October 1, 2010


In the German state of Baden-Württemberg, in the city of Stuttgart, there have been for many weeks now peaceful demonstrations against one of those huge prestige building projects, this one called "Stuttgart 21".

For those outside of Germany, it's a building project that would significantly alter the Stuttgart cityscape, making room for a new high-speed train station underground (who knows when the next war will hit, eh?), and while the project itself – so one may argue – might have some merit, it was met with harsh resistance by an ever growing part of the population.

The political response to these people?

A resounding "fuck you".

Based on the arrogant assumption that if you push it through the state parliament, if Berlin is behind it, if Brussels is behind it, who the fuck gives a damn whether the people who live there agree or not.

It is not the only sign of an arrogance by the political classes in pretty much the entire Western hemisphere here in Germany. Recently, the German government listened quite happily to a bunch of lobbyists to walk back a political process that would have otherwise shut down the majority of nuclear reactors in Germany, now prolonging the running time of those reactors by significant amounts. Again, this was done against the expres wishes of the majority of the population and is a throwback to the politics of the 1980s, which gave birth not only to the anti-nuclear movement but also the Green Party.

In other words, once more the politicans told the people, "fuck you".

Isn't that nice?

And so "Stuttgart 21" and the demonstrations against it are more than merely a localised phenomenon, they are a symbol of a growing – how would those in America call it, ah yes – enthusiasm gap between the governments and the governed.

Only in this case it is very hard for the government to state that it is just the poor, or the young or the disenfranchised that have been taking to the streets. As photographs and film footage shows, there are young people, old people, it's a virtual slice of the modern German society that rose up, that stood up, that stood against these plans.

All of them, demonstrating. Peacefully, one might add.

Yes, they refused to leave the public property of the Schlossgarten. After all, the demonstration was registered, and they sat down, these people did, they sat down and showed courage and civil disobedience.

Then the demonstrators started chanting "Wir sind das Volk" (We are the people), which – especially in these days – has a historic significance, because it was this call over 20 years ago that marked the rise of the democratic movement in East Germany.

Then the demonstrators started singing. And here's something for you folks out there in the rest of the world that may be a bit weird, because traditionally, there are a couple of worldwide songs often used in demonstrations, like "we shall overcome".

These people here? They sang – and you cannot appreciate the depth and the momentum and the significance that this has in my country, where nobody really ever has done that - they sang the national anthem.

That's right. They sang "Einigkeit und Recht und Freiheit" (Unity and Justice and Freedom, for those who only know that first stanza of the German national anthem).

And then they were brutalised.

And here is where it can be shown that none of our states, not a single one of them, be it Britain, be it France, be it Germany, be it the United States of America, can be called democracies but in name anymore.

As I stated, the project itself can be argued to have some merit, but that argument was never made in public, it was – like so many, many political decisions in the past twenty years, starting with reunification, the introduction of the Euro, the recent bail-outs – never put before the voters, leaving them rightfully with a feeling of "hey, shouldn't you at least be asking us if we agree with you?"

"Stuttgart 21", while being a relatively minor project, is for better or worse the culmination of these feelings. And the arrogance of those in charge, telling the population that "they could have attended all the parliamentary and city council meetings, after all, they were all public" is an insult to those who have lives, who have to work, who cannot sit in the back of a city council meeting and listen to political bullshit talks, phrased in technocrat-speak.

Who understood the gravity of the situation only when the actual building process was about to start a few weeks back, flanked by – finally – larger news stories that revealed how such a project would alter the cityscape.

And who then reacted, in a manner worthy of any democracy, and society that can call itself civil and civilised. With demonstrations. Which they had registered. Which were peaceful. Which were cordoned off and caged by an ever-increasing police force, designed to protect not the people, but the property.

Gosh, there is a surprise to anybody who has seen similar police reactions world-wide, like e.g. in New Orleans after Katrina.

It's the property that needs protection, not the people, right?

It was admitted as much by the Baden Würtemberg minister for the interior last night on the news show Heute Journal, together with one of the most despicable sentences I have heard a politican utter this side of George W. Bush.

He claimed in this interview that the parents are to blame if children were hurt in this demonstration as they were using them as human shields. That's right. It is the fault of people, of teenagers, of parents, grandparents and children, who came to demonstrate peacefully, who came to a registered demonstration...

... and who were hurt by our most modern heroes, the Riot Stormtroopers! Yes. I call them stormtroopers, because that is who they are.

That is what our police has become.

Masked. Dressed in black. Threatening and dangerous. Jackboots on the ground. No longer charged with protecting the innocent but just charging blindly into a crowd, bullying, brutalising, beating, hurting those they should be sworn to protect.

This behaviour is inexcusable.

And their political masters, driving in limousines, swarmed by protective details, boys and girls in bubbles, Berlin and Brussel-sized bubbles, they spit on these demonstrators later on, in interviews, in cynical remarks, in snark and in fear

But then again, why shouldn't they?

None of their stormtroopers will be held responsible.

None of them will be able to be identified.

Even though the images of the media show clearly that the demonstrators didn't attack, and that it was the police who went completely and utterly insane with rage.

Tonight, more than 70,000 protestors are descending again onto Stuttgart. And the police will be expecting them. And I might want to remind those with the batons, the tear gas, the black sutis and the hardened steel-tipped boots.

All it takes is one dead demonstrator.

All it takes is one casuality of your cynical politics.

To spark a fire you will never be able to put out again.

And all I can do is repeat myself. Don't trust the police.

Don't trust them to help you or protect you. This is no longer what they are, no longer who they are. If you see one of them, hide. If you cannot hide, try to find the nearest camera. Don't make any sudden moves.

They just might kill you.

And they will get away with it.