24C3 - 1.01

24th Chaos Communication Congress
Volldampf voraus!

Gregers Petersen
Day Day 1 (2007-12-27)
Room Saal 3
Start time 11:30
Duration 01:00
ID 2254
Event type lecture
Track Society
Language en


And a Do-It-Yourself society against the state

The term Freifunk Firmware has found a place on the shelfs in the life of numerous people. It has become an immense knot of activities, not just sitting silently like a dusty heirloom. “Freifunkerei” has become an example of how DIY-cultures can act and re-create alternatives in a world which seems both confronted and abandoned by the state.

This talk/discussion will be about how the Freifunk movement can be an example of a Do-It-Yourself society against the state.

The background of Freifunk is Berlin in the 90's, the years after the fall of the wall and unification. Suddenly the city was turned into a vast borderland between what had been and what was to become. People began with a hectic process of exploring this new space, squatting buildings and creating experimenting initiatives. Also commercial and state interests threw themselves at this new frontier. One focal area was the building of a completely new information infrastructure, based on optical fibre. Then the big bubble blew, and a new term was instated: Opal areas. Large parts of Berlin was abandoned by both state and commercial interests without functional broadband infrastructure. The response came as a horizontal movement, influenced by Consume in London, a burst in wireless technology and the day-to-day activities of people meeting and helping each other. The state was passive and people had to do-it-themselves, and the result was a new way of “growing” infrastructure. The manifestation of a mesh without a central-node, and doing away with the normal vertical management.

The French anthropologist Pierre Clastres asked in the early 70's the essential question: Is it possible to imagine a society without a state? His answer was based on extensive ethnographic work and stated: It is a reality that other and different regimes have existed. Large scale societies who are not submissive to the state model, but actively avert it and render its conditions impossible, have been there long before the rise of the Western world. This opposes the present dogma that society is un-imaginable without a central power, and a class of powerful leaders. Today Clastres analysis resonates in response to the recent, and accelerating, verticalization of the state and the dominance of the market-economic model. New large scale societies are infecting both cities, landscape and the world with cultural and technological models in a horizontal mode.

This presentation will weave the Freifunk reality together with the (re-)asking of Pierre Clastres seminal question and discuss the emergence of a new horizontalism taking the form of DIY societies against the state. The (re)production of “chaotic communication” plays a central role in this discussion. Access to, and free flow of, information becomes the basis of a mash-up where people, technology and ideas converge – resulting in energetic DIY solutions. Hereby solving questions which prior had no answers. Mutual aid is re-emerging as praxis, and it reaches across and beyond boundaries and borders with a tactical stand based on many small steps. The present results show that, when people are able to control major decisions and are free to make their own contribution to the design, construction and management of infrastructure then both the process and the environment produced stimulate individual and social well-being. People are building affirmative alternatives celebrating life while opposing the continuation of despotic power. The example of Freifunk will help with the painting of this new landscape.