CHANCE 2000: Vote yourself! Just do it!

Germany 1998: 2 years before the New Millenium a new form of Political Party came into existence: CHANCE 2000 - The Party of the Last Chance. In the midst of an election that was one of the most important in postfascist Germany an artist jumped into the political arena to "make politics more aesthetic and aesthetics more political". The film- and theatremaker and talk show host Christoph Schlingensief started the Campagne: "VOTE YOURSELF!" In Berlin he started the project with an "Election Circus". Together with a famous circus-family from former East Germany and with his crew of actors and his family of handicapped performers he founded "CHANCE 2000 - Party of the Last Chance" in a circus tent in Berlin/ Prenzlauer Berg. The message for the Republic was: "Vote Yourself, we know how to do it!" Every citizen was asked to become an independent candidate for the new Bundestag. Manuals were sent out how to become a direct candidate. And many different people realized their chance to "prove that they exist" by bringing their name on the ballot sheet: "Chance Meier", "Chance Mueller", "Chance Schmidt". If you managed to collect 200 signatures of support in your political region you were part of the game and you could vote yourself. Why not voting somebody you know by heart, you trust and love?

Parallell to these Directdemocrats CHANCE 2000 developed into a network of different party subgroups in many German regions. In every Bundesland the party had to collect 2000 support signatures in order to be accepted as a normal party. The main political demand was that unemployment must be accepted as a profession. To be unemployed means to have a heavy job! 6 Million unemployed are made invisible. They have to start making a picture of themselves again. The most important goal is to make them visible and activate them: "Doing, doing, doing!" Just do it. Don't hesistat, just do something with your life, no matter what, the most important thing is to start doing something, e.g. vote yourself. Go out and get your support from your neighbours and prove your existence. And we called 6 Million unemployed to come to the Wolfgangslake with us to visit our chancellor Kohl in his summerresidence in Austria. We calculated that if 6 Million people jumped into the water at once, the waterlevel of the lake would rise so much that it would flood the little house of Helmut Kohl.

Doing, doing, doing, because we want to help, help, help. And we wanted to help Helmut Kohl also. After Schlingensief had asked the unemployed masses to bring him the head of Helmut Kohl in his talk show "TALK 2000" at the end of 1997 and after he had called to kill Kohl at the documenta X in Kassel (hybrid work space) where he got arrested we changed our message: from KILL KOHL to HELP HELMUT! We said: everybody is our friend, friend, friend! The hymn of the party was a little song by Bertolt Brecht: "The view in the face/ of a human that is helped/ is the view into a beautiful landscape: friend! friend! friend!" This song was the leitmotif that accompanied our mission since 1997 when Schlingensief made his street-action "Train-Station-Mission: PASSION POSSIBLE - 48 hours survival for Germany" in Hamburg. For one week he left the temple of theatre and hit the streets with street activism, art demonstrations, processions, etc. At the Hamburg Hauptbahnhof (Central Station) a little container was built as an "angstfree room" where the junkies and homeless people found art & soup. They could express themselves through open mikes and Schlingensief collected money for them in a huge Gala. Many prominent people became supporter of this "post-caritative mobile theatre commando" (Carl Hegemann, Schlingensiefs dramaturg). Since then we demonstrated our good-will: "Poor People help the Rich". And our message to the Rich was: give away your money. And save the market economy. And the media started tp call Schlingensief "Jesus of the unemployed".

We did not say: we want the communist market, we only said: this reality is occupied by parties, churches, labour unions, the media, etc. This is System I. We want into System II. Because. "the way persists, even if the goal explodes" (Heiner M?ller). Because in a world, where money is the only value that makes orientation possible, humanity cannot survive- said Heiner M?ller also. Money has a become a fetish, a modern times taboo. Rich people can only liberate themselves by giving away their money. Only the Poor can help them- by accepting that money. Modern management theories like Tom Peters suggest that in this world only those companies can survive that take values like human dignity very serioulsly. Not selling the customers stuff, but serving the people is the new orientation in the market place. CHANCE 2000 tried to connect "post-heroic management" (Dirk Baecker) with the epic theatre as envisioned by Bertolt Brecht and Heiner M?ller. While in the economic sphere the difference between superior and employees has to be minimized in "flat hierarchies", in the room of theatre the difference between actors and audience has to be eliminated: "The 4th Wall has to fall!", as Brecht said.

Germany 1998: on Bertolt Brechts 100th Birthday we started the revolution, inspired from the coming of the New Millenium and the numerical mystics of dates: 1998 - 1989 - 1968 ... While in 1989 the Wall fell, we felt that in 1998 the 4th wall had to fall. The revolution has to take place in the theatre, at least in Germany, the country of the failing revolutions and the triumphant counterrevolutions: 1918, 1848 ... 150 years of "failure as chance" ... Back then the radicaldemocratic "We Are The People!" ("Wir sind das VOLK!") was changed into the volkish-nationalist "We Are One People!" ("Wir sind EIN Volk!"): after 1848 and in 1989. In 1998 we said: "You Are one Volk: 1 V!", meaning: everybody. WE THE PEOPLE.

While intellectuals in the tradition from Niklas Luhmann like Dirk Baecker show that we can never dissolve the differences between those opposites, Schlingensief proved in his work of theatre the opposite. His ensemble consists of friends: famous actors and Schlingensiefs little theatre-family of handicapped people who prove that they can express themselves more vivid and authentic than artists and actors. And in Hamburg it showed that the street people from the real world can be better performers by expressing themselves than the professional performers from the theatre-world. In this respect Brecht's vision of the epic theatre has become a reality. This goes far beyond humanitarian engagement of the theatre-left who give little shows for the excluded and mistreated. In this case, the real people themselves have -without knowing- revolutionized the theatre. It is not decided yet: is it art, is it politics? Have we made politics more aesthetic or aesthetics more political? CHANCE 2000 is an in-between and it's vitality lives from this ambivalence. Only Tom Peters' parole: "Failing as Chance" has come to honour. We failed gloriously with a result of 0,1% That was our chance...

"Failure as chance" also became true financially. Of course we have not got money back from the government and went bankrupt. And it showed, that "mass media is only interested in self-destruction, not in self- salvation", as Schlingensief always said. His critics called him the "most-media-horney media-hater" for he managed to stay in the media like no other star before. Since his own talk show "TALK 2000" fall '97 and his spectacular arrest at the documenta he has been invited in all talk- shows there are on German TV and he succeeded in winning two of the most popular talk show hosts as mentors for CHANCE 2000: Harald Schmidt and Alfred Biolek supported us and spend money, as well as the prominent designer Joop. And -of course- a majority of the art and theatre world (Elfried Jelinek wrote in our internet-thinktank and send a plastic duck to the Wolfgangssee, Sepp Bierbichler spend his actors-price-money for Schlingensief, Schlingensiefs chief Frank Castorf featured the whole show, etc.). So CHANCE 2000 became the running gag of last year's eleciton debacle, we were the filler for mass media's summer hole. At the Wolfgangssee- Spectacle beginning of August more camera teams appeared than unemployed: on the shores, on boats in the water, in the air with helicopters. Mass media filmed themselves, while 6 Million unemployed proved their autonomy by staying home and having their Wolfgangssee in their own bath room. After the Wolfgangssee-Spectacle only the message of our bankruptcy brought the media attention back on us, while we declared CHANCE 2000 International. We became a company. We sold art warrants: if we get profit, you get your shareholders' value, if not the warrant transforms automatically into art. We think that by this measure we are ahead of our times again, because soon all parties will admit that in reality they are companies.

Berlin, 27.Septembre 1998: a little revolution has happened in the Federal Republic. For the first time the German "Volk" has elected a new chancellor and we enter the "Berlin Republic" with a red-green Bundesgovernment. King Kohl and the conservatives lost the elections by an earth-slide victory of the oppostion. CHANCE 2000 celebrated the "Election Debacle" in the "Volksb?hne" in former East Berlin: two minutes before the first results were broadcasted, Schlingensief cut the cables- we were liberated. This must be System II. As the logical next step we founded a State.

Berlin, 3. Octobre 1998: FAREWELL FROM GERMANY. At the Congress 3000 Schlingensief declared the Chance State, dressed as a Rabbi. From the "Jesus of the unemployed" to the "Moses of the metaphysical homeless". If we get 3 normal nation-states to accept our statehood, we get a seat in the UN. Forget the Bundestag - forward to New York! Chance State, Church of Chance, Chance World... the rhizom lives and prospers. Schlingensief just returned from his mission in Africa and starts the State in 2 weeks. The State -as the party-intellectual Dr. Druff describes it- is an "ideal state of Israel", a protection zone for the mistreated masses and the metaphysical homeless. Embassies were opened in Basel, Johannesburg, Sarajevo (with artists from the art-state NSK).

Europe 1999: The Party is now in the hands of us, original chancists in Frankfurt/ Main. We want to take part in the European elections this year. From today -1.1.1999- Frankfurt is the true capital of Europe as it has always been the secret capital of postwar Germany: Bankfurt/Mainhattan. Instead of the "Berlin Republic" we have declared a "Frankfurt Republic". After our Farewell from Germany we want to expand in Europe, to hack the "Brussel Republic" with our little subpolitical Y2K-bug. Therefore we are looking for collaborateurs and co-workers. And therefore we have changed our label into: CHANGE 2000. Send your comments to: (thinktank, Kommentar). Or contact us in Frankfurt...

P.S.: Dear Geert.

so. wrote this text as the first deed in 1999. Good start, I think, at least it activated my "euphoric gene" (as Christoph loves to call it). Dirk Baeckers Text "M?llers Vermutung" ist in der neuen Lettre abgedruckt (ich hab ihn schon im Sommersemester im Seminar von Carl Hegemann bearbeitet, er war -gl?cklicherweise- Gastdozent bei uns im TFM-Institut). Er hat auch im Merve-Verlag ein neues Buch geschrieben: "Poker im Osten", das sehr interessant ist im Chance-Context und dar?ber hinaus: "die Probleme der Transformationsgesellschaft". Aus dieser Produktion ist seine Rede gewesen zum poetischen Staat, die er zum "Abschied von Deutschland" beim Congress 3000 gehalten hat (abgedruckt im thinktank). Elfriede Jelinek hatte ein Video von sich geschickt, auf dem sie ihre Vision vom Staatmache a la 'Schlingensief verlas (auch abgedruckt unter Staat). Carl Hegemann hat mit Dietrich Kuhlbrodt (Schlingensiefs Mentor in seiner Filmemacherzeit, ehemaliger Staatsanwalt, der Nazi- Kriegsverbrecher verfolgt hat in Ludwigsburg) im Sommer das "W?hle Dich Selbst!" Buch herausgegeben im KiWi-Verlag, das ich dir schicken w?rde, wenn Du es nicht so kriegen kannst. Au§erdem wollte ich dich auf K?nig Theweleits j?ngste Ver?ffentlichung "Ghosts" hinweisen, 3 Vortr?ge am Berliner Ensemble, der letzte ?ber das Verschwinden der Masse und das Auftauchen des Millionenheeres der Arbeitslosen in den (deutschen) Medien lediglich als "Schlingensiefsche Mediengespenster". Er entwickelt da einen Theorieansatz des Serialismus, den er auch auf die Massen bei der Love Parade bezieht, wobei er sich auf Rainald Goetz' neues Buch "Rave" st?tzt, was ich f?r nicht so gut halte, weil es von Rainald viel bessere Stellen dazu gibt, die man h?tte zitieren k?nnen. Auf jeden Fall ist dieser Bezug zur LP und techno-culture f?r mich sehr wichtig, da wir hier in Frankfurt als INNENSTADTAKTIONEN die Nachttanzdemos eingef?hrt haben: Partysanenkampf.

Wir hatten in Franfkurt auch immer einen "Club der Letzten Chance" und haben uns nicht als Partei, sondern als "politischen Club" nach au§en definiert-- in der Sehnsucht, "Teil einer Jugendbewegung" zu werden ... So long for now, machs gut, CHANGE 2000 (die neue Parole seit gestern nacht), Dein Alex