Planka.nu på ESF

Planka.nu kommer att medverka på europeiska sociala forumet som går av stapeln i Malmö den 17-21 september. Under rubriken Building a public transport network kommer vi hålla i en punkt vars syfte, som titeln anger, är att skapa ett nätverk på Europanivå för grupper som arbetar med kollektivtrafikfrågor. Eller som det står i programmet: _Öppet möte för att skapa nätverk mellan grupper som kämpar för förbättrad, mer utvecklad och billigare (skattefinansierad) kollektivtrafik. Både grupper som organiserar trafikanter och arbetare inom kollektivtrafiken är välkomna. _ Vårt möte kommer att vara fredagen den 19:e september mellan klockan 18 och 21 på Hyllie park folkhögskola. * Till Hyllie Park kommer Du genom att ta buss 1 från Gustav Adolfs Torg och stiga av vid hållplats Elinelund.

Planka.nu kommer även medverka vid andra aktiviteter i Malmö som pågår under forumet, läs mer om vad för annat skoj som händer hos Motkraft.

Vi kommer också ha infobord under själva forumet där du är välkommen att besöka oss. *Vårt infobord kommer vara under det tematiska området “Miljö” på Folkets hus Nobeltorget. Vi kommer vara där så mycket vi hinner under forumet, kom gärna förbi och säg hej. För att komma in till bokborden behöver du inte ha löst nån biljett till själva forumet.

Väl Mött!

Nedan publicerar vi den text som planka kommer ha med i Brand, Motkraft, Embryo och Direkt aktions gratistabloid ”From thoughts to action” som kommer delas ut under ESF-mötet i Malmö.

Class, climate change and commons

Planka.nu is a Swedish network of groups promoting free tax-financed public transport and organizing fare-dodgers (people who don’t pay for themselves in the public transport system). Since our aim here at this social forum is to establish a European network to promote free tax-financed public transports we want to share our experiences from the Swedish campaign. We will start off with a short historic overview and then present different methods and strategies that have been utilized by Planka.nu. We hope that our struggle will inspire other activists.

Planka.nu was founded in the autumn of 2001 after the hot spring and summer of the Swedish EU-presidency, which culminated in the big demonstrations and riots in Gothenburg. During this time many activists became increasingly aware of the struggles in their everyday life, instead of focusing merely on mobilization to protest against international summits. So when politicians announced that SL – the Stockholm public transportation company – was to raise ticket prices from 450 to 500 SEK (52€) it triggered a reaction. Members of the Anarcho-Syndicalist Youth Federation, SUF, in Stockholm started the protests which gave birth to the organisation Planka.nu. Since 2003 we are also established in Gothenburg and Östergötland.

Planka.nu soon became famous because of “P-kassan”: a fund that pays the fines of its members if they get caught fare-dodging. Membership costs 100 SEK (11 €) a month and since the fine is 1200 SEK (128 €) something around 300-500 people in Stockholm find it a good deal every month. The fund has also generated some extra money, so Planka.nu can afford decent propaganda and bolder campaigns. The existence of the fund has also guaranteed the continuity of our organisation, both through the administrative work that has to be put in every week (but it’s not much!) and the firm economy that the fund provides.

Before we started “P-kassan” fare-dodging had been an individual option when your economy looked weak. But we wanted to make it a collective form of struggle and force politicians and media to regard it as a political question instead of just a matter of security. Commuters have always been poorly organized, especially compared with motorists and the car manufacturing lobby. That’s why it’s been easy for politicians to raise ticket prices at the slightest indication of weakening finances. But now the tide is turning and we are putting the problems with ticket-financed public transportation in focus. Planka.nu s also include monitoring ticket controllers, thus sabotaging the controls by warning commuters.

During the last few years, increasing awareness of the human impact on the earth’s climate has escalated discussions about our infrastructure solutions and the way we plan and build our cities. These discussions haven’t gone by unnoticed in the Planka-campaign. In the wake of plans to build a new multimillion-dollar urban highway in Stockholm, we have connected well with the climate action group Klimax. To, once and for all, crush private car traffic in our cities and replace it with public transports and a climate-smart city planning is essential if the human effect on the environment is to be reduced. Together with Klimax we have organized protests outside meetings of the car lobby and highway loving politicians. We have also released a comprehensive report on the Stockholm highway entitled “Highway to Hell?” (only available in Swedish).

For us in Planka.nu it’s impossible to think about solutions to the climate crisis without a class perspective, and the main question for us today is what kind of society we want to build. We don’t believe that business-as-usual with a green twist can save the planet, and for the first time – maybe ever – we have a united academia standing behind us and screaming: commons, commons, commons! And as we see it, they’re totally right, the only solution to the climate crisis we can think of is to expand what we see as common goods: first we’ll take the subway and then we’ll take the streets. And even though the climate crisis is on a global scale we have to start in our own cities, trying to reclaim the streets from the car industry, organize ourselves and create networks for commuters, activists and all those worried citizens. While doing this we do not only create politics based on a common practice, just by saying “here’s the barrier, jump here” we turn disparate people with no previous affinity into politically aware individuals. A fare-dodger is no longer a poor commuter, she or he is now an activist!

Looking back at the last seven years of struggle, we can identify two key reasons why the Planka-campaign has been such a success. The first one is that we didn’t have to force people into the practice of fare-dodging, it has never been a problem for us that there are too few activists. When we started there already existed an unorganized army of fare-dodgers in the Stockholm public transport system: somewhere between five and ten percent of all commuters travel without a valid ticket according to SL. The only thing we really did was to drape this already existing movement in a red flag. Organizing fare-dodgers in the “P-kassa” gave us the opportunity to define fare-dodging as a political practice – comparable to civil disobedience – and explain that practice in political terms. From being viewed as something along the lines of shop-lifting or graffiti painting, we have pushed the public discussion about fare-dodging into a context of class, climate change and commons. It’s all really simple, we present two problems: people who fare-dodge and the climate change. Then we define the reason causing these problems: economic inequalities and cities built for the fossil industry. Then, last but not least, we come up with a solution: free, tax-financed public transports.

The second reason, which we believe is the key to our relatively successful campaign, is our perseverance. Not many one-question campaigns manage to live on and evolve for seven years. The main explanation is of course, as we mentioned above, that the administration of the “P-kassa” has forced us to continue working with the campaign. But “P-kassan” doesn’t constitute the biggest part of our campaign; these seven years have seen lots of other actions from Planka.nu, which serve as a testimony of the persistence of the most active members of the campaign. And also as a proof of the old saying that “if you tell a lie a hundred times it becomes the truth”, with the exception that we never told a lie. We just interpreted and explained a social phenomenon in economic terms, something that can be quite hard to get people to understand and accept.

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