Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Hamburg – Context / Perspective

Demonstrations surrounding last week’s G20 meeting in Hamburg have produced more headlines than the issues discussed at the meeting itself. Is that justified?

Beyond the obvious fact that G20 meetings logically tend to discuss existing topics that have been in the public debate for some time, rather than hitherto unknown topics –  violence, hundreds of policemen hurt, looting of shops, and above all pictures of torched cars, smoke and fires burning in the streets of a rich city are what makes news.

Germany is a well-managed democracy, which tries to allow outlets for venting political and social frustration. It is in this context that the German government wished to demonstrate the ability of permitting, whilst containing, the democratic display of opposition. It went terribly wrong. But is that of any long term significance?

Unlike the Muslim world, which is undergoing a monumental internal culture war – a war that is being financed and enabled by competing powerful states, that seem to be successful in causing trouble on one hand whilst being total failures in looking after the true interests of their own populations – Germany is at peace with itself.

It is a shame (although, to be expected in an election year) that some German politicians are trying to make party political capital of the Hamburg fiasco. But at the end of the day, it was no more than out of control hooliganism together with most probably a small number of extremist political activists. It was this combined with the German government’s wish to allow peaceful demonstrations and rather unfortunate and inefficient policing. As such, it is of no long term significance.


  1. agree as almost always-;)

  2. Ob Deutschland wirklich so eine gut funktionierende Demokratie ist, da bin ich mir nicht mehr so sicher seit dem Wochenende.

  3. Du sprichst mir aus den Herzen.Genau so muss man es bewerten. Und nicht anders. Leider versuchen jetzt alle möglichen konservativen Kräfte, die gesamte Linke zu desavouieren. It’s a shame!

  4. Hooligans? Some of them, to be sure.

    I read of others however. In one case a "hooligan" came armed with a laser gun. No science fiction, this: he simply tried to blind a police helicopter, to cause a crash, casualties included.

    I read also that almost all of those detained have been set free again.

  5. Outside of Germany, the police actions are being depicted as brutally unnecessary and provocative. Interesting that that does not seem to be the same as the view expressed by those in Germany.
    What did you see?

  6. Rent a mob at Hamburg is not particularly worrying, perhaps because Germany right now is a pillar of relative sanity in an increasingly insane world.

    Maybe it bears testament to the materialist dialectic of one of its sons, though not quite in the way he intended? If you have a relatively wealthy society with a reasonable distribution of that wealth, uniformly decent education and opportunities for social mobility, then you minimize the quota of desperate people susceptible to the sort of emotive, fact free twaddle being peddled by Trump and the Brexiteers - blame the foreigners etc. Germany went through that in the 30s. Maybe it's 'our' turn now. In the UK and US there's a similarly potent coalition of ageing, conservative middle classes, afraid of losing what they have in a threatening world, and a desperate and culturally introvert 'working' class - aka.lumpenproletariat. Those at the bottom of the pile have borne the brunt of globalization through reduced job security/status, lower pay (lower now in the UK than in 2008) - not jobless, but job poor. They warm to the unsophisticated message that there's an easy cure based on barriers, physical and economic. The closed circuits of the web enable them to hear only what they want to. There is no debate, or acceptance of core facts, only a battle of slogans, lobbed like grenades.

    Some have taken comfort from the UK election results as a sign of political sophistication, manifested in tactical voting. When 83 % of votes were cast for 2 parties, one standing for fortress Britain and the other for the economics of Cuba, I wonder.

    Of course, these distinctions are relative. But while the prospects for the German economy remain positive, and there's a pretty broad, stable consensus about public policy, we should look elsewhere for serious intolerance and volatile extremism. Let's see what the Grenfell Tower 'activists' do next, maybe at the Notting Hill carnival?