“More than 1,000 people have already been arbitrarily sentenced and imprisoned. And now this new law, supposedly also called “anti-rioters law”, is meant to prevent us from demonstrating. We condemn every violence against demonstrators by the police. Nothing will stop us! Demonstrating is a fundamental right. Down with the impunity for the law enforcement! Amnesty for all victims of oppression!”

Call for the first General Assembly of the Gilets Jaunes


“I will be a worker: it’s this idea that keeps me alive, when my mad fury would have me leap into the midst of Paris’s battles – where how many other workers die as I write these words to them? To work now? Never, never: I’m on strike.”

Arthur Rimbaud


during an election campaign in 1904 in Berlin for the German Reichstag the hitherto almost

unknown Rosa Luxemburg reprimands Kaiser Wilhelm II for having no idea of ​​the horrific

living conditions of the working class


she’s sentenced to three months imprisonment for “insulting the Majesty”

of which she has to serve six weeks


at the end of 1905 she travels to Warsaw to support from there the Russian revolution


in March next year she’s arrested again in court martial proceedings and can avoid the impending death penalty only by paying a bail


on 11 July 1873 the poet Paul Verlaine is brought before the examining magistrate in Brussels for having fired two pistol shots at his friend whilst inebriated


Rimbaud with merely a slight hand injury informs the attending judicial officer that he’ll refrain from all civil and criminal proceedings


London then Brussels: the appalling nights of hygienic dreams idiocy and tooth decay [Rimbaud who reproaches Verlaine with a gesture of contempt for the subjective tenor of his verses but never the never-ending booze and absinthe frenzy and Verlaine who’s just afraid of Rimbaud’s imagination]


in a letter to Rimbaud dated 4-5 July, which is confiscated upon Verlaine’s arrest the name of the Paris Commune Eugène Vermersch falls the officials in the eye [sentenced to death in absentia], the target of their widely scattered projectiles


in 1961 poet and director Pier Paolo Pasolini is accused while working on the script of Mamma Roma of raiding at gunpoint a refuelling station and looting 2000 liras


a weapon loaded with golden cartridges


the newspapers then publish a photo of Pasolini during filming, holding a submachine gun and making a distorted face


although Pasolini denounces the indictment as baseless and there are no witnesses, he’s considered guilty


I’m not joking


the court will assert mitigating circumstances and grant that he’s committed the act only to use it as script material in his forthcoming book



In 1960 George Jackson is accused of having stolen $ 71 at a gas station in Los Angeles


although there’s evidence of his innocence, his public defender advises him to trade with the prosecutor on account of two criminal records for trivial offenses


he should plead guilty and in return receive a lenient sentence


and he’s eventually sentenced to a one-year-to-life detention


Jackson spends 10 years in Soledad Prison [the monstrous breeding of capitalist companies], whereof 7 years in solitary confinement frozen on a few square meters


a revolutionary has no personal interests no ties no name he moves in zones in which the bourgeois order the so-called civilised world with its social contract doesn’t count


his hatred of society as the only weapon available which passes the censorship of his letters from prison


Jackson’s language traces and magnifies the cracks in the walls of this hell


police and anti-terrorist units arrive at Tarnac village at 5 am on 11 November 2008


a hamlet on a plateau in the Département of Corrèze in south-west France


with dog teams one fights from house to house


but the 150 forces find neither weapons nor strong evidence that justify an arrest or an indictment


but a wavering oligarchy of ruminating cadavers which is wildly striking outwards on all sides


a gigantic loss of control and rule that no police shamanism will be able to remedy


nine inhabitants of the village, called from then on the Tarnac 9, are alleged to have formed a criminal group aiming to execute a terrorist attack


one of them Julien Coupat will be serving seven months in custody


in consequence of a law designed to follow the supposed intentions [preparatory actions] and not the proven facts, and thereby to suppress terrorist attacks preventively


in 1959 the authoritative Salvadorian poet Roque Dalton is arrested [who has called for resisting the exploitative practices of landowners] for alleged anti-state activities and is condemned to death


one day before his execution, the ruling dictator is overthrown, and the execution of the sentence reprieved


in the ensuing political turmoil Dalton manages to escape

he flees to Guatemala Mexico then the years in Cuba where he joins the revolutionary movement


Chris Marker recalls in Le fond de l’air est rouge the global struggles of the political left in the 1960s and 70s the murdered and executed leftist revolutionaries and activists like Che Guevara Pierre Overney Jan Palach George Jackson Roque Dalton or Ulrike Meinhof their trials and funerals


the human being must still be thought of as an ensemble of social relations [Marx in the sixth thesis about Feuerbach]


Dalton returns to El Salvador in 1965


you only make politics in the enemy’s camp


unprotected from those one attacks in free verse


the poet as a subversive a heretic a prey prisoner and a torturee can be a murderer a poet within a groaning hell machine


the ruling military junta detains him yet again and imposes a second death penalty


shortly thereafter, an earthquake destroys the prison walls and once again he succeeds in escaping


he returns to Cuba a few months later works as a newspaper correspondent and functionary in Prague


sees Lenin haunt Moscow hand in hand with the spectre of communism


a sacred left-wing alliance waiting for better days


and instead is fonder of believing in the forces of Trotsky’s “permanent revolution”



after her speech at the 1906 party congress of the SPD at which she called for strikes as a political weapon, Rosa Luxemburg is accused of “incitement to class hatred”


the preparatory action is not defined


she has to go to gaol for two months


Verlaine hopes the court’s indulgence will attribute his act to a moment of madness and there’s no intention of harming Rimbaud at all


another letter from Rimbaud to his friend on 7 July is sent to the case files

this time the name Andrieu attracts the attention of the authorities [Jules Andrieu head of the London exile communards and in May 1871 delegate of the commune tasked with confiscating president Their’s possessions / Rimbaud writes in a letter to Andrieu: The goal must be the renewal of poetry and the consequent promotion of socio-political actions]


in a medical examination, doctors diagnose traces, some more active, some more passive, of pederastic habits on Verlaine’s body


the investigation documents point out that the motivation of Verlaine’s shooting at Rimbaud is to be found exclusively in the immoral relations and shameful passions of the two poets for each other


in 1972, the author of “Implacable Art: Anna Mendelssohn is accused as member of the “Stoke Newington Eight” and blamed for multiple bombings


in which one person gets mildly injured


at the time she’s already been in custody for 5 months


isolation and repression have aggravated her condition so much that time and again her six-month protracted negotiation has to contend with health problems


anyone who claims prison rehabilitates people must be crazy


she is blind and at night runs from wall to wall

sleeps on the bare cell floor


in Goya’s palace of fears and demons [disparate anatomies of grinning grimaces]


in a passionate defence speech she rejects any responsibility for the attacks


but she understands the motivation behind them


in the courtroom, she speaks a language inaccessible to the members of the judiciary apparatus


something that outside of a narrowly defined notion of society defines that provokes and disturbs those who go to bed with the idea of ​​the existence of a force majeure


though her words do leave an impression, this does not discourge the jury [by a 10-2 majority vote] from finding her guilty


from the barbarism of the Middle Ages of the Inquisition and colonialism to the world wars and the raison d’état of political totalitarianism: a poet can be a political activist



On 7 April 1979, the Italian state makes a swoop on the leftist autonomous movement in which more than 6 000 people are arrested


all in all, they are accused of armed subversion and 19-fold murder


Nanni Balestrini who in his “Vogliamo tutto” wrote the collective history of the working class


can be found on a public wanted list again


skipping revolts rebellions and strikes that draw more and more circles until finally a ring pulled around the whole city and the cops


that connects more than just an associative band


a poster with a closed fist


the constant revolutionising of all social relations [Marx]


and a state power watching in surprise how quickly the pathogen called AUTONOMIA is spreading


all together we’ve prepared the bottles all together we’ve torn open the university floor in order to procure stones


the uprising is always a surprise


everyone’s got stones and Molotovs in their pockets because we’ve all decided to have a violent demonstration and fight back


a panorama of wild strikes that paralyse half the city


since all students and comrades take action without an order service without isolated groups of provocateurs since they’re involved in all actions


against a “strategy of tension” among clans of neo-fascist politicians and clerical

secret-lodge military and industrialists


who set off a  bomb in Piazza Fontana in Milan that killed 17 people and injured over 100 people


to conceal the events more than 30 people disappear (unpleasant witnesses and in-the-know communists, etc.) who get drowned in bathtubs or fountains or entangled in strange car accidents found dead behind the scenes shot in the street alleged suicides and injured in hunting accidents


state massacres committed under the code name Gladio

secret paramilitary organizations belonging to the Italian military intelligence service of the CIA and the NATO emerge


since one of the well-known anarchists Valpreda should not be held responsible

for the assassination in the Piazza Fontana


they arrest comrade Giuseppe Pinelli and detain him on a Milanese territory


the judiciary becomes a mainstay within a repressive system authorised to solve a political problem


the state gets a kind of black box out of which information only comes out filtered or falsified


in 1969, George Jackson [whose detention is extended year by year] and two other blacks prisoners get accused of killing a white jailer


not because there is even one single proof


but because the prison authorities have identified Jackson as a black militant


in 1970, 30 percent of prisoners are blacks, while blacks are only 15 percent of Americans make up the population


the bright light in front of his cell allows him to read through Marx Gramsci Césaire Fanon C.L.R. James all night long


he never sleeps more than three hours


when two prisoners argue with each other, the guards shoot the darker one


between 1949 and 1977 [thus still two years after his death] Pasolini is accused a total of 33 times [doesn’t Dante’s Inferno contain 33 chants]


in the early 1960s he was literally snowed under a deluge of lawsuits and except for Il Vangelo secondo Matteo every one of his films is followed by an announcement


the propaganda machine as a dispositive of social submission


endless process appointments and house searches within a climate of pseudo-tolerance


in 1971 for “incitement to military disobedience of seditious and anti-national propaganda and incitement to Crime” for two articles in the journal Lotta Continua for which he spent the year in the position of chief editor [“Proletarian in uniform” in volume No. 5 and in No. 8 “Report on the Fascists from Siena”]


in the Film 12 dicembre for which Lotta Continua requests his help, PPP pursues the circumstances of the murder of Giuseppe Pinelli [interrogated at a police station in Milan by officials under the leadership of commissioner Calabresi killed by a fall from the window from the fourth floor Calabresi is acquitted of any guilt for lack of evidence and after his violent death in 1972 receives the Italian Republic order of honour for civil bravery]


for Pasolini, the hatred of the bourgeoisie lies in their way of life which he dissects in his writings and films the typical bourgeois moral attitude the breeding of an artificially uprooted man


whose needs coincide with the offers of a department store catalogue a matter of fervour


the smear campaign conducted over several decades in countless court appointments culminates with Pasolini having to assert himself against the most ridiculous charges and the first-instance court sentencing him several times then the second-instance court acquitting him


it will then become clear that the world has long had the dream of a thing


namely, that the thought not manifesting itself in action is not a thought



in September 1913 Rosa Luxemburg warns of the devastating consequences of imperialism nationalism and militarism and calls for international solidarity of the working class against war


if we are expected to raise the murder weapons against our French or other foreign brothers, we explain: We do not do that


in the spring of 1914 she is sentenced to 14 months imprisonment due to a request for conscientious objection and command to refuse


her defence speech will later be published under the title “Militarism, War and Working Class”


she doesn’t have to start the detention immediately


together with Jean Jaurès she appeals to the power and solidarity of the proletariat at an international meeting in Brussels


Jaurès is murdered on the way back by French nationalists


shortly thereafter, the First World War breaks out


the circumstances under which in November 1920 the poet César Vallejo is thrown without a trial into the central prison of Trujillo – otherwise nothing more than a dilapidated black dungeon whose horror will accompany him for the rest of his life – are still not fully understood


whether he accidentally gets imbroiled in a spontaneous uprising of parts of the population of Santiago de Chucos who take to the streets to protest corruption and manipulation resulting from a recent election or whether Vallejo is one of the ringleaders of this riot in the clash between police and the insurgents in which three people get killed and a mall looted and set on fire


in a series of shots and blows the truth is redefined


individually tailored repressions based on loosely assembled algorithms


reports that have seen Vallejo at the head of the uprising and mention he’s carrying a revolver and speaks encouragement to the others show only how seriously the poet and communist [who will later defend the Spanish Republic] takes the social revolution the workers’ fight against exploitation and oppression


in the Trujillo prison he writes most of his second book of poetry Trilce


while his hands plunge into the corner of his black cell


the secret circuit of justice dense and invisible beneath the surface


a fly falls to the ground still crackling


he experiences the daily deprivations the scars made by bones sticking out


the laughable weight of a starving person inside a bloody ocean


in the many letters he writes to fellow poets and journalists, he asks for their support and mentions he’s not expecting a fair trial


the media echo is huge and after 122 days he’s finally released


shortly thereafter, he turns his back on Peru and travels to Europe


Paul Verlaine is sentenced to two years imprisonment and a fine of 200 francs


Rimbaud recovers quickly and within a few weeks at the granary of his mother’s estate in Roche he writes Une saison en enfer


in a whirlwind in which he sweeps everything away longs and desires clarity for himself he opens for a moment the engine room the future of poetry his own terribly increased nature which his imprisoned friend will later be able to read in the Delirium and Alchemy of the Word


the exposed metaphors the absorption of all poisons



Anna Mendelssohn receives a 10-year prison sentence of which she must finally serve 5 years


she hears of Ulrike Meinhof’s death in prison


something that does not leave her cold


she wants to stay alive


live in the dark in hell without any contact with the outside


police raids and razors: there is nothing to talk about with them


the red line [the arbitrary scale of their cards] they cut into your body


a state claiming the monopoly of force


and an implemented case-law that legitimises it


every attack on the sovereignty of power must be sanctioned


the hiding places of the poetics that must remain untouched


it’s not the damage caused by explosions that really disturbs the state organs


rather, it’s the fact of disclosing the vulnerabilities visible to all within the system


a fact that makes them look stupid


a long-time member of the “Revolutionary People’s Army” in 1975, Roque Dalton repeatedly rubs against the dogmas and doctrines of the Marxist leadership


where the Communist Party comes more and more to resemble the Catholic Church, he becomes the guerrilla fighter and heretic


you must be able to write your life to make your sparkling anger glow


but inhumanity cannot be represented without insight into humanity


the moment however he’s ready to risk his life for the common cause [the actual communist idea]


comrades begin to doubt him more and more [the CIA who’s long had Dalton on some of its death lists has been spreading the rumour he works as a spy for the US and procures the necessary fake papers]


as if one feels a look in the back and reciprocates it [Benjamin’s Aura]


he is executed by his own comrades at close range by two pistol shots


after his death, his recently written novel “Pobrecita poeta que era yo” appears in which Dalton prophesies the scattered CIA spy allegations and his murder in every detail


I only keep a book


what I am dealing with? suicidal thought to rip out the heart the black fruit


in one of his letters from his 1964 imprisonment, Jackson writes I have all the emotions switched off, I have moved away from myself and learned to see other people and the world in the right proportion


I have broadened my horizons so that my thinking is not just my family and their surroundings but captures the whole world


an extension of consciousness which limits one’s own self to the spatial restriction of the few-square-meter-small prison cell is limited


and, in a way, a reversal of Rimbaud’s ideas from his letter of May 1871 about the deregulation of all senses [it’s about getting to the unknown through the lawlessness of all senses]


the moment in which so many workers are slaughtered on the barricades / in which so many black comrades merely serve as a mass at the disposal of the whites


it can only be a matter of exchanging the subjectivist position for the objectivism of the poet as the illuminator of the story


I am making tremendous strides in the effort to acquire everything I need to accomplish my plans



translated by David Vichnar & Tim König

image: R.B. Kitak, “The Murder of Rosa Luxemburg” (1960)


*published in ALIENIST 5


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