” A – anti- anticapitalista
A – anti- anticapitalista”
This is the tune that has been ringing in my head for three days now – reason? The Hamburg anti-G20 protests. Once again I find myself bang in the middle of yet another critical world event and here is personal account of my anti-g20 experience.
My overwhelming feeling during this time was that of discomfort and confusion –
1. Confusion at why the G20 would happen in one of the most radically left wing localities of one of the most radically left wing cities in the world.
2. Discomfort at the sheer number of police walking in the streets – all decked up in anti-riot gear, guns ( some with rubber bullets), tear gas, backed up by water cannon trucks.
3. Discomfort at the fear I felt of the black block who ravaged the city setting fire to cars and breaking and looting symbols of the establishment (also to be noted – my discomfort and confusion at feeling this coz I considered my self pretty anti-establishment).
4. Discomfort with feeling anxious about the immense violence that took place in my street ( Shculterblatt – also the anarchist quarter) on Saturday night. The sky was full of smoke and helicopters that circled with spotlights like lightening in the sky, the street was on fire, big supermarket chains broken and looted, banks and other symbols of capitalism broken in, everything from garbage cans to traffic signs set on fire, thousands of armed police filling the street like cockroaches and attacking people with water cannons and tear gas.
5. Discomfort at acknowledging that I had the privilege to stay in for my safety.
6. Confusion about why I felt so much discomfort with anti-establishment violence, when I agree that sometimes for radical change, there needs to be a disruption, a break in the routine of the system that exists. Discomfort at realising the everyday violence that current dominant systems inflict on alternative peoples around the world that the rest of the world doesn’t see, doesn’t acknowledge.
7. Discomfort with the immense amount of media coverage that the violent protests got, while the other forms of resistance ( love parades, dance marches, creative theatre, silent sit ins, peaceful marches) were ignored. Discomfort that the protests were all called ‘ anti-globalisation’ protests, when in fact they were about so so much more.
8. Discomfort at witnessing the aftermath scene – the police and the protesters clashed all night and yet when we got out at 8 am, the streets were cleaned of all the broken glass and other signs of clashes. Discomfort at the overt sanitisation of the city by the state and the pretence of ‘ order’.
9. Discomfort at the witnessing the scene on the final day of protests – the majority of people out were bystanders, literally standing on the sidelines – many of them drunk, showing no respect for anyone or anything, trampling banners (about the revolution), using force to pull doors that say push (and not in a symbolic manner), just waiting around to watch protesters clashing with police,
10. Discomfort at the overwhelming whiteness I saw around me, there were literally 3 other people of color on the street. Discomfort at feeling myself close up by what whiteness does.* ( Reference to Sara Ahmed – note at the bottom)
11. Discomfort at realising that I am an outsider after all. This is not my native politics and nothing is black and white, so maybe I am missing something. And maybe I need to learn more about it, because for all the ‘antiness’ I have witnessed in the past days, I still don’t really know what the alternative looks like.
*Note about what whiteness does – Sara Ahmed: “I think of whiteness too as a sense of being surrounding, of having no room to be. You feel cramped, even nervous. To feel whiteness as oppressive is to be shaped by what you keep coming into contact with in such a way that you are restricted. I am speaking, here, of non-white people who inhabit white spaces, spaces that have become white through who as well as how bodies gather. This is how a ‘not’ can be so tight that it too feels like the loss of wiggle room (we might think a “not” is quite roomy, perhaps we can make it so, when we embrace this “not,” willingly and willfully). You might experience yourself becoming tighter in response to a world that does not accommodate you. You have less room.”