Slovenia: statement by the Ljubljana Anarchist Initiative in support of autonomous spaces and Radio Študent

Three pillars of autonomous, alternative culture and politics in Ljubljana.

The anarchist movement in Ljubljana has been actively involved in the co-creation of the alternative scene for more than ten years. This includes the Autonomous Cultural Centre Metelkova, the Rog Autonomous Factory and Radio Študent. In a time of neoliberal devastation of the communal, the public and the non-commercial, these spaces represent the rare bright spots that make life in an otherwise increasingly gentrified Ljubljana more bearable, which is why many people have not yet moved out.

In recent times, we can observe how elites – be they state, municipal or student – try to frame libertarian action according to their own criteria; the criteria of clientelism, profiteering and subjugation. The autonomous Rog factory has been attempted to be mapped onto the hipster Tobacco Centre, Metelkova onto the elitist Kino Šiška, and Radio Študent onto commercial radio. Neoliberal tendencies and the greed of the city’s elites are pushing more and more people to the margins, and the pressure of capital on individuals and non-comformist structures has intensified in recent years.

Critical voice and resistance are systematically repressed in various ways. If you are not willing to sell out, you are subject to sanctions, which can be reflected in a reduction of autonomy through changes in decision-making structures in organisations, or through financial penalties and repressive interventions in space. What is happening to Radio Študent is nothing new – both for the radio itself and for many other more or less autonomous actors in Ljubljana. Many have already succumbed to the pressure of various cliques, because it is not easy to stand on the barricades. That is why it is all the more important in these times for the autonomous,the anti-authoritarian to stand together, despite our differences, and stand in solidarity with each other. Not just now, and not just for Radio Študent, but wherever it is necessary, otherwise our scene will be dismantled piece by piece. In the complex ecosystem of autonomy that we form, a change in the degree of power of one affects all the others.

What we may take for granted today is the result of many struggles. The tradition on which the alternative, autonomous scene is based and its impressive development for such a peripheral region, of which Ljubljana is a part, is the result of a long process in which Radio Študent has played a non-negligible role for more than 50 years, making it, among other things, the oldest autonomous student radio in Europe.

Through its frequencies, it has given and continues to give a voice to many marginalised people and opens up space for alternative ideas. Radio Student is also a hotbed for the development of ideas and practices that go beyond the dominant ideology. Radio Student is one of the few physical community spaces in Ljubljana that is not commercially oriented, where many events and meetings take place. It is a hub and a hatchery for many critical minds. And it is an alternative institution in its own right. The unique way in which it is organised, giving all the contributors considerable decision-making power through meetings of the extended editorial board, the elections for director, editor-in-chief and area editors, the participation of elected contributors in the founding council of the institution, and the trade union set up in 2004 to defend the radio, all show the pervasiveness of this institution, which goes beyond the wisdom of the airwaves.

On the other hand, we have the student organisation, which represents everything that Radio Študent is not. The SUS is a product of the then young elite of the newly formed state and their neoliberal enthusiasm, which, by generously funding the newly formed student organisation, has created a hatchery of elitist underclass. An underclass that, through millions in donations, is taught clientelism, corruption, theft, capitalist exploitation and financial blackmail.

We cannot remember a single student election without serious scandals, nor a single election where the turnout testified to the legitimacy of the institution. Radio has probably collected more signatures of support than all the parties in the last SUS elections combined. The student elite has been proven to regularly steal, privatise what was founded with student money, make corrupt deals with their friends, finance private luxury holidays, spend on frivolous parties and the list goes on.

The SUS is not a democratic institution, but a monopolistic instrumentalised elitist project, which is supposed to be legitimised by the compulsory membership of every student of the University of Ljubljana. That is why the fight for Radio in the Ljubljana Anarchist Initiative is not only a fight for survival, it is also a fight against the theft of money intended for the quality of life of students, it is a fight against the aggressive neoliberal policies in Ljubljana and a fight for the further development of a community-oriented alternative.

This struggle must necessarily also include a struggle against the representative structure of student politics, which, far from its base, not only ignores the needs of students, but regularly steers them towards capitalist-consumerist paths. The SUS deserves to go to the dustbin of history, and from its ruins autonomously organised structures can begin to emerge that are genuinely in touch with the needs and aspirations of students.

Although we see the dangerous processes triggered by the NGO way of working and the tendering mentality, we will always support all the forces that are striving for autonomy at Radio Študent. Even though Metelkova is trying to subordinate itself to the logic of capital, we will drink beer there rather than in Kino Šiška. We look forward to a new trigger for the abolition of the SUS, as the latest conflict has catalysed many who have a contempt for the student organisation, but we are even more keen to cultivate the potential for the creation of autonomous, self-organised student action, possibly on the basis of student councils and trade unions.

Some squats in Slovenia:
Groups (social center, collective, squat) in Slovenia:
Events in Slovenia:

A-infoshop, Ljubljana