Patrice Riemens on Wed, 23 Sep 2015 13:15:43 +0200 (CEST)

[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

<nettime> P.M.'s new project (Neustart Schweiz) and interview

Our Zurich friend P.M. is currently involved in the Neustart Schweiz project:

which can (or must) be seen in connection with his latest book "The 
Power of Neighborhood" and The Commons:

Together with P.M., Panos runs the site of, described as: 

"(a) New urban institutions for living and working together, respecting 
nature, leading to a fullfilled and happy life"

Most texts in it are by P.M.

Last month (August 2015), Panos conducted an interview with him, see herunder:

When you wrote bolo'bolo did you really imagine that one day part of 
this vision would be actually implemented? 

Bolo'bolo was in fact just a list of ideas that I had found in different 
places. These suggestions are not really spectacular, so I was sure that 
some of it would become real.

How about the box, the death pill, and the duels? Have you completely 
abandoned those ideas?

The idea of the taku box was an attempt to illustrate the relationship 
of private property (that I consider essential) and the commons (that 
are even more important). I consider suicide a human right and I donât 
think that humans are always loving and peaceful. If we imagine 
alternative social arrangements these should be so robust as to be 
capable of dealing with human imperfections. We shouldnât try to âchange 
peopleâ, but to find more suitable arrangements among the people as they 
are: egoistic, sloppy, deceitful, unreliable.

Why did you choose to write anonymously?

Three years before boloâbolo I had published my novel âWeltgeist 
Superstarâ, that was based on good-night-stories collectively thought 
out in my community. So there was no individual author and I chose the 
most frequent initials of the Zurich phone book, P.M. This pseudonym 
stuck to me and I have used it henceforward.

Actually, do you remember how did you feel the period when you started 
writing bolo'bolo? How did everything start?

I wrote boloâbolo when a European movement of space wars and squats in a 
number of cities (Amsterdam, Berlin, Vienna, Milano, Hamburg) had come 
to an end, this was in 1983. That was also the moment, when the 
so-called neoliberal rollback started worldwide. Most of my friends were 
very depressed, boloâbolo should cheer them up.

Also something about the period between the book was published and when Kraftwerk1 did its first steps?

There is no direct connection between boloâbolo and new collective 
housing projects like Karthago or Kraftwerk1. In Zurich there was a 
movement for affordable housing, out of which new cooperatives like 
Kraftwerk1 arose. When the squats had been terminated, we thought it was 
better to buy the houses instead of being thrown out of them by the 
police. Thatâs the idea of the cooperative: when you pool your resources 
you notice that you are not as poor and powerless as you thought.

When we first met you said that Kraftwerk1 did not turn out exactly as 
you expected. Could you elaborate? Which were the most important 
"mistakes" made? Did you managed to correct them in most recent 

No mistakes were made. Originally Kraftwerk1 should have been bigger â 
700 persons instead of 250 like now â and on another site, closer to the 
city center. In our book âKraftwerk1â we make a thorough analysis of the 
urban development of Zurich and we proposed Kraftwerk1 as the beginning 
of a new type of economic system: making a living, not earning a living. 
To create such an internal economy you need a certain minimal size â 
maybe 500 persons â to make things like food logistics, diversity of 
activities and qualifications, collective infrastructures, viable. So 
Kraftwerk1, as it is, is a bit too small for an elaborate collective 
infrastructure. We just have a little shop, whose existence is always 
threatened. Instead of providing lodging and meals on an everyday basis, 
there is just a group of 30 people, who cook and eat together on 
Wednesdays. However there is a very good restaurant in our building â 
Brasserie Bernoulli. But this is managed commercially by an independent 

I think at the moment one should not try to be too ambitious with 
alternative economic systems. There is the risk to become an avantgarde 
and to get out of touch with the mainstream. Projects should be 
perceived as normal. But itâs important to have a store of very 
ambitious concepts to measure your success.

There are now bigger cooperative projects â like mehr-als-wohnen (more 
than housing) where 1400 persons live. There you find a guesthouse for 
20 persons. There are also initiatives to link up with farmers and to 
create a more comprehensive food logistics. But it remains to be seen 
how far they are able or willing to go.

Can you name an idea that you wouldn't expect that it would really work 
but it actually did? And the opposite: something that seemed easy but 
actually is more difficult than expected?

The site of Kraftwerk1 didnât seem very attractive at the time (1999), 
so we were afraid that we couldnât fill the building. It turned out that 
many more people want to live here, so that there has never been an 
empty flat. What seemed easy was to run our own restaurant cum shop as a 
collective infrastructure. But the team that was supposed to realize 
this fell apart, so that we had to rent out the spaces commercially. I 
still think that this should be possible to do in a future project (like 

How would you imagine the project to evolve in the future? Give me an 
optimistic and a pessimistic version.

Kraftwerk1 is evolving furiously. We have already built a smaller 
project for 80 people and a bigger one for 350 (in the outskirts of 
Zurich). The cooperative has now close to 1000 members. What can be 
realized (always additionally to providing affordable and attractive 
housing) in every one of these projects depends on size, local 
situations and the initiatives of the members themselves. There is no 
compulsory Kraftwerk1-program. Itâs all based on democratic decision 
making, voluntary work and pragmatic evaluation. People have jobs and 
not much time left for alternative fun and games.

If the economic pressure increases the resources for collective 
enterprises could shrink. If you have to work full time, youâre not 
going to help in the shop in the evening or to work on the fields of our 
agricultural cooperative ortoloco. Everybody will have to look after 
themselves, conviviality and cooperation will shrink. May-be, in a 
consecutive phase, when the going gets really tough, one might 
rediscover the potential of collective infrastructures. In theory, that 
should be the logical reaction. Weâll see.

[P.M. is the anonymous writer of the book bolo'bolo. He has managed to 
live parts of his utopian vision through his engagement with various
cooperative housing and living projects in Zurich, the so-called "young"
cooperatives. He recently wrote the The power of the neighborhood which
analyses the main concepts developed in bolo'bolo in a more pragmatic
and rigorous way]

#  distributed via <nettime>: no commercial use without permission
#  <nettime>  is a moderated mailing list for net criticism,
#  collaborative text filtering and cultural politics of the nets
#  more info:
#  archive: contact: