LONG LIVE 26A TAKSIM IS CLOSING DOWN! The Thing Which Starts Here, Never Ends!
The Thing Which Starts Here, Never Ends!
We are at the spot on which everything started in August 2009, we are right at the spot where 26A Collective created itself. We are closing down the first space of the eleven-year-old collective, Taksim 26A.
We didn’t wait for a revolution which will come in an unknown future, in order to experience a revolution which starts here and now. We, the ones, who have chosen to emancipate, created this collective which is run by the consensus of voluntary initiatives, without a boss or workers.
We were in need of an anarchist economical model and there were no prior experiences, on the geography we were living. So before we hit the road, we take the advice of the comrades in history. We asked Bakunin, Kropotkin; we asked the comrades who had established cooperatives in Iberia. They answered our questions within their time. We were encouraged by tens of experiences of our times, we talked about the coffee cooperatives with Zapatistas. We have started to simply make tea and toast, with very little information and very much courage and fear.
We said that we should share the knowledge of life against the knowledge of the system used selfishly for the authority of the rulers. If competition is necessary for companies to function, we said solidarity is necessary for the collective to function. We said we should reverse the world if we are going to recreate life. Our sayings lasted for days, we said and we said. However as we talked, we added to the space or removed something from the space, we transformed what we had found out in the trash and made it beautiful. Since the first day we practiced first, then we found the theory in that practice.
It was not a self-sufficient space in 2009. When some of us entered cleaning jobs and some of us were waitresses for our bills and rent; we said things like “when the day comes, it’ll save itself”, “we don’t need anything extra, this is enough for us”. We were meeting here, we were eating our meals here, we were talking and discussing here. Our desire was to strengthen anarchist struggles. It was enough to print fanzines, magazines, newspapers, and set up sharing and solidarity tables.
We lived the notions one by one with our practice. We were discussing the domination of the one with a lot of effort over another. We thought that the barricade should not be established only on the streets but also culturally. We chose lemonade instead of coca-cola within our cultural barricades. Sometimes we found ourselves in an experimental place with those who came to examine us. We got used to them slowly. The numbers of people have increased, workers in the surrounding shops and markets, high school, university students… Our cheapness increased these numbers and this is exactly what we wanted. We were literally always the cheapest of the surrounding areas.
Those who brought the coffee of the Zapatistas from Chiapas were showing solidarity with both us and the Zapatistas. Packed coffees that come with suitcases and products of several cooperatives that were not as many as now; olives, olive oils, pickles … Books pass from hands to hands and filled the shelves of the space (Those books now fill the shelves of the library, was founded in the name of a permanent friend of the collective Tayfun Benol who died on October 10.) were reading at our tables while eating kinds of pasta and drinking teas. And the legendary covers of our tables have been a gift to our collective friends live in many different parts of the world. Every time we listen to the music of those who visit us from Athens to Berlin, Belfast to Algeria, Oxana to Prague, Seoul to Toronto, listeners wanted that music. Sharing is good and we always shared everything with others.
Space was separated by the tables. At one table high school teens were experiencing new excitements of life, their table where they both got rid of exam stress and solved question banks, were always scattered. University students who work for visas or finals, those who write the poems that they read on the wall, the tables of various universities from Kocaeli to Edirne, faculty by faculty. Meeting tables of communities gathered to oppose the injustice. Workers’ desks before or after the manifestations, Saturday Mothers’ tables, banner writing tables of the women who oppose the male domination, our place filled with tables which LGBTI banners were written. However the gendarme or police did not sit at our tables, even if they did we lifted them. We were threatened, the municipality came and fined, the finance department came and fined, they even fined us for the music we played. But it has always been “us” who were sitting at our tables.
We ran into Gezi Park in June 2013. It took a few days to run. But when we reached the stairs, we rested on the steps of it and it was worth everything. 26A Taksim was open 24/7. The tired were rested and the wounds were healed. Pastries and cakes were baked, they were moved to the people at the watch, parcel by parcel. In July 2016, we encountered a state of emergency from many states of the State. The police station on the same street closed the entrance and exit to the street. We opened new ways. The incomers came again and drank their teas. Our people who came to eat every day without any delay continued to come. The soda and pasta of Gönül, the star of Yeşilçam, who sweeps the streets every day as if she clears male domination with her broom in her hand, were ready at her table. The coffee she had in front of the door was almost like spite to those who closed the street.
We chose the loss and always opened it in those difficult days when three or four tables came, and when it would be more useful to close it. In fact, we said “Just the cafe is not enough, people do not come to Taksim anymore, if we do activities, they’ll come.” We rented our empty top floor as an Atelier. Fanzine workshop, stencil workshop, paints, and cartons on one side; books and musical instruments on the other side; we prepared workshops which the information was shared in the atelier with a blackboard. We held conversations with anarchist comrades from all over the world. The conversations were very crowded.
In May 2019, gentrification projects were demolishing everything. Taksim was being demolished. Every destruction was also triggering social transformation. We were too influenced but we didn’t change. Economic contraction along with social contraction was tiring. We were not tired of action but inaction.
Corona Crisis started in March 2020.
We have closed Taksim 26A many times. About ten times, we closed it down. In other words, we have talked over and decided to close it down at least ten times. But 26A Taksim, as if it was an individual, sit at the tables where we talked, discussed with us, and one by one, made us believe once more, made us choose “going on” despite all the dept. With this belief, again and again, we end up with modifications, we managed to go on in a way or other. Now again, we have waited for it to come, sit and speak to us, and it did and said that “Every end is a new beginning. This space is not working anymore, but I believe some other space will. Because it happens, when there are people who don’t give up. Long live new…”
Today Taksim 26A is closing down. 26A Kadıköy and Atelier is open. In other words 26A is going on and we, who are carrying a new world in their hearts, still believe in it.
We salute all the friends, fellows, neighbors, visitors of 26A Taksim. We salute all the volunteers of all time, who had washed the dishes, cleaned the floors, filled up the glasses, and collected the empty dishes from the tables. Our love to our fellow and friend, Pomak İsmail whom we met the year we opened, and we lost in 2010; and our love to the star of Yeşilçam, Gönül, whom we have lost in 2018.