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Fire and Flames: A History of the German Autonomist Movement
"Earlier, many of us saw themselves as anarchists, Spontis, or communists, while some had vague, individual ideas about a liberated life. Then we all became Autonome."
Black blocs, squats, riots and urban guerillas - but also base groups in the factories, "free spaces", antinuclear occupations, and alternative lifestylism - all of these formed the context, the terrain, and the world of Germany's Autonomous movement during its high point in the 1980s. Today best known for the militant street fighting tactics they exemplified, the Autonomen opposed the capitalist State while purposefully not putting forward any kind of blueprint for what would replace it, an ethos summed up in the slogan, "No power to no one!"
The challenges faced by the Autonomen - repression from the police, integration from the reformist left - and the way in which they were met, provide a look forward to what may face our own movements in the time to come. As the current capitalist crisis leads to new surges in protest, with radical elements try to break out of the reformist structures and defeatist traditions meant to hold us back, Germany in the 1980s doesn't seem so far away.
Fire and Flames was the first comprehensive study of the German autonomous movement ever published. Released in 1990, it reached its fifth edition by 1997, with the legendary German Konkret journal concluding that "the movement had produced its own classic." This is the first english translation ever published.
The author, writing under the pseudonym of Geronimo, has been an Autonomous activist since the movement burst onto the scene in the early 80s. His book is not an academic study, but a movement history produced by a participant in the events, for all of us engaged in building resistance to capitalism, and fighting for a liberatory future.
"The target audience is not the academic middle-class with passive sympathies for rioting, nor the all-knowing critical critics, but the activists of a young generation." —Edition I.D. Archiv
"Some years ago, an experienced autonomous activist from Berlin sat down, talked to friends and comrades about the development of the scene, and, with Fire and Flames, wrote the best book about the movement that we have." —Düsseldorfer Stadtzeitung für Politik und Kultur
About the Author
The author, writing under the pseudonym of Geronimo, has been an autonomous activist since the movement burst onto the European scene in 1980-81.
About Gabriel Kuhn (Afterword)
Gabriel Kuhn lives as an independent author and translator in Stockholm, Sweden. His previous publications with PM Press include Life Under the Jolly Roger: Reflections on Golden Age Piracy (2010), Sober Living for the Revolution: Hardcore Punk, Straight Edge, and Radical Politics (editor, 2010), Gustav Landauer: Revolution and Other Writings (editor/translator, 2010), and Soccer vs. the State: Tackling Football and Radical Politics (2011).
About George Katsiaficas (Introduction)
George Katsiaficas is currently living in Gwangju, South Korea. A visiting professor of sociology at Chonnam National University, he is finishing research on East Asian uprisings in the 1980s and 1990s. A Fulbright Fellow, student of Herbert Marcuse, and long-time activist, he is the author of The Imagination of the New Left: A Global Analysis of 1968. His book, The Subversion of Politics: European Autonomous Social Movements and the Decolonization of Everyday Life, was co-winner of the APSA's 1998 Michael Harrington book award. Among his edited volumes are Liberation, Imagination and the Black Panther Party (with Kathleen Cleaver) and Vietnam Documents: American and Vietnamese Views of the War.
Published by PM Press in 2012