My presentation of autonomous factory Rog just after its defense against the violent attack and attempt of eviction (6th of June 2016) from the side of city governmental authorities appeared to be emotional, subjective and human. I showed a picture of my friend, Hasan Hasan, activist and asylum seeker, who has worked with us on the Balkan route, the Balkan corridor, freedom of movement and right to stay issues at Social center Rog, one of many collective spaces in the autonomous zone. His picture was published along with his story in the national newspaper titled “Hasan Hasan from Kurdistan: I dream of taking part in the Olympic Games”. Despite that Hasan has lived nearly six years in different European countries, where all his applications for international protection (Convention relating to the status of refugees) had been all along rejected, in the article he expressed hope of realizing his dreams that were not merely bound to the case of his legal status, roof overheads or even basic income. In contempt of existing laws, strict asylum policies and exclusive border regimes, Hasan indicated the very possibility of being more than a subordinated subject of transcendental power, revealed a chance to grasp the common and tried to capture the intangible.
Factory Rog occupied since 2006 is a place of encounter of those excluded from wealth but included in its production, and of those who live various practices of citizenship and challenge the formal limitations of European citizenship. The republic of Rog is opposing the republic of property by producing alternative modes of production of art, languages, affects, social life and knowledge and thus becoming one of the forms of common that increases our powers to think and act together.
Occupation of Rog more than a decade ago was also an act of a generational experience. “It started as a practical attempt to break away from the conceptual, practical and political hegemony of the generation that was in power since 1980’s”. Such a particular experience of production of subjectivity was crucial to understanding how the republic of property under the socialistic state went through the transition and became the power of property of the current neoliberal policies that encourage public authorities to merge with private investments. Abandoned for more than 15 years factory Rog became the target of public-private partnership and local authorities launched a hunt for private capital.
From the perspective of the common Rog is going through the experience of standing against the notion that the only alternative to the private is the public. Summer of resistance (2016) and defense of Rog, hopefully, contributed slightly to the recognition of the common, as a new space for politics, beyond the concepts of public interest and public property rooted in the tradition of transcendental power, i.e. the power of law and capital.
Fail of sovereign and the act of transcendental power
The use of violence during the attempt of eviction of Rog had led to strong resistance, solidarity, and support. The sovereign power of the Mayor of Ljubljana, a figure of command, whose statements of threat enabled violence accomplished by private security contractor caused also the reaction from the representatives of the transcendental power. A short visit of an inspector related to the issue of abusing power by the private security company which entered the territory of the occupied factory at night and violently tried to evict people by beating them up and disabling entrance and exit points of the area. An emergency of the still existing threat of violent eviction and of substantial threat of irreparable damage or injury brought to a decision to file for a preliminary injunction (court order) which was immediately (the fourth day of barricades and defense) granted by the court. From this point, the strategy of battle changed colossally, but not deliberately. Rog is not fighting anymore a violent sovereign that can do all it pleases, but it just stepped onto the terrain of power, as Hardt and Negri explains, embedded with and supported by legal system and institutions of governance, a republican form characterized not only by the rule of law but also equally by the rule of property. Said differently, the political is not an autonomous domain, but one completely immersed in economic and legal structures.
Possession versus Ownership
A preliminary injunction is a court order made in the early stages of a lawsuit or petition which prohibits the parties from doing an act in order to preserve the status quo until a pending ruling or outcome. Since sovereign power failed with an attempt of violent eviction, the transcendental power of the republic of property took the stage to play the role. De jure and in a short time (prescribed by law) the preliminary injunction was followed by the right of possession lawsuit from the side of the autonomous Rog, in response, the city municipality filed the property ownership right lawsuit against Rog. The municipality of Ljubljana is suing Rog for one million six hundred thousand euros (1.600.000,00 EUR). It is the value of city’s property right lawsuit. Almost every lawyer is convinced (affirmed by practices) that the protection of the ownership of property stands higher than the right of possession of a property (to have in order to have or to have in order to use). In other words, local authorities are trying to convince public that their perspective is to represent the entire society, a sort of claim of universality, in reality, as we have already seen many times in the courtrooms of district court, power exists on an exclusive identity, the unity, and homogeneity of which is guaranteed by the ownership of property.
From resistance to the proposition of alternatives
From 2006 to 2017, it is been eleven years of building something that we would eventually call as a desire towards the common. From the perspective of the common, extended and prolonged experience of Rog is a strong practice that includes (or included) both acts of resistance and bottomless attempts to build alternatives over and beyond the dialectical opposition of modernity and antimodernity, property and possession, public and private. Although the red line of defense of Rog was a demand to keep the space autonomous, it was not just a will to leave the things as they are; in the call for support launched before the demolition try, Rog stated that they do not fight for preservation of current state of affairs, but they struggle for the future autonomous development. The city authorities claim that their plan of renovation of Rog is in accordance with the public interest, simultaneously Rog pushes arguments that after ten years of working in precarious conditions, regenerating the area with cultural activities and producing content in public/urban interest, they have a legitimate right to use and manage a property which is not legally theirs. Existing activities and horizontal mode of organization carry greater potential for further development than the municipal proposal with rigid organizational structure and commercial orientation. Autonomous factory Rog advocates a different type of public interest, kinda “living” public interest that is not managed top-down by public powers, but emerges as a necessity not only to create and develop autonomous practices of production and living inside the walls but also to dare to think of struggle that will not face with an alternative—either insurrection or institutional struggle, either passive or active revolution. Instead, revolution must simultaneously be both insurrection and institution, structural and superstructural transformation.