Socialist Worker

Protesting at the G8 in Kühlungsborn (west of Heiligendamm) and Rostock (east of Heiligendamm)

by Geoff Brown
Issue No. 2054

I set out early Wednesday afternoon to the alternative summit in Rostock. At the station, I was told the train wasn’t running – why, they didn’t know.

The weather was nice, so I hired a bike to cycle ten kilometres south to the station in Kropelin, only to have to clamber over and round various barricades – three in all – on the road. At the last barricade, the fire brigade were sawing up small tree trunks and throwing them off the road.

I got a train going east to Rostock, though at least one had been cancelled. I arrived in Rostock after 5pm and cycled across town to a rather unfocused but comradely meeting on trade unions, held in a makeshift tent at the convergence centre.

Then it was on to a nightclub by the docks for a much bigger meeting on strategy for the movement. Alex Callinicos, John Holloway and Susan George provided a serious, well argued set of contributions.

John Holloway developed the idea of a breakthrough from below, organised by self-directing groups. Susan George apologised that she is not so much of a theoretician and proceeded to give a solid, straightforward assessment for the results and prospects for the movement – we have made genuine progress but it’s only a start.

Alex made a much more political contribution which started from the big picture – neoliberalism and war – and argued that the establishment of Die Linke, a new left party in Germany with tens of thousands of members, is a real step forward. This brought audible dissent from a section of the audience.

He described John Holloway as a poet, saying we need more than poetry, a fair comment I think. We could have done with more time for discussion.

I gave a lift on the back of my bike to Inez, an art student, across town to the station. At Bad Doberan a couple of hundred blockaders, tired but cheerful, squeezed on the train and when asked, told a story of determination and stamina.

The police in their thousands have been strikingly unsuccessful. No one has got through to the G8 meeting in Heiligendamm today except by boat (the journalists) or by helicopter (the big wigs and their food).

At Kropelin, Inez started to try to hitch a lift and almost immediately a small truck going to the camp near Kühlungborn, Wichmannsdorf gave both of us and my bike a lift.

The camp was quite small, hundreds rather than the thousands in Camp Rostock. It was superbly organised with braziers to keep everyone warm and food was still available. It was a clear night with the Great Bear visible overhead. I had a cup of Kraütertee – herb tea – and chat to a group from France. The mood was excellent. About half twelve, I cycled the last few kilometres home.

On Thursday afternoon, I decided on a bike ride towards the fence. The blockaders were coming home having been up at 7am, first in dozens, then in hundreds. They were all in good spirits. The police, who were looking tired, stopped me at just one point, very politely. There is a largish ‘forbidden zone’ round the fence.

I find an information point, impressively well put together with a bilingual bulletin board with hand written reports giving updates through the day on progress in the blockades. People added their own reports and we stood round discussing things. The ministerial limos got stuck behind the watercannon lorries. Overall, it was a “cat and mouse” day and the mice won.

There was a glorious sunset. The TV reported that Chancellor Angela Merkel had some success with Bush on climate change, there were some good reports of the blockades and the final day of the alternative summit. It is clear that the anti capitalists succeeded in putting real pressure on the G8. At least they have to be seen to address the big issues – climate change, war, poverty, AIDS.

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