M31: Prelude to Joint and Europe-Wide Anti-Capitalist Protests

Article of FAU Frankfurt

Within a joint day of action against capitalism on March 31, there have been rallies and demonstrations in more than 40 European cities. These actions are the beginning of an international networking by the anti-authoritarian movement against the European Union’s ruling crisis policy. The common goal is a free society in which everybody can participate. The foundation for that can only be an economy in which everybody is provided with a good life instead of wealth for a small number of people and poverty, existential fear and work baiting for many. On March 31, tens of thousands of people in more than 40 European cities, set in motion for that.

In Frankfurt/Main alone, around 6000 people participated in a demonstration themed “Capitalism is the Crisis”. Speeches at the the demonstration’s beginning stressed the fact that crisis and capitalism are inseparable. “It is a global and systemic crisis”, said Thorsten Bewernitz (FAU). He also said that a connection between industrial actions, struggles on the streets and in front of administrative offices will be crucial in the upcoming time.

As the EU governments and trade organisations try to shift the costs of the crisis on wage workers’ backs, the resistance against it needs to become a popular and a daily exercise so we may successfully oppose the matter. This is how we understand the demonstration’s motto: “Solidarity. Strike. Upheaval”.

The demonstration began at the central station. It was a loud, colourful and open rally, heading towards the construction site of the European Central Bank (ECB), which we wanted to reach together. Besides groups and organisations involved in planning and mobilisation, a wide spectrum of people from many cities gathered at the demonstration.

There were groups from the radical left wing, but also street theatre with stilts and costumes, critical colleagues from ver.di and IGM, older people from the left wing, who have not been on demonstration for years and lots of people working for companies in Frankfurt, who were all attracted by the call and perspectives of this event. Many of them were impressed by the steadily growing demonstration. Finally it grew to 6000 people.

After some speeches in between and greetings to the Occupy camp in front of the present ECB building, some paint bombs were thrown and some glass was broken at the ECB, several banks, the luxury hotel Frankfurter Hof, a couple of temporary work agencies and other buildings.

Just after another stop at the Paulsplatz, when the demonstration started to continue, police units attacked the rear part of the demonstration and began to kettle people in. Around 250 people were kettled for around 9 hours with temperatures just slightly above the freezing point and were randomly attacking police thugs. Those ones kettled in were supported by the demonstration’s own ambulances, with protection against the cold. Still, two of the victims had to be hospitalized, one of them because of hypothermia. The ambulance reported 130 wounded demonstrators.

Before that, the major part of the demonstration tried to reach the kettle for about two hours to open it. When the demonstration finally decided to walk into the city centre, the police decided to break it up. Therefore, the planned actions at the ECB’s construction site became impossible. They probably tried to prevent strong pictures of a ECB fortress bristling with weapons.

Despite the disproportional police actions, March 31 was a distinctive sign against capitalism and nationalism and for a society in which production is oriented on people’s needs. We judge the fact that there were demonstrations and rallies from Ufa at the Ural to Porto at the Atlantic, from Inverness on the British Isles to Utrecht and Milan to Athens, from Moscow, Kiev and Warsaw to Badajoz at the Extremedura, as willingness for a common perspective of resistance against the repression of the state and capitalist exploitation. These rudimentary efforts need to be cultivated, strenghtened and expanded. And they need to be connected to other mobilisations like the general strike in Spain.

From our perspective, this European wide day of action was a successful beginning. The massive participation in a demonstration in Germany, which significantly refused to repair capitalism, gives us hope that there will be subsequent actions. As an anarcho-syndicalist union we stress that demonstrations are nothing more than a short time expression of growing resistance. Effective resistance begins with the organisation at the place of exploitation: factory, offices and many other places which are responsible to make the capitalist galley run. Until we collectively refuse rowing to the beat of the drum and start to set the sails by ourselves, we won’t be galley slaves no more and set the course by ourselves.