embedded Cliffist | 04.10.2004 14:02
250.000 march in Amsterdam
50.000 in Berlin against cuts
families, trade unionists, anarschists, socialists, immigrants - all as one!
creative unorganised citizens march in Berlin with self made placards
police attack trade union militants
an arrest is made
water cannons wait in position
again trade unionist are confronted
Protests are especially strong in the East against a new unemployment law which will leave many to sell all they posess. On Saturday , October 2nd, in Berlin police attack trade unionists during a protest march of over 50.000. Nazis try to benefit from fear and anger. The new law will create a new large layer of working poor. Unemployed will be forced to "suplement" their benefit (from Januar onwards 340 Euros) by "jobs" where they earn 1 One! Euro for one hour. The real aim of the cuts is to blackmail those in work to accept lower wages and higher working hours.
The East of Germany is bled dry. Youths are leaving for good to the west of Germany in large numbers. 155.000 people migrated from East to West last year, the year before it was 25.000 more. Unemployment in some deindustrialized areas is over 50 %. The new cuts which will become effective in January will leave the unemployed poorer than before. New regulations mean they have to sell all possesions and move to smaller flats before they can claim benefit.
The mood in the East is somber. You can almost sense the aggression among many who feel betrayed by their own revolution. Most factories were closed down after reunification. Some have´nt had work for 12 years.
There are those who still protest. Police in East-Germany have announced they are preparing to protect unemployment offices and council offices. Police say they expect "the worst to come in January and February", "we don´t fear the usual anarchist militant. Ordinary citizens will riot. Unemployment offices might be occupied."
And there are those who have lost their faith in collective action. They resort to drink, violence in families, and racism. Nazis try to profit from the protest. In some cities in the East they mix among the protesters largely unopposed. They try to divert protests. They spread racism. In most cities nazis are prevented from joining the protests. Nazis have won between 5 and 9,3 % of the votes in regional parliamentary elections. In some cities they polled little more ore little less than the socialdemocrats. In those areas where monday protest against social cuts are weak nazis polls were highest.
The monday protest have dwindled in the last two weeks, numbers have been going down.
The protest has not spilled over into the factories. The union bosses don´t want to embarrass the SPD. Workers in the west face to lose better houses with high morgages on it, and better payed jobs. The Union bosses fudge and the workers are too scared to budge.
But the Saturday demo in Berlin showed there´s is still a high potential of strength in the protest movement. The trade unions leaderhip didn´t even mobilize. The march in Berlin was diverse. Many families held those self-made style placards typical of the East-German revolution. There were many trade unionists from all over Germany, they came in spite of their union bosses defeatism. Some unemployed groups from the East German cities were very angry and agressive - things to come, prepare! On several occasions police atacked the march.
Monday demos in West-Germany are very week, confined to the usual mix of no-globals, and radical left groups. The media and politicians are doing their best to demoralize protesters. Unfortunately some petty bourgois elements inside the many little "movements", like social forums or attac, which have been sput up to the "leadership" are doing their best to demoralize the movement.
Internal Problems - "The fish starts to stink from the head on", Tony Cliff
The movement (as the protest movement as such) itself is split in many ways. On the surface it seems to be like this: decent committed rank and file workers, unemployed, families, maoist splinter groups AGAINST the EVIL: anti-gobals from attac, the post-communist PDS, the SWP´s German sister org. Linksruck and other Trots, plus the Trade union bureaucracy. The GOOD want to radicalize and dont want to give in to "reforms" to soften the attack a bit down. The anarchists stand aside. The BAD fudge, demobilize, and sell out to the government, the trade union bosses, the SPD, the PDS...
Hold on! The PDS indeed plays a strange role. It is in a coalition government in Berlin and in the north-east coastal region. It rules in coalitions with the ruling Social Democrats, SPD. These governments implement severe cuts, the PDS say: we have to implement the cuts - because it´s the law, we can´t do anything else.
The protest´s problem is: There is a problem of leadership. Actually there is none! We lack a true leadership, who lead from the left and not from above. What we don´t need, is self elected carreerists from small left student "propaganda" groups without real roots among the poor, the unemployed and the class.
First of all, most of the Left´s group were taken by surpise by the monday protests. Once the new movement started, antiglobals from attac, the SWP´s sister organisation LINKRUCK, other Trots, social forums, and PDS jumped on the carriage, but to their merit rank and file militants of attac and Linkruck organised monday protests in deindustrialized small towns of East Germany independently.
The real problem is Berlin. In Berlin sections of attac and the swp´s sister´s org (leadership) started a fight over the control of the movement against an unsavoury maoist-stalinist party. The movement in Berlin is split: Two demos on last weeked - two demos on mondays. The maoists coalition´s movement is much smaller though - but the marchers are more determined and more angry. The Maoists recruit in the East the Lumpen sections of the proletariat, many disillusioned unemployed, some with racist ideas, but also some solid trade unionists. The other coalition appeals rather more to students, the leadership of the PDS, and trade unions (as organisations).
A handfull unelected tossers from inside the anti-global organisation attac and from fairy castle "social forums" (without any real roots and legitamacy from the struggle) give interviews whenever they spot a mike. They have been elected to do so by small elites which have spilled up to the surface by the protest. They don´t have legitamacy from the masses of protesters as such. But as it is, once the media spots someone this someone is "the spokesman" for the "movement" for ever.
When the government offered pseudo-talks to the "leaders" - these careerists gave interviews an told the media they´d "consider" the "offer".
Some careerist leaders sold out to the PDS leaderhip, - which pretends to be a part of the protest only to sooze their membership who want the PDS to leave government, what the PDS Really want is the protests to stop. Other self-elected leaders spitlick the trade union bosses: please come and join the protest. But why would they want to topple Chancelor Schröder?
This is because the movement´s fish heads lack a true base among rank and file trade unionists. They substitute class militants with the trade union hierarchy. They confuse their small "fronts" with broad coalitions and these with the protest movement as such, and the movement with all those under attack - the class!
As soon as numbers of marchers go down, some leaders hyperventilate. The mike eaters jump forward to the press and start bubbling up shit. On last monday you could read in the press: "X says, Monday protests must stop!" Next day another "leader" announced the opposite. Today, you read: PDS want´s to pull out of Monday protests. The same is repeating itself every week. This is very demoralising!
The protest really is split into East and West, and into those who have a good job and those who are unemployed and the working poor. The real problem behind all is that protest so far didn´t translate into industrial action. Protest will be confined to the East for a long time. And since this protest is largely unorganised and spontanious there are no organisational "instruments" who could tell us what will happen next.