From the 7th through the 12th of September, the largest German automotive fair will take place in Munich. Shortly after, national elections will be held. As the formerly well-established parties are continuously loosing votes, the Green Party might stand a chance to become the strongest party – or at least an indispensable partner for a coalition. Due to these upcoming occasions, we have published our first longer brochure focussing on the climate crisis, how it’s connected to capitalism, mobility and why neither the Green Party, electric cars or green capitalism will solve it. For Beyond Europe, we’ve translated an abridged version.
Capitalism, Germany, and the Automotive Industry
Capitalism has become a global destructive force with irrevocable consequences. Although capitalism is made and performed by humans, it appears to many as an inescapable law of nature, to which we must abide, rather than to the laws and developments our ecosystem. The unbridled destructiveness of capitalism is exemplified by the automotive industry. More than 1/5 of the CO2 emissions are caused by road traffic, and the total amount of emissions is still on the rise. The automotive industry is a climate killer and a huge business. It is the largest industrial sector in Germany, with annual sales in the hundreds of billions. Around 800,000 people here work in the automotive industry, and a similar number are employed in the supplier industry. It is impossible to imagine capitalism without cars. Cars are icons of the capitalist concept to produce ever more, new and bigger things while opening up more markets in the process. The car makes it possible to transport goods and workers flexibly around the world and in turn, enhancing the capitalist process.
The German state has integrated this branch of industry into itself to such an extent, that it would implode if the automotive industry were to come to an end. At least, Germany would be an entirely different state without it. So the diplomacy works tirelessly to increase sales abroad. At home, the state provides incentives – lately up to 5,000 Euros – to ensure that consumers buy one car after another, even though the five- or ten-year-old Volkswagen still fulfills its supposed core purpose, i. e. being a means of transportation, without any reasons for complaint. In addition, other options of transport, such as the railroad system, have been run down over decades. So many people have no real alternative to using a car. The demise of the railroad system is something that can be seen in many countries. In the 70s in western Europe, cars became affordable to most people. From this point on, the public train infrastructure lost its significance and its political support.
The Development Towards Electric Vehicles
So instead of trains, internal combustion SUVs are the big sellers. But the development to battery powered vehicles is where we are heading to: Exhaust emission limits, moral consumer interest and the imminent oil shortage have led to a worldwide development to supposedly “climate-neutral”, battery driven cars. One expression of this change is that Tesla has been able to establish itself as the global market leader in the automotive industry with its e-mobility in a very short time. In Germany, the ideological battle between diesel-nazis and disciples of electric cars has been fought and won by the e-faction. To ensure that Germany is not entirely left behind in this development, the state is paying a hefty price with direct investments in the companies, high premiums for buyers and the expansion of the charging infrastructure. The new technology is supposed to bail out the car companies, and to top it all off, everyone concerned is allowed to publicly claim that this is being done to save the planet. This all changes little in the business model of making profits on the basis of destroying the planet. The production of electric vehicles causes significantly higher emissions than conventional cars. The batteries require the rare resource lithium, the mining of which causes enormous water pollution. At the same time, massive protests have taken place against its extraction: In Bolivia, for example, a large lithium mining project was stopped due to protests by the affected indigenous population, from which Germany had actually already secured its substantial share for the next 70 years. Visibly, interest is shifting from the oil fields in the Middle East to the lithium deposits in South America and the Congo. However, the principle of exploiting natural resources, remains unchanged. The electric vehicle is not a solution, but only the continuation of the planets destruction. The nationwide expansion and promotion of electric mobility and other phony solutions are at the core of green capitalisms ideology.
Green Capitalism and its Annoying Morality
The Greens, as the most important party representing this ideology, are currently enjoying one election success after another. Quite a few voters see them as the only party with the right answer to the climate crisis. Yet local green governments have already beaten protestors out of forests to build highways and couldn’t even manage to accelerate the development of renewable energies. The short-term perspective is a coalition of conservatives with the green party, to which Markus Söder (leader of the Bavarian conservative party) has already welcomed the Greens. In this upcoming coalition, the Greens will always be able to pardon themselves, as it will never be their fault that they could not enforce effective measures to prevent the climate crisis.
At the same time, the Greens even pride themselves with the fact that they wish to act in the interest of the German economy. As just mentioned above, that means nothing else, than massively supporting the automobile industry. The Greens therefore do not want to touch the system of excessive use of resources, but only to replace the raw materials in the long term. According to the Greens, the vehicle fleet should be entirely replaced within the next ten or twenty years. This opens up an enormous sales market for all car manufacturers who manage to wrap some steel, a computer and a few seats around an electric motor, and will cause car sales to skyrocket once again. This, by the way, is a concept that most conservatives can easily agree on.
What is also sweeping over us with the eco-trend and unfortunately does not pass us by – like everything else – is the ideology that comes with green capitalism. Consumption is still good but it must be sustainable and is morally charged. Everywhere, where people have excess money, there must be an offer to spend it again. It is never an option under capitalism to consume less voluntarily. (You may though, take part in expensive life coach practices, where this is what you learn, provided you have the money to do so). So instead, people consume “sustainably” and “organically”. Organic products are first and foremost the means of distinction for a new middle class. It is the way of showing, that one despises how the rich drown in their free floating, champagne filled villa pools just as much as one despises how the poor do not appreciate a healthy organic sandwich. At the same time, “organic” is a new form of egoism: it is wanting to feed oneself and one’s well-tended offspring as healthy as possible. Others may gladly feed their children with vegetables coated in pesticides, while the own child is only offered the organic juices from the glass bottle. And woe betide if the so brought up child fails!
In the organic food industry, as in every capitalistically organized branch of production, products are relabeled, customers are tricked and pay is mostly lousy. To ask oneself, where and how products are made and whether one really needs something is not per se wrong and can help to put oneself and one’s own way of life into a relationship with the world. But the green lifestyle does not do that. It individualizes instead of recognizing.
So Where do we Want to Head to?
We will not watch powerlessly as society is driven against the wall, but will intervene where capitalist irrationality becomes most obvious. We want to take action against capitalism and its rule. In doing so, we do not aim to achieve an original state of nature, however defined. For the relationship of humans to nature is always a social one: every society, in order to survive, must enter into a metabolism with nature. The question is under which sign this exchange takes place. Whether it’s aim is the comprehensive satisfaction of all humans needs or if it’s for the sake of increasing capitalist profit, is crucial.
So while coal and gas infrastructure are already interrupted by regular protests, we find it necessary to take another step: Attack the automotive industry. Next to energy production, the transport sector is the biggest contributor to global warming. In it, capitalist growth and aggressive german nationalism manifested themselves, additionally patriarchal and neocolonial structures are reproduced.
That is why we will scratch at the prestige of the car wherever we can. We will fight against the construction of highways, for livable inner cities in which no one has to be afraid of big, fast, heavy, and dangerous projectiles driving too fast. For a rural life that can be lived without a car, because there is a functioning public transport network and the regional infrastructure that has not been cut for cost reasons. For wage increases in all sectors, reduction of working hours, for worldwide networking of labor and climate struggles. As always, we aim for utopia. Reduce To The Max!
“Marx said that revolutions are the locomotive of world history. But perhaps things are very different. It may be that revolutions are the act by which the human race traveling in the train applies the emergency brake.” (Walter Benjamin)
The world is in flames and they continue to play with fire. Every day they dig up coal and burn it in their power plants, even though they know that this is the biggest source of CO2. Even though they know that in the next few years we are heading for tipping points that will make the climate catastrophe irreversible.
They, that is RWE AG, the energy-dependent industry, that is investors who are relying on everything going on as before. They are the federal and state government and the German-dominated European Commission. All those involved know what’s happening, and coal is still being produced.
Angela Merkel and other politicians looked at the appeals and mass demonstrations with a slight nod, but they weren’t really impressed. The coal phase-out should continue to come only when the last piece of coal has actually been burned. Because as someone once said: The modern state power is only a committee that manages the common business of the whole capitalist class. But we cannot expect anything else, because fossil capital provides the energy for the entire class. And the unity of property and the existing order is vehemently defended. As much as some may wish for a green capitalism: it will never be, because there is no decoupling of growth and resource consumption – these are just fantasies. The ruling class is the idealist, dreamer, unworldly.
It has broken its own announcements, self-commitments, etc., all by itself. All it has managed, since it has known about climate change, is to export environmental destruction itself. Even if coal is no longer burned in the Federal Republic and the industry is otherwise conserving resources here, environmental destruction will continue to be outsourced under capitalism if necessary. As always those people worldwide, who cannot afford to protect themselves, are most affected by capitalism and its environmental destruction.
Those responsible are the saboteurs of any effective climate policy and any humane coexistence, because the latter stand in the way of their business model and growth compulsion. They threaten to sue the states if their operating license is revoked. They threaten to leave workers in poverty and to worsen working conditions. They take away people’s time, our health and the resources we need to live. They will not stop their sabotage by themselves, they must be stopped. And if no one else can stop them, we must. If we stop their machines, we drive up the costs. Until it no longer pays off. We will stop the madness where it takes place. That is why we are joining the actions of Ende Gelände in the Rhineland from September 23 – 27, 2020.
Let us sabotage the saboteurs.
See you in the pit!
…ums Ganze! – September 2020
Solidarity statement from antiauthoritarians in Germany and Austria
After a white cop in Minneapolis, Minnesota suffocated the Afro-American George Floyd under the eyes of three of his colleagues, half the country is on fire. It was not the first racist murder by the US police, it was not even the first one this year and not the last since. It was just one too many.
The night after George’s murder, protests broke out in all kinds of cities across the United States and quickly increased. The protests were organized from within black communities in big US cities and quickly met with a huge wave of solidarity. After Trump had feigned sympathy and demanded an investigation into the murder, the mask has now fallen: Swinging his Bible, the autocrat declares the protests to be terror, against which he now wants to bring in the military, after the National Guard has already been mobilized in most states. Following the motto “when the looting starts, the shooting starts”, Trump wants to put a stop to the social uprisings. In the same breath, he wants to blame antifa directly for the protests, whom he has long since known to be communist and anarchist agitators. Fair enough! But while the truncheon orgies continue on the streets of America, Trump leads a campaign against those who stand in the way of the unchained state power.
The authoritarian Republican bloc in the US has long since mobilized all its media power to shift the discourse: Instead of racist cops and structural violence, FOX News discusses looting and terrorism. In trying to divide the protest into peaceful and violent, the Liberals, as so often, willingly let themselves be pulled in front of the Republicans’ trolley and toot the same horn: While armed sections of the Ku Klux Klan have opened the hunt under the eyes of the police, the Liberals on both sides of the Atlantic emphasize how important it is to remain non-violent. As if this is an option against police state and gangs of nazi thugs!
Trump had already made it clear in his presidential election campaign that he would not only stand for complete neo-liberal unleashing, but would also be prepared to use the strong state to beat this order into existence with all necessary force. The social distortions in a country where half the population considers health insurance to be Stalinist cannot be ignored. The COVID crisis has only exacerbated these differences: More than 20 million people lost their jobs and the foodbank queues stretch for miles. While it is the role of the state to ensure the normal accumulation of capital in times of peace and crisis, particularly exceptional situations such as this one show the other side of the coin: where integration fails, terror must be unleashed!
Meanwhile in Germany a whole sea of crocodile tears is being shed. From the conservative paper FAZ to the left-liberal Taz, from Christian Democrats to the Left party everyone agrees that one cannot handle justified anger in this way. Forgotten are the beatings of the G20 summit, the state’s involvement in Nazi networks, forgotten the evictions, deportations, deaths in police custody, etc… We write this declaration in solidarity one day after the 53rd anniversary of the murder of the student Benno Ohnesorg by the bullet of a German policeman.
It is not new that for the state no means are too drastic in the fight against insurrections to secure its monopoly on the use of violence. We send greetings of solidarity to our comrades and friends on the streets of American cities, who are showing practical solidarity against the state’s power!
From Germany & Austria to Minneapolis: Fight the Police! Solidarity beyond borders! Black lives matter! Abolish the system from below!
…ums Ganze! – 3rd June 2020
Take part in the action week from 24 April to 1 May! We share with you the call for action by …ums Ganze! from Germany/Austria:
While in Germany measures such as the contact ban will be continued at least until May 4th, 40.000 people are living in excessively overcrowded camps on the Aegean islands, detained at the EU’s external borders even before they were able to reach the European mainland. The reason why they have to stay there is to allow the authorities to deport them back to Turkey, as part of the EU Erdogan deal, in case that their asylum applications will be rejected. This disparity clearly shows how, even with the pressing aim of “epidemiological protection”, a distinction is still being made between life that is worth protecting and life that is not worth protecting, ergo surplus life.
The group of more than 20.000 people crowded together in the hell of Moria on Lesbos have become a symbol for this disaster. The camp in a former military base is designed for a maximum of 3.000 occupants. Sanitary facilities, disinfectants and medical care are scarce, water is limited and the infrastructure is on the verge of collapse. In view of the danger of a corona outbreak, the camp is now becoming a death trap for those who fled from war and violence. Keeping distance or taking other precautions is simply impossible. Masked as a protective measure for the refugees, the Greek government has now sealed off the camp and de facto abolished the people’s freedom of movement, that had already been very restricted. True protection against the virus is now provided only by the residents themselves, who have organized themselves and are working together with local initiatives to inform the camp’s residents about the virus.
Meanwhile, Germany coldly demonstrates how to govern with maximum emphasis on national interests: the coronavirus parties continue to take place at workplaces such as logistics centres, the steel industry or in the poorly paid care sector. Now further loosening of lockdown measures, for example in the retail sector, have been granted. A few billionaires are profiting from the crisis, while most people do not know how to pay their rents with the deminished wages that the state is offering them. At the same time, the provisionally installed massive cuts in the rights for freedom of assembly and freedom of movement remain valid. Demonstrations are often prohibited even when they imposed strict protective measures on themselves. These restrictions also prevent the refugees here in Germany, many of whom are also still housed in camps, from defending themselves against the health-threatening living conditions inside those camps. Their protests, carried out with every precaution, are violently dissolved by the police. Even in prisons people remain locked up in very cramped spaces which has already led to several prison revolts, as in Italy for example.
This double standard is also evident in many other areas: The so called „German Airlift” brings back 100.000 stranded German tourists with numerous charter planes, but it is obviously not justifiable in the “pandemic” to rescue more than 50 unaccompanied youths from the hell of Moria. There is no mentioning of the old and the sick people in the camp who would be most affected by the disease in case of an outbreak and who would be dependent on the supply of intensive care beds and respirators.
Meanwhile, the first of the 40.000 harvest workers that the German Government has flown in from neighbouring eastern european countries has died of Covid-19. The solidarity that has been conjured up by Söder, Laschet, Merkel, von der Leyen and the likes, obviously has very narrow and very national boundaries.
After the financial crisis in 2008ff., the austerity policy under German dictation has destroyed the health sector in many European countries. Now, this policy is developing devastating consequences, as can be seen in the enormous death rate of Covid-19 cases in Italy with all its cruelty. In crisis-ridden Greece more than a third of hospitals have been closed and over 40% of funding cut. In order to prevent a collapse of the desolate Greek health sector, the right-wing government of Kyriakos Mitsotakis is now reacting with even more authoritarian border control measures than before. But already in early March – as a result of the escalation between Turkey and the EU – Mitsotakis suspended the right to asylum for a limited period of time and received 700 million euros financial support from the EU to further ward off refugees. Almost forgotten are the shots that were fired by the border police and which killed the refugee Muhammad al-Arab.
The Nobel Peace Prize winner EU is not only counting on external border control and protection against the pandemic for selected individuals only. European policy and national interests also reach out to one another. The debate on the so-called Corona Bonds shows this clearly. Once again, the winners of the crisis in 2008 – above all Germany – are putting all their energy into fighting common debts at EU level. It is in vogue to express concern about the fate of their poor European neighbors but at the same time relentlessly trying to secure their own competitiveness on the world market at the expense of exactly those neighbors. The German press, from FAZ to Bild, once again uses the stereotype of the lazy Italians.
One hardly dares to imagine the extent of the catastrophe that will occur as soon as the pandemic hits the Sahel zone, where Islamist groups are trying to use the crisis to their own advantage, or war-ravaged Syria, from which a large proportion of the refugees originate already. Still, humanitarian demands, as articulated by „Seebrücke“ or „Mission Lifeline“, are currently being ignored.
And yet, during the recent weeks, numerous people in Germany and Europe have clung to the fact that solidarity knows no borders and human rights are indivisible. From Sea Rescue and Refugee Councils to the organization „Seebrücke“ and artists: they have set sail, set signs, put up posters, submitted petitions and published appeals. They try to find out how to protest under the conditions of the pandemic, with physical distance and masks, with shoes and street chalk left behind as symbols, with protest online and offline. And they will continue until the camps are closed and the people are here. And so will we!
The closure and evacuation of all refugee camps! For a decentralized and humane housing for refugees!
Autonomy for the people living inside the camps and support of their self-organizing!
Free and unrestricted access to medical care, medical supplies and corona tests for all!
We are accusing the profiteers of isolation, exploitation and exclusion!
Therefore we are organizing campaigns in many cities in Europe from 24st of April to 1st of May. Keep your eyes open, take part in initiatives or do something in your city or village! There are many ways to become active in this protest, online but also on the streets, and still take care of each other. Naturally, do not endanger yourself or others. But it is also clear that we cannot stand idly by while the refugees on Lesbos and the other Greek islands are left to fall ill and die. The fight for a better society after the pandemic begins now!
EVACUATE MORIA – SHUT DOWN CAPITALISM!
…umsGanze!-Bündnis, part of Beyond Europe, Antiauthoritarian Platform Against Capitalism, April 2020