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The Departed

Silvio Berlusconi’s recent death provides an opportunity to reflect on his career and his damaging legacy.

While Berlusconi was buried in Milan, during a State Funeral on June 14 2023, the whole country was instructed to celebrate a day of public mourning. The Italian media, with few exceptions, duly threw themselves in a frenzy of commemorative praise, propelling Berlusconi into the thousand-year-old genre of hagiography. For days in a row, millions of Italian citizen-viewers were bombarded with media images of mourning and celebration for a man that, apparently, must be gravely missed.

Those interested in who Silvio Berlusconi really was may find out by reading the many articles and books written on him, or by watching the several documentaries produced about his life and career. In the past three decades, in fact, a few independent intellectuals insisted in their mission to tell and remind Italians how Berlusconi, the richest man in Italy, had earned his wealth and power. Over the years, many of these professionals disappeared from the country’s public arena, while a few resourceful ones survived and even established some independent media – a rarity over there. What these (few) brave journalists found through decades of work has very little to do with magic, and will certainly ring a bell in the mind of anyone who ever had a penchant for social equality: it is not possible to become filthy rich without ripping off your neighbour.

Berlusconi was born in 1936 in Milan to a bank employee and a stay-at-home wife. Silvio’s father would have a prominent career within his bank, where he was destined to become director. Meanwhile, young Silvio attended grammar school at the private Salesian Institute and then studied law at the University of Milan. As a student, Silvio sings in a band and sells household appliances to earn some extra cash, then, after his degree, makes his debut in real estate, propelled by his father’s contacts in Italy’s financial capital. After selling his first apartment buildings in Milan, Berlusconi makes his real exploit with Milano 2, a residential complex close to the town of Segrate, not far from Milan’s Linate airport. These are the years of Italy’s post-war economic boom, and satellite towns are a fashionable model of living for the aspiring middle classes of the prosperous industrial north. The modern, trendy satellite town even includes its own local TV broadcaster, Telemilano.

Backed by investors whose identity still remains unclear, Berlusconi becomes a rampant estate developer and launches a number of other business ventures. [1] He takes control of a constantly increasing number of regional and local TV broadcasters, with the only national one remaining RAI, the state broadcasting company. After founding Canale 5, Berlusconi buys two more channels, with their local broadcasting licenses. In 1984 his network allows him to broadcast the same programmes on three channels across the whole country. This should be a prerogative of the state broadcasting company, but Berlusconi can get away with it because he formally only owns local broadcasters. During the following 10 years, Berlusconi’s media empire grows at an impressive pace, as he takes control of Mondadori, the largest publishing company in the country, which controls not only book publishing, but also several of Italy’s main journalistic publications. In 1986 he also buys the AC Milan football club. Berlusconi thus becomes increasingly known across the country as the clever and reckless entrepreneur who converts everything he touches to gold. [2]

Berlusconi’s achievements, in reality, have a lot to do with the complacency and complicity of a wide network of personal “friends”, clients, figureheads, and political patrons who allowed him to circumvent the law. In order to build this formidable circle of mutual assistance, Berlusconi got involved with pretty unpalatable company, like the mafioso Vittorio Mangano, whom he hired as stable keeper in the 1970s, after a recommendation by his old friend and close collaborator Marcello dell’Utri. Dell’Utri, who would later be a Senator of the Republic, is eventually tried in the context of several investigations. He served a prison sentence for having collaborated with the mafia, and has since been released. [3]

In his search for “good friends” Berlusconi also entered the masonic lodge Propaganda 2, ideologically close to the most reactionary areas of Italian politics. The main objective of this convivial group of well-to-do gentlemen is to counter the rise of the left and promote the supremacy of the executive over the other democratic powers. Berlusconi’s fellow members are important people: civil servants, members of the secret services, bankers, lawyers, journalists. The rampant entrepreneur, with his media company Mediaset, is the ideal member for an organisation that aims at the ideological remaking of the country. In the space of a generation, Italy has moved from post-war poverty into fully-fledged consumerism. In the 1980s young Italians are dreaming of lives that are impossibly different from those lived by their parents, and are ready to enjoy something bolder than the polite and buttoned-up entertainment offered by RAI. The colourful and cheeky Mediaset programmes respond to the expectations of the public. The American TV series populated by blonde beauties and reckless car drivers, the exotic manga cartoons and the comedy shows decorated by scantily dressed ladies sweep up generations of viewers young and old.

Mediaset programmes shaped the imaginary of whole generations of children and young people. In 1994 these people would, together with their families, vote Berlusconi into government. At the time, Italian voters had not yet recovered from the implosion of the Italian Communist Party and from a string of major corruption scandals that had swept away the rest of the political and entrepreneurial class. Berlusconi had just lost his political patron and personal friend Bettino Craxi to the public prosecutor, and had to find someone else who could protect his interests in the political arena. And who could do this better than himself? He founded Forza Italia, presented himself as a self-made man who would make everybody as rich as he was, and a few months later he was sworn in as Prime Minister. Berlusconi was elected three times and served four terms as Prime Minister. During his mandates he carried out a systematic dismantling of the RAI public service to the advantage of his own Mediaset channels; his lawyers, who sat in Parliament as MPs, drafted a plethora of new laws aimed solely at protecting his own private interest and impunity. His far-right allies regularly passed these bills, since in return they could promote a string of repressive and unfair laws. One example of this is the infamous 2002 Bossi-Fini immigration bill, which made it extremely difficult for undocumented migrants to escape detention and greatly contributed to rising racism in Italy.

When Italians did vote Berlusconi out of office, the Parliament failed to become much of an impediment for him. Disaffected leftist voters started wondering why those who were supposed to be his adversaries were so harmless towards him. Then, once back in power, Berlusconi attempted to rewrite history, suggesting in 2009 that Italy’s Liberation day be renamed “Day of Freedom”. This because, according to him, those who died during WW2 should all be mourned, independently from their political camp. This was, first of all, a gift to his far-right allies and a clear attack on the Resistance and the anti-fascist values that had founded the Italian Republic. Secondly, his declaration constituted once again an appropriation of the value of freedom, which he always claimed as the basic principle underpinning his media, business, life, and politics.

Freedom was, according to Berlusconi, the differential unicum that made him superior to his political enemies, whom he called “the communists”. As time went by, leftist politics was gradually purged from Parliament and his tirades increasingly concerned “the judges”, often creating the illusion that magistrates, too, must be communist. Berlusconi’s media apparatus promoted a systematic delegitimating of the judiciary, whose services were not up for sale as those of the lawyers he hired. Berlusconi claimed as his privilege the freedom he had offered to television viewers: market freedom, i.e. the freedom to buy and sell anything for money. The success of his electoral campaigns relied on lies based on a transactional nature: the promise of one million new jobs, the signature of a mock “contract with Italians” during a popular TV programme, the assurance of lower taxation, etc. This was a relief for many voters, who did not want anything more than to forget about politics. For many of his critics, Berlusconi was a weird creature who did unconceivable things, like pronouncing the word “Nazi” in the European Parliament during a discussion with a German social democrat MEP. Many, both in the country and abroad, became intoxicated by his taste for making a spectacle of himself, seeing him as some kind of gifted comedian. This is rather unfortunate, as Berlusconi’s extraordinary ability to entertain both his friends and enemies was the one talent that allowed his impunity. During the last years of his life Berlusconi was ridiculed because of the sex scandals that surrounded him, yet the other side of this decadent guignol was the immense fragility of a Prime Minister who at any point in time could be blackmailed by any of the innumerable buffoons eating at his court.

Some observers have interpreted Berlusconi’s boundless ambition and his obsessive desire to embody the alpha male as a sort of “death of the father”, which would in turn herald an age of total permissiveness. However, if it is true that Berlusconi had the inclination to step over any boundary, in time his ability to do so became increasingly reliant on the limits of his viewers’ imagination, rather than on his own inventiveness. His increasing freedom to buy and sell anything he wanted went hand in hand with the loss of rights and freedoms of those living in Italy, while many of them came to see him precisely as a father figure whose authority should not be challenged.

Berlusconi’s legacy is for all to be seen: a country where, after decades of economic crisis and stagnation, the citizenry has lost all confidence in institutions. During the past 30 years the only ideological frame of reference offered by the media and the cultural industry has been defined by rampant individualism, nationalism and the cynical belittling of civic and social rights. In the meanwhile, Berlusconi’s supposed opponents abdicated their political and cultural role. As Chinese revolutionary intellectuals showed in the 20th century, imagination is key to politics. It is therefore not surprising that a large share of the Italian electorate, long deprived of any progressive ideological horizon, cannot imagine anything better than what they see: the far-right coalition led by Berlusconi’s political heiress, Giorgia Meloni.



[1] Cremagnani, Beppe and Deaglio, Enrico and Oliva, Ruben. 2005. Quando c’era Silvio. See also John Hooper’s obituary

[2] Berlusconi was first interviewed for the television by Enzo Biagi in 1986. Biagi, former partisan and the most revered political commentator in Italy, would leave RAI in 2002 after Berlusconi’s Bulgarian diktat. The 1986 interview can be seen here.

[3] Michael Day’s 2015 book Being Berlusconi: The Rise and Fall from Cosa Nostra to Bunga Bunga describes this. See also Quando c’era Silvio.

News from Berlin and Germany, 29th June 2023

Weekly news round-up from Berlin and Germany



Expropriation is possible; Expert Commission published

“It’s a day of hope,” says Carolin Blauth from the ‘Deutsche Wohnen & co Enteignen’ campaign, “We will not stop, until this city belongs to those who live in it”. On Wednesday, the final report was published by the expert commission on socialisation of the largest property owning companies in Berlin. The report came out in support of the 2021 referendum result, during which 60% of Berliners voted for expropriation. The pressure is now mounting on the Red-Black Berlin government to implement the demands of the referendum, and with the final report confirming that not only is expropriation legal, but practical. Source: süddeutsche

Rigaer Straße: the village square in danger

Tenants in Rigaer Straße want to save their flats from being sold off. The story of the many occupied houses in this area, first from occupied to permitted squat and then on to regular tenancies, is not yet over. The flats of the three houses at the Liebigstraße 14 complex as well as Rigaer Straße 95 and 96 are now up for sale. Before the street became part of a milieu protection area in 2021, the owner, a Hamburg company, had already divided up the houses with a view to sell. The housing community does not want to let this happen, having spoken to politicians and cooperatives in the hope of finding a buyer for the all the buildings and flats within. Source: nd-aktuell

Last Generation new direct actions

The “Last Generation” drew attention to itself last Monday with a new form of protest. It involved obstructing car traffic, but this time there was no glue involved. Members of the movement obstructed the traffic at a total of four different locations in Berlin. Unlike usual, however, the climate protesters did not install a sit-in blockade or glue themselves down, but walked slowly in front of cars with a banner. Behind them, traffic was jamming, but went on flowing. The blockade actions were reported to the police around 8 am. All four actions had ended “peacefully and without disturbances”. Source: rbb

Lawsuits against Berlin over two-year wait for German citizenship

More and more people have made up their minds on resorting to lawsuits against the state of Berlin, trying to speed up their German citizenship processes. According to Tagespiegel, people in the German capital are currently waiting as long as two years to have them ready. And the pile of open cases just keeps growing – there are currently almost 30, 000 citizenship cases on file in the city. Lawsuits under such situations are possible when applications are not promptly processed. Berlin is struggling to meet the demand. A new central office to handle claims is planned to be opened next year. Source: exberliner



Robert Sesselmann; the first AfD district administrator

The AfD candidate Robert Sesselmann has won the district council election in the Thuringian district of Sonneberg and assumes a top municipal office for the party for the first time in Germany. The 50-year-old received 52.8 per cent of the votes in the run-off election in the district in the south of Thuringia on Sunday and thus obtained the necessary absolute majority, the election administration announced on Sunday evening. The CDU candidate Jürgen Köpper. AfD national leader Tino Chrupalla cheered the result and wrote on a social media: “This was just the beginning,” Source: spiegel

Two racist attacks a day

Whether in the classroom or at work: Muslims end up fearing racist attacks. More precisely, 898 attacks (more than two a day), were recorded in the situation report on anti-Muslim racism for 2022, presented last Monday. The report is the responsibility of five civil society organisations under the leadership of CLAIM – Alliance against Islamophobia and Muslimophobia. Women in particular experience more insults and physical attacks. In addition, Muslims experience discrimination in educational institutions from kindergartens to universities – especially by teachers. The situation picture shows only a part of the situation. The organisations assume the number of unreported cases is higher. Source: taz

Pistorius wants to station 4,000 soldiers in Lithuania

German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius (SPD) has announced an additional of 4,000 Bundeswehr soldiers to be sent to NATO partner country Lithuania to strengthen the Organization´s eastern flank. “Germany is prepared to permanently station a robust brigade in Lithuania,” Pistorius said in Vilnius. He had agreed with his Lithuanian counterpart Arvydas Anusauskas that the reinforcement of the brigade would follow step by step “the growth of the infrastructure”. Pistorius stressed that the compatibility of the permanent deployment with NATO’s regional and operational plans, which were still being worked on, was of central importance. Source: tagesschau.

No staff for 1,719 clinics

In a report, Health Minister Lauterbach (SPD) defended the planned hospital reform and made it clear that time was pressing. He said that there was already a lack of staff such that it is not possible to keep all hospitals running. He had also commented: “We want to write the draft law over the summer, and the States should be involved. However, the matter is an urgent one: “The hospitals are slowly getting into great economic distress.” He has also stated that “we have 1,719 hospitals, for which we do not have the staff.” The hospital reform, according to Lauterback, is “at least ten years overdue”. Source: tagesschau

Letter from the Editors: 29 June 2023

Hello everyone, Our Campaign of the Week highlights Beyond Equality: Feminisms Reclaiming Life conference. This conference takes place from Friday through Sunday and will focus on war, border politics and revolutions, decolonial ecofeminism and the political economy of “race”, feminist abolitionism, anti-fascism, gender violence, hetero-cis normativity, and investigative journalism. Click here for a detailed program, the […]

Hello everyone,

Our Campaign of the Week highlights Beyond Equality: Feminisms Reclaiming Life conference. This conference takes place from Friday through Sunday and will focus on war, border politics and revolutions, decolonial ecofeminism and the political economy of “race”, feminist abolitionism, anti-fascism, gender violence, hetero-cis normativity, and investigative journalism. Click here for a detailed program, the events will take place at several locations around the city.

Saturday provides sunshine and a walking tour led by Izzy Choksey, who will highlight the relics of German Colonialism around the city and explains how colonialism shaped and continues to shape the city. The tour will meet at 2pm at Martin Luther Statue near Alexanderplatz. Based on the tour’s content, please bring one Berlin AB Ticket for public transport or a ticket than enables travel on the BVG network. There will be one bus ride during the tour to our final stop at Treptower Park, around 5pm. Please note that the tour is free, but donations to the guide are strongly encouraged. Click here to for free registration.

On Sunday, trans activist, Alexia Metge will talk about her experiences and struggles in and against the prison system. Meet at Oyoun (Lucy-Lameck-Straße 32), 12049 Berlin at 5pm.

Jumpstart your Monday morning with a bike demo on Hermannstraße. We want to prove that the bike is an important means of transport. Stopping the bike path construction by Manja Schreiner puts us in danger on our daily routes. Meet at 8:15 am at Anita-Berber-Park at Hermannstraße (height U-Leinestraße). Join in!

There are many more activities this week in Berlin, which are listed on our Events page. You can also see a shorter, but more detailed, list of Events which we are directly involved in here.

In News from Berlin, Deutsche Wohnen & co Enteignen’ campaign remains hopeful as the Expert Commission publishes confirm that expropriation is possible, flats located on Rigaer Straße risk being sold off, The “Last Generation” activists managed to block traffic and end the event “peacefully and without disturbances”, and the city of Berlin is met with a growing number of lawsuits due to the two-year long waiting period for citizenship.

In News from Germany, The AfD candidate Robert Sesselmann secured the recent district council election in the Thuringia, as AfD national leader proudly announces “This was just the beginning.”, Muslims end up fearing racist attacks averaging two racist attacks a day, assuming more cases go unreported, German Defence Minister wants to station 4,000 soldiers in Lithuania, grossly understaffed staffing 1,719 hospitals as talks of drastic hospital reforms are underway.

Read all about this week’s News from Berlin and Germany here.

New on theleftberlin this week, Phil Butland and Helena Zohdi share the final part of The rise and fall (and rise and fall) of the Egyptian Left, Rob Ferguson explores Israel, the US, and imperialism, Hebh Jamal raises the question: What does Israel’s government mean for Palestinians?, Hari Kumar provides insight into What just happened in Russia?, and Inês Colaco captures an interview with Elif Sarican, one of the organizers of the The Beyond Equality: Feminisms Reclaiming Life conference.

You can follow us on the following social media:

If you would like to contribute any articles or have any questions or criticisms about our work, please contact us at And do encourage your friends to subscribe to this Newsletter.

Keep on fighting

The Left Berlin Editorial Board

“There is an element of not knowing who our enemy is”: Interview with Elif Sarican

An interview with Elif Sarican, one of the organizers of the The Beyond Equality: Feminisms Reclaiming Life conference, happening from 30.06 – 02.07.


Elif Sarican is a writer, curator, translator, organiser, host of the Pomegranate Podcast and one of the authors of the anthology “She Who Struggles: Revolutionary Women Who Shaped the World”. Elif spoke to The Left Berlin about the event “Beyond Equality: Feminisms Reclaiming Life – an Internationalist Gathering”, happening this upcoming weekend. 

Hello, Elif, thank you for agreeing to talk with The Left Berlin today. Can you start by telling us a bit about yourself, about your work and also about your connection to “Beyond Equality: Feminisms Reclaiming Life. An Internationalist Gathering”? 

My name is Elif and I’m a writer, curator and various things. I always say, etc, etc. I’m based in London, I do a lot of work on the Kurdish women’s movement. “Beyond Equality: Feminisms Reclaiming Life” came about, for me, especially through that experience, but also through some of the other work I’ve done – for example, I worked with David Graeber during my masters. And so, part of my connection to Berlin also came through the three day conference that was done at the HKW (Haus der Kulturen der Welt), based on David’s last book, which he finished before he passed away. Then, I met some of the others now on the curatorial team.


The “Beyond Equality: Feminisms Reclaiming Life” is curated by a collective based in Berlin that addresses the struggles in the Iranian Revolution, the Kurdish Liberation Movement, the diasporic and migrant movements, the feminist anti-extractivist and media and artistic articulations between Latin America and Germany. How did the idea for this event come about? 

Margarita Tsomou, who is the in-house curator of the HAU, brought us together and wanted to do this. It came particularly off the back of the Women Weaving the Future conference that happened in Berlin in November, which was led by the Kurdish women’s movement. There were 800 participants and women coming from 44 different territories, and that inspired all of us to want to continue some of this work.


This internationalist gathering is also part of the festival “¡PROTAGONISTAS! Resistance Feminisms Revolution” – can you tell us more about that? What is the difference between the two events? 

Protagonistas is the broad umbrella, while our conference is essentially the discourse curation of the broader festival. And the broader festival is different in that, while there’s still obviously discourse and discussions and debates; it also has performances, theatre and dance, and other elements of creative expression. During our conference there will also be some of that, particularly in the evenings, but what makes it slightly different is that it’s a concentrated two and a half days of discussions and debates, and giving space to collectives and movements.


What kind of space is HAU (Hebbel am Ufer), how is it connected to feminism and why was this the chosen place for the conference? 

The space was as a result of Margarita’s relationship with HAU, and partially also because the HAU has tried to do certain feminist work for some time. It was important that, in a way, it’s a combination of that, and a continuation of the conference that happened in Berlin in November – The Women Weaving the Future conference. So yeah, we’re very, very happy that the HAU Theatre has agreed to host this. We think it’s very important that these kinds of debates are happening in institutions as such, but also with the realisation that this is not where we take our strength or power from.


Feminisms seem to have entered the mainstream agenda of western countries in the last decade, but it’s been commodified and commercialised, under a concept of “gender equality” which centres individual-focused approaches and reproducing neoliberal rhetorics and practices. Why is this not enough, why do we need to go beyond the narrative of “equality”? 

We decided to call the conference Beyond Equality because we all believe in not having an equal seat at the table that is the patriarchal, capitalist, nation state system – actually, not only to create an alternative, but also supporting the alternatives that already exist. We’re not claiming to do anything new per se – what we’re merely trying to do is to make an intervention into some of the mainstream feminist discourses; a lot of these discussions already exist within movements that we’re going to be talking about throughout the conference. We see it in the last decade or so, and I think especially in Germany, with women’s equality, with this so-called feminist foreign policy, and more recently the appropriation of the slogan Jin, Jiyan, Azadî. It is not just a slogan of the Kurdish women’s movement, it’s also a political declaration for an alternative that is based on the principles of radical democracy, ecology and women’s liberation. And the reason why we believe this conference is important, as a critique to this so-called gender equality, is because we understand this strategy of liberal gender equality as an attempt to integrate certain radical elements of women’s struggle into existing systems of governance without meaningful change. And to be able to do that, these women’s struggles are made more palatable, and friendly to these systems, and the elements that don’t fit into the system are ferociously criminalised – this is exactly what we’re seeing. The so-called declaration of gender equality by some governments and states is only possible because a part of the women’s struggles are taken, and then there is an attempt to brutally crush the rest. In the case of Jin, Jiyan, Azadî, for example, the declarers of this struggle are perhaps one of the most criminalised movements in Germany. But somehow, Jin, Jiyan, Azadî sounds good to the ear and it was taken as a slogan of a friendly women’s struggle that is against Iran and therefore, is not a direct threat. This is not to say that the Kurdish women’s movement and the radical elements of it that are criminalised is a direct threat to Europe or the West, but politically and ideologically it’s clearly seen as a threat, because it’s not just about equality in this existing system – it’s about changing the system. The synthesis of all of these elements of struggle is what is seen as a threat. For Jin, Jiyan, Azadî to be put on the front of government buildings, and government funded institutions – is only possible because it’s also a way to give lip service to women’s struggle far away, and to declare that there’s no need for struggle here.


How do you make sure that certain parts of movements aren’t cherry picked to make them more accessible, and instead make people aware of the entire struggle?

The Kurdish women’s movement doesn’t see itself as the sole owners of this slogan, they are not territorial about it. What is important to recognise is that, to be able to develop this slogan, to be able to develop this political declaration, decades of struggle have gone into it – quite literally blood, sweat, and tears. And I think what is important is, of course, to be a part of the universalisation of this slogan. But for that slogan to be universalised in a meaningful way, that process needs to understand and recognise what the political declaration of the slogan is – that is, radical democracy, ecology, women’s liberation – and that it comes from an anti-colonial movement fighting for freedom. The important element is to really recognise and to talk about the history and the struggle of this movement. If you also believe in that struggle, in those principles, in those values, then I guess you would also want to talk about why this slogan is important. But the issue is that government ministers are chanting this, and I doubt that they believe in radical democracy, ecology, or women’s liberation, because their governments and their institutions continue to sell arms to some of these states, including the Turkish; they continue to be almost actionless when it comes to ecological destruction, and continue to repress women’s struggles themselves. So this is where the appropriation comes – when what you do, and the policies, don’t match the slogan.

You will be hosting a workshop on abolitionist feminism. In conversations about gendered violence, sexual assault and feminicide, it’s easy to end up engaged with narratives using a carceral framework, even within feminist movements. How can we speak about feminist justice, centring real transformative practices, without reproducing or enabling punitivist logics? 

These are some very difficult questions to figure out. One element that is important, when talking about abolition, is what one’s perspective of abolition is, because some schools of thought see abolition as a step towards revolution, and some as a complete refiguring of how society relates to each other and therefore as the revolution. When we talk about the latter, it’s difficult still to create reasons for carceral solutions, because you’re talking about completely refiguring how people in society relate to each other. Obviously, there’s very real issues in terms of the violence and the threats that people face, because of the state of society. One of the important things in developing this workshop was that Nazan Üstündağ will be talking about how we can reframe certain elements of abolition in terms of self-defence as well, because that is also important for an anti-carceral approach. For example, in the case of some parts of Kurdistan, there’s the reality of ISIS – and of course, now there’s many ISIS members who are also either in prison or in camps in these areas – and what do you do with this? If they are out in the world, then they’re quite literally a threat to that entire society and particularly to women (although obviously not only women). In the workshop we’ll talk a bit about how we can really think about what we call “Feminism Unchained”, and how we can start to try to think about what that can look like, where we start and what that means. It will be very interesting, in terms of self-defence, and what the others will bring, in terms of the attempts and work that they’ve done with transformative justice and how that’s worked, and how that hasn’t worked in some ways; Sabine Hark will talk about the education system, and so on. It’s not to say that no one should go to prison now, it’s to say: how do we get to a point in which society doesn’t have this? And even now, is the existence of prisons really making us safer? They will have their interventions and there’s going to be three scenarios, and we’ll all discuss how could there be an abolitionist perspective in dealing with them. It will be abolition storytime.


Can you tell us a bit more about your views on the current feminist struggles here in Berlin and in Germany? 

Some of the struggles I know the most about are struggles of what would be considered migrant communities, and the women of migrant communities. There’s so many elements of it, from certain migrant communities, from organising and fighting as care workers, to the Kurdish women’s movement – organising assemblies and trying to organise society in that sense. What I think is the reflection – and this is sadly the case in many parts of Europe – is women’s struggles are very fragmented; and this fragmentation is really a success of the system. To understand the reasons for this fragmentation and to really analyse it, there is of course many elements, but we can simplify in the name of trying to understand things. One of the key things is that there is an element of not knowing who our enemy is – and this is probably one of the biggest issues that keeps women’s movements fragmented. We often identify our enemies as very different things or places or institutions and so on. So there is much work to do, particularly in Europe, in terms of a systematic analysis of where we are, why we are there, or why we’re in the state or the position that we are, and this obviously includes practical and material situations.


About the lack of identification of the enemies, related to care work – it’s hard for people to immediately identify with care work and what it conveys, because it’s been so invisibilised. What would be strategies to bring care work to the agenda, in a way that people can relate it to their daily lives and struggles? 

The important thing is making some of the connections in terms of the class, gendered and the social reasons behind this, and understanding that care work and its exploitation in particular, are quite a fundamental part of capitalist exploitation as well.


How can other feminist activists, organisers and collectives get involved in your collective’s work beyond next week’s gathering? 

On Saturday evening, July 1, we will have a feminist assembly which is definitely a way to get organised. What is important about this assembly is that it’s also an avenue in which these relationships don’t have to go through us – groups, struggles and people can meet each other directly. Beyond that, we have the intention of continuing some of these discussions in a public sense, for sure. But I think what’s important to declare is that we, by no means, feel like anything needs to go through us, we’re not overstepping the function of this conference. I don’t want to say this is a big turning point – maybe it will be – but I think what’s important is that if you come to the conference, and particularly the assembly, hopefully you can meet others. If groups and movements who have never met before, and perhaps have or have not been in the same room, also get to connect, that is already a huge success for this conference.


Beyond Equality: Feminisms Reclaiming Life will happen this upcoming weekend, between 30 June and 2 July. The workshop registration is free, by email, as well as the possibility for childcare on Saturday and Sunday (email 

Beyond Equality: Feminisms Reclaiming Life

An Internationalist Gathering

Iranian feminist revolutionaries, Latin American “mulherismo”, Kurdish “women’s liberation” movements, and similar feminist approaches do not – as liberal and predominantly Western feminist agendas do – restrict themselves to demands for equal shares in the eroding paradigm of the current toxic way of life. For those struggles, feminism is more than a quest for equality or individual empowerment – it is a political project that aims at justice and structural transformation: decolonization and planetary care work, socialization of social reproduction, and revolutionary democratization of the everyday.

The gathering assembles prominent feminist movements, researchers, and cultural workers – Latin American collectives, Kurdish, Iranian, and North African liberation movements, as well as queer and trans-feminist positions – through a collective curatorial process.

Discursive engagements, assemblies, (online) talks, and workshops will focus on war, border politics and revolutions, decolonial ecofeminism and the political economy of “race”, feminist abolitionism, anti-fascism, gender violence, hetero-cis normativity, and investigative journalism. Following the slogan of the Kurdish liberation movement, we want to give expression to the struggles that reclaim life: “Jin, Jiyan, Azadî.

With Sara A. Abbas, Parvin Ardalan, Delal Atmaca, Simone Dede Ayivi, Sandra Bello, Lara Bitar, Lorena Cabnal, Anna Carastathis, Luci Cavallero, Carmen Cariño, Christina Clemm, Andrea Dip, Dilar Dirik, Anielle Franco, Véronica Gago, María Galindo, Denise Garcia Bergt, Dalia Gebrial, Encarnación Gutiérrez-Rodríguez, Sabine Hark, Becka Hudson, Nesrine Jelalia, Liad Hussein Kantorowicz, Fatemeh Karimi, İida Käyhkö, Aysuda Kölemen, Agata Lisiak, Ewa Majewska, Erica Malunguinho, María do Mar Castro Varela, Zethu Matebeni, Débora Medeiros, Miriam Nobre, Somayeh Rostampour, Evren Savcı, Kate Sheese, Jamile da Silva e Silva, Rub(én) Solís Mecalco, Myrto Tsilimpounidi, Nazan Üstündağ, Louise Wagner, Galina Yarmanova, Himmat Zoubi und organizations and collectives like Casa Kuà, CENÎ – Kurdisches Frauenbüro für Frieden e.V., Damigra e.V.- Dachverband der Migrant*innenorganisationen, Feminist Autonomous Centre for Research (Greece), Feminists4jina, Initiative Schwarze Menschen in Deutschland Bund e.V., International Women* Space, Jineoloji, medico international e.V., Maternal Fantasies, S.U.S.I. Interkulturelles Frauenzentrum, Transnational Feminism, Solidarity, and Social Justice, TranStyX: Tunisian Queer Art Project and others.

Short biographies of all participants can be found here.

“Beyond Equality: Feminisms Reclaiming Life”is curated by a Berlin-based collective of women* situated in struggles like the Iranian Revolution, the Kurdish Liberation Movement, diasporic and migrant movements, as well as in feminist anti-extractivist, media and artistic articulations between Latin America and Germany. The collective is consisting of Firoozeh Farvardin, Barbara Marcel, Camila Nobrega, Bahar Oghalai, Bafta Sarbo, Elif Sarican and Margarita Tsomou.

30.6.–2.7.2023 / HAU1, HAU3.