Some theses to the recent events in Hamburg, the authoritarian formation of German society and the role of the left in the recent G20 protests
1. From the outset, politicians and security forces in Hamburg identified the radical left as the enemies of their order and treated them accordingly. Along with the intelligence agencies who outed individual leftists by their names prior to the summit the Hamburg police operated as independent actors from the outset. In open disregard of the Judiciary, any resistance that would overstep the narrow confines set by the rules of the democratic spectacle was to be crushed. By forbidding the camp, the police set a confrontational tone from the outset. The very fact that cops were carrying out foot patrols in the days leading up to the summit gave a clear signal that there would almost definitely be physical violence taken against leftists.
2. In bourgeois society, the Executive is necessarily always in a state of exception, since they spontaneously decide on the use of violence in each situation. The state of exception is thus not exceptional but rather an everyday component of the state’s praxis of domination. The amount of power the Hamburg police granted themselves reached a level has not been seen for a long time in Germany: indeed they appeared as a quasi-autonomous gang that showed up to combat the leftists. The constitutional costume and civil restrictions placed on the police were widely discarded. There were countless instances of cops ignoring constitutional law, countless reports of medics, lawyers and journalists being severely insulted, threatened and prevented from doing their work by police and many reports of the police physically assaulting people so badly they would have to be hospitalized afterwards. Protests against this partially fascistic procedure came not only from leftists, but also from the bourgeois press. However the police were able to deflect this criticism in part because the established politicians refused to take part in criticizing the police.
3. Hamburg marked a significant watershed in the ongoing militarization of society. Whether benefiting from having the military help the police carry out their operation, or the constant presence of large weapons like water cannons and tanks, or the heavily armed special forces that invaded the Schanze district on Friday and Saturday and aimed guns at protesters, journalists, and residents: what’s at stake is legitimizing the use of military force and strategy against the domestic population. That includes the verbal armament, for example in the excessive use of martial terminology such as ‘civil war’ or naming the police ‘heroes.’
4. The critiques of the autocratic police operations that appeared in the bourgeois press after the premeditated suppression of the ‘Welcome to Hell’ demo were no longer audible by the time the riots had broken out in the Schanze district on Friday night. These critiques were replaced with indignation over the burning barricades and cars as well as the looted stores. Not only the police, but also the populace was outraged, as evinced in the endless hateful commentaries on Facebook and Twitter. The demagogic cyber-mob’s sadistic fantasies of extermination were only slightly toned down by established politicians such as the SPD, CDU, who incessantly called for investigations and punishment of the leftists. Even the TAZ had a headline that read “Merkel and the criminal mob.” Especially dramatic are the extremist-theorists who equate the left with the right, downplaying of National Socialism by fantasizing about a ‘Black SA’ and evoking 1933. In doing so, the G20 served as a catalyst to a further banalizaion and instrumentalization of historical National Socialism.
5. The eruption of mass militancy created a more or less implicit fascination and irritation for society, which expressed itself in the discourse about the ‘senseless violence’ as well as in the endless selfies and live streams in front of the burning barricades. This irritation was made to be forgotten immediately by the fact that a group of citizens cleaned up the Schanze the next morning. Aljazeera named a video about this spontaneous cleaning craze “Thanks to German efficiency.” The cleanup of the aftermath as well as the compensation for damage created by the black bloc was hailed as a “National task” by SPD leader Martin Schulz. While the victims of the NSU (or rather their relatives) were only promised 10,000 or 5,000 euros a piece, in Hamburg every burnt out car should be publicly commemorated and compensated. Some would allude to the victims of National Socialism, many of whom have not received a single euro to this day, or the victims of the pogrom in Rostock-Lichtenhagen, many of whom were deported.
6. Looting, building barricades and attacks on public government personnel can be means to an emancipatory struggle. In Germany, due to a repressive police apparatus and a weak resistance movement, such tactics are very rarely available to use, especially by a large mass of people over an extended period of time. For the first time in many years, Hamburg proves that the situation can be otherwise, that the state’s control can be taken away. But Hamburg also showed the danger of such an uncontrollable situation in the middle of an inhumanely structured society: irresponsible assholes, of which there are many, run wild in an omnipotent euphoria and blindly set everything on fire that is flammable. The endangerment of bodies and lives of innocent people must be taken into account. Without wanting to distance ourselves, like Andreas Beuth, for tactical or local patriotic reasons (‘our district’), but for moral reasons: the left cannot accept such behavior. If the left is too weak to step into a situation and prevent people from being endangered, they shouldn’t engineer such situations in the first place. Concretely that means: only take the riot as far as a take over by inhuman hooligans is not possible- when in doubt, take down a barricade or extinguish a fire before someone dies.
translator’s note- this is a what I call ‘greatest hits’ translation of a piece. Theses 7-9 were left untranslated because they are ideological diversions from an otherwise very good analysis of the trinity of policing, the state of exception and fascism. Thesis 7 complains that calling the cops ‘sons of bitches’ and ‘cunts’ is sexist. Thesis 8 complains that anti-Semites were welcome at the demo. Without context this may seem alarming, but antideutsch people are very strange. Thesis 9 complains about local patriotism and is basically trying to convince you to be antideutsch without realizing you’re conceding to an antideutscch point. The strange fears about inhuman (or misanthropic) hooligans [‘menschenverachtend Hools’] in thesis 6 are garbage also and anti-black. May the authors forgive me, and the rest of the people who read this will thank me for sparing them of the antideutsch ideology.