Hamburg: Flora stays Red!

Flora stays Red!
Two steps forward and three backwards – The failure of city privatisation as a model of conflict regulation

June 2nd, 2010 –

As we learnt from the media, the city of Hamburg plans to repurchase the Rote Flora. In our opinion the possible repurchase of the Rote Flora by the city is the political end of an attempt to get rid of the conflict over the project through privatisation.

We appreciate this failure and hope that the private enterprise deregulation will be retracted at other points as well, for instance in case of hospitals, the water supply companies or public basic services. Privatisations expedite the enforcement of capitalist exploitation principles and exacerbates social injustice. They act as annulment of a critical puplicity by shifting the conflict away from the area of the publicly-political towards the unpolitical sphere of private property, the sacred cow of middle-class society.

Yet in the same time we don`t perceive the repurchase of the Flora as an act of relaxation. After the end of the previous stipulation between the city and the investor in march 2011 the Flora will remain squatted and an agile expression of our uprising against the current circumstances. District and senate are no negotiating partners to us, they are responsible for a policy of business location thinking and extreme investment interests on the one hand and social exclusion, expulsion and repression on the other hand. Our ideas of urban space, participation and presence on the streets, basic services and societal changes differ radically from those of mainstream politics. We refuse to become part of a logic of location interests, which subordinate social needs under economic interests and which react to resistance by increasing repression and obligations to co-operate. By selling the “real estate Flora” to the investor Kretschmer in 2001 to us neither the ownership structure nor the status quo changed: The project is squatted and does not co-operate with the investor. Simultaneously we still perceive ourselves as politically within the area of conflict with the city, as we generally dismiss privatisations as an option of conflict regulation and societal regulation. Selling of public institutions, buildings and land property serves primarily as deregulation of working and living conditions plus the expansion of control and repression under the fig leaf of protecting private property. If the city should repurchase the Rote Flora, in our opinion the conflict is back where it has always been. Within the conflict of “Recht auf Stadt” (“Right to the city”, recent anti-gentrification network in Hamburg) and the question of acquiring public space.

We are prepared for a potential conflict over the Rote Flora. We regard the city offer as a reaction to the unmistakable position of holding onto the non-negotiable status quo of the building. Neither now nor in future we will back down under economical interests of the city or other investors or become in any other way meek and mild or let anyone tranquilise this place of opposition to the prevalent system.


It might be that investors and district would like things to run differently in the Schanzenviertel, that the whole quarter should be brought into line and turned into an equalized consumption mall. Into a place where even more leisure-industry is established and the “brand” Hamburg is beeing bloated until it blows up by arrogance. But this development does not go without resistance. The Schanzenfest, the intended Music hall inside the Real Markt, the outdoor gastronomy in the Susannenstraße, the Bernhard-Nocht-Quartier or the Ikea project are tagging ongoing political conflicts between the city and the residents, that will continue. The fundamental question over a “right to the city” will not be answered by round tables or procedures with public participation. The municipal paticipation offerings aim at optmising the neoliberal conversion of the city and at producing consent. They suggest democratic codetermination which because of the general framework in reality neither exists nor is beeing strived for. If the outcome of such regulation processes is positive for the senate it serves the enforcement of controversial decisions, if the outcome is negative it is beeing ignored. Alternatives to the injustice of capitalism only exist outside of practical-constraint-discussions and symptomkludge.

The self-determined political and cultural practice of the project Rote Flora is one of many possible answers in order to damage the “logic of the system”. The Flora is not about saving niches or pacify existing conflicts by mitigating the worst outgrowths, it is about going the whole hog.


Squatting as a type of protest is no anachronism but quite up to date. The recent squatting of the erotic-art-museum showed this. We wish good luck to the activists against the Bernhard Nocht Quartier for future actions and squattings and see ourselves as part of the fight. The Battle, which is rightly feared in case of an eviction of the Rote Flora, has already begun, blazes up and dives down just to emerge at another place. From a radical left perspective this is not about single projects or interests but about a collective challenge of prevalent values, norms and ownership-structures. It is about making another life thinkable and imaginable, to occupy landmarks and look-out-points, which enable radical criticism on the existing and a view on other prospects.

We don`t give ourselves to the illusion the repurchase of the Rote Flora by the city would make a violent eviction less likely or the ?real estate? Flora less desirable for them. A project like the Flora, which is a mirror image of social struggles and changes, can never be safe, will always stay precarious and in motion. We will continue to be a disturbing factor in the normal operation of capitalism. A place of intervention, insurrection and riot, of celebrating wild ball nights and letting life pour down on us. We don`t know how the situation will develop within the next months. But we know what we have to do just in case the secret pleasure behind the scenes turns into a police attack, with the will to end the squatted status. Therefore we continue to get ready for defending the project, to turn the tidy order of the city upside down and undermine the prevalent power discourse. Organise resistance and solidarity!


Support your local squats!
For a urban conflagration and a right to the city!


Campaign “non-negotiably happy” & Rote Flora plenary meeting