Why do I advise my belarusian comrades not to move to Germany?

Now, unfortunately, many anarchists and anti-fascists from Belarus have already left the country or are planning to migrate because of repressions. It is clear that people are interested in living conditions in various countries. But in addition to salaries and a good life, many people are also interested in politics. How active a person can be in a country with his or her experience of Belarusian activism. After several years in Germany, I stopped recommending this country to my comrades for political migration.

On the one hand I would very much like to see a little more friends from Belarus in Germany. These are people who have chosen political activism in an atmosphere of constant state terror. To be an active anarchist in Belarus means to be politically persecuted with enviable persistence. Many people involved in the movement are aware of these risks and continue to fight against the dictatorship despite the repressions. The struggle is hardening and in Belarus it is not a pathos phrase of revolutionary times, but a reality.

However, I cannot drag my comrades into the swamp where I find myself. The political struggle in Germany is radically different from Belarus. If in a dictatorship your enemies are clear, and the common forces go to fight against Lukashenko and his gang, then in liberal Germany things are much more complicated. The political and economic differences are simply huge. Such differences can be positive: there are theories and practices that you can learn and change your own view of the world. Old russian proverb says “you live century, you learn century” and for migrants, this phrase becomes the basis for all interaction with the world around them. But among German leftists, this phrase is unlikely to find its place.

The fact is that everyone in Germany already knows better than you. The Germans can explain to you the political situation in any country in the world with conclusions about what is good and what is bad. Arrogance is reaching such a level that some German leftists will talk about your own country's politics (without knowing where you're from), and if you try to object to some “bulletproof” facts taken from Russia Today, you will be very quickly assigned to the “wrong” camp. Sometimes it feels as if the Germans are returning to the complex of exceptional understanding of the world, which puts both left and right German political activists one step above the others. In the case of Eastern Europe, this is doubly true. We were and still are “Untermenschen”, a few steps behind on equality, solidarity and democracy. With this perspective, it is not surprising that nobody is interested in your views, and somewhere here and there you will be told that this is not Belarus here.

I believe that this exclusivity and the inability to accept other political cultures has already played a cruel joke on the German Left in 2014-2016, when hundreds of thousands of migrants found themselves in Germany in the hope of help from the civilian population. Left-wing students then began to actively help refugees from Syria and other countries. The expectations were simple – now we will help you a little, and tomorrow you will become anti-capitalists and start to share our political views. After several months of such work and the apparent absence of revolutionary migrants among refugees, many have simply been scored. Others have talked about “frustration” in working with refugees, but it is worth mentioning here – frustration comes when you have expectations and expectations for Syrian refugees were very high. And where political views did not coincide, there were direct conflicts. The German Left was trying to integrate Syrian refugees into the left-wing environment, when that environment was alien to those people.

About the same story happened to me. After realising that it was not possible to make me an antideutsch, many left-wing activists began to be hostile towards me, and discussions about political views moved away from direct conversations into rumours. In this situation, it is extremely difficult to continue political activism, and the fight against all the nonsense that is hanging over you here and there takes a huge amount of effort. During these 6 years of activism in Germany, I have spent a lot of energy proving that I am not a camel or a Untermench to the German Left or even some anarchists. And I do not recommend this experience to other comrades. After all, the left Germans can continue to boil in their environment and look down on the world misanthropically. Our struggle today is not with them, but with much more serious problems and I would like to say that many anarchists from Belarus can do it much more effectively in other countries.

But I would not like to end this text on such a note. Germany is full of good friends among anarchists and antifascists. During my stay here I have met many worthy people who fight for freedom and equality and are not subject to any illusions of their exclusivity. These people are ready to learn and acknowledge their mistakes and we have been able to grow together over the years of our fellowship.