitation: Sabrina Apitz + Max Haiven. Guests: Hvale, Mirko Nikolić, Nicolay Spesivtsev*, Andrea Vetter.

Climate and Tech Politics

Whether helping refugees, those threatened by racial violence, the hungry, or those injured in war – mutual support and grassroots coordination on the web are crucial in solidarity initiatives responding to a humanitarian crisis. However, technology is not a panacea, but a tool that must be chosen and used strategically. This also becomes clear when facing the climate catastrophe. Hence, the claim in this context must be two-fold: climate and tech activism. The first has slowly entered public consciousness, but the latter is usually dismissed, as digital technologies are considered “clean.” The high energy consumption of running data centers, manufacturing smartphones, streaming videos, etc. is underestimated and ignored. So, what does it mean to politicize digital technologies in the face of mutually fueling crises without letting their use become part of the problem or even detrimental to its solution? What can we learn from the algorithmic policing of racialized communities who are hit hardest by the climate crisis?

Facilitation: Ela Kagel + Claudia Núñez. Guests: Gosia Jagiello*, Jaron Rowan, Alexandra Ștefănescu, Dzina Zhuk*.

Post-1989 Lessons

The conversation on eco-socialist alternatives to the capitalist economy could learn from the post-socialist countries of Eastern Europe. After all, by rebelling against authoritarianism and impoverishment, various social movements in many of these countries radically challenged the prevailing system when they hit the streets at the end of the 1980s and early 1990s. Although the resulting transition was catalyzed by neoliberal shock therapies and nurtured new forms of authoritarianism and pauperization, it is nonetheless remarkable that both the sense and the impetus for resistance and solidarity within the populations could not be suppressed. Moreover, rediscovering the legacies of the “communist” and socialist past, there are ambitious attempts (including among younger generations) at repurposing for the present potentially useful elements such as cooperativism and collectivism. What do confrontations with the economic-ecological complex look like in Eastern Europe today? What can we learn from the social movements in the region?

Facilitation: Adriana Homolova + Holger Kral. Guests: Mika Bulevic*, Katarina Kusic, Zoran Pantelic, Mihajlo Vujasin, Juliane Rettschlag.

Texts

The Ecological-Economic Complex

Mark Cinkevich and Anna Engelhardt about the role of energy in Russia’s colonial expansion (EN | DE); Maria Gunko about post-Soviet coal mining cities as platforms for the reordering of power relations (EN | DE); Max Haiven about extractive capitalism as a system of human sacrifice (EN | DE); Tomasz Konicz about how the heat wave reveals the deadly logics of capital (EN | DE); Aleksandar Matković about why a new form of ecological imperialism is developing in the Balkans (EN | DE); mirko nikolić about extractivist entanglements in Serbia (EN | DE); Friederike Pank about the long epilogue of the coal story in East Germany (EN | DE); Florin Poenaru about how Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the West’s response to it aggravate environmental havoc (EN | DE).

Green Capitalism

Sanja Bojanic and Marko Luka Zubcic about exhausted dreams of demagogues and investors (EN | DE); Özgün Eylül İşcen about post-carbon imaginaries in the Gulf region (EN| DE); Rositsa Kratunkova about how green parties are embracing more war to stop the war (EN | DE); Christoph Marischka about debunking the myth of the “cloud” (EN | DE); Shuree Sarantuya about the violence of “green” extractivism in Mongolia (EN | DE); Paul Schütze about how Artificial Intelligence complements and expands green capitalism (EN | DE); Tatjana Söding about the ideology of right-wing populist resistance against green politics in East Germany (EN | DE); Stoyo Tetevenski about countering the myth of green capitalism in Bulgaria (EN | DE); Irina Velicu about necro-industry, climate trauma, and radical healing (EN | DE).

Transition Justice

Mijin Cha about the political potential of non-reformist reforms (EN | DE); Salvatore Engel-Di Mauro about anti-extractivism, socialist states, and the question of centralized organization (EN | DE); Katarina Kušić about learning from cooperatives in former Yugoslavia (EN | DE); Agata Lisiak about the politics of relationality (EN | DE); Christine Okoth about extractive solidarity and acts of worldmaking (EN | DE); Lukas Stolz about how to turn the end of the world into an emancipatory project (EN | DE); Stefan Tiron about science fictional transitioning after 1989 (EN | DE); Henry Veltmeyer about the post-extractivist transition towards equitable and sustainable futures (EN | DE); Andrea Vetter about energy periphery revolts towards a caring economy (EN | DE); Amy Walker about legacies of unjust transitions and lessons from the South Wales coalfield (EN | DE).

Info

Berliner Gazette (BG) is a nonprofit and nonpartisan team of journalists, researchers, artists, and coders, analyzing and experimenting with emerging cultural and political practices. Since 1999 we have been publishing berlinergazette.de under a Creative Commons License with more than 1,000 contributors. In dialogue with our international network we create annual projects, exploring the issues at hand not only in the form of text series but also conferences and books. Our latest projects include Black Box East (2021), Silent Works (2020), More World (2019), Ambient Revolts (2018), Signals (2017), A Field Guide to the Snowden Files (2017), Friendly Fire (2017), Tacit Futures (2016), UN|COMMONS (2015), BQV (2012), and McDeutsch (2006).

Organizer

The curators of the AFTER EXTRACTIVISM project are Magdalena Taube and Krystian Woznicki. Magdalena is editor-in-chief of the internet newspaper Berliner Gazette and professor of Digital Media and Journalism at the Macromedia University of Applied Sciences in Berlin. She is the author of “Disruption des Journalismus” (2018) published by Institute of Network Cultures, Amsterdam and co-editor of numerous readers, including “Invisible Hand(s)” (2020) published by Multimedijalni institut, Zagreb. Krystian is a critic, photographer, and the co-founder of Berliner Gazette. Exploring the common(s) at the intersection of globalization and digitalization, he has created books that blend writing and photography, including “After the Planes” (2017), “Fugitive Belonging” (2018), and “Undeclared Movements” (2020).

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