My time in Rostock

Some have asked for me to tell a bit more about what Rostock really was like. In some of the international media the G8 protests were completely ignored, and in for example the Norwegian media, the stone throwing on Saturday the 2nd were big time news with, as far as I understand, live pictures of riots being beamed to living rooms across the country. Also in Germany, stations such as N-TV showed the same two burned out cars from all angles at various stages of burning, making it look like there had been a whole line of cars that had been whole line of burned out cars. On top of that you had the number of 433 hurt police officers (status Sunday, 3rd). Sounds like civil war, huh?

Well, on the ground it was not quite like that. For anyone reading this only to find action, I can tell you now already that I was never arrested nor hit by a water cannon. I was neither anywhere close to stones being thrown and I did I do anything that in itself, forgetting the special circumstances, would have been very exciting. Well, maybe. If sleeping on a street counts.

The blockade consisted mostly of young people.
The blockade consisted mostly of young people.

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“This is what winners look like!”

"This is what winners look like!" activists shouting and celebrating after 48h of blockades
“This is what winners look like!” activists shouting and celebrating after 48h of blockades

On the 6-8th of June 2007, Germany hosted the annual G8 meeting in Heiligendamm. For many of the academic-intellectual organizations that came into life with the advent of the globalization-from-below movement around Seattle 1999 or who are older but have redefined themselves as being part of the movement, this was planned to be just another meeting space. Almost all the Norwegians who came down (I was on a bus with around 50 and we arrived in Rostock, the closest bigger city, on the morning of the 2nd) were here for a big demonstration some days before the meeting started, and those few who stayed for the time of the actual summit were to participate in an “anti-summit” in Rostock during the summit. Now there have been loads such summits over the last few years, and they have a few things in common: all the main speakers speak within some post-Marxist framework, preferably the speakers argue for applying some kind of wonder tax which would magically transform this world back to the early eighties, and no-one ever has any real proposal on what to do to exert power. Even in times when countries go to war with over 90% of their population being against it, there is somehow this strange notion in these conferences that everything will be good if only one speaks and demonstrates. A perfect example thereof is Mr. Peter Wahl of the coordinating group of German Attac, who tried to convince everybody to just sit down in front of the first line of policemen.

However, in Germany things were somewhat different. 10,000 activists ended up blocking all entrance ways to the conference center physically for hours on end and made all transport in and out of the center at times impossible at other times very dangerous. The fence around the whole thing that cost around 15 million USD and security was supposed to be on top; 16400 police from all over the country and an unknown amount of the army had coordinated for months and months in order to keep demonstrators at least 200m away from the fence. Some politicians had even talked about using the special anti terror unit GSG9 and equip police with rubber bullets in order to keep them away from the fence.

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