More G8 Stuff

Tuesday, 31st July 2007 at 1:30 UTC 3 comments

Well, I said I’d write something else about my time at the G8 in Germany, and here it is. I think the most interesting things to comment on really have to be the ways in which different issues are totally different in Germany to here in the UK. The first, most obvious, of these is Palestine…

I hardly need to explain the background to the German left’s failure to engage with the suffering of the Palestinian people; the fact that the cause of the Palestinian’s suffering are Israeli Jews and the history of Jews in Germany pretty much sums it all up: a huge guilt trip that makes the German left want to wrap the Jews in cotton wool and be endlessly pre-disposed to agree with anything they ask for, even that we turn a blind eye from abuses we would condemn if made by anyone else. This unfortunately translates into two things: a total suspicion of anything that might possibly be anti-Semitic, and a general feeling of hatred towards the concept of a German state, no matter how post-Nazi it may be. Perhaps its mostly because of the sheer levels of horror in the German past that, unlike the rest of the west, where those of us who do Western-guilt are a disorganized mob of generally concerned individuals, in Germany there’s a whole movement centered around self-hatred, known as the anti-Deutsche; the anti-Germans.

What the anti-Deutsche brought to the mobilization against the G8 was mostly useful; their ‘intrinsic’ analyses, as it was introduced to me, focuses on the system rather than its operators and key players. I must say that this has some significant pro’s and con’s. Firstly, its a reminder that McDonalds, Starbucks, the G8, the WTO, the IMF, the G8, and even George Bush are in fact all players within a system of greed, domination and injustice, which is entirely true.

I think one of the big pities of recent years for the UK left has been the way certain groups, i.e. the SWP, have created an anti-personality-cult around Tony Blair, making him out to be the all-evil cause of all the world’s problems. This doesn’t, however (and the anti-Deutsche seem incapable of handling this balance) mean that the above named individuals and corporate entities aren’t guilty of their own individual crimes. Bush may have been serving profit when he took America to war with Iraq, but he does have personal responsibility as well. For a group obsessed with destroying every last trace of the nation once ruled by Hitler, there’s a sad lack of ability to grasp the Nuremberg Principle. Capitalism is the ‘issue’, but those who comply with it are guilty of their own crimes.

The problem with the anti-Deutsche then continues thus: that anything pointing to a global elite controlling everything must be anti-Semitic, because ultimately such theories must come from a desire to single out the Jews (I’ve skipped a few steps here, but its mostly this irrational). The sad thing is, while they attack the logic of ‘state’ and ‘capital’, they manage to justify total support for the ultimate example of ‘state’: Israel (to be explained later). For a group of anarchists, they sadly end up setting up the Jews on a pedestal from which they can more easily be targeted by the Nazi’s.

To me, its quite important to remember that the Jews are no more special than any other people group, and this experience has only underlined this. When we keep to this principle, they cease to be a special target, and remain simply one target amongst many minority groups; we simply can’t afford to give the Nazi’s groups to easily scapegoat. Also, the anti-Deutsche seem oblivious to the simple reality of life for many Jews, both in Israel and around the world: one of poverty and misery.

Of course, this leads to another area of difference in the way different issues are approached, and that’s simply the obsession with fighting the neo-Nazi movement at every possible turn. What is generally a small task for us in the UK, and which can be overstated is instead a completely all-consuming issue. No matter what was planned, if the Nazi’s will mobilize somewhere, everyone must go running. This attitude basically creates a situation where the Nazi’s are making statements and we’re countering them, and yet we’re never actually creating an alternative.

Anyhow, what actually happened during the G8 was very exciting indeed. A Palestine Solidarity Sound-system turned up at the big march, which did cause an interesting moment or two as I found myself between their van and a bunch of black-clad anti-Deutsche, who occasionally shouted something which needed little translating.  As it was there were so many internationals around that anything they did would have resulted in a stand off between everyone who wasn’t German and everyone who was anti-German. 

As it was, this meant that Palestine Solidarity actions took place on the Monday, some of which were probably the largest that region had ever seen. I got a real sense that the movement in support of Palestinians took a big step forwards in Germany throughout the G8 period, as those least enamored of the anti-Deutsche, pro-Israeli line found a new sense of strength through the solidarity of the visiting outsiders; a reminder of the importance of building international solidarity between those giving solidarity to the Palestinians.

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Entry filed under: Activism, Culture, Freedom, Human Rights, Politics.

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3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Jonathan  |  Wednesday, 1st August 2007 at 19:19 UTC

    one of the things I found interesting about the anti-Deutsche, aside from their sheer madness (‘anti-Semitic terms, such as “ruling class” or “the elite”…’) is that their attitude towards Israel is in some senses a mirror of the attitudes of the left in the UK.

    Socialist Worker, for example, has given explicit support to Hezbollah (most notably during the Lebanon war, when they were initiators of a statement in solidarity not just with those resisting military aggression, but with Hezbollah itself as an organisation), and has repeatedly criticised opponents of Islamism and certain Middle East governments as being Islamophobic and racist. Hell, a while ago they managed to label a cricket decision as an example of the Islamophobic atmosphere brought about by the war on terror.

    Ultimately, politicos of whatever stripe have a tendency to do two things. First, in any given conflict to pick a “side” to be in solidarity with. And second, to condemn any criticism of that side as playing into the hands of some unseen enemy. So the mass popular protests in Turkey against fundamentalist candidates were criticised as pro-coup, in spite of them being explicitly against both a military coup and a fundamentalist government. Letters criticising human rights in Saudi Arabia or Iran are pushed aside as repeating Bushite propaganda.

    It troubles me deeply to see supposed leftists, liberals, progressives and anarchists supporting one state (or would-be state) over another, one ethnic group over another, one religious group over another, simply because of the influence of the “big bad” in the US. the passion I’ve seen among conservatives for “the Jews” is pretty equal to that shown by many lefties for “the Palestinians”, and equally idiotic.

    incidentally:
    Of course, this leads to another area of difference in the way different issues are approached, and that’s simply the obsession with fighting the neo-Nazi movement at every possible turn. What is generally a small task for us in the UK, and which can be overstated is instead a completely all-consuming issue

    Here’s a difference: the German Nazi movement is more of a threat than the British one. if Nazis the UK had a Nazi movement equivalent to the NPD in terms of electoral success, mass mobilisation, and general growth, I would hope British activists would do as well as the Germans have in combatting it. There is a problem when activists turn to what could be termed anti-fascist-ism, in which fighting fascism becomes an end in itself rather than a means of class and political self-defence, but fascism is a threat which shouldn’t be ignored.

    oh, and also:
    The sad thing is, while they attack the logic of ’state’ and ‘capital’, they manage to justify total support for the ultimate example of ’state’: Israel (to be explained later).

    how the fuck is Israel “the ultimate example of a state”? I find the activist obsession over the Israel-Palestine conflict confusing to say the least. Western Sahara ring any bells?

    Reply
  • 2. Graham Martin  |  Thursday, 2nd August 2007 at 0:44 UTC

    Thanks for adding to that post, as I had wondered if I should even have written it without asking you for your thoughts first. As to the bit about Israel, I shall maybe have to go write an entire new post on that one, but in the meantime, a little more explanation of your alternative suggestion?

    Reply
  • 3. Jonathan  |  Thursday, 2nd August 2007 at 10:34 UTC

    Which alternative suggestion? I’m confused….

    If you mean the Western Sahara ref., this might be of interest.

    Reply

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