bring out your dead

On De-Escalation: Hamburg Police Roll Out Nuclear Missile
Postillon, Jul 7 2017


HAMBURG (DPO) – Is it still a quiet summit weekend? After the first riots, the police of Hamburg has rolled out a nuclear missile on the sidelines of the G-20 summit, to de-escalate the tense situation. The management reserves the right to make use of the bomb, with an explosive force of 1.3 megatons, if the public mood turns against them. A spox for the Hamburg police said:

We want to demonstrate the law of all true, and the right to express their opinion. Therefore, we want to use the nuclear rocket only in an absolute emergency, such as when someone is masked, or throwing stones and bottles.

The nuclear rocket, which comes from Pindosi military stocks and was lent to the Hamburg police for the period of the summit, is rolled out currently in the Hamburg suburb of Altona. Peaceful demonstrators are explicitly requested by hooligans and other thugs to stay away, otherwise according to the police it cannot be excluded that “you’ll get something.”

The oligarchs assemble in Hamburg
Alex Lantier, WSWS, Jul 8 2017

The events of this week’s G20 summit in Hamburg reveal the two basic conflicts tearing apart contemporary capitalist society. There is the intensifying struggle between rival national cliques of bankers and billionaires, and the growing struggle of the international working class against all of them. While the rulers of the world’s 20 leading economies gathered in Hamburg to fight amongst one another over the division of the loot extracted from the working class, they were completely united behind the violent suppression of popular opposition to their attacks on living standards and democratic rights. On Thursday, as 100,000 people began to assemble for “Shut Down Capitalism” protests, police assaulted a central march of 12,000 people, arresting many and attacking others with tear gas, pepper spray, rubber bullets and water cannons. At least 11 protesters were hospitalized with serious injuries as tens of thousands of police turned downtown Hamburg into a war zone, patrolled by SWAT teams with automatic weapons. Protesters traveling from Switzerland, the Netherlands and France were branded “left extremists” and turned back by authorities at the German border. The brutal crackdown was escalated on Friday. Police officials justify the police state operation by pointing to the actions of rioters. But given the well-documented infiltration of political organizations by German police agencies, one can safely assume that any rioting that occurred was carried out with the involvement of police provocateurs assigned the task of creating a pretext for a massive show of force. The great majority of protestors remained peaceful. Authorities in Germany and across the EU fear the growth of social anger and a rising revolutionary mood among the youth. Over half of young Europeans told an EU-sponsored poll this year that they would join a “large-scale uprising” against the political system. The German authorities aim to terrorize not only protesters who are still gathering in Hamburg, but the expanding ranks of people around the world who oppose the capitalist system.

The police operation in Hamburg exposes the political and class content of the opposition of the EU, Berlin and Paris to the Trump administration. While posing as enlightened, anti-nationalist supporters of democracy and the environment, the European leaders oversee a vicious assault on demonstrators protesting social inequality. The suppression of opposition from below is central to their bid to challenge Pindostan for imperialist supremacy. The fact that the Hamburg crackdown takes place in a city run by the Social Democrats and the Greens simply underscores that this is the policy not of a faction of the ruling elite, but of the entire capitalist class and all of its political servants. The heads of state assembled at the G20 personify an entrenched capitalist oligarchy that is driving the world to disaster. All of them, including Rothschild banker turned French president Emmanuel Macron, the representatives of the oligarchs who emerged from capitalist restoration in Russia and China, Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping; the Toad oil sheikhs; and the multi-billionaire Pindosi president, are yes-men of Wall Street, the City of London and the stock exchanges of Frankfurt and Paris. The billionaire financial elite has enriched itself massively since the 2008 Wall Street crash, when their criminal speculation in the Pindosi housing market sank the world economy, plunging it into its worst economic crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s. With contempt for rising social distress and popular anger, they funneled trillions of dollars and euros from the public coffers into the banks, the stock exchanges and their own pockets. The major powers launched the G20 summit in 2009 to show their supposed unity and celebrate their success in handling the crash via these bank bailouts. In the communiqué from its 2009 Pittsburgh summit, the G20 hailed the transfer of massive sums to the super-rich, declaring:

It worked… Our forceful response helped stop the dangerous, sharp decline in global activity and stabilize financial markets.

Faced with the exposure of corporate criminality that had impoverished billions of people worldwide, bourgeois politicians held up the bailouts and the establishment of the G20 as proof of capitalism’s historic viability. Then-Pres Nicolas Sarkozy proclaimed:

The crisis of financial capitalism is not the crisis of capitalism … The crisis of capitalism calls for its moralization, not its destruction.

Former French Socialist Party PM Michel Rocard hailed capitalism as the most “democracy-compatible” social system. The wars and financial eruptions of the last decade have given the lie to the defenders of capitalism. The bailouts did not halt the industrial collapse or prevent future financial crises. Rather, they consolidated an international aristocracy whose privileges are based on staggering levels of social inequality. In 2017, the wealth of the world’s eight richest billionaires surpasses that of half of the world’s population. Over the same period, the struggle among the ruling classes over the division of the world’s wealth has escalated to the point of all-out global conflict. With political and geostrategic conflicts openly pitting the major powers against one another, whether enemies or “allies” (ie vassals), the Hamburg summit is on the verge of concluding without reaching an agreement on a final communiqué. The current debacle may very well be the last such gathering. In the run-up to the summit, Faschingstein reiterated its rejection of the Paris climate accord in the face of protests by European and Asian officials, while Trump and Pres Xi Jinping mounted dueling tours of Europe. Trump gave a speech in Warsaw to back Poland’s far-right, anti-EU regime, even as Xi held talks in Berlin to consolidate growing EU-China economic ties. On Friday, Trump and Putin held an inconclusive meeting, agreeing to another shaky ceasefire in southern Syria, where NATO and Russian forces have on several occasions nearly clashed. However, they failed to reach any agreement on Pindostan’s military stand-off with nuclear-armed NK, which borders Russia and China. After the two met, Pindosi press commentary soon focused on incendiary allegations of Russian hacking of the Pindosi elections. Explosive conflicts between the G20 powers exist in virtually every corner of the globe, including the current face-off between Indian and Chinese troops over disputed territory in the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan. Perhaps the most destabilizing conflicts are the growing threats of trade war between the imperialist states at the heart of the world financial system. After Trump threatened the EU with tariffs on its steel exports to Pindostan, EU boxtops indicated that they are preparing a list of retaliatory tariffs on Pindosi goods. EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker commented:

We are ready to take up arms if need be.

Bitter experiences like the Hamburg protests are driving the working class, across Europe and internationally, onto the road of world socialist revolution. The financial oligarchy is beyond reform. The only way forward is a genuinely revolutionary policy, mobilizing the working class in struggle for a direct assault on the capitalist class, with the aim of confiscating its obscene fortunes, seizing control of the major banks and corporations, and placing them under the democratic control of working people.

Hamburg under police lockdown
Johannes Stern, WSWS, Jul 8 2017

Heavily-armed police units repeatedly disperse protests with armoured vehicles and water cannon and attack protesters with batons, pepper spray and rubber bullets. Journalists are attacked and lawyers for the demonstrators classified by the police as “dangerous” because of their political beliefs. A de facto ban on demonstrations is in force throughout an entire city of several million people, and on virtually every street corner there is a police checkpoint. No, this is not Cairo: Hamburg, host city of the G20 summit, resembles a police state. More than 20,000 police from across the country have been mobilized to crush all protests against the world’s major capitalist governments. On the eve of Saturday’s demonstration, expected to draw 100,000 G20 opponents, the ranks of the police have once again been increased. Two hundred additional officers have been sent from Baden-Württemberg and more than 200 from Mecklenburg-Pomerania. Three additional units have been dispatched by the SPD-Left-Green state government of Berlin. Hamburg itself is governed by an SPD-green coalition under SPD Mayor Olaf Scholz. The SPD-Left-Green bloc are thus playing a central role in the police state build-up and assault on basic democratic rights. The brutal actions carried out by police on Thursday against a demonstration organized under the slogan “Welcome to Hell” further escalated the situation in the city. In the Schanzen district, a stronghold of anarchist groups, there were scenes reminiscent of a civil war as police clashed with demonstrators. Special Forces operated with helicopters and armoured vehicles and forced their way into the district with machine guns cocked. The security forces attacked journalists and refused to allow them to document the crackdown. The police intervention on Thursday evening was so brutal and provocative that even some bourgeois media outlets criticised it. Der Spiegel wrote:

The police acted at times so harshly that people panicked.

Based on the pretext that some members of the so-called black block were hooded, police used armoured vehicles to stop the peaceful demonstration after 300m. They then proceeded to fire water cannon and tear gas into the crowd. Christoph Kleine from “G20 Platform” said:

The police accepted that there could be deaths.

On its “Monitor” programme, Public broadcaster ARD focused on the savage and unlawful methods used by the Hamburg security forces. Responsibility for this lies with the police director, Hartmut Dudde, who was installed by Social Democratic Interior Senator Michael Neumann in 2012. Courts have repeatedly confirmed that the director has “violated applicable laws” by arresting, kettling and “provoking left-wing demonstrators.” Already last Sunday, the Hamburg police forcibly cleared a camp that had been sanctioned by an administrative court. Even outside the 38,000 sq km zone where demonstrations are banned, the security forces have acted ruthlessly against protests. Journalist Martin Eimermacher told Monitor:

My arm with the media identification was shoved aside. With blows and kicks we were effectively kettled. I called out on several occasions that I was from the media and wanted out of there. And then my face was sprayed with pepper spray, which was sprayed at us from at most half a metre away.

The German government gave its explicit backing to the police action. Chancellor Angela Merkel publicly thanked the security forces, saying:

They have my full support for their very demanding job. But violent demonstrations endanger human lives. They are not to be tolerated.

Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel hypocritically expressed his empathy for the protesters in the Passauer Neue Presse, but only to make his real standpoint clear. He said:

In democratic countries, it has to be possible for heads of state and government from around the world to meet and speak with each other. Criticism should not be directed at such an event, but at the violent demonstrations.

Who does Gabriel think he is kidding with his phrases about “democracy” that obviously serve to justify brutal police violence? The events in Hamburg expose the true character of German imperialism. It is not a progressive alternative to the right-wing “Pindostan First” policies of Trump, but rather its German equivalent. The return of German great power politics, which has above all been pushed by Gabriel and the Social Democrats, is inseparably bound up with the establishment of a police state and the mobilisation of far-right forces. The Alternative for Germany (AfD) called yesterday for a “zero tolerance strategy” against protesters. Alice Weidel, the AfD’s lead candidate in the upcoming federal election, stated:

Left-wing demonstrators can no longer be treated with kid gloves, but should be dealt with for what they are: terrorists.

Right-wing extremist Humboldt University Professor Jörg Baberowski also demanded that the police adopt tough measures. On his Twitter account, he shared a post from Felix Leidecker, the Mainz chairman of the Junge Union, the CDU’s youth movement, stating:

There can be no more ‘more of the same’ in dealing with left-wing extremism in this country after Hamburg. The legal order must defend itself now!

With its aggressive and hysterical actions, the ruling class is responding to the growing opposition to social cuts and war that has found expression in the widespread hostility to the G20 summit. The budget-cutting policies of recent years, which all capitalist parties have supported, have produced a social catastrophe across Europe and made Germany one of the most unequal countries in the world. On Thursday, the Hans-Böckler Foundation published a study according to which the percentage of the working population classified as poor in spite of regular employment doubled between 2004 and 2014 to 9.6% or 3.7 million people. On the other side a tiny privileged elite whose representatives are meeting in Hamburg, has enriched itself obscenely, exploiting the 2008 financial crisis to vastly increase its wealth. According to a study by Oxfam, eight billionaires, six of whom come from Pindostan, possess more wealth than the poorest half of the world’s population, 3.6 billion people. Thirty-six German billionaires own as much wealth (€276b) as the poorest half of the German population. It is simply impossible to impose such levels of social inequality and the return of German militarism without a police state. Hamburg must be taken as a warning. Some seven decades after the end of the Nazi regime of terror, Germany’s ruling elite is throwing overboard all of the basic democratic principles it was forced to recognise through gritted teeth in the post-war era. The Sozialistische Gleichheitspartei (SGP) is the only party fighting to give the growing opposition to war, dictatorship and social cuts a conscious political perspective. Only an international socialist movement of the working class can stop the ruling elite’s police state measures and prevent a descent into barbarism.

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