Socially responsible investment. For a certain kind of leftist, the notion is a bit much. How can the root of all evil be used to further good? Money is Mammon, after all. As adolescent as this anxiety sounds, it’s still a good question to ask, because it opens the doors to all sorts of concerns fundamental to left-wing politics. Is it possible to live without money? Are there other forms of exchange that are less exploitative? Can we still criticize capitalism, while playing by its rules? As basic as these queries are, we never stop indulging them. They just get reformulated across different political problems.
Few street names tend to epitomize the contradiction more broadly than the ironically named Karl-Marx-Straße. One of the main thoroughfares in the Berlin borough of Neukolln, Marx plays host to numerous 24 hour stores, doner places, big German chain retailers like DM and Aldi, and, god forbid, a shopping mall. Surely, Marx would not approve. The juxtaposition of the street sign in the photograph above, with one of the two Deutsche Bank branches on the street, drives the conflict home. Few financial institutions symbolize the strength of the German economy better than Deutsche Bank. Few street names epitomize Germany’s historic antipathy to capitalism than that of its native son, the co-author of The Communist Manifesto.
The following flyer, translated below, puts the situation in a less ironic, but complementary relief. It is a request for money, to support revolutionary politics, posted on the wall of an Anarchist infoshop, in Brussels. Advertising a fund meant to bail out radicals in trouble with the law, it helps make a very basic philosophical point about the contradictions of cash. Leftists may not like it, but when it makes the difference between jail and an attorney, it’s not so bad. The point is that its value is circumstantial. Not moral. Like all things negative, perhaps the message is that, like socially responsible investing, it’s not so much that money is wrong, but what we do with it.
La Brèche (the Edge)
Liège’s Fund for solidarity and liberty
Because aspiring to freedom is more than just an expression. Men and women everywhere will not constrain their desires and ideas, and are trying to clear the beaten path which leads to respect and freedom for all.
Because the walls, real or not, that the state builds around rebelling individuals and their struggles are not insurmountable or indestructible, and behind which can be seen the costs of repression, like the police and justice. Because these walls are encroaching, trying to stop us from reaching the horizon, they are the logic of the state, aimed at maintaining the existing economic and social order.
Because too often, when confronted with repression, we feel alone and without resources. We do not want to consider it an obstacle to our hopes, we do not want to focus all our attention and energy on it, and so we restrict ourselves to a merely defensive status.
Because we want to promote freedom and anti-authority struggles, and spread them while the current power uses repression to separate, crush and mutilate us into silence. La Brèche calls on all those who share in our struggle for freedom and anti-authority, and who are targeted or confronted by repression.
This fund is just one of many to strengthen us individually and collectively. All have access to financial support without deliberating questions of innocence or guilt. It is also a way of reaching out and organising.
Created to be used, you can help replenish the fund or contact us if you need access to it: email@example.com
Translated from the French by Kit Rickard. Photographs courtesy of Joel Schalit.