Prague: Klinika, anticommercial cultural and social center

201501_Prague_Klinika_demoPrague is just like any other big European city in desperate need of a noncommercial community centre, of a space for cultural events (such as concerts, exhibitions, etc.), educational lectures and workshops, community gardening, cooking, library, and, above all, meeting people from the neighbourhood (or anyone interested) and also a place to support marginalized groups of people (especially people without homes) who are living in stop-gap conditions on the fringes of society.

The building of former lung clinic (that’s why the name “Klinika“) in Žižkov district, which was abandoned, unused and left to decay, was taken over by a group of squatters and activists on 29th of November 2014 in order to create “Autonomous cultural and social centre Klinika“. All the trash including used needles was cleaned out and the first neighbourhood event was organized. But after just 10 days, on 9th of December, the building was violently vacated by police forces. On the 13th of December big demonstration took place (about 1000 people) but after its end police corpses forced everyone to leave the place, several people were injured and had to be taken to the hospital. Since then, we were stuck in endless cycle of meetings with city and state offices and basically forced to wait.

After more than a month, we refused to keep waiting for the bureaucracy to make a move and on 24th of January “Day for Klinika“ was organised – it started with another demonstration and continued with benefit concerts, screenings etc. in many music clubs in Prague, but also in Pilsen, Brno, Ostrava and even Košice in Slovakia. The attendance was amazing which proved that people were still interested in the project Klinika and that all the effort is meaningful. We have gained support not only from the media but also from Žižkov locals, Czech personalities and organisations (listed in “Podporují nás“ section of our website). Right now we are negotiating the option that the building would be rented to Klinika initiative free of charge at least for a year – until the final decision about its future use is made.
We need all support we can get as wider support helps our position in negotiations. We believe that every city needs its Clinic and that it is worth fighting for one.

WHAT DOES KLINIKA (THE CLINIC) STAND FOR?

We stand for AUTONOMY. We believe not every activity has to be under the surveillance from above. The most valuable things often originate in the underground and periphery. Such places teach cohabitation, self-help, independent thought and unrestricted development of an individual.

We stand for DEMOCRACY in the true sense of the word, even though it has become an empty term covering capitalist and colonial dominance. For us democracy does not mean an alienated parliament. We do not understand it as a regular voting ritual but rather as an everyday collective decision-making of people about the problems that concern them. About problems of cities where they live, about the use of houses they walk by, and anything else that affects their lives. We vote 365 days a year.

We stand for EQUALITY. We refuse all forms of discrimination – ethnic, gender, but also social. We refuse the inequality which shapes the cities we live in. We do not want to live in a city where certain groups of inhabitans are excluded. Everyone who fulfills their needs and searches for a space to live in the city should have the right to determine its appearance. While some do not even have a place to sleep in the city, others get to shape its appearance for their own business interests without any public control.

We stand for SOLIDARITY. Klinika was sometimes presented by the media as a bunch of do-gooders who established order in the building by dealing with junkies and the homeless. We refuse this polarization. It was not so long ago when we were given the exact same labels by the media. We are aware how misleading these labels can be. We disagree with dividing people into those who have the right to live in the city and those who do not. The activities of Klinika have always been and always will be solidary with those who are not lucky enough to have a home, who fell to the very bottom, and who are marginalized just because they do not have the financial means to live in dignity.

We stand for SHARING. We were told that wanting to have more than others is natural and practical. That private property is the main pillar of freedom and democracy. However, we believe that sharing with others is human. The ecological and economical crisis also show more and more clearly that it is in fact necessary. Our experience tells us it is possible.

We stand for OPENNESS. Klinika is not supposed to be a place for a closed group of people. It should be a place for those who need it. Klinika is dependent on active support of locals.

We stand for DIRECT ACTION. Radical means and unusual forms of politics are part of the journey to new goals. Deliberate conflict with laws and conventions of the society in the name of legitimate goals is not a threat to society, it can actually make it more reasonable and just. We do not understand direct action as a one-time event but rather as an everyday practice. Direct action is important for us because it is the decisive step in acquiring power over the social life that was taken away from people by centralized bureaucracy. Through direct action we feel we can again have under control the direction society is taking, but above all we realize the new sense of individuality without which any truly free society based on self-government and independent activity is completely impossible.

POLITICS. We understand our activities as political and politics as an immediate part of our lives. In time when people become sceptical and even apathetic towards politics in general we understand politics from below as a tool to engage people in shaping the society. We think that in order to change the societal climate it is not possible to avoid negotiation with those who create it in the first place. We do not want squatting to end as „an indistinct threat from another universe.“ We want to lose neither our ideals nor the contact with reality. It is a path of constant balancing. It depends on you as well if you help us to remind and promote these ideals.

We want Klinika to be a LABORATORY. Laboratory of new kinds of political and social relations. Laboratory of connecting alternative culture with alternative politics. Laboratory of connecting left-wing activism with interests and needs of locals.

We want CHANGE. We believe that experiments from laboratory Klinika can find wider use. Democracy, equality, sharing and openness are values on which the society should be based.

Source: http://451.cz/klinika/english/