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G20 Summit: Merkel’s “democratic imperialism” - against democracy!

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In one week, the heads of the world's 20 most powerful states will meet in Hamburg for the G20 summit. They meet in the midst of another round of global turmoil. The confrontation between Saudi Arabia and Qatar on the Arabian peninsula is only the latest in a series of regional conflicts, from Ukraine to Syria, Yemen to the South China Sea, that could lead to a regional, if not global, military explosion.

It is not only regional powers that are involved, but all the global powers. Of course, currently, all regimes want to avoid a conflict “getting out of hand”. But, with increased political and economic competition and the sharpening of the struggle to re-divide the world, any of these flashpoints could indeed get out of control. It is not just Donald Trump and the Saudi Monarchy who are playing with fire. For all of the rulers meeting in Hamburg a lot is at stake and they all find it increasingly difficult to contain their conflicts.

The G20, therefore, is far from being a “world government” as it presents itself; it is more like a gathering of thieves, who are falling out with each other over a declining plunder.

Germany: the “nice” imperialism?

Of course, they, or at least most of them, will present themselves as “caring “ for the world. Angela Merkel and the German government will not be alone in trying to present themselves as the democratic and “humanitarian” imperialist antidote to Trump, Erdogan and Putin or, for that matter, May. They will try to present themselves as the champions of an “investment pact for Africa”, the environment and, of course, free trade. Unlike at previous summits, Merkel and company have come out in public against the US. Under Trump and his “America First policy”, it has become clear that the European Union has to see itself as another rival of the US.

The German government, like others in Trump's sights, has three objectives. Firstly, it sees the “threat” from the US not only as a challenge, but also as an opportunity to legitimise a drive towards a capitalist unification of Europe, in close alliance with France under the government of Macron. He clearly does not only have the backing of the French bourgeoisie but also of German finance capital and all established parties.

Secondly, it is looking for global alliances with other “partners” than the US. Of course, for the moment, it aims to maintain “good relations” with Washington, as far as possible. But, at the same time, it is collaborating with China, presenting Europe and China as “climate champions” for “new green industries”; it is also looking for “peace” and “reconciliation” in the Middle East and for the re-incorporation of Iran into the global economic system; similarly, it is about to strike a free trade agreement with Japan after the US dumped TTIP and TPP.

Thirdly, German imperialism wants to present itself as the champion of “democracy”. In the run up to the summit, Berlin has organised, or sponsored, a series of conferences and meetings that are supposed to “integrate” and give a voice to NGOs of all sorts, including trades unions, women and youth, climate and business (!). There is also a G20-Africa summit in order to “help” the continent. The main objective of this is actually to seal Europe's borders against refugees from Africa and to subsidise private investors from imperialist states to “build up the economy”.

Naturally, these hard-nosed objectives of German and other European imperialisms are concealed behind the camouflage of a democratic alternative to the US or Russia.

Germany’s politics over the last decade prove that this is just another farce. Remember Germany’s intervention in Ukraine on the side of the Maidan, remember the blackmail and austerity imposed on the Greeks and other peoples, remember the sealing of “Fortress Europe”, the deals with Erdogan and other reactionary regimes at the expense of the refugees, the continued presence of German security forces in Afghanistan, the Horn of Africa and Mali, where they are backing up French intervention forces; remember also the massive increase in arms spending of the country.

These are just a few striking examples of the real nature of Merkel’s politics. They are just as “democratic” as the politics of Obama were. However, she has used the more insane stance of Trump, like the withdrawal from the UN agreement on climate change, to her advantage and presents herself as a “rational” alternative to Trump and others in a sea of madness and authoritarian leaders and dictators.

Democracy

Hamburg will be a demonstration of what German democracy really looks like, even if the government wants to present an “open city” to the world:

15,000 cops will be around to “protect” the rulers of the world from demonstrators from all over Europe. In addition, each of the world leaders will bring his or her own security. In order to “help” their German colleagues, not only German special forces and secret services, but also French police will be in Hamburg.

The city council, run by a coalition of the Social Democrats and the Greens, originally said that they wanted to guarantee the right to demonstrate, but that did not last; the inner region around the convention centre is now a “no go zone”. From the airport to the city centre, a “blue zone” of 38 square-kilometres has been declared, within which the police can ban any political activity, demonstrations or assembly, without further explanation.

The city has, until now, prohibited all protest-camps, since these would be rallying points for “illegal” protests. What else could they be in a city where all protests are outlawed at the discretion of the state forces? The organisers of the protests and camps have challenged this both by political campaigns and through the courts. Last Wednesday, the High Court actually declared that a camp was a legitimate protest, so now the Hamburg city council and the police are trying to get around this by imposing further conditions on the protests.

The bourgeois media, the different tabloids and the Hamburg and federal governments all back the G20-summit. They brand the protestors as potential terrorists and rioters. Even sit-in blockades are denounced as “brutal violence”. No wonder that many people in Hamburg are frightened and even planning to leave the city while the G20 are there. However, one tabloid did present a survey which showed that, despite all the scare-mongering, 35 percent of the population are considering joining a demonstration against the G20. Of course, it is one thing, what people say in an opinion poll and what they actually do, but this clearly shows that a huge part of the population is not only against their city being taken over by the G20, but that they are actively considering doing something against it.

Mobilise!

We need to make the summit a political defeat for the leaders of the imperialist powers and of the largest regional powers and for the German government in particular. One argument that they use to justify the massive security operation and the scrapping of democratic rights, which amounts to a temporary state of emergency in the city, is, would you believe it, the “threat of terrorism”. This is used to frighten people and to stigmatise the protestors. In reality, the biggest terrorists in the world are precisely the 20 leaders who will be meeting on the 7th and 8th.

Let’s send a clear message from Hamburg to them and to the world: They are not welcome! The system they stand for is in crisis and is built on sand.

But they are also sending a message to us; They are prepared to defend their system by all the means at their disposal. Despite their differences, they are well prepared to coordinate actions against the workers, the poor and the oppressed peoples and to scrap bourgeois democracy if it gets in their way.

This means that we need to be clear on our enemy; global imperialism. We need to be clear that, whilst we fight for every democratic and social right and improvement, we ultimately need to fight the capitalist system which the G20 represent. We need to fight for a world free of exploitation and oppression, a socialist world.

The protests in Hamburg must become a signal;

Firstly, to discuss and organise not just protests, but coordinated action against the G20, the threat of war, exploitation of workers, environmental destruction, social oppression of women and youth, racism and national oppression.

Secondly, it means to discuss what we stand for, what programme, what strategy, what kind of society we need to overthrow capitalism and to replace it. Such a strategy and programme cannot be a national one, it needs to be international, it needs to be linked to the struggle to build new revolutionary parties and a new, revolutionary, Fifth International.

Join our contingent!

In Hamburg, the comrades from ArbeiterInnenmacht, REVOLUTION and the League for the Fifth International will join the struggle as part of an alliance, the Internationalist Bloc (https://internationalisten.wordpress.com/) together with sections from the Fraccion Trotskista, anti-imperialist autonomist groupings, youth organisations, Palestinian and Iranian oppositional groups and campaigns.

We are organising meetings on struggle and programme at the Internationalist Barrio at the camp against G20 from the 3 – 6 July.
We will aim to block the G20 on 7 July as part of a mass blockade.
We will participate with our own contingent at the international mass demonstration against the G20 on 8 July.