Hamburg, Germany: Schanzenfest in Greek

The street festival in the Hamburg Schanzenviertel at 25th August 2012 is going to take place under the banner of the protests, strikes and riots against social cuts in Greece. The festival will show solidarity and collect money to support anti-racist social movements and people enduring repression. A solidary financial contribution is expected by all shops and stalls at the Schanzenfest.

Everyone is invited to transform the Schanzenviertel’s streets into Syntagma Square. With this motto, we don’t aim at reproducing Athens riots or elevating them into an end in itself, but at protest and self-determined un-commercial partying against an EU policy which rates economic value added higher than people’s living conditions. For us, this means more than Ouzo and Tsatsiki, Rembetico and Greek punk: A political meeting beyond commercial culture connecting to political campaigns and anti-capitalist protests.

German mass media are agitating: „The Greeks“ are supposed to be lazy, living at our expenses and should acquire German virtues. In truth, the rich EU countries and Germany in particular are benefiting from this crisis because of high interest rates on loans awarded. Simultaneously, they themselves can borrow cheap money as a result of higher attractiveness and demand on the capital market due to high ratings.

Furthermore, Germany still owes money to Greece because of war crimes during National Socialism. A picture proclaiming Germany a victim of Greek circumstances denies historic responsibility, for instance for mass shootings and executions of the civilian population. To this day, victims have not been compensated and therefore been placed in lawlessness.

In our view, crises are indispensable consequences of the antagonisms of capitalism. Therefore, none of the usual strategies – neither neo-liberal belief in the market’s self-healing powers nor nationalist models propagating a strong state – are helpful to end or prevent them. Nor is crisis generating resistance and emancipatory movement automatically. There are always also reactionary responses to crisis situations; from “above” in terms of tightened repression as well as from “below” in the form of racism and xenophobia.

What’s taking place in Greece is a model project whose significance is exceeding national borders. Wages are cut by half, one of three companies isn’t paying any wages at all, in the education sector, basic needs like procuring books cannot be met, homelessness and poverty have been increasing massively. The attack of politics and the market is jeopardizing people’s living conditions. Simultaneously, protests and strikes are intensifying. Greece during the crisis is also a place on the verge of change, where people are organising, putting the question for society differently and working on the possibility of an other, better world.

We can mutually learn from our struggles: When struggles in Greece are targeting capitalism’s strictures which are being defined as natural laws or when a policy is attacked which is merely administering the crisis and promoting the rich becoming richer and the poor staying poor. We can relate to these struggles if we are claiming them as our own and creating a context with capitalist crisis-prone nature and our local conditions. For us, this doesn’t mean uncritically celebrating the Greek movement, but includes always also a view on breaks and contradictions.

We know from our practice of more than 20 years of quarter-focused political work that power relationships are not just running top-down, but criss-crossing and also crossing ourselves. Therefore, it’s even more important to position ourselves feisty and at the same time to challenge the circumstances, our own roles and ourselves. We will never be 99%. But in better days we are 1% resistance which is broadening, remains bulky and develops this kind of aliveness which has generated new realities from the unrealistic and non-thinkable in an eruptive way and is opening the view on an entirely different whole.

This can and will succeed only if we are prepared to see beyond our noses in order to take a critical and solidary perspective. In our quarters, in our resistance against gentrification, in our protests against the world’s crises or in our parties in all those streets and squares whose names are more and more becoming places and synonyms of uprising against the cold sobriety of capitalist normalcy. With an impressive collection of financial contributions, culture and information on Greece, this can also serve to break up the normalcy of the ever more expanding and commercialising Schanzenfest and to connect our struggles with those in Greece and others worldwide.

From crisis to global resistance!
Against economy’s strictures and dictates!
Abolish capitalism!