Tuesday, 28 May 2013, 7 p.m.
Where should we have turned left? Manès Sperber cross-read with Bini Adamczak.
Reading by Bini Adamczak, Dito Behr, Katharina Morawek
Communism “forced legally enforceable historical claims into the world … to no longer have to put up with any incapacitation or bear one single degradation. Since then, even the smallest injustice has become greater and the greatest one hurts that much more.” Thus writes Bini Adamczak in her book gestern morgen – über die einsamkeit kommunistischer gespenster und die rekonstruktion der zukunft. Gestern morgen reads the history of the Russian revolution against the grain; beginning from Stalinist terror, the question is pursued of how, in the course of events after 1917, from revolt through to a universal emancipation that brought so many into the revolution, nothing remained. In his novel trilogy Like a Tear in the Ocean, Manès Sperber’s revolutionary figure Herbert Sönnecke, a key protagonist in the work, states: “One of the survivors is going to have to get to work to find out exactly when this development began.” At this point, Sönnecke, a communist since the Ruhr uprising in 1920, is standing before the court in Moscow as defendant in the show trials. He will be executed the next day.
We will take up this thread at the reading, and in a shared debate, will attempt to pursue the politics of memory that Manès Sperber admonishes and Bini Adamczak refers to in gestern morgen. At the same time, the reading pays homage to Manès Sperber. The writer spent three contradictory, yet decisive years of exile here in Zurich from 1942 to 1945. The base of his major novel trilogy Like a Tear in the Ocean was created here. With the title of the event, “Where should we have turned left?” we do not intend to argue about correct and incorrect revolutionary paths; moreover, we are not developing a political program and are not part of a group with a publicly-articulated or implied avant-garde claim. We certainly do not place ourselves outside of history—we are interested in the social conditions for revolutionary politics in the past, present, and future.