Anyone who has looked at the activist videos from Seattle
to Prague to Göteburg and Salzburg (there was an opportunity
to do so at the Diagonale in Graz this year), will repeatedly
find the same images recalled: the dancing crowd in pink
and silver, figures dressed in black costumes following
the ironically martial Infernal Noise Brigade, white overalls,
young faces in the sun-drenched demo parade, colorful
banners. Then the turnaround - robocops marching out in
full force, rubbish bins turned into barricades, orgies
of beatings. It is rare that the viewer gets an insight
into the preparations for these large-scale protests,
whether on site or in the various scenes in cities all
over Europe. There is the impression of a movement, whose
expressions have merged into a unified protest culture,
regardless of the specific social structures of their
regions of origin from North America to southern Spain
- a form of expression that can be employed in front of
the scenery of North American Seattle, the old central
European city of Prague and southern Genoa equally well.
Expression of a globalized activism in a globalized world,
expression of a nomadic movement that can dispense with
ties to a real social location?
The appearance of a flood of images that always look
the same is deceptive. The example of the form of action
"Reclaim the Streets" that emerged in London
in the early 90s shows the close ties between a tactic
that has since been successfully employed around the
world, and the concrete local circumstances, from which
it initially developed.
The basic concept of the Reclaim the Streets Party
that can be applied anywhere, is essentially quite simple:
the temporary appropriation of public space using bodies,
creativity and music - too congenial and cheerful to
be surrounded and evicted without further ado, yet simultaneously
effective enough, as a disruption of traffic and everyday
consumerism, not to be integrated, like the Love Parade
in Berlin, for instance, in the rounds of adventure
society culture events.
In London, the slogan "Reclaim the Streets"
and the criticism of motor vehicle traffic are embedded
in a dense interweaving of sub- and popular culture,
political, economic, and everyday culture connotations:
from environmental protest against road construction
to the car as a symbol of urban impositions, from the
subculture of free parties to the repressive instrument
of the Criminal Justice Act, from official traditions
like the celebrations for the anniversary of the coronation
of the queen to the collective trauma of early capitalism,
and back again to the everyday life of the contemporary
In the early 90s, the implementation of an extensive
road construction program was started in England - leading
to a series of protest camps in remote landscapes, whose
forms of action sometimes seemed strange to outsiders:
someone showed up, furnished a treehouse and thus claimed
"squatter's rights"; people dug tunnels under
the construction sites, chained themselves to cement
blocks and waited to be evicted. 
At best these camps were able to delay road construction,
their success was often measured in financial damage
(eviction costs, costs for damaged machines or "liberated"
building material). What is perhaps longer lasting is
their impact as a field of experimentation for ways
of living and acting together in solidarity outside
the "rat race", the permanent pursuit of the
cash needed for survival in the city. With the creative
occupation of the building site for the meanwhile opened
access road to the M11 motorway straight through a residential
area of north-west London in 1993, the protest moved
from the country into the city. With it, social concerns
moved into the foreground alongside ecological ones.
With an amalgamation of art, bodies and media techniques,
a handful of activists succeeded in holding a months-long
permanent performance in constantly occupied Claremont
Road. Art objects were installed and rearranged as barricades
as needed. Sofas, chairs and various other things found
in living rooms were brought from private interior space
to the public sphere of the street. Even during the
inevitable eviction in November 94, the protesters remained
on top: 1300 members of the riot police danced on the
occupiers' stage, a theatrical performance that cost
the state over two million pounds. An activist explained:
"We always knew that one day all this would be
rubble, and this awareness of impermanence gave us immense
strength - the impossibility of failure - the strength
to move this Temporary Autonomous Zone on to somewhere
Reclaim the Streets actually succeeded in adapting
the action form of anti-road protests in a rural environment
to the circumstances of the metropolis, transforming
the protest against environmental destruction into a
protest against "the car" as a symbol of the
capitalist disciplining of urban life by connecting
to everyday experience in London.
The economy of London depends on people accepting having
to drive for hours to their working places - and thus
accepting massive limitations to their quality of life.
 The average speed
of traffic is approximately the same as at the end of
the 19th century, the famous "rush hour" takes
place permanently, and local public transportation is,
despite all the endeavors of Mayor Ken Livingstone,
too expensive and too old. Against this background,
it was possible to make the concerns of unregistered
street parties plausible to the bourgeoisie media and
thus to a broader audience.
The Reclaim the Streets parties in London made use
of a choreography similar to that of the Free Parties
 of the rave communities
since the late 80s: the parties were not registered;
the location was propagated at the last moment through
clandestinely circulating telephone numbers or word-of-mouth;
whether in a defunct storehouse in the urban no-man's-land
of the north of England 
or in the busy streets of a city district of London,
the parties could break out suddenly and to the complete
surprise of any keepers of the peace that might be present.
What is said in the excellent book "DiY-Culture"
 about the radical
environmentalists from Earth First!, applies equally
well to Reclaim the Streets: road protester becomes
airport protester becomes The Land is Ours urban squatter
becomes rave-goer becomes EF!er "ad infinitum,
simply through her/his presence on that particular campaign
or demo. It is impossible, then, to talk about (for
example) EF! and the roads protest movement as if they
were separate entities: individuals flow in and out
of both and in many cases would not define themselves
in terms of either group."
The non-commercial raves with their hedonist ideology
and their contrariness to the logic of capitalist profit
obviously represented a massive threat to public order.
In 1994 the law known as the Criminal Justice Act was
introduced. Among other things, this gave the police
the authority to break up rave parties. "Rave"
was defined as "music wholly or predominantly characterised
by the emission of a succession of repetitive beats".
The CJA was used to evict innumerable parties as well
as to end the occupation of Claremont Road. At the same
time, though, this law led to the politicization of
the raver community and to a sense of solidarity among
various subcultural and political scenes. The message
of a rave DJ to the government: "Cheers, thanks
a lot for bringing us all together. We're a lot more
networked now than we ever were." 
The "March for Social Justice" that was propagated
by Reclaim the Streets in 1997 was regarded by the rave
scene as "the best illegal rave or dance music
party in history" 
and "one of the most remarkable free parties since
Castlemorton in 1992." 
And in June 2002, right in time for the tenth anniversary
of this remarkable party, people were raving again in
Castlemorton despite the massive police presence.
In addition to current political and cultural connotations,
Reclaim the Streets also refers to a national collective
memory, not only with reference to the appropriation
of public celebrations such as the coronation anniversary
of the queen.
The use of the term "enclosures" 
in RTS diction refers to a trauma of original accumulation
that is latent in the collective subconscious of the
United Kingdom: Beginning in the 16th century, land
that was accessible for the "common good"
was fenced in for raising sheep, i.e. enclosed. With
the rise of capitalism, textile production became more
profitable than agriculture. As the land was enclosed,
people were closed out. According to the logic of Reclaim
the Streets, today the streets are enclosed. What was
"the commons of the city" in a mythic past,
commonly utilizable space for discussions and exchange
within a social community, has been removed from this
use today. Whereas in the past it was sheep that led
to the privatization of land, today it is cars that
take urban public space away from use by the inhabitants.
For those who were able to read the connotative text
of the flyers, the protest against the impositions of
motor vehicle traffic was not a single issue campaign
from the beginning. Instead, it contained an implicit
criticism of capitalism long before Reclaim the Streets
explicitly "outed" itself as "anti-capitalist"
on June 18, 1999 in conjunction with the global action
day in the financial centers of the world (thus giving
rise to wild speculations about Reclaim the Streets'
alleged terrorist activities on the part of the media
It is not a coincidence that Reclaim the Streets had
this anti-capitalist touch from the beginning - less
the result of reading Capital than of the strains experienced
everyday in a thoroughly capitalized metropolis. Everyday
life in London is probably more permeated by capitalism
than in any other major European city: living space
is not only an object of speculation for investors.
A cinema ticket costs two minimum wage hours - three
with a public transportation ticket into the city. Community
centers, where events could be independently organized
at a low cost, were largely done away with under the
Thatcher government. What is left for affordable (activist)
conviviality is the constantly changing scene of open
squats that rarely exist for longer than a few months.
Not only the meeting points are in a permanent state
of flux, the actors also change - because London is
only a temporary home for many. The transience of everyday
life in London is mirrored in the temporary, unregistered
occupation of public space with the means of crowds,
music, carnival and dance.
The Reclaim the Streets Party action form has been
used in many cities around the world, changed, adapted
to the given conditions. Many of the connotations that
were generally familiar in Great Britain have become
invisible in the process, new ones have been added.
In London, it has grown quieter around Reclaim the Streets
since the wave of repression following the global action
day on June 18, 1999. Instead of resting on the laurels
of past interventions and instead of exposing themselves
to criminalization, the actors are concentrating on
other areas, moving into new groups and contexts and
adapting their forms of articulation to the present
political and social conditions. A fortuitous by-product
of this is that Reclaim the Streets has remained true
to itself: a disorganization that has no use for speakers
or heroes - but: "We are Everywhere!"
Translated by Aileen Derieg
 Cf. Going underground.
Some Thoughts on Tunneling as a Tactic. In: Do or Die
8 (1999), p. 60-61.
 John Jordan: The
art of necessity: the subversive imagination of anti-road
protest and Reclaim the Streets. In: George McKay (Ed.)
DiY Culture. Party & Protest in Nineties Britain.
London 1998, p. 129-151, here p. 139.
 Cf. Patrick Field:
The Anti-Roads Movement: the Struggle of Memory Against
Forgetting. In: Tim Jordan/Adam Lent (Ed.):Storming the
Millennium. London 1999, p. 68-79.
 Cf. Rupa Huq: The
Right to Rave: Opposition to the Criminal Justice and
Public Order Act 1994. In: Tim Jordan/Adam Lent (Ed.)
Storming the Millennium. London 1999, p. 15-33.
 Drew Hemment: The
Northern Warehouse Rave Parties. In: George McKay (Ed.):
DiY Culture. Party & Protest in Nineties Britain.
London 1998, p. 208-227
 George McKay (Ed.):
DiY Culture. Party & Protest in Nineties Britain.
London 1998, here p. 159.
 Rupa Huq: The Right
to Rave, 1999, p. 24.
 Mixmag 73, June
1997, p. 101
 Muzik 25, June
 In an early
flyer, for instance, it said: "The point is to reconquer
the streets as a public, inclusive space and liberate
them from the private, `enclosed' use by cars."